Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 28

Dec 30

Monday’s Magic Word

  • The Orlando Magic are on a rare two-game winning streak.
  • Arron Afflalo keeps putting up All-Star caliber numbers.
  • Afflalo has scored 20-plus points in six straight games. During that span, he’s averaging 24.0 points per game with a .693 True Shooting percentage.
  • Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “What Hennigan is looking for–from Jacque Vaughn and his young guys–is improvement. He wants to see Victor Oladipo develop point guard skills; he wants to see Andrew Nicholson improve on defense and on the glass; he wants to watch Arron Afflalo establish himself as an All-Star caliber, do-it-all player. He’s looking for his core–the one he built nearly from scratch–continue to get better. I imagine he’s using this season to see who can do what and who has a future with the team.”
  • Afflalo’s recent efficiency binge has been put him in rare company — alongside Larry Bird and Detlef Schrempf, to be exact.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN Insider with an eyebrow-raising comment: “Afflalo has been great, but Bledsoe could’ve been their point guard of the future and devastating next to Victor Oladipo in the backcourt. It’s this sort of fence-sitting that may mean the difference between the Magic getting the top pick and having the fifth-best player in the draft.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Arron Afflalo’s string of six straight 20-point games is the longest for any Magic player since Dwight Howard’s 11-gamer in the spring of 2011.”
  • On this day one year ago, Nikola Vucevic had the game of his life (20 points and 29 rebounds) against the Miami Heat. The 29 rebounds were a franchise record.
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Having started the last five games, Tobias Harris is finding a rhythm offensively. The Magic’s new starting lineup has been excellent on that end in 69 minutes together. And with Victor Oladipo totaling 19 assists off the bench, Orlando has scored 109 points in each of their last two games. So Tuesday’s matchup with the Warriors — who are playing their best defense of the season — could be a good one.”
  • Victor Oladipo is starting to get the hang of this point guard thing.
  • Andrew Nicholson is staying positive despite seeing a dip in playing time recently.
  • Orlando is prepping for their New Years Eve tilt against the Golden State Warriors.

Dec 30

Staying ahead of the statistical revolution

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Though a rising tide ostensibly lifts all boats, the trend toward analytically-minded NBA head coaches has left Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn adrift in the wake of public opinion. And it’s too bad, too, as Vaughn and the Magic were a year ahead of the curve.

This past offseason, nine teams hired rookie head coaches to lead their on-court execution and player development. Unsurprisingly, several have struggled significantly and notably in their first year on the bench — Jason Kidd, of course, but also Mike Malone in Sacramento. Dave Joerger in Memphis has battled through injuries to his roster and a two-step forward, one-step back foray into changing the way the Grizzlies play, and Brian Shaw’s Nuggets have been down, then up, then down again.

Yet the other five first-year head honchos (Brett Brown, Jeff Hornacek, Brad Stevens, Steve Clifford and Mike Budenholzer) have gathered a fair amount of acclaim for their relative success in their brief careers, and one of the ties that binds that group is an appreciation for and application of the statistical and data revolution in which the league currently finds itself in.

Orlando, however, took to the future a year ahead of the rest. General manager Rob Hennigan, who spent eight years in the San Antonio and Oklahoma City organizations, is well-known at this point for his interest in analytics. The Magic were among the earliest adopters of the SportVU player tracking technology, and Hennigan attended the 2013 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference along with other members of the Orlando front office.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 29

Grades: Orlando Magic 109, Atlanta Hawks 102

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Orlando Magic 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 Atlanta Hawks

Nikola Vucevic
8-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 STL | 14 REB | 16 PTS | +4

With Al Horford (torn pectoral) out indefinitely, the Hawks have turned to Elton Brand and Pero Antic to fill in at center. Consider that a bullet dodged for Vucevic, who had little trouble putting up a double-double — mainly against the Macedonian. Vucevic vacillated evenly between scoring at the rim and from midrange on the perimeter.

Victor Oladipo
4-7 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 15 PTS | +1

Oladipo made sure to put on a show for Magic fans. On one fast break opportunity midway through the third quarter, Oladipo whipped out his patented spin move on Paul Millsap and finished with a layup that drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the home crowd. Oladipo’s block from seemingly out-of-nowhere on a Shelvin Mack layup attempt in transition elicited a crowd response, too.

Arron Afflalo
7-10 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 21 PTS | +11

Fun fact: Afflalo has now scored 20 or more points in six consecutive games. Better yet, he’s been doing it efficiently. Afflalo’s 21-point performance (on 11 shots) against Atlanta was no different. He was economical with his scoring. His lone demerit came in the fourth quarter when he made a long two from the left corner with a foot on the line — a bugaboo of his.

Tobias Harris
7-15 FG | 3-6 3P | 7 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | +5

Harris had one of the plays of the game when he posterized Paul Millsap late in the fourth quarter. On the possession, Jameer Nelson whipped a crosscourt pass to Harris, who had an open lane to the basket. Harris caught the ball, took one dribble, and dunked over Millsap, who was late recovering on defense from the weak side and paid the price.

Atlanta Hawks

The one thing that kept the Hawks in this game until the late stages of the fourth quarter when the Magic seized control was their 3-point shooting (15-for-39). But you could tell that playing in three straight overtime games (with one of them going to double-overtime) eventually wore Atlanta down. They seemed to run out of gas at the end.

Dec 29

Video: Victor Oladipo blocks shot into crowd

Dec 29

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 29, 2013
  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Hawks: 17-13
  • Magic: 9-20

Probable starters

Hawks:

  • Jeff Teague
  • Louis Williams
  • Kyle Korver
  • Paul Millsap
  • Elton Brand

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Hawks:

  • Pace: 95.3 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.9 (11th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.7 (12th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.4 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.0 (13th of 30)

Read about the Hawks

HawksHoop

Dec 27

Grades: Orlando Magic 109, Detroit Pistons 92

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Orlando Magic 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 Detroit Pistons

Nikola Vucevic
9-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 BLK | 11 REB | 20 PTS | +11

Victor Oladipo
5-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 5 REB | 11 AST | 16 PTS | +10

Arron Afflalo
9-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 23 PTS | +11

Tobias Harris
6-10 FG | 4-6 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | +17

New York Knicks

Dec 27

Video: Ronnie Price’s left-handed jam

Dec 27

Preview: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 27, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Pistons: 14-16
  • Magic: 8-20

Probable starters

Pistons:

  • Brandon Jennings
  • Kyle Singler
  • Josh Smith
  • Greg Monroe
  • Andre Drummond

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Pistons:

  • Pace: 94.2 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.9 (12th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.8 (19th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.6 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.0 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.4 (16th of 30)

Read about the Pistons

Piston Powered

Dec 26

The pros and cons of trading Arron Afflalo

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic — similar to the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Bobcats and a host of other Eastern Conference teams — are wedged between a tank job and the very real possibility they make the playoffs in a flat-lining East.

This is both good and bad — depending on whom you ask. Many Magic fans are hoping the team took a dive this season. Anything less than a 10 percent chance at the No. 1 pick makes a lot of people unhappy.

The difference between mediocre and awful is smaller than many think, and that’s why trade options for shooting guard Arron Afflalo should not be ignored.

Yes, he’s Orlando’s only real All-Star level talent, and he doesn’t have the stink of losing bleeding into his psyche — at least not yet. So what’s the impetus to trade one of the the best shooting guards in the league?

A lot of people denigrate him because he’s on TV a lot more now, and he’s an editor-in-chief instead of a scrappy blogger, but Grantland’s Bill Simmons described why Afflalo has become a top-five shooting guard in his column from a couple weeks ago, “The NBA’s E-League“:

Afflalo leads all 2-guards in PER (21.46); he’s first in Estimated Wins Added (3.6); he’s third in PPG (22.6); he’s sixth in 3-point percentage (46.3 percent), seventh in FT percentage (85.4 percent) and sixth in FG percentage (48.8 percent); and he’s an excellent defensive player. With James Harden taking the season off defensively (hey, James, you’re not a DH), and Dwyane Wade taking days off left and right like he’s the retiring CEO of a successful company or something, Afflalo is the league’s most reliable 2-guard right now. He’s also one of the league’s best bargains at $7.5 million per year, making him the single best commodity on the trade market right now. It’s true.

This made me re-evaluate whether or not Orlando should trade Afflalo. He continues to look fantastic, and while he’s not as tremendous of a defensive player as people think he is, it’s that amazing shooting that’s leading to graphs about why he’s a top-five shooting guard. No one trades a top-five shooting guard, right?

Here’s Simmons later on in his Magic section, emphasis mine:

Worst-Case Scenario: Doesn’t exist. They’re in the best shape of any Eastern team not named Indy or Miami — they have cost-effective assets, draft picks and cap space. Part of me wants to pull a Tom Ripley on Hennigan and take his job. I’m only half-kidding.

Prognosis: They’ll fade after the All-Star break because of injuries, fake injuries, self-sabotage trades and erratic substitution patterns. I have them happily missing the playoffs. Well done all the way around, Orlando.

So do you trade Afflalo, or has his play through the season’s first trimester turned him into a part of Hennigan’s rebuilding plan? Whenever I’ve got a difficult decision, it’s helpful to create a pro/con list.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 24

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Zach Harper of CBSSports.com recaps the Orlando Magic’s loss on Monday: Orlando Magic only played six people in the second half as they nearly erased a 24-point halftime deficit. Arron Afflalo had 16 points in the second half alone and they held New York to just 36.8 percent from the field in the final 24 minutes. Just can’t allow such a big lead for the opposition.”
  • The Magic nearly erased a 24-point lead against the New York Knicks, but fell short in their comeback attempt.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports that the end of Hedo Turkoglu’s tenure with Orlando is near: “After spending training camp, the preseason and the regular season in a purgatory of sorts, Hedo Turkoglu’s period of limbo with the Orlando Magic is nearing a resolution. The veteran small forward can expect to have his situation resolved no later than the close of business on Jan. 7.”
  • The NBA is a game of runs and unfortunately for the Magic, they’ve been finding themselves on the wrong end of them lately.
  • Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped Post proposes that Orlando should start Tobias Harris at power forward and move Glen Davis to the bench as the team’s back-up center. It’s a well, thought-out argument.
  • The Magic are entertaining offers for Jameer Nelson and Davis, but are rebuffing any calls for Arron Afflalo.
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