Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 29

Dec 31

Preview: Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 31, 2013
  • Time: 5:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Warriors: 19-13
  • Magic: 10-20

Probable starters

Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Klay Thompson
  • Andre Iguodala
  • David Lee
  • Andrew Bogut

Magic:

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

Advanced stats

Warriors:

  • Pace: 96.9 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.4 (14th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.1 (6th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.8 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.1 (14th of 30)

Read about the Warriors

Warriors World

Dec 31

3-on-3: Looking back at 2013

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

It has been a wild year in 2013. Which teams and players can stake claim to the title of Biggest Surprise? Which are just glad to see the calendar flip to 2014? Our panel of experts discusses the best of 2013 for the Orlando Magic.

1. Which player was the biggest surprise in 2013?

Jacob Frankel: Nikola Vucevic. While Tobias Harris’ per minute numbers in Milwaukee indicated he could stuff the stat sheet, that wasn’t the case with Vucci Mane. Vucevic was a minor part of the Dwight Howard deal, but might be the most valuable piece going forward. He has an 18.4 PER this season and is only 23 years old.

Spencer Lund: Nikola Vucevic. The big fella from Montenegro was supposed to be a throwaway piece as part of the four-team Dwight Howard swap, but Doug Collins was a fool to let him leave Philly. He burst onto the scene with those 20-rebound games against Miami, but I love how he’s continued his steady production this season, even with more defenses keyed on him.

Andrew Lynch: Nikola Vucevic. While Arron Afflalo has turned things around this year, we knew he had that in him. Vucevic, on the other hand, was a board-gobbling, paint-dominating monster that I never saw coming. Given time to play in Orlando, he’s flourished, expanding the qualities he showed in Philadelphia to become a big part of the Magic’s future.

2. Which player was the biggest disappointment in 2013?

Frankel: The Magic have lost a lot of games in 2013, but I’m having trouble pointing to one player that’s been specifically disappointing. Maurice Harkless hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but he’s a young player still figuring the NBA out. Arron Afflalo had a miserable 2012-13 season, but has made up for that with a scorching stretch throughout the fall and winter.

Lund: Hedo Turkoglu. I wish he had stayed in shape like a lot of players do now with better trainers, but Hedo was gonna have his pizza, and try and squeak by on PEDs. He was the first player that really made me scratch my head. He just didn’t seem to care, which is probably an unfair assessment, but one I can’t help making.

Lynch: Jameer Nelson. It seems unfair to pick on the young guys when they still have so much development ahead of them. Every time I watch Nelson play, it just makes me miss the old Jameer from four or five years ago. I know he’s never coming back, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Come back to us, Jameer!

3. What storyline stood out to you the most in 2013?

Frankel: Orlando winning the Dwight Howard deal. The Lakers lost Howard, the Nuggets lost Iguodala, and Bynum didn’t play at all in Philadelphia. The Magic were terrible enough to snag Victor Oladipo, Afflalo is playing out of his mind in the new season, and of course there’s the aforementioned Vucevic. This trade is a prime example of how one should wait a few years before judging a deal.

Lund: Rob Hennigan preparing for the future. The Magic are bad again this season, but are they bad enough? That remains to be seen. Picking up the fourth-year options on Vucevic and Tobias are huge (especially if the Magic can sign them long-term next season) and Orlando could have two lottery picks this summer with the lesser of the Denver pick if they miss the playoffs.

Lynch: Orlando’s eye on the future. They acquired some nice assets in the Dwight Howard trade, and they’re positioned for another top pick this year. On the theoretical level, the Magic are in a good place going forward. Whether or not they can put it all together and take the next step as a young team will likely be the story of 2014.

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

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.37.14 PM

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

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