Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 82

Nov 15

Arron Afflalo’s shot selection explains his struggles

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Since coming to Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade this summer, Arron Afflalo has been touted as one of the central pieces Rob Hennigan is planning to rebuild around. An elite shooter and solid defender, he seems to be a perfect fit for a young team still in search of an identity.

But so far, the results have been inconsistent. Afflalo has had two outstanding shooting performances, but he also helped shoot the Magic out of a seemingly winnable game against the Knicks on Tuesday.

Afflalo’s increased role in Orlando has led to some changes in his shot selection, a lot of which aren’t exactly positive trends. Through seven games with the Magic, he’s averaging 14.1 field goal attempts per game, easily the highest mark of his career. This isn’t surprising at all, given that he’s a focal point of the offense of a young Magic team, rather than one of many cogs in a deep, talented playoff-worthy rotation like he was in Denver.

First, the good: Afflalo’s effectiveness around the basket is right in line with where it’s been over the past two seasons. He’s shooting 70 percent at the rim according to Hoopdata, which is an excellent mark.

A little more troubling is Afflalo’s increased reliance on his midrange jumper. He’s amassed 3.7 field goal attempts per game from 16-23 feet and shooting just 36 percent on these attempts.

Last season, Afflalo shot 40 percent on 2.3 attempts per game from 16-23 feet and in 2010-11, he shot 39 percent on 1.6 attempts per game. Neither of these marks are exactly stellar, either, but they were mitigated by the fact that they weren’t shot nearly as frequently.

The season is still young and things may well even out soon. But in the early going, it seems clear that the spike in Afflalo’s midrange attempts, coupled with the drop in efficiency from that range (which wasn’t great in the first place), has played a large role in his inconsistent start to the year. His True Shooting percentage of 52.2 percent this season is well below his career True Shooting percentage of 57.6 percent.

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Nov 14

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “A doctor’s check-up that Hedo Turkoglu hoped would lead him one step closer to returning for the Orlando Magic turned sour on Wednesday and the veteran small forward could be out of action another month. When doctors determined that one of the screws in Turkoglu’s surgically repaired left hand had loosened, his hand, fingers and arm were put back into a cast and his timetable for returning for the Magic was adjusted.”
  • More on Turkoglu’s setback from Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Turkoglu, who is normally upbeat and cheerful, said he isn’t in any physical pain, but he seemed discouraged when he spoke with reporters after his teammates finished practice Wednesday afternoon.”
  • Is market size in the NBA overrated?
  • Arron Afflalo took over the official Twitter account of the Orlando Magic on Social Media Night after Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks.
  • Maurice Harkless’ three blocks on Carmelo Anthony in 30 seconds.
  • The Orlando Magic scratched and clawed against the Knicks on Tuesday, but ultimately lost the game.
  • Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak cites J.J. Redick as one of the NBA’s best pests: “Most pests make their mark on defense, but Redick is the rare offensive-minded pest. He’s won the Orlando’s “Iron Magic” fitness test for the past several years, and he puts that boundless energy to work on the court by running through and around an endless number of curls and hand offs in the Magic’s motion-heavy offense. If his defender loses track of him, or just gets slightly out of position for a moment, Redick flashes to the rim. You know how physically and mentally exhausting it is to guard someone who runs around a lot and can shoot when you’re playing pick-up? That, to the nth degree, is Redick … except he also went to Duke.”
  • The Magic drop in the latest power rankings from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
  • “Glen Davis leads the world’s slowest fast break.”

Nov 13

Recap: New York Knicks 99, Orlando Magic 89

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

Early in the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic were leading 80-79 against the New York Knicks and giving them everything they could handle. The Magic were competing and playing hard on both ends of the floor.

The Knicks responded by going on an 18-4 run, essentially ending the game with 1:29 left. New York ratcheted up their defensive intensity, making it difficult for Orlando to create easy buckets for themselves. Also, the Magic didn’t do themselves any favors by failing to execute on either side of the ball (the same thing happened in their loss to the Chicago Bulls one week ago). Especially offensively, where Orlando committed seven turnovers in the period.

The Magic’s lack of execution in the fourth quarter, particularly when it came to taking care of the basketball, proved to be their death knell. Another game, another loss.

For Orlando, there’s a couple of positives they can take away from this game, namely that rookies Maurice Harkless (10 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks in 19 minutes) and Andrew Nicholson played well (11 points in 10 minutes).

Harkless was one of the top attractions in tonight’s game because of his defense on Carmelo Anthony. In a 30-second stretch that spanned the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, Harkless blocked Anthony not once, not twice, but three times. The first two times, Harkless blocked Anthony in rapid succession when he tried to score at the rim (first off the dribble, then off an inbounds pass). Anthony got rejected a third time after he tried to back down Harkless on the right block and attempt another layup. On all three blocks, Harkless used his 7-foot wingspan to contest Anthony’s shot without fouling.

Yes, Harkless also had 10 points and seven rebounds but it was his disruptive defense against Anthony throughout the game that proved to be eye-opening.

As for Nicholson, he put his diverse and refined skill-set offensively on display once again. His most impressive sequence came on his first basket of the game late in the second quarter. Defended by Rasheed Wallace, Nicholson posted him up on the left block, then went up-and-under for a reverse layup, using the rim to protect against Wallace blocking the shot. It was a nifty move by Nicholson and an example of his refined post game, which is rare to find in a rookie big man.

Even though the Magic lost to the Knicks, the loss shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things for a rebuilding team. What should matter for Orlando is that they develop their rookies like Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson (fellow rookie Kyle O’Quinn’s development is to be determined). For the Magic, games like these are a positive sign.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

When J.R. Smith gets it going offensively, there’s not much opposing defenses can do to stop him. He went to work mostly in isolation, scoring 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the floor in 32 minutes.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

Arron Afflalo was dreadful for Orlando. Not only did he struggle on offense, scoring 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting, but he committed seven turnovers and was helpless at times defending Anthony in the post.

X-Factor

Even though the Magic outplayed New York for a good chunk of the game, turnovers eventually doomed them. Orlando committed 20 turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter alone, while the Knicks coughed it up nine times for the whole game.

Nov 13

Preview: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 13, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Knicks: 4-0
  • Magic: 2-4

Probable starters

Knicks:

  • Raymond Felton
  • Jason Kidd
  • Ronnie Brewer
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Tyson Chandler

Magic:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • J.J. Redick
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Knicks:

  • Pace: 91.4 (25th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 114.3 (1st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 95.7 (1st of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.3 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 96.2 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.4 (19th of 30)

Read about the Knicks

KnickerBlogger

Nov 13

Tuesday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Since a hot 2-0 start to the regular season, the Orlando Magic have lost their last four games. The main culprit being that the offense has sputtered. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post examines the Magic’s offensive struggles.
  • The New York Knicks, the NBA’s lone undefeated team at 4-0, face off against Orlando at Amway Center tonight. Expect Carmelo Anthony, starting at power forward while Amar’e Stoudemire recovers from knee surgery, to create a lot of matchup problems for the Magic.
  • Jameer Nelson is a game-time decision for tonight’s game between the Knicks and Orlando.
  • Head coach Jacque Vaughn is hoping that the Magic, who played well defensively against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, will continue that trend against New York. It’ll be a difficult task, given that the Knicks’ offense currently average 114.3 points per 100 possessions (1st in the NBA).

Nov 12

The life and times of Glen Davis

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

It must really stink to be Glen Davis right now. Imagine being a guy who entered the league as a 21-year-old and almost immediately felt the unparalleled bliss of winning a championship, of being a champion. Now, four long and relatively miserable years later, you’re in Orlando and playing for nothing, it seems, as the Magic are in tank mode and have very little to be excited about.

First, let me go here: not every player is the same. Some play for money, some play for fame, some play to win. Of course, some players (and probably most) are a combination of all three of those things, but certainly certain players lean heavily in favor of one of those things over another.

Take James Harden, for example. Harden is a great player and probably likes to win. However, winning is not the most important thing to him by any stretch. Money (and by extension a bigger role) is more important to him and we saw that play out when he took his talents to the corporate epicenter of the United States.

On the other side of that coin are guys like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. These are guys who winning is pretty much everything to. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt their cause that their endorsement deals give them enough money for about 1,000 lives, but regardless, they chose “best situation” over “highest dollar amount.” So we can conclude that these guys value winning more than money.

Glen Davis probably doesn’t really have the opportunity to make a ton of money (relative to other players) in the league. Guys like that tend to lean more towards winning because they don’t have the temptation to make the ridiculous dollars like maybe 20 or so guys in the league will have over the course of their career. So I don’t really care how he got there, Glen Davis is a guy who values winning over anything else, even though becoming a starter was also very important to him as his career progressed in Boston (which is precisely why he was traded to Orlando).

And in 2008, when Davis came into the league, his rookie contract probably didn’t matter a whole lot to him because the guy put a ring on his finger in a short amount of time.

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Nov 12

Recap: Brooklyn Nets 82, Orlando Magic 74

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

For the Orlando Magic, the outcome was decided in the first 12 minutes of the game. In the first quarter, the Brooklyn Nets jumped out to a double-digit lead thanks to Brook Lopez and Deron Williams.

Lopez went to work against Nikola Vucevic, making an array of hook shots and midrange jumpers, doing most of his damage almost exclusively on the right half of the court. For all the questions about Lopez’s defensive acumen and rebounding ability, there’s little questioning his offensive skill-set when he gets on a roll. It’s diverse and refined for a 7-foot big man.

As for Williams, he went to work on the perimeter in half-court sets, making two three-pointers off of handoff passes from Lopez.

Lopez and Williams combined to score 17 of the Nets’ 35 points in the first quarter, matching the Magic’s total offensive output in the period.

After the first quarter, Orlando’s defense did tighten up. Brooklyn shot 29.6 percent from the floor after shooting a high percentage (56.5 percent) in the opening period. The problem for the Magic was that their offense continued to sputter up until the final buzzer. This is the main reason why the Nets were able to maintain a double-digit lead until midway through the fourth quarter despite the fact their offense was brought to a screeching halt.

Quality shots were hard to come by for Orlando — part of that was the Nets defense but part of that was also the Magic’s lack of offensive firepower (this trend will likely continue until Al Harrington, Jameer Nelson, and Hedo Turkoglu return from their injuries).

When Orlando was able to get open looks offensively, they didn’t convert very many of them. And when the Magic did start converting them, like they did late in the fourth quarter when they tried to make a late comeback bid after dealing with a double-digit deficit for a majority of the game, it was too little, too late.

That was the game in a nutshell.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Kris Humphries stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points and 21 rebounds, showing once again why he’s one of the best rebounders in the NBA. The 21 rebounds was two shy of his career-high.

Defining Moment

The Nets played a crisp first quarter, outscoring the Magic 35-17 in the period. That proved to be the difference in the ballgame, as Orlando couldn’t recover from a deficit that was as much as 20 points early in the second quarter.

That Was … a Chore to Watch

After the opening stanza, this game was a bit of a slog. Brooklyn (37.2 percent shooting from the floor) and the Magic (36.1 percent) played a game that was not easy on the eyes.

Nov 11

Preview: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets
  • Date: November 11, 2012
  • Time: 3:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Barclays Center

Records

  • Magic: 2-3
  • Nets: 2-2

Probable starters

Magic:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • J.J. Redick
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Nets:

  • Deron Williams
  • Joe Johnson
  • Keith Bogans
  • Kris Humphries
  • Brook Lopez

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.5 (24th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 99.0 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.7 (20th of 30)

Nets:

  • Pace: 89.4 (28th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.1 (5th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.7 (24th of 30)

Read about the Nets

The Brooklyn Game

Nov 09

Recap: Brooklyn Nets 107, Orlando Magic 68

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

BOX SCORE

It just never felt like Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were even trying. Mostly because the Nets were up by double-digits while the dynamic duo was in the game in the first half. The two didn’t play much in the second half, as Brooklyn enjoyed a 30-point lead for most of it. Orlando showed absolutely no threat and Brooklyn rolled.

When you can’t score, you have to play defense. The Magic struggled in that department. When you can’t score and you can’t play defense, you have to at least protect the ball. Again, Orlando struggled. What was evident in Friday night’s slaughter was a real lack of leadership. At times, the Nets doubled Glen Davis and by default dubbed him “the threat.” But when he escaped and kicked the ball out, there wasn’t much working, save for the occasional E’Twaun Moore push runner.

At this point, it is clear that Orlando misses Jameer Nelson and abundantly clear that E’Twaun Moore is not fully equipped to carve out a spot for himself in the league as a leader or starter. Moore’s early (and ridiculous) turnovers might have been jitters, but to be honest he looked lost. It would be nice if he was playing behind a veteran and not thrusted into a leadership role as he has been in the absence of Jameer.

Glen Davis continued to work his butt off but struggle. He became an easy mark on Friday and was unable to get any midrange looks (usually the result of a spread floor and multiple options). It will be nice for the Magic to have Turkoglu back, when his broken hand heals, to add a little size and versatility to the offense.

It appears as if Orlando, when not in the mindset of “we have to screen and execute perfectly on every possession or else we will lose,” is extraordinarily bad. The execution was not there, the screening and movement off the ball were not there, and the “fight for your life” mentality was not there. When you don’t have a star and several of your veterans are on the bench, that is a recipe for a blowout.

A lingering problem is the inability to create. Orlando, by the end of the third quarter, shot only two free-throws (missing both). There is little attacking and seemingly little ability to get to the hole with any kind of effectiveness.

On the positive side, the Magic still have guys who do a lot of things right. Andrew Nicholson provided strong play, albeit in short minutes. J.J. Redick was assertive and the team defense, at times, looked to at least be on the same page. Aaron Afflalo had a few bursts as well, but Orlando needs a constant scorer or a constant team effort if they are going to not get blown out every game.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Off the bench, Nicholson went 4-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. The rook gathered three rebounds, threw down two dunks, ran the floor well, and finished with 10 points in 12 minutes. Let’s talk about efficient.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

In 14 minutes, Smith went 1-for-5 with two points, turned the ball over three times, threw an alley-oop to nobody, and recorded a clean -25 for the game.

Defining Moment

Orlando started the third quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by a three pointer by Afflalo. They closed the deficit to seven and then realized they had nothing left to throw in the furnace. It became abundantly clear that the Magic cashed out in an early second half run and would then fold.

Nov 09

Preview: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 9, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Nets: 1-2
  • Magic: 2-2

Probable starters

Nets:

  • Deron Williams
  • Joe Johnson
  • Keith Bogans
  • Kris Humphries
  • Brook Lopez

Magic:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Josh McRoberts
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Nets:

  • Pace: 90.7 (25th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.5 (22nd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 114.0 (29th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 92.9 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.6 (14th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 100.1 (11th of 30)

Read about the Nets

The Brooklyn Game

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