Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 69

Jan 17

The good and bad of Arron Afflalo

Heading into the season, the scouting report on Arron Afflalo from his final year with the Denver Nuggets was that his defense had regressed, in part because he worked on expanding his offensive repertoire.

Once known as a good defender, Afflalo poured his efforts into becoming more than just a spot-up shooter and it worked last season. He showed the ability to create his own shot, while also being more aggressive in attacking the rim and drawing fouls.

When it was all said and done, after being a low usage, high efficiency player in 2010-11, Afflalo posted a then-career-high usage rate of 19.1 percent without sacrificing too much efficiency in 2011-12. His True Shooting percentage dipped from 62 percent in 2011 to 58.4 percent in 2012.

Knowing he would be taking on a bigger role offensively this season after being traded to the Orlando Magic in the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade, it was expected that Afflalo’s usage rate would continue to increase and it has. His usage rate of 22.9 percent is a new career-high.

The issue is that Afflalo’s efficiency has continued to decline — his True Shooting percentage is 54.4 percent. The tradeoff between usage and efficiency is a common belief in the analytics community, which is why what Kevin Durant is currently accomplishing this season borderlines on the absurd (a True Shooting percentage of 65.3 percent with a usage rate of 29.3 percent).

The maddening thing about Afflalo is that when he optimizes his shot selection, he’s proven that he can be a medium usage, high efficiency player. That means more shots at the rim and behind the three-point line (especially from the corners), and fewer midrange jumpers. It also means getting to the free-throw line more often.

When Afflalo does that, he’s deadly. When he doesn’t, he’s just an ordinary player.

Jan 16

Recap: Orlando Magic 97, Indiana Pacers 86

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Steals, points off turnovers, transition buckets, a ridiculously high three-point field goal percentage, getting a former All-Star into foul trouble. These are things that have been highly irregular for the Magic this season, but were key elements to their win against the Pacers.

It all started with Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis in the post. Both big men were on point and set the tone early on after Indiana jumped out to an early lead.

The Pacers got off to a nice start behind Paul George. That start was magnified a bit by a sluggish Magic team that did not look ready to play. But Orlando tightened up defensively, forcing six Pacer turnovers in the first quarter. Glen Davis’ nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in the period helped the cause and the Magic cruised into the second quarter up five.

Orlando immediately pushed their lead in the second quarter to nine on back-to-back three-pointers by Josh McRoberts and J.J. Redick. Ultimately, the Magic would go up by as much as 17, catching fire from three-point land. Defensively, the Magic kept Indiana out of the paint and forced a ton of jumpshots. Indiana shot 40 percent in the first half and only shot 1-for-7 from three-point range. Magic led by 16 at the half.

Vucevic finished the first half with a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) and his quality performance kept the fire lit for the Magic all night.

Things broke open a bit in the third quarter. Indiana struggled to close the gap, Hibbert picked up his fourth foul, and the Magic kept hitting from deep. The Magic took their biggest lead of the game at 70-49, as Nelson, Afflalo, and McRoberts hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions late in the period. But the Pacers cut the deficit to 13 by the end of the quarter.

Orlando did not slow down at all in the fourth quarter. In fact, they kept pouring in three-pointers, eclipsing their season-high mark and holding the lead close to 20 for most of the period.

For the Pacers, this meant going through the motions with their starters on the bench. For the Magic, it meant closing out a win against a very good Pacers team.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Vucevic dominated the paint and took Roy Hibbert completely out of the game. He all but neutralized the former All-Star center, holding him to 11 points and 7 rebounds while putting up 16 points and 15 rebounds himself.

X-Factor

The Magic were scorching from deep, shooting a season-high 12-for-21 from three-point range. Indiana shot just 2-for-15 from beyond the arc, meaning that Orlando had a 36-6 edge in three-point shooting.

That Was … Run and Gun and a Lot of Fun

Orlando forced 15 turnovers and scored on almost every one of them. They got out in transition and absolutely abused the Pacers from deep. It was a night full of confidence and swagger for the Magic.

Jan 16

Preview: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic
  • Date: January 16, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Pacers: 24-15
  • Magic: 13-24

Probable starters

Pacers:

  • George Hill
  • Lance Stephenson
  • Paul George
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • DeQuan Jones
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Pacers:

  • Pace: 89.6 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.1 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 98.5 (1st of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.5 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.9 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.8 (21st of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

Jan 16

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Golliver of The Point Forward on the Orlando Magic’s rebuilding efforts: “While it takes a little work to get excited about Orlando’s pieces, there’s no questioning the general culture that’s been instilled under Vaughn. That goes a long way in keeping a team out of the “awful” category for multiple years. Like Cho, Magic GM Rob Hennigan has a stint with the Thunder on his résumé, so his approach to a multiyear rebuild is likely to be sensible. And, like Gilbert, Magic ownership has shown a willingness to spend in the past.”
  • The Magic have been shooting less three-pointers this season and their offense has suffered as a result.
  • As Orlando prepares to face off against the Indiana Pacers in tonight’s game for the first time since their first round series in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Glen Davis looks back at the playoff matchup.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Glen Davis and E’Twaun Moore said today they felt no lingering ill-effects from their first games back from injuries, and they will be available tonight for the Orlando Magic against the Indiana Pacers at Amway Center.”
  • The Magic will be facing off against the NBA’s best defensive team later tonight. The Pacers rank first in Defensive Rating, allowing just 98.5 points per 100 possessions.
  • Should Davis return to the starting lineup so soon after coming back from an injury?

Jan 15

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Ish Smith had one of the most amazing plays you’ll see all season. In last night’s game against the Washington Wizards, Smith jumped over John Wall after biting on his pump fake, then recovered to block his shot.
  • The Orlando Magic have lost 11 of their past 12 games.
  • This headline says it all: “Jameer Nelson plays a perfect seven seconds, steals a ‘Walk the Dog’ attempt.”
  • On Wednesday, the Magic will face off against the Indiana Pacers for the first time since both teams met in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
  • Orlando’s offense is better without Glen Davis, but their defense is better with him. That’s quite a conundrum. Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk tries to offer up a solution.
  • The Washington Wizards blew the Magic out at Verizon Center yesterday.

Jan 15

The clock is ticking on J.J. Redick

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

At one point, it was pretty difficult, almost impossible, to imagine the Magic running out of the tunnel without Dwight Howard. Now, just months after his departure, things have normalized, at least in a sense, in Orlando.

While the few veterans left on the roster continue to chip away at what was supposed to be an agonizing season, players like Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, and Maurice Harkless have become familiar, if not by now household names.

Maybe now, while we still have our wits in tact, we should get used to the idea that J.J. Redick, a man who has never in his professional career worn a jersey that didn’t say “Orlando” or “Magic” on it, might not be in Orlando for much longer.

Rumors have been reported, pundits have predicted, promulgated, and all but publicized the fact that J.J. Redick is probably the highest-valued trade asset on the Magic’s roster, and is in all likelihood squarely in the crosshairs of several contenders.

And why wouldn’t he be? For years, Redick has been referred to as a cerebral player, a high IQ guy, a smart defender, and obviously a great shooter. Now he’s enhanced his passing game and shown his ability to confidently get to the paint.

Put differently, Redick has expanded his skill-set, increased his production, and now you’ll need more than two hands to count the number of teams that would salivate at the prospect of having him come off their bench.

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Jan 14

Recap: Washington Wizards 120, Orlando Magic 91

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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Heading into tonight’s game, the Washington Wizards ranked dead last in the league in Offensive Rating — averaging 95.7 points per 100 possessions. To put that number in perspective, when the Charlotte Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history last season, they averaged 95.2 points per 100 possessions.

In other words, the Wizards’ offense had reached historic levels of futility.

But none of that mattered against the Orlando Magic, as Washington scored 120 points in 94 possessions for a whopping 128.3 Offensive Rating. The Wizards did it by running roughshod over the Magic. Literally. Washington outscored Orlando 29-4 in fast break points, which proved to be the difference in the ballgame.

And John Wall was one of the catalysts of the Wizards’ transition offense. The moment Wall stepped on the floor, he pushed the tempo every chance he got. This was evident with his first basket of the game, which was a fast break layup late in the first quarter.

The sequence began when Kevin Seraphin blocked Arron Afflalo’s layup attempt. Emeka Okafor caught the loose ball, then made an outlet pass to Wall, who immediately darted down the court. Jameer Nelson was the first man back on defense for the Magic but it didn’t matter, as Wall zipped right past him for a layup in transition.

It’s no secret that Wall’s biggest strength is his speed, particularly in the open floor, and he put it on display against Orlando throughout the game. But Wall made the best use of his speed in the half-court in the play of the game.

With the third quarter winding down, Wall beat Ish Smith off the dribble and broke his ankles with a devastating behind-the-back crossover that finished with an assist to a wide open Seraphin along the baseline for a dunk. It was Wall moving at the speed of light that doomed Smith.

This coming after Smith jumped over Wall and blocked his shot in the first half. It’s safe to say that Wall got his revenge.

A.J. Price and Garrett Temple also deserve kudos for pushing the pace and putting the Magic’s defense on their heels all night long. Price and Temple, alongside Wall, picked apart Orlando’s defense with their relentless attacking and it reflected in the discrepancy in fast break points.

Considering the caliber of opponent, this may take the cake as the worst loss of the season for the Magic.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

This was a team win in every sense of the word for the Wizards. Six players finished the game scoring in double figures. Emeka Okafor stood out from the pack with a double-double (19 points and 11 rebounds).

That Was … a Welcomed Sight

Despite the blowout loss, the good news for Orlando is that Glen Davis and E’Twaun Moore played after sitting out with injuries. Davis, in particular, looked sharp, finishing with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 18 minutes and playing solid defense.

Jan 14

Preview: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards
  • Date: January 14, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Verizon Center

Records

  • Magic: 13-23
  • Wizards: 6-28

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • DeQuan Jones
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Nikola Vucevic

Wizards:

  • A.J. Price
  • Bradley Beal
  • Martell Webster
  • Emeka Okafor
  • Nene Hilario

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.5 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.0 (22nd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.2 (19th of 30)

Wizards:

  • Pace: 91.4 (18th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 95.7 (30th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.7 (10th of 30)

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It

Jan 14

Monday’s Magic Word

  • In the wake of Glen Davis’ absence, Nikola Vucevic has emerged as a double-double machine for the Orlando Magic. Joe Kaiser of ESPN Insider has more: “Since Davis’ injury, though, he’s pretty much become a dream for any fantasy basketball owner, rattling off eight double-doubles over the last 11 games (including six in a row) and averaging 14.8 points and 14.4 rebounds during that span.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Shocking the Clips in Grant Hill’s return halted the longest skid Orlando has seen (10 L’s in a row) since the spring of 2004, a skid that put it in position to draft Dwight Howard.”
  • J.J. Redick has made a living out of drilling three-pointers from pin-down sets.
  • An update on the Magic’s injured players.
  • What will Davis’ impending return mean to Vucevic’s development?
  • It remains to be seen when Glen Davis (sprained left shoulder) and E’Twaun Moore (sprained left elbow) will return from their respective injuries.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel with an excellent breakdown of what Davis’ absence has meant to the Magic. Of note: Orlando’s offense has skyrocketed with Davis out, but the defense has regressed sharply.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Magic were good in the clutch on Saturday in a 104-101 defeat of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. J.J. Redick had a tremendous sequence by tying the game with a layup and then giving the Magic their first lead of the day with a step-back 3-pointer over Matt Barnes. Redick then preserved the win by drawing a charge from Jamal Crawford and seconds later passing out of a double team for what proved to be the game’s winning points.”
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Redick is 14-for-26 on threes in his last three games and is a prime candidate to help a contender down the stretch, but he’s not so old that he can’t be a part of Orlando’s future.”
  • The Magic likely won’t make the playoffs, which makes wins against teams like the Los Angeles Clippers extra satisfying.

Jan 14

J.J. Redick shuts down Lob City

Since the start of the season, J.J. Redick has been the subject of trade rumors and it’s easy to see why.

At 28 years old, Redick is an elder statesman on a rebuilding team. Only Jameer Nelson (30) and Hedo Turkoglu (33) are older. With the Orlando Magic in the middle of a rebuilding phase, it makes sense that people are questioning whether or not Redick is a part of the franchise’s long-term plan.

Further fueling the fire is Redick’s cap-friendly contract. He’s making $6.2 million this season, one of the best value contracts in the NBA, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, per ShamSports. That makes it easy for almost any team in the league to acquire Redick in a trade.

Oh, and Redick is pretty good. He’s posting a career-high 15.8 Player Efficiency Rating. He’s an elite shooter, efficient scorer, underrated playmaker, and a smart defender. In other words, he’s an excellent role player that every team in the NBA covets — especially a contender.

And Redick put those positive basketball qualities on display in the Magic’s 104-101 come-from-behind win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. In the game, Redick scored eight of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 42.1 seconds left, and he drew a key offensive foul Jamal Crawford moments later.

Let’s take a look at both plays.

_______

Trailing 101-99 with 54.7 seconds left, head coach Jacque Vaughn drew up a play to get Redick a three-pointer.
 
a

c

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