Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 41

Nov 19

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • It’s early, but there’s plenty of evidence to show that Maurice Harkless is getting better as a shooter.
  • Glen Davis and Tobias Harris have returned from their respective injuries, and are working to get themselves back onto the court.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie chimes in on Jameer Nelson’s fourth quarter benching in the Orlando Magic’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
  • As the Magic get ready to face off against the Miami Heat on Wednesday, John Denton of looks back at Nikola Vucevic’s 20-point, 29-rebound game versus the Heat last season.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s unclear when Davis and Harris will play again, but Harris seemed to indicate Tuesday that he’s unlikely to play when the Magic host the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.”
  • Victor Oladipo is looking forward to a bounce back game against the Heat.
  • Orlando’s spacing on offense has been poor at times.

Nov 19

A blueprint to tank harder


Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

At 4-6 on the year, the Orlando Magic have again started hot after most preseason prognosticators lumped them in with the Celtics, the Suns, the Jazz, the Sixers and other like-minded franchises attempting to turn things around through the 2014 NBA Draft.

The term “tank” has an odious stank to it that most basketball fans find putrid. This is understandable. Nobody wants their team to try and lose games, since it flies in the face of everything we hold dear about sports and competition in general. That long preamble aside, the Magic really need to start losing more if they’re going to get the best odds in next year’s draft.

That’s not to say this year’s crop of youngsters, plus a few mended or mending veterans — who are, with the exception of Jameer Nelson, all in their 20s — aren’t super fun to watch. No, this scrappy bunch has been incredible to watch grow, and they’ll continue to grow, but they shouldn’t accelerate at a pace that disallows any draft lottery contention.

Is the current lineup good enough to compete with the best in the East? No, and it’s fair to say they won’t ever be, even if Oladipo fulfills his promise, Vucevic continues to blossom, and we stop waiting for Tobias Harris to come back.

The Magic need to get better and it’s preferable to snag one of the exciting college freshman rather than a trading away some cap space to sign a second-tier player from next summer’s free agent class. Rookie deals are a huge luxury because of their controlled costs. This point becomes more acute when you take into account the summer of 2015 when most of the roster is up for an extension or in-line for a new deal.

But how to tank without pissing fans off while instilling a culture of losing? Purposefully losing games just isn’t the way to do it. Even though a lot of GMs hope their teams start losing this year, not a single one is going to make this overt. Rob Hennigan is the same way, and so is coach Jacque Vaughn, who has done an exemplary job with personnel that ranges towards the lower end in age and skill level.

There are a few steps the Magic could take to improve their chances in next year’s draft lottery without forfeiting their competitiveness.

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Nov 18

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports: “Despite lots of interest in guard Arron Afflalo last summer, the Magic refused to trade him. Smart move. Afflalo is averaging a team-high 21.7 points.”
  • Will the point guard experiment work out for Victor Oladipo?
  • Arron Afflalo could be playing his way out of Orlando.
  • In Saturday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Jameer Nelson was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Victor Oladipo. Nelson responds to the benching at Magic practice on Monday.
  • Afflalo was a finalist for Player of the Week honors for November 11-17. LeBron James won the award.
  • Victor Oladipo’s poor numbers are alarming.
  • Marc Stein of “As if to remind potential suitors that he should be high on the list of Established Vets Likely To Be Traded alongside Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo is already halfway to last season’s eight 25-point games. The flip side: Victor Oladipo’s nine TOs against Dallas reminded you how raw this team really is.”
  • Now that time has settled, Josh Cohen of reviews the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade.
  • Nelson and Oladipo are learning to coexist with each other.
  • John Schuhmann of “Arron Afflalo has had himself a strong start and is in pretty elite company as one of five guys averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He drained eight threes (four from the left corner) on his way to a career-high 36 points in Wednesday’s win against the Bucks. The Magic’s defense suffered some slippage last week and now faces the league’s best offense twice in a row.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Team officials want to test Oladipo and determine over the course of the season whether he can be a fulltime point guard in the NBA. They believe Oladipo’s confidence can withstand rough outings, and they also believe he’ll improve as the season continues. But the decision to play Oladipo over Nelson in the fourth quarter of a winnable matchup also opens the Magic to accusations that they are tanking games to enhance their chances of picking early in the talent-rich 2014 NBA Draft.”
  • Oladipo is looking forward to playing against Dwayne Wade, a player that’s befriended him given their connection with current Indiana University and former Marquette University coach Tom Crean.

Nov 18

Exploring the Magic’s trade options


Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

While the Orlando Magic have performed admirably early on this season, winning is not the short-term goal of this team and the better-than-expected performance likely won’t continue.

Orlando’s top three trade assets are Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, and Glen Davis. It’s a triumvirate of solid veteran contributors that can appeal to teams with different positional needs. The biggest reason for Orlando to make a deal (or two) is to increase their odds at the top pick in a loaded 2014 draft.

The most desired prize for Orlando is a first round pick, but most teams will be loathed to give one away in the upcoming draft. The best chance of getting a pick may come from dealing Nelson, Afflalo, and Davis to contenders that need some depth and will end up with a pick in the 20s. The alternative, getting a young player with potential, also comes from these teams who would rather make a push for the title now than build for the coming years.

Of course, salaries in a deal need to match up, which means the Magic would likely be getting something back other than the real asset they want. Other teams will probably look to offload some unwanted salary in a deal.

The framework of most possible trades has Orlando giving up one of the aforementioned three vets for a pick or young player and a salary dump. That’s the ideal scenario for the Magic.

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Nov 17

Grades: Dallas Mavericks 108, Orlando Magic 100

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 6.55.27 PM

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.


Dallas Mavericks 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
8-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | -2

Normally a face-up player, Vucevic went to work in the post against the gangly Samuel Dalembert, leveraging his size to his advantage and scoring with little difficulty. He made a few hook shots with both hands — including two lefty hooks — and displayed good footwork. If Vucevic can keep making strides in the low post, he’ll become a more complete player on offense.

Victor Oladipo
3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | -10

Turnovers were a big issue for Oladipo. Most of his nine turnovers related to his passing and ballhandling. Oladipo made several bad passes and lost the ball a few times when trying to split the double-team in pick-and-roll sets. The underlying theme is that Oladipo was forcing it way too much. The good news for Magic fans is that these are correctable mistakes.

Arron Afflalo
6-12 FG | 13-14 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 25 PTS | -2

After setting career highs in points and 3-point field goals made versus the Milwaukee Bucks, Afflalo followed that up by setting a new career-high in free throws made and attempted against the Mavericks. He was aggressive in attacking the rim off the dribble and drawing fouls. That allowed him to rack up free throws in bunches and put together a James Harden-like performance offensively (25 points on 12 shots)

Jameer Nelson
6-11 FG | 3-6 3P | 4 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | -4

The biggest storyline in the Magic’s loss to Dallas was a healthy Nelson not playing in the fourth quarter of a close game. Head coach Jacque Vaughn made the decision to play a small lineup (Oladipo-Moore-Afflalo-Harkless-Vucevic) in the final period and his choice raised a lot of eyebrows, given that Nelson was torching Jose Calderon and Oladipo was struggling to do the same.

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks got contributions from a lot of players in their win over Orlando, but it was Dirk Nowitzki (18 points on 6-for-12 shooting) that had the game’s defining moment. Dirk Nowitzki made a cold-blooded 3-pointer from the right wing over Harkless’ outstretched arm with 3:10 remaining that gave the Mavericks a 100-91 lead and essentially ended the game.

Nov 17

Video: Harkless and Vucevic play give-and-go

Nov 16

Preview: Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 16, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Mavericks: 5-4
  • Magic: 4-5

Probable starters


  • Jose Calderon
  • Monta Ellis
  • Shawn Marion
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Sam Dalembert


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Jason Maxiell
  • Nikola Vuvevic

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 98.2 (5th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 108.4 (4th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.9 (20th of 30)


  • Pace: 97.2 (9th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.2 (19th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.3 (7th of 30)

Read about the Mavericks

Mavs Moneyball

Nov 15

Friday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Jameer Nelson, a 10-year veteran, is living in the moment as the Orlando Magic eye the future with players like Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O’Quinn and Victor Oladipo.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Reserve Magic big man Kyle O’Quinn injured his right ankle during Wednesday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks and sat out practice Thursday and today. He might not play when the Magic host the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.”
  • As the Orlando Magic get ready to face off against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, Vucevic talks about his admiration for Dirk Nowitzki.
  • The Magic have started the season 4-0 at home and hope to continue that winning streak against the Mavs.
  • Victor Oladipo needs to learn how to use his athleticism effectively, but there’s no doubting his NBA-readiness.

Nov 15

The efficient Arron Afflalo has returned

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 10.05.33 PM

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

About two days after the NBA season started, an old friend called me and asked how Arron Afflalo was going to do this season. He had just picked him up in his fantasy draft. I simply laughed in response.

But look who’s laughing now.

Nine games into the season and the Orlando Magic appear to be Afflalo’s team, at least on offense. The seventh-year player is posting numbers like he’s back in Denver, and playing with renewed confidence. His production so far this season has been stellar, and that’s a breath of fresh air for Orlando fans.

Getting buckets
Points per game is a rudimentary gauge on how good of a scorer is. Regardless, Afflalo is currently averaging 21.3 points per game, which ranks him 13th overall in the entire league.

Much of that success is due to his 3-point shooting. You really can’t ignore the fact that he’s lighting it up from the outside, shooting 52 percent on 5.6 attempts per game. A vast majority of Afflalo’s 3-point attempts are coming while he’s spotting up and he’s converting them at an extremely high clip.

That torrid shooting display from deep is largely the reason why he’s sporting a .613 True Shooting percentage.

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Nov 14

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Arron Afflalo is turning heads with his All-Star caliber production.
  • Afflalo scored 29 of his career-high 36 points in the second half to help the Orlando Magic beat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 94-91.
  • Afflalo gets an A for his performance against the Bucks. Make that two As.
  • Check out an ugly Orlando Magic sleeved jerseys.
  • ESPN Stats & Information: “Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo had a career-high 36 points, eight rebounds, six assists and eight 3-pointers. No player had hit that combination of benchmarks in a game since Jason Kidd against the Rockets on April 11, 1995 (the end of his first NBA season).”
  • As the Magic continue their rebuilding process, Josh Cohen of takes a look at how NBA teams successfully rebuild.
  • In case you haven’t noticed, Afflalo has gotten better as a player.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Afflalo wanted to be able to play a full 48 minutes without feeling tired, and his offseason conditioning has helped him do that. According to SportVU player tracking technology, which the NBA is using, Afflalo had traveled 23.0 miles during games this season — the sixth-highest figure in the league through Wednesday.”
  • Solomon Jones will try to avoid knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
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