Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 7

May 19

Magic, BayHawks enter single-affiliation partnership

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Photo by Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic, Erie BayHawks, and the NBA Development League today announced that the Magic and BayHawks have entered into a three-year single affiliation partnership beginning with the 2014-15 NBA D-League season. Orlando becomes the record 16th NBA team to have a one-to-one affiliation with an NBA D-League team.

The partnership, also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” is the eighth of its kind in the NBA D-League and allows an NBA team to control the NBA D-League team’s basketball operations, while the existing local ownership maintains primary responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives.

“We are looking forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with the BayHawks,” said Orlando Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins. “We feel this hybrid relationship will further assist our efforts in regards to developing NBA talent, while providing Erie with a team they can be proud of. I would like to thank Steve Demetriou. His vision and values fit very well with ours and we are excited about this exclusive affiliation.”

The BayHawks, which just finished its sixth NBA D-League season in Erie, have previously been affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors and have produced four NBA D-League All-Stars and developed 11 players who earned GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA. Additionally, the BayHawks have welcomed 15 NBA players on assignment, including Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets and Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs.

“We’re thrilled to have the Orlando Magic as our new NBA affiliate,” said Erie BayHawks majority owner Steve Demetriou. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Alex Martins and other members of the Magic management team, and we are extremely excited to join forces with this first class organization. The Magic are aligned with our goals of providing an outstanding product on and off the court that our fans, corporate partners and the Erie community can continue to be proud of.”

The NBA D-League, entering its 14th season for 2014-15, saw a record 36 players earn 49 call-ups during the 2013-14 campaign. An all-time high 33 percent of all NBA players (149) on 2013-14 NBA end-of-season rosters now boast NBA D-League experience, including two members of the Magic. A record 62 NBA players honed their skills on assignment in the NBA D-League last season, while the league reached record totals in attendance drawing over five percent more fans than the previous year. For the fifth consecutive year, the league reached the one million fan plateau.

“The Magic’s partnership with the BayHawks is yet another example of the increasing significance of the NBA D-League to NBA teams, as more than half of all NBA teams have now invested in an exclusive NBA D-League affiliate” said Dan Reed, NBA D-League President. “The BayHawks and Magic are two excellent organizations with outstanding leadership, and I know they will be great partners.”

The Magic become the eighth NBA team to enter into a hybrid affiliation with an NBA D-League team for the 2014-15 season, joining the Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws), Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids NBA D-League Team), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy), Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce), Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam) and Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns). Seven additional NBA teams will own and operate their NBA D-League affiliates for the 2014-15 season: Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge), Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors), Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders), New York Knicks (Westchester NBA D-League Team), Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers), Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers) and San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros). Additionally, the Dallas Mavericks have a single affiliation with the Texas Legends by way of Mavericks’ General Manager Donnie Nelson’s ownership of the Legends.

May 19

Revisiting Oladipo’s point guard development

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Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

In February, after everyone had witnessed Victor Oladipo’s steady development as a point guard in the first few months of his rookie season, Jacque Vaughn said that ‘Dipo may remain a combo guard further into his career.

Oladipo-at-point guard was an experiment in having him as a primary ballhandler, something that wasn’t really his main role during his three years in college at Indiana. It’s fair to say that the experiment was a success, with him finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting after a solid season.

Offensively, Oladipo was most successful in isolation. For ‘Dipo, 45.6 percent of his isolations finished in a score for the Magic and 0.93 points per possession (44th in the NBA) were generated in those situations, per Synergy Sports.

He showed good composure in isolation plays, often using his generally superior strength and speed over other point guards to his advantage. However, he settled for long jump shots a bit too often, or at least not in the right circumstances.

He wasn’t terrible from midrange and behind the 3-point line, with his percentages of 38.1 percent and 32.7 percent respectively both hovering either around or a little below the league average (for further info, here is his shot chart for the season). However, it wasn’t the volume of shots from these areas that caused problems, rather the situation.

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May 05

Oladipo finishes second in Rookie of the Year voting

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via NBA press release:

Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers is the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the 2013-14 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, the NBA announced today. Carter-Williams, who became only the third rookie since 1950-51 to lead all rookies in scoring, rebounding and assists, received 104 of a possible 124 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada, finishing with 569 points.

The Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo finished second with 364 points (16 first-place votes) and Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz finished third with 96 points (one first place vote). Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76) as the only players since 1950-51 to pace all rookies in those three categories. He also joined Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only rookies in NBA history to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Carter-Williams also led all rookies in steals (1.86 spg, sixth in NBA).

Selected by the 76ers with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, Carter-Williams was named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Oct. 29-Nov. 3, joining Shaquille O’Neal as the only rookies in history to capture NBA Player of the Week honors to begin their careers. Carter-Williams went on to earn Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in October/November, January, March and April. He tallied 17 double-doubles and two triple-doubles on the season, while scoring at least 20 points in 25 contests.

To view the media voting results, click here.

May 02

Magic extend contracts of Hennigan, Vaughn

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their fourth-year team option and extended the contracts of general manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn, chief executive officer Alex Martins announced today. Both contracts have been extended through the 2015-16 season. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

“Rob (Hennigan) and Jacque (Vaughn) have worked extremely hard in establishing a culture which embodies teamwork, hard work, hunger for success and humility,” said Martins. “With their strategic direction and leadership, we feel we are headed in the right direction, which will allow us to achieve our goals of contending in a long-term, sustainable fashion.”

Hennigan was named general manager of the Magic on June 20, 2012. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the team’s basketball operations, including day-to-day business, roster management and development, player acquisitions, salary cap management, analytical systems, and process development throughout the department. Hennigan spent the previous four seasons (2008-12) with Oklahoma City, including his last two seasons as the Thunder’s assistant general manager/player personnel.

Vaughn became the tenth head coach in Orlando Magic history on July 27, 2012. He is the second-youngest head coach in the NBA. Prior to joining the Magic, Vaughn spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. He played 12 years in the NBA from 1997-2009, including 80 games with Orlando in 2002-03. Vaughn was a member of the San Antonio Spurs 2006-07 NBA Championship team.

Apr 29

Orlando Magic statement on Donald Sterling

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic feel the recent reprehensible comments by Donald Sterling were absolutely unacceptable and do not reflect the values and beliefs of our organization or our league. We applaud the leadership of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, as well as head coach Doc Rivers and his players, who are at the epicenter of the situation.

Apr 25

From Denver and New York with love

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Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Two years ago, acquiring a 2014 first round pick from the Denver Nuggets probably caused Magic fans to shrug and think, “Neat,” if they even noticed it at all in the chaos of Dwight Howard’s exit. The Magic were promised a first round selection in the 2014 NBA Draft from the worst of the two first round picks between Denver and New York, who had themselves given up the pick long ago for Carmelo Anthony.

What would ensue seemed predictable: Denver and New York would end up getting knocked out in the playoffs, and Orlando would end up with a pick somewhere in the upper teens or 20s.

Then, after last year, the Magic fanbase would have felt even more disinterested. The Knicks were back. They finished with the second-best record in the East — their 54 wins were the most in 16 years. Meanwhile, the Nuggets were a Western Conference juggernaut, finishing with the third-best record in the conference. The Magic’s pick felt securely locked in the 20s. Surely, the Knicks and Nuggets couldn’t fall off much from where they were last season.

This year came and went, and nothing unfolded predictably.

Denver, after capturing the No. 3 seed in the West last year, failed to make the playoffs this time around, struggling under a new head coach. It had been over a decade since the Nuggets weren’t part of the NBA postseason party.

Denver’s struggles might not have mattered if New York had ended up anywhere in the ballpark of last year’s success. But no: the Knicks spent most of the year grossly underachieving and getting all kinds of circus-like media attention centered around Mike Woodson’s handle of the team, Carmelo’s future, and the hiring of Phil Jackson upstairs. None of that attention translated into wins, however, and the Knicks too fell short of the playoffs even in an unusually weak conference.

(As a side note, Orlando won the battle for .500 with the Knicks handily.)

Let’s return to the Magic. Most of its future hope centered around a likely top-five pick in the 2014 draft. The other pick shouldn’t have been as exciting as it is now. The team might have drafted in the 20s somewhere, and the hope would have been for someone to just make the roster and be good enough to actually play.

Now, there are two lottery picks. The second one will likely find a Rodney Hood or Doug McDermott available. Both are excellent shooters, a role of need for the team. The already-exciting draft is now perhaps the most anticipated one in Magic history. And all of this is from the surprising mediocrity of two distant teams.

As luck, or divine intervention, or the prophetic mind of Rob Hennigan would have it, the Orlando rebuild is going to take a leap forward with these two lottery picks in June.

Someone needs to pay the lottery ping pong ball cleaners a lot more money. By the time they start bouncing around in front of the eager eyes of team executives on May 20, you’ll never be able to tell how much blood, sweat, and tears had soaked them right up until the last minute.

Apr 24

Magic fully investing in D-League

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Photo by Erie BayHawks

According to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the Orlando Magic will be acquiring the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League and entering an exclusive partnership with them.

The Orlando Magic plan to enter a single-affiliation hybrid relationship with the NBA Development League’s Erie BayHawks, people familiar with news told USA TODAY Sports. They requested anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.

An official announcement is not expected until late May as the parties finalize details. The Magic will run basketball ops and the ownership will handle business operations and community relations.

The BayHawks were formerly affiliated with the New York Knicks, but with the Knicks forming their own D-League team, the Magic pounced on the opportunity to acquire a D-League team for themselves.

The benefits of a D-League team are enormous. When Andrew Nicholson was struggling to get playing time in his sophomore season while Glen Davis was around, he could’ve been sent to the D-League to get game minutes. It also could have helped to rebuild his confidence, which was shot to hell during the season, with a few 20-point games.

Kyle O’Quinn proved in his second year in the NBA that he’s a really good player. He possibly could have been even better if he had played more than 638 minutes in his rookie season. Stuck behind more experienced players in the rotation, he could have gone to a D-League team to get real game minutes and potentially develop quicker.

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Apr 23

Video: Victor Oladipo’s top 10 plays in 2013-14

Apr 22

The rise of Kyle O’Quinn

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While we as basketball fans love to determine improvement through an increase in the main statistical categories, the indication it can give can be minimal at times.

Take Kyle O’Quinn for instance: when comparing his stats from this season to last, you’ll notice they’re fairly similar — a slight jump in most areas, but nothing that screams “big improvement.” Despite this, it’s common belief among Magic fans and writers that O’Quinn developed greatly as a player this year.

The increased trust that Magic coach Jacque Vaughn showed in Kyle played a huge part in his development. As the season went on, O’Quinn saw a somewhat steady increase in his minutes — he seized the opportunity, and increased his production significantly with an increased role in the rotation.

The stats — when split into sections of the season — are telling:
 

Games MPG PPG RPG BPG TS%
1-25 9.8 2.8 3.0 0.5 52.3%
26-50 19.8 7.0 6.4 1.5 51.1%
51-69 (started) 23.7 9.7 6.8 1.9 54.3%

Not only did he improve across the board statistically as the season went on, it was clear he was playing with more confidence. He was far less hesitant with the ball, and showed off the fantastic passing skills he possesses, both on outlets and in the half-court, rare for a player of his position.

It also must have been encouraging for Magic brass to see him play comfortably at either frontcourt spot, playing a lot of minutes in a big lineup with himself at the 4 and Nikola Vucevic at the 5, yet also sliding to center himself when need be.

SportVu’s rim protection data backs up the claim that O’Quinn is an excellent defensive player, with him being ranked 13th in the league in field goal percentage allowed at the rim, for guys who contest at least four shots a game.

He’s ranked above Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah (16th) and fairly close to Andrew Bogut (10th), Serge Ibaka (7th), and Taj Gibson (11th), along with various other elite defensive big men. That’s a pretty great sign, and shows his potential to be an elite defensive big for years to come — guys that can protect the rim generally stay in the league for a long time.

Kyle is a fan favorite, too. Working hard to transform himself from a guy who rode the bench his rookie season to a pivotal part of the Magic rotation has not gone unnoticed, and when combined with his excellent defensive awareness and never-ending motor, he’s a fantastic guy to have on the court.

With O’Quinn’s development on both ends of the floor — and his ability to play either big position — it’s looking like the Magic have their frontcourt set for the future, considering himself and Nikola Vucevic have shown they can both see the court at the same time (O’Quinn’s best defensive lineup includes Vucevic, per 82games.com).

With the kind of intensity and energy O’Quinn brings to the team, the minutes increase is likely to be a continuing trend, and the extra experience will only help his confidence even more.

Whatever happens, Kyle O’Quinn will always be the feel-good story that came out of a pretty tough season for the Orlando Magic.

Apr 21

5-on-5: Orlando Magic team awards

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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

With the season over for the Orlando Magic, it’s time to hand out team awards. We asked our panel to hand in their picks for the 2013-14 season.

1. Who’s the 2013-14 most valuable player?

Ryan Drawdy: Arron Afflalo. He may not factor into the future plans of the organization, but if we’re zooming in on this year alone, there’s no other answer. Afflalo gave the team an offensive punch it hardly possessed otherwise. The only other option here would be Vucevic, but he played in 16 less games and wasn’t as consistent a threat to defenses.

Jacob Frankel: Arron Afflalo. Nikola Vucevic has been close in quality of play, especially with Afflalo’s late season lull, but just hasn’t played enough games to be in contention for the Magic MVP.

Spencer Lund: Arron Afflalo. He shot over 42 percent from beyond the arc, and while his performance on a game-by-game level dropped significantly in March and April, he was the biggest reason other Magic players got open looks offensively. His shooting had to be respected, but that tapered off at the end (like the Magic) and his defense is overrated at this point.

Andrew Lynch: Arron Afflalo. Value was hard to come by for the Magic this year, but Spell Check managed to give the people a show. He garnered legitimate All-Star consideration, which is not an easy task for a team on its way to a top-three pick.

Tim Sartori: Arron Afflalo. Afflalo was huge for the Magic this season, particularly through the first half — prior to the All-Star break, he averaged 19.4/4.1/3.7 on excellent shooting percentages. He slowed down a bit in the second half of the season, but he was still without a doubt the Magic’s best player.

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