Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 43

Dec 23

Rediscovering Tobias Harris

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Tobias Harris played nearly 1,000 minutes for the Magic last season after being acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in the J.J. Redick trade. But after the season was over, Harris was still somewhat of an unknown quantity. He was a stretch four that didn’t bring much stretch to the position, given that he shot only 31.0 percent from 3-point range. Instead, he thrived taking bulkier opponents off the dribble and aggressively attacking the rim. 

He had stellar base numbers with Orlando, putting up 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks with a 17.0 PER — only six players in the NBA averaged those numbers for the 2012-13 season. But his .524 True Shooting percentage, a measure of efficiency, was below the league average (.536). And there’s also the question of how much of Harris’ production was just stat-stuffing on a bad team.

This season hasn’t done much to answer those questions. He had his start to the season denied by a high ankle sprain, and with so little news surrounding him, I nearly forgot he existed. In a 3-on-3 for ClipperBlog on who the best young Magic player would be, I honestly just forgot about Harris.

Harris is finally back in action, having his best game of the season so far against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, yet the questions remain. He’s flip-flopped positions from last season, now playing the majority of his time at small forward with Glen Davis healthy. His minutes per game are drastically down, but it’s unclear how much of that is the effect of him coming back from injury.

He’s yet to really breakout this season and is hounded by poor shooting, but more importantly, he doesn’t have an obvious role. Arron Afflalo is the cornerstone of the offense, mainly working off of isolations, post-ups, and screens. Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson spend most of their time running the pick-and-roll with the multitude of Magic big men, who are also the occasional recipients of post-ups. Fitting Tobias Harris in will be a clunky task for Jacque Vaughn.

The majority of Harris’ offense last year came on either isolations or post-ups, but there may not be enough touches for him with far more offensive options on the team this season. He’ll have to be the ballhandler in the pick-and-roll more often with his move to the three. That’s something Harris did only sparingly last season, as it accounted for just 2.7 percent of his offense, per Synergy.

The best option may be to keep him as a focal point in bench-heavy lineups, but it remains to be seen if that actually happens.

Harris showed awesome potential last season, but his status for this season hangs in doubt. The good news is that the Magic have another 55 games to figure out what type of player he is.

Dec 22

Grades: Sacramento Kings 105, Orlando Magic 100

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Sacramento Kings 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 BLK | 9 REB | 4 PTS | -2

By all accounts, this was Vucevic’s worst performance of the 2013-14 season. He was a total non-factor. He finished with single-digit points and rebounds, committed five turnovers, and fouled out on top of all that. The only silver lining is that he didn’t get outplayed that badly by DeMarcus Cousins, who had a double-double but didn’t have much of an imprint on the game.

Victor Oladipo
5-13 FG | 1-3 3P | 1 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | 0

Coming off the bench for the first time since November 16 against the Dallas Mavericks (a span of 16 consecutive games), Oladipo was a spark plug for the Magic on offense. He was aggressive in looking for his shot — 13 field goal attempts in 21 minutes — and he played with a lot of energy, especially in transition, where he used his speed to create scoring opportunities.

Arron Afflalo
9-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 26 PTS | -5

Ben McLemore, Sacramento’s prized rookie, is getting baptized by fire. First, it was LeBron James posterizing him. Then, it was Afflalo putting him in the “House of Pain” and torturing him in the post. Afflalo’s cruelty was the most severe when he backed down McLemore on the low block and drilled Kobe-like fadeaway jumpers. The rook didn’t stand a chance.

Tobias Harris
7-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | -1

A high ankle sprain robbed Harris a quarter of the season, so it’s taken some time for him to pick up where he left off last season, when he took the league by storm following the J.J. Redick trade. That player showed up against the Kings. Particularly in the fourth quarter, when Harris went on a scoring frenzy late in the game.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings beat Orlando thanks to a huge fourth quarter from Marcus Thornton, who was the catalyst behind Sacramento’s 18-4 run that turned the tide of the game in their favor. Thornton accounted for 11 of the 18 points during the run — including three backbreaking 3-pointers. The Magic tried to make a comeback, but missed free throws and turnovers doomed them.

Dec 22

Video: Maurice Harkless dunks in transition

Dec 21

Preview: Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 21, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Kings: 7-18
  • Magic: 8-18

Probable starters

Kings:

  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Ben McLemore
  • Rudy Gay
  • Jason Thompson
  • DeMarcus Cousins

Magic:

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

Advanced stats

Kings:

  • Pace: 94.1 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.8 (17th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.0 (27th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.6 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.9 (15th of 30)

Read about the Kings

Cowbell Kingdom

Dec 20

Friday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reveals how much Victor Oladipo has struggled finishing at the rim so far this season: “Oladipo has had his shot blocked 38 times this season — with 31 of those blocks occurring within 5 feet of the basket — according to the NBA’s official statistics database. Through Thursday, only five players have had their shot blocked more often than Oladipo: Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins.”
  • Arron Afflalo, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz with an illness, expects to play on Saturday versus the Sacramento Kings.
  • Maurice Harkless wants to play more.
  • Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at small forward prospects currently in college that could help the Magic next season.
  • The struggle is real for Oladipo, who’s still trying to acclimate himself to the NBA style of play.

Dec 20

Arron Afflalo, the All-Star

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Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Arron Afflalo is an All-Star. Admittedly, a large percentage of his All-Star credentials is due to the watered-down nature of the Eastern Conference this year. It’s a well-worn, beaten down, deceased horse of a topic at this point.

It’s also inextricably linked to the candidacy of anyone not named LeBron James. Competition across the board in the East is as far removed from fierce as possible, and either as a symptom or the cause of the devastatingly poor play, potential All-Stars are few and far between.

Yet regardless of the performances of his peers, Arron Afflalo is an All-Star. Unfortunately for him, and for Magic fans, not many people know it. While “Spell Check” continues to light up opponents on a nightly basis, most eyes are turned elsewhere, soaking in what they believe to be a more entertaining product involving teams west of the Mississippi River.

And Afflalo did himself no favors with his play last season, which, to put it kindly, was something of a disappointment. Touted as one of the prized acquisitions in the Dwight Howard trade, he failed to play up to expectations, turning in something of a wasted year. The fanfare that surrounded Afflalo upon his arrival in Orlando quickly evaporated, leaving a player alone to find his way back to the spotlight.

To say that Afflalo has had a better season in 2013-14 is to drastically undersell the improvements he’s made and the level at which he’s played.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 19

Grades: Utah Jazz 86, Orlando Magic 82

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Utah Jazz 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
82 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
5-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 BLK | 14 REB | 14 PTS | -1

It’s rare to see Vucevic have an inefficient shooting night, but that’s what happened against the Jazz. He shot 4-for-12 from the rim, and Derrick Favors deserves a lot of credit for making it difficult for Vucevic to score in the paint by blocking several of his shots and altering a few others. Favors’ length bothered Vucevic more than anything else.

Jameer Nelson
5-12 FG | 3-7 3P | 5 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +15

There were two major storylines in this game and Nelson was involved in both of them. First, he got torched defensively by Trey Burke. Second, with the Magic trailing 84-82 with 10 seconds left, Nelson missed a game-tying layup — credit goes to Favors for altering the trajectory of Nelson’s shot by forcing him to toss it a bit higher off the glass than normal.

Tobias Harris
5-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -6

Starting at small forward in place of Arron Afflalo (illness), Harris got extended minutes and picked up his first double-double of the season. But he did have his struggles offensively. Like Vucevic, Harris had a lot of trouble finishing at the rim due to the length of the Jazz defenders. Harris did have moderate success scoring on the perimeter, though.

Glen Davis
5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 BLK | 4 REB | 12 PTS | +4

Davis had a quiet performance, in part because he didn’t get a lot of playing time. Orlando had the most success against Utah when playing the lineup of Nelson-Moore-Harkless-Nicholson-Vucevic. That’s partly because Nicholson can space the floor better at the power forward position. But Davis played in crunch time and acquitted himself nicely by making a fadeaway jumper and a pair of free throws, though it wasn’t enough.

Utah Jazz

Coming off a poor performance (season-low three points on 1-for-8 shooting) against the Miami Heat on Monday, Burke bounced back in a big way by scoring a career-high 30 points (12-for-20). It was the most points scored by a rookie this season. Burke blitzed the Magic in the pick-and-roll, which is where he did most of his damage on offense, and completely outshone Victor Oladipo.

Dec 18

Video: Oladipo’s chase-down block on Trey Burke

Dec 18

Preview: Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 17, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Jazz: 6-21
  • Magic: 8-17

Probable starters

Jazz:

  • Trey Burke
  • Gordon Hayward
  • Marvin Williams
  • Richard Jefferson
  • Derrick Favors

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Jazz:

  • Pace: 91.6 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.2 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 110.7 (30th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.9 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.0 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.3 (16th of 30)

Read about the Jazz

Salt City Hoops

Dec 17

Tuesday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on the Orlando Magic’s win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday: “They just had more weapons than Chicago, which says a lot about where the Bulls are at. But having Nikola Vucevic back for them makes such a huge difference. They’re just a much better team with what he brings down low, especially on the glass. Wins will be tough to come by but they fight for the ones they get.”
  • Arron Afflalo continues his strong season with his 23-point performance against the Bulls.
  • Richard Bilbao of Orlando Business Journal: “The Orlando Magic’s final schedule for its $200 million downtown complex is still being determined, but for the biggest bang in Orlando history, the team should shoot for finishing by at least 2017. Here’s why: At an OBJ event on Dec. 13, Magic CEO Alex Martins said the team will begin the bidding process in March to bring the 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game back to Orlando.”
  • Trade ideas for the Magic’s veterans.
  • In his second year in the NBA, Andrew Nicholson has been a steady presence for Orlando.
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