He’s old and slow, but that’s not the only reason Hedo Turkoglu should go.
The Orlando Magic are a franchise on the mend after the “put Dwight Howard in the middle and spread the floor with 3-point shooting” experiment ended in recriminations, and finally with Howard getting dealt to Los Angeles. Keeping Hedo around next season would slow the Magic’s stated decision to rebuild, and he’s not exactly the best mentor for the youngsters the Magic possess and are likely to keep acquiring with all the draft picks headed their way.
There are bad contracts and then there are badcontracts, and the Orlando Magic franchise has unfortunately experienced a few of the latter during their brief reign as the NBA’s equivalent of easy money.
No Magic fan can forget Rashard Lewis’s laughable — and possibly PED-influenced — $118 million signing in the summer of 2007. Or the swap of that contract for Gilbert Arenas. Even though Arenas had been amnestied before the start of last season, the Magic still have to pay him $20.8 million this year and $22.3 million next year! Yeah.
So it’s not very surprising the recent Forbes list of the most overpaid NBA players included two current Magic members.
Although the team has not always executed — the Orlando Magic rank 27th in offensive efficiency — the system that rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn has put into place is exciting as a concept.
He’s used a ton of off-ball movement all season. The primary shooter in those sets was J.J. Redick, but as we all know, he’s in Milwaukee now and Vaughn has had to adapt. He’s plugged Arron Afflalo into a particularly effective action Orlando has been running like gangbusters post-trade deadline.
Things begin in a little bit of a “Horns” look, with two high post big men, but almost immediately Tobias Harris moves towards the corner and Al Harrington comes up from the elbow for a screen-and-roll with Jammer Nelson. This is a faux-action, executed only to occupy the defense and get Nelson moving towards the middle.
Another effect of the initial pick-and-roll is to get the Magic’s lone true big man (though it may even be a stretch to call Al Harrington a true big man) out of the paint. Look how much space there is in the middle of the floor.
Harris and Maurice Harkless criss-cross each other on cuts, with Harkless continuing on a curl to the middle while Harris is stopping and lurking on the baseline.
All the space left open in the middle of the floor is now Harkless’ to exploit and the Sixers don’t want to let him do that. Harris’ man (head circled) is keeping his eye on Harkless and shifts over just a half step.
Meanwhile, Afflalo begins to accelerate towards a stealthily-set Harris screen. He comes around it and pops to the corner — the man with the responsibility of helping on him is a step behind because of the Harkless cut. If his man can get around the screen, Afflalo can just use his defender’s momentum against him and curl into the middle. Here’s a couple examples of the play in real time:
This offense will become more and more potent as players develop. The biggest thing is that a system and process are in place, and if Orlando can keep them consistent, they’ll succeed in due time.
In a recent article, Forbes listed Arron Afflalo as one of the most overpaid players in the league. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped contends that Afflalo isn’t overpaid, but overworked and being asked to do too many things on the court for Orlando.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk has had a hard time watching the Magic’s offense lately.
Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones on Orlando retiring No. 6 for the fans: “Suuuuper lame when you’re guessing retired jerseys and you’ve exhausted all the obvious Magic guesses, until you’re forced to contemplate a universe in which a franchise retired the jersey of Terry Catledge or Darrell Armstrong for some reason.”
John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “The Magic have held four of their last five opponents under a point per possession, which is pretty amazing. They haven’t won any of those games, but why be picky? Offense (92.5 points scored per 100 possessions in that stretch) is obviously the problem and Tobias Harris might want to stay inside the arc. He has five double-doubles in his last six games, but has missed 17 of his last 18 3-point attempts.”
10-20 FG | 1-3 FT | 21 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | 0
His long arms once again controlled the boards as he posted his third 20-20 game of the season. Tyler Zeller was overmatched, as Nik collected eight offensive rebounds on the game and lorded over Zeller in the paint. He needs to work on setting tougher screens, particularly at the top of the key, and hitting his free throws, but he’s an octopus on the glass.
Harris bounced back nicely from his shooting slump. Rather than settle for jumpers, he attacked the rim and hit the glass. Harris started hot, knocking down four of his first five shots, but after a big third quarter, he didn’t shoot well in the fourth. Harris’ defense left a lot to be desired too, as Gee dropped 19, including 3-for-6 from deep when Harris got stuck going under screens.
Kyrie Irving shot 3-for-15 from the field, but it didn’t matter because Udrih wasn’t much better shooting. He did run the offense smoothly in the first quarter, collecting four assists — including a laser to a cutting Nik for a nifty leftie lay-in — but he only had two assists the rest of the way. And he disappeared down the stretch, committing two costly turnovers in the fourth.
4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 8 PTS | -2
Thompson killed the rookie on the glass, and it got so bad Nicholson only played a minute and a half in the fourth. Nicholson did have four assists, and he knocked down a 20-footer in the second half that looked smooth, but he’s young and not quite big enough to grab rebounds without proper technique, which will hopefully come as he plays more.
Orlando was an abysmal 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. If Harris, Udrih, or Harkless had knocked down a couple of their 3-pointers, this is a totally different game. But even with their star struggling and C.J. Miles knocked out early after a Vucevic elbow found his cranium, the Cavs found a way to win behind their young forwards Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson.
8-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 15 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | 0
It was to be expected that Vucevic would rack up a double-double against a shorthanded Bulls frontline currently without the services of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. That he did it in methodical fashion is no surprise either. He got his midrange jumpers in pick-and-pop sets or by simply spotting up on the perimeter. He got his offensive rebound putbacks. Vucevic got his.
Udrih put on a clinic on how to play effective and efficient pick-and-roll basketball, eviscerating the Bulls’ pick-and-roll coverage. Nearly every time Udrih’s defender fought over the screen, Udrih simply pulled up for a midrange jump shot as Chicago’s big sagged back to protect the paint. And it didn’t matter when a Bulls big man would hedge the screen. Udrih would still score. He was that locked in.
The slump continues for Harris, who has really struggled to score since putting up a career-high 30 points against the Washington Wizards a week ago. The primary issue remains: Harris is still settling for jumpers and not attacking the rim. He should be trying to get easy buckets, or draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. Or do both.
3-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 BLK | 2 REB | 10 PTS | -3
After Maurice Harkless sat out the second half with a sore left knee, Jones (and Doron Lamb) filled in for him. Neither played well, but Jones did have another noteworthy dunk. It was a tomahawk jam that came late in the fourth quarter, capping a 8-0 run that pulled the Magic within a single point at 87-86 with 1:33 left.
With no Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton, Marco Belinelli, Noah, and Gibson, head coach Tom Thibodeau has been forced to use sorcery to squeeze out wins with a shorthanded roster. And it worked against Orlando, as Nate Robinson went into hypnosis in the fourth quarter and was the main driving force behind the Bulls’ 13-4 run that ended up giving them enough cushion to hold off the Magic.