Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 88

Nov 03

Recap: Orlando Magic 102, Denver Nuggets 89

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

BOX SCORE

There’s a lot of things to take away from the Orlando Magic’s win against the Denver Nuggets in their regular season home opener, but here are a few that stood out.

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Jacque Vaughn won his first game as an NBA head coach. Making his head coaching debut, Vaughn coached a masterful game. The Magic, as a team, look well-prepared on both sides of the ball.

On offense, Orlando generated a lot of points out of a hybrid high-post offense and did so efficiently for the most part. Defensively, the Magic put forth an honest effort and deserve credit for limiting the Nuggets to 89 points on 92 possessions, but Denver didn’t do themselves any favors either. The Nuggets were their own worst enemy — they weren’t aggressive in attacking the rim, they settled for too many jumpshots, they didn’t create enough transition opportunities (partly due to the fact that Orlando took care of the basketball), and they were sloppy on offense (committing silly turnovers and making bad passes).

As a result, the Magic came away with a surprising victory.

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For Orlando, the stars of the game were Glen Davis and J.J. Redick.

Firmly entrenched in a starting role for the first time in his career, something that Davis has always wanted, he took full advantage of the opportunity. He was the centerpiece of the Magic’s offense, primarily scoring via midrange jumpers, layups, and hook shots. At the end of the night, Davis finished with 29 points (13-for-25 shooting from the floor), 10 rebounds, and two blocks. With no Dwight Howard around, expect Davis to continue to be a focal point offensively.

As for Redick, he played his usual efficient ballgame (21 points on 11 shots) for Orlando. What was most impressive, though, was his playmaking ability. Even though he’s entering his seventh season in the league, it doesn’t seem as if Redick gets enough credit for his ability to create for himself and others on offense as he did against the Nuggets (six assists). Yes, he’s one of the premiere shooters in the NBA but Redick is a playmaker too. This has been the case for a while now. Maybe this season that’ll become a common description of his skill-set.

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With rookie Maurice Harkless still working his way back from sports hernia surgery and fellow rookie DeQuan Jones out with a minor hip strain, Vaughn was forced to play Arron Afflalo a lot at small forward against Denver. That trend will likely continue, given that Hedo Turkoglu broke his left hand during the game against the Nuggets (he’s expected to miss at least four weeks).

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

It’s a tie between Davis and Redick. Both players were standout performers against Denver and the main reasons why the Magic were able to win the game in an “upset.”

X-Factor

Team A had 15 fast break points and 60 points in the paint. Team B had eight fast break points and 36 points in the paint. Can you guess which team won the game?

Defining Moment

Midway through the first quarter, Jameer Nelson made a tremendous half-court bounce pass to Redick for a reverse layup in transition (it was goaltended). It was one of many sequences for Orlando that signaled they came ready to play.

Nov 02

Preview: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 2, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Nuggets: 0-1
  • Magic: 0-0

Probable starters

Nuggets:

  • Ty Lawson
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Kenneth Faried
  • Kosta Koufos

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Nuggets:

  • Pace: 94.4 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 79.5 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 89.0 (2nd of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: N/A
  • Offensive Rating: N/A
  • Defensive Rating: N/A

Read about the Nuggets

Roundball Mining Company

Nov 02

Friday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • A gameday primer of tonight’s regular season home opener for the Orlando Magic, in which they host the Denver Nuggets at Amway Center.
  • It’s no secret, with the Magic undergoing a rebuilding phase, that veteran players on the roster may be on the move before the trade deadline on April 20. J.J. Redick, a player in the final year of his contract which pays him roughly $6.2 million this season, could be one of those players on the trading block. General manager Rob Hennigan has informed Redick he’ll keep him in the loop if that happens.
  • Magic players look forward to the start of a new season.
  • Every Friday leading up to January 4, Magic Basketball will be unveiling its list of the top 10 players in Magic franchise history. At No. 10, Bo Outlaw.

Nov 02

#ORLrank 10: Bo Outlaw

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

G MP PER VORP WARP WS/82
2000-2001 80 2534 15.7 3.96 7.5 8.1
Bo Outlaw’s best season with the Magic

 
When a player doesn’t have any singular elite skill on the basketball court, analysts tend to refer to them as “energy and hustle guys.” It can be taken as a backhanded compliment, a way to talk about a player without being forced to actually praise their play. But for some guys, the term not only fits, but it perfectly characterizes their games in the best possible sense. Bo Outlaw was one of those players.

At an unimposing 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, Bo lacked a true position in an era where roles were much more defined than they are today. His athleticism was off the charts, but his technical abilities and basketball instincts were about as undeveloped as could be. But he made it work. He made it work so well that he was able to turn a 10-day contract with the Clippers into a 15-season NBA career, 10 seasons in which he spent playing legitimate rotation minutes.

He did this by finding meaningful ways to contribute that compensated for his almost total lack of a scoring arsenal. He was good for some dunks, but a scorer he was not. However, he was an outstanding passer for his size and position. In each of his first four (and best four) seasons with the Magic, from 1998 to 2001, he averaged at least 2.4 assists per 36 minutes, a number that was as high as 3.8 per 36 in the 1999-2000 “Heart and Hustle” season.

But while Outlaw’s passing was impressive for a power forward, his true calling card as an NBA player was his defensive versatility. He was capable of guarding multiple positions and in each of his last three full seasons of his first stint in Orlando, he helped anchor a defense that ranked in the top 10 each year. He was a core piece of the third-best defense in the league during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, in which the Magic finished 33-17 (losing in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers in four games).

One of Outlaw’s strengths as a defender was his unique ability to be an equal opportunist when it came to amassing steals and blocks — a quick look at this list and you’ll see his name listed among some of the best defenders in NBA history. Among players whose steal and block percentages were two and four percent respectively in a single season (minimum 1,000 total minutes), Outlaw was in special company.

Outlaw was traded to Phoenix in 2001 primarily as a salary dump, bringing to an end the tenure of one of the most popular yet underappreciated players in Magic franchise history. (An interesting historical what-if: the Magic also sent a 2002 first-round pick to the Suns alongside Outlaw, which Phoenix used to draft Amar’e Stoudemire.) He returned to the Magic for the final three seasons of his career, between 2005-2008, but by that point, his days of being a productive contributor were mostly behind him.

Still, it was a fitting end to one of the unlikeliest, most unique, and most enjoyable NBA careers of its era. Bo Outlaw was exactly the type of hard-nosed, defense-first player typically ignored by the media but embraced by fans. But beyond just those cliched terms like “energy” and “hustle,” he had a real impact on the defensive end of the floor and was capable of making highlight-reel plays on offense too.

Voter breakdown for Bo Outlaw

Drexler Highkin Rivera Schiller Scribbins
Scale (1-to-10) N/A (11) 8 8 8 N/A (11)
Average rank: 9.2

What is #ORLrank?

Magic Basketball ranks the top 10 players in Magic franchise history. #ORLrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

You can also follow along here: @erivera7

How did we rank the players?

Five MBN writers ranked each player 1-to-10, in terms of the quality of each player.

Thanks to Daniel Myers, Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus for contributing to the project.

Nov 01

Rebuilding with Jameer Nelson

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

I’ve been asked about a dozen times why the Magic made an offer to Jameer Nelson during what everyone considers “a rebuilding time.” My answer has simplified every time the question has been asked and now consists of just five words: because he is a leader. Okay, also because Orlando needs to sell tickets, but let’s look at leadership first.

The more you run those words through your mind, the more it makes sense. Jameer is the most tenured player on the roster, has been to the playoffs, has been to a Finals, quarterbacks the offense, etc. I could go on.

If you’re going to keep a few guys around while you build from the bottom up and take on packs of rookies, you have to have a guy who can lead by example, and you have to have smart and patient guys in those leadership positions. We’re talking about J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, and yes, Jameer Nelson, even if that meant signing him with money that perhaps could have been spent to further rebuild. Because otherwise what do you have? A bunch of rookies running around, making mistakes, and watching SportsCenter for guidance.

Think of it this way. Before Andrew Luck, if the Indianapolis Colts decided to take a middle linebacker for their first round pick in the draft and this was long before decided and agreed upon by owners and coaches, you might have still said that they were rebuilding. At that point, you have to ask yourself if you want a Peyton Manning who is like a 60 percent version of himself or a new, untested quarterback who has no grasp of the system in place in Indianapolis. Orlando was not in a position to go out and sign a young stud or higher-echelon point guard. So you have to sit back and say, “Yeah, Jameer looks pretty good right now, given our circumstances.”

So leadership is a huge part of this rebuilding process (if you are going to call it that). There’s no more Stan Van Gundy, for goodness sake, and with a rookie coach in place, it further emphasizes the need for proven veterans (player-coach) to be in leadership positions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 01

Five questions for the Magic in 2012-13

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The aftermath of the Dwightmare means that whatever happens on the court for the Magic this season is pretty much inconsequential. Wins and losses have been tossed aside in favor of gunning for draft picks and developing talent. While this is an understandable process that is directly derived from the league’s collective bargaining agreement, it also means that the next six months will be full of mostly meaningless basketball, which is quite a depressing realization.

That being said, even though new general manager Rob Hennigan and his “Presti Plan” dictate that the Magic will be built mostly on their next few drafts going forward, there are still things to glean from the upcoming season. Here are five questions heading into the 2012-13 season that bear watching for the Magic’s future.

What happens at shooting guard?

One can very easily make the claim that Orlando’s two best players fit into the same roster slot. Both Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick had high-profile college careers, entered the league as afterthoughts, and put in extensive work to improve their games. The result is two efficient shooters, solid if unspectacular defenders (Afflalo more than Redick until last season, when he showed diminished interest on that end), and improved playmakers who are entering their respective primes.

The problem, of course, is that it’s unclear how they fit together. It seems unlikely they can share both wing spots defensively, especially if Afflalo, the bigger of the two, continues to exert more and more of his energy on the offensive end. The better bet is Redick sliding into the back-up point guard role, as he’s improved his ballhandling a great deal over the course of his career, but that’s still quite a dramatic leap of faith in his skills.

Furthermore, it’s unclear if the two are in Orlando for the long haul. Redick will be a free agent this summer, when he will presumably get more money and more competitive basketball from a non-rebuilding team. And while Afflalo is locked up for four more years, he might prove more valuable as a trade asset for a team that isn’t looking to do a lot of winning in the near future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 27

Magic exercise third-year option on Nikola Vucevic

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their third-year team option on the contract of center Nikola Vucevic, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. Vucevic is now under contract through the 2013-14 season.

Vucevic (7’0”, 240, 10/24/90) was acquired by Orlando from Philadelphia as part of a four-team, 12-player deal on Aug. 10, 2012. He played in 51 games (15 starts) during his rookie campaign last season with the Sixers, averaging 5.5 ppg. and 4.8 rpg. in 15.9 mpg. Vucevic ranked among all NBA rookies in rebounding (t-sixth), blocked shots (t-sixth) and field goal percentage (.450, eighth). He led (or tied) the Sixers in scoring four times and in rebounding nine times. Vucevic also played in one playoff outing.

Oct 27

Magic waive Justin Harper, Chris Johnson, and Quentin Richardson

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have waived forward Justin Harper, forward Chris Johnson and guard-forward Quentin Richardson, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Orlando’s roster now stands at 15 players.

Harper (6’9”, 225, 8/30/89) played in six preseason games, averaging 3.7 ppg. and 2.5 rpg. in 13.8 mpg. He was originally acquired by Orlando on June 23, 2011 from Cleveland in exchange for two future second round picks. Harper appeared in 14 games last season during his rookie campaign, averaging 1.4 ppg. in 6.0 mpg.

Johnson (6’6”, 201, 4/29/90) was signed as a free agent by Orlando on October 9. He appeared in four preseason games, averaging 1.8 ppg. in 8.5 mpg. Johnson played in 138 career games during four years at the University of Dayton, averaging 10.6 ppg., 6.1 rpg. and 1.1 apg. in 24.9 mpg.

Richardson (6’6”, 228, 4/13/80) played in three preseason outings, averaging 2.3 ppg. and 1.3 rpg. in 8.7 mpg. He was originally signed as a free agent by Orlando on July 13, 2010 and appeared in 105 regular season games with the Magic (22 starts), averaging 4.4 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. in 17.3 mpg. A 12-year veteran, Richardson has appeared in 782 career regular season games with the L.A. Clippers, Phoenix, New York, Miami and Orlando, averaging 10.3 ppg., 4.7 rpg. and 1.5 apg. in 26.5 mpg.

Oct 23

Magic waive Christian Eyenga and Armon Johnson

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have waived guard-forward Christian Eyenga and guard Armon Johnson, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Eyenga (6’5”, 210, 6/22/89) did not play in any of Orlando’s six preseason outings. He was acquired by the Magic from the L.A. Lakers as part of a four-team, 12-player deal on Aug. 10. Johnson (6’3”, 195, 2/23/89) played in five preseason games with Orlando, averaging 3.2 ppg., 1.6 rpg. and 1.2 apg. in 13.0 mpg. He was signed as a free agent on Sep. 28.

Oct 21

Recap: Orlando Magic 104, San Antonio Spurs 100

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Sunday night is how legitimate Andrew Nicholson looked. The kid has all the tools. His footwork is sound, his court vision is above-average, and he is as deliberate as he is patient. The guy flat out executes and he’s not scared.

As is the case with most teams, when Orlando can attack and keep the pace up, they find success. Attacking options are few and far between, but Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick carried much of that load on Sunday. When those two put the ball on the floor and went towards the basket, things happened. The other thing that Nelson and Redick gave to the lineup was a sense of calmness. The Magic, at times, get a little carried away with ball movement and “happy feet.” Those two veterans have the ability to slow things down.

It’s horrifying to think what this Magic team looks like when both Redick and Nelson are on the bench. Not only are they the veteran leaders, but they are the only guys on the court who can slow things down for Orlando and seemingly the only guys who can attack with any confidence. For the most part, Redick and Nelson platooned and things worked out well for them. There were a few moments when E’Twaun Moore became the primary ballhandler. Yikes.

Regardless of who is doing it, however, back-cutting and off-ball movement were the keys to the Magic’s win. Since Orlando lacks star power and big-time post players, they require a five-man effort in moving without the ball, rotating the ball with pace, and running the floor well. When they can do that, they will find some success this year. The back-cutting, high-velocity offense is a lot of fun to watch when it’s clicking, but it appears as if it’s going to require this team to be pretty consistently deep rotation-wise, which is still a concern.

Sunday was a great look at a new breed of Magic basketball, no longer relying on the three-ball as heavily as it once did. The first 28 points were scored inside the three-point line and it wasn’t until the second quarter until Moore opened things up with a triple.

Similarly, Orlando’s defense will remain a key to finding success on the basketball court. They were strong on their rotations and had active hands (especially in the post) against the Spurs. Those situations create transition opportunities and allow guys like Moore, Redick, and Nelson to really push the ball. Luckily for them, they have guys like Gustavo Ayon and Andrew Nicholson, who really run the floor well for big men.

E’Twaun Moore had a strong first half and for a few moments looked like a legitimate perimeter threat, especially as he caught the ball on a kickout started by a Redick or Nelson drive. Moore regressed, though, in the second half.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Andrew Nicholson. The rookie shined once again (18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the floor). More importantly, the young kid looked like he belonged on the floor at all times. He rebounded well, picked his spots, and executed within the offense.

X-Factor

Glen Davis. Davis is an often unmentioned spark in so many places and it’s often forgotten that he is capable of creating his own shot, finding mismatches, and stepping confidently into open looks.

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