Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 3

Apr 08

All eyes on Rob Hennigan

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Photo by Fernando Medina/Getty Images

If there is a rock star for the Magic, it’s not Jacque Vaughn, Jameer Nelson, or even Victor Oladipo. It’s GM Rob Hennigan.

The Mark Cuban’s and Jim Irsay’s of the world have taught us that a higher-up can often get more coverage than the actual players on the team. But we’re not watching Hennigan because of his antics. We’re watching him because he is the architect holding the blueprints. Until you actually build a house, you can’t install air conditioning or organize furniture or fill the room with pine-scented candles. We can’t assess the players or coaches until Hennigan whips up a roster that is expected to win.

His background has been documented. He shot up the positional ladders in San Antonio and Oklahoma City for eight years, two cities who have had winning filtered into their drinking water for quite some time. He’s shares a hauntingly similar background with the Thunder’s Sam Presti. And he’s the youngest GM in the league at 32.

Funny how age 30 for a GM is equivalent to about 18 for a player, and 30 for a player is somewhat at or beyond his prime.

Regardless, there wasn’t a lot of questioning about the hire when it happened. Magic fans seemed to want a fresh start in every way, so a young, vibrant triggerman appeared to be much needed.

But this is neither a defense nor an attack on the man. As we draw near the end of the season and our eyes are glazed over with the prospects of the future, we must make a logical assessment of the Magic’s rock star. And always keep in mind the question, “Could anyone else have made more out of the same variables?”

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Apr 07

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Victor Oladipo inadvertently helped Kemba Walker get a triple-double during the Magic’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday.
  • Several members of the Magic franchise talk about their baseball ties.
  • Is Arron Afflalo snapping out of his funk offensively?
  • John Denton of conducts a Q&A with Jameer Nelson.
  • Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated: “One night after shooting only 5-of-20 in 30 minutes in a loss to Charlotte, Kyle O’Quinn bounced back with 14 points (on 6-of-7 shooting), 13 rebounds and four blocks in a victory over Minnesota. The second-year power forward has played more in the second half of the season, with averages of 8.3 points and 7.1 rebounds in 22.1 minutes since the All-Star break.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “The team is not for sale, the DeVos family wants you to know. That’s swell. But this is still a massive rebuilding project in its early stages, this is a team that needs a little lottery luck this year.”
  • It’s worth repeating. Despite rumors to the contrary, the DeVos family — owners of the Magic — have no plans of selling the team.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN Insider reveals Orlando’s draft board: “The Magic want a point guard and will likely have three good options — Exum, Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis. However, none of them are in serious consideration for the No. 1 pick. But Exum is close, and I’m told he is No. 2 on Orlando’s board; Wiggins is first and Parker is third. The Magic remain quite high on Smart as well and have him at No. 4.”

Apr 06

Grades: Orlando Magic 100, Minnesota Timberwolves 92

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AP Photo/John Raoux


Orlando Magic 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 Minnesota Timberwolves

Arron Afflalo
8-15 FG | 1-4 3P | 3 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | -5

After a poor performance against the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday, in which Afflalo seemed to disappear at times, the Magic made a concerted effort to get him involved early and often offensively versus the Timberwolves. And it worked. Afflalo settled into a nice groove on offense in the first quarter and scored 10 points in the period, which jumpstarted his night.

Maurice Harkless
7-9 FG | 3-3 3P | 4 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -15

Comfortable. That’s the first word that comes to mind when Harkless had the ball in his hands against Minnesota. He knew what he wanted to do offensively, and he went out there and did it. There was no second-guessing involved. That has almost everything to do with Harkless’ confidence. He’s confident in his ability to score, especially from beyond the arc.

Tobias Harris
7-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 STL | 6 REB | 17 PTS | +26

Just when it seemed like the Timberwolves was going to run away with the game in the third quarter, thanks to a 17-6 run that ballooned their lead to 13, the Magic responded by going on runs of 11-1, 14-4, and 10-1 in the third and fourth quarters. Harris was a big part of those scoring surges (and Victor Oladipo too for that matter).

Kyle O’Quinn
6-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 BLK | 13 REB | 14 PTS | -6

With Nikola Vucevic sitting out his second straight game with a strained left achilles, Kyle O’Quinn took over his duties as the double-double guy. The points and rebounds were nice, but what was more impressive was O’Quinn’s four blocks. He’s by far the Magic’s best shot blocker and it’s easy to see why. He has great timing and he uses his length effectively.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota was without Kevin Love (back), Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Kevin Martin (foot), and Shabazz Muhammad (knee). To add insult to injury, Chase Budinger sprained his right ankle in the game’s opening minutes. It’s a minor miracle that the Timberwolves, playing on a road back-to-back no less, were able to lead for most of the night until the Magic finally got their act together in the second half.

Apr 05

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic
  • Date: April 5, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Timberwolves: 38-37
  • Magic: 21-55

Probable starters


  • Ricky Rubio
  • Chase Budinger
  • Corey Brewer
  • Dante Cunningham
  • Gorgui Dieng


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Dewayne Dedmon

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 97.3 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 109.0 (9th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.8 (13th of 30)


  • Pace: 93.8 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.5 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.1 (16th of 30)

Read about the Timberwolves

A Wolf Among Wolves

Apr 05

Grades: Charlotte Bobcats 91, Orlando Magic 80

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Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images


Charlotte Bobcats 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
80 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
2-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -21

To say that Afflalo’s production has tapered off at the end of the season, as I said on TrueHoop TV Live: After Dark on Thursday, would be an understatement. It’s fallen off a cliff the past week or so, and the Bobcats game was the latest example of that. Afflalo was passive in his approach on offense and it reflected in his numbers.

Victor Oladipo
8-18 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | +7

Oladipo scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, as he tried everything he could to help the Magic erase a 17-point halftime deficit. Nearly everything was clicking for him. He was aggressive in attacking the rim. He was pulling up for jump shots (and making them). Ultimately, it was to no avail, as the Bobcats won by double digits.

Tobias Harris
5-12 FG | 4-5 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +7

Harris was the only other Magic player that had any success offensively. He got his usual numbers and he did it in typical Harris fashion. Midrange jump shots and free throws, with one 3-pointer tossed in for good measure. Oladipo and Harris shouldered much of the offensive load, coming off the bench no less, but they didn’t get much help.

Kyle O’Quinn
5-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 BLK | 6 REB | 10 PTS | -6

To put up 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 3 steals is rather impressive, as O’Quinn did against Charlotte. It goes to show you the type of defensive player that O’Quinn can be, even though he got roasted on the low block defending Al Jefferson. But how the heck did he shoot 20 times? And why? Did Big Baby take over his body?

Charlotte Bobcats

It was a milestone victory of sorts for the Bobcats, as they were able to get to .500 for the first time since November. Big Al (29 points, 16 rebounds) was a big reason for that, as he channeled his inner-Hakeem Olajuwon and dominated in the post. Kemba Walker (13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) was not too shabby, either.

Apr 04

Preview: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats
  • Date: April 4, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Time Warner Cable Arena


  • Magic: 21-54
  • Bobcats: 37-38

Probable starters


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Kyle O’Quinn


  • Kemba Walker
  • Gerald Henderson
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • Cody Zeller
  • Al Jefferson

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 93.9 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.6 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.2 (17th of 30)


  • Pace: 92.6 (21st of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.7 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.4 (6th of 30)

Read about the Bobcats

Queen City Hoops

Apr 04

Rebuilding: It’s a magical thing

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Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Throughout the years of the Association’s existence, we’ve seen numerous ways of how teams choose to rebuild. Of how they go about attempting to bring their teams from positions of mediocrity or consistent failure, and into the elusive contender field that is rarely occupied by more than five or six teams from year-to-year.

There are different methods, for sure. Blowing it all up and starting from scratch by building through the draft (don’t make me say tanking), as of recently at least, seems to be the most common way.

Some teams are able to rebuild through free agency. Others are just unintentionally bad, catch a few lucky breaks, and manage to land a high lottery pick who works out, and they’re able to build around that player.

Then there’s what we’re seeing the Magic do right now, which we may have seen a similar version of before.

Back in October of last year, Magic Basketball’s Nate Drexler wrote about the issue surrounding Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis still being on the Magic roster, for they looked as if they would get in the way of developing the young talent. He wrote that dealing them was probably for the best — a near-consensus opinion at the time — as they were both believed to be decent players on relatively fair contracts, therefore they each had solid trade value.

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Apr 04

TrueHoop TV Live: After Dark Ep. 7

Amin Elhassan of ESPN Insider and I talk about the Orlando Magic.

Apr 03

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • How often are the Magic searched on Google compared to the other 29 teams in the NBA? Not that much.
  • During Orlando’s blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Tobias Harris only played 21 minutes. Was that intentional? Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post entertains the idea: “Given the Magic’s rebuilding situation, fans will no doubt wonder if cutting the minutes of one of the team’s best players in the season’s final weeks signifies an intentional shift toward losing. Harris’ workload down the stretch certainly bears monitoring.”
  • Victor Oladipo is one of the few rookies in the league this season that’s made a positive impact on his team, though he still trails Michael Carter-Williams in the Rookie of the Year race.
  • Where does GM Rob Hennigan rate in ESPN’s #NBAfrontofficerank?
  • Which Magic player leads the team in dunks?
  • Tonight, I’ll be making an appearance on TrueHoop TV: After Dark following the Spurs-Thunder game (8 p.m. ET on TNT) to discuss the Magic. Here’s a link in case you’d like to watch.

Apr 03

Sleep and its effects on the Magic’s rebuild


AP Photo/John Raoux

The season has nearly reached its merciful conclusion. With just eight games remaining, the Orlando Magic are a few short weeks away from focusing all of their attention on the upcoming draft. Free agency will follow, then the relative quiet of the summer and early fall when the Magic will hibernate for the offseason.

With a months-long slumber on the horizon, sleep seems like an appropriate topic to write about. At last month’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the science of snoozing made for one of the most riveting panels of the weekend.

I know, I know. Riveting? But sleep, especially as it pertains to the NBA as a whole, and the Magic in particular, is of the utmost importance, and we’re not talking about it enough in a society that lionizes those who sleep 10 hours a week — and even then, only in their offices.

Ask Dr. Charles Czeisler, the Harvard Medical school professor and former consultant to the Blazers and Celtics featured on the “Sleeping Giants” panel. Czeisler cited some rather compelling evidence for the primacy of rest:

Losing even one night of sleep significantly impairs reaction time and the ability to quickly spot visual signals. In a sport where tenths of a second are the difference between a timely defensive rotation and a dunk that ends up on SportsCenter, this stuff really matters. Lack of sleep also diminishes testosterone levels — a week of sleeping four hours a night can reduce a 25-year-old’s testosterone level to that of a 36-year-old — and increases the body’s inflammatory response.

That last line should raise all sorts of red flags for Orlando fans. This is a team that will be young for the foreseeable future, adding talent largely through the draft. It stands to reason that the Magic will target young players in free agency, too, the occasional veteran brought in for “leadership” not withstanding.

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