Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 88

Jul 10

2012 Orlando Pro Summer League roundup: Day 1

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Alton Clark of NBA Playbook is covering the 2012 Orlando Pro Summer League on behalf of Magic Basketball. This is Alton’s roundup of Day 1.

Magic 92, Nets 88

BOX SCORE

  • Andrew Nicholson was the top story from the Magic’s first Summer League game, debuting with 24 points and 12 rebounds (both game-highs) on 8-for-16 shooting from the floor. Nicholson scored the ball effectively in all three post areas (low, mid, and high). He was a physical presence on the offensive end and he put a lot of pressure on the Brooklyn Nets’ backline defenders. Nicholson stretched the floor with his outside shooting, which opened driving and passing lanes for his teammates. He was the best player on the floor and really showed the packed crowd at Amway Center’s practice gym why he was general manager Rob Hennigan’s first-ever NBA draft pick. The only drawback of Nicholson’s first professional game was that he committed six fouls. There is a “no foul out” rule in Summer League so Nicholson was not disqualified, but this is something to keep an eye for the remainder of the week.
  • Kyle O’Quinn was the low post defensive anchor for the Magic’s backline. Although the box score only credited him with two blocked shots, he altered many more and used his 6-foot-10, 240-pound frame to prevent his man from establishing ideal post position. O’Quinn was patient in the half-court and ran the floor well in transition. On one play, he forced the Nets’ 7-foot center Jeff Foote to catch the ball off the block, squared up and held his ground as Foote tried to back him down with two power dribbles, blocked both of Foote’s shot attempts, tipped the second block to his point guard Maalik Wayns, trailed the break, caught a dump-off pass from Wayns in full stride, and finished an and-one layup. That type of energy is going to be key for the Magic’s frontline and can even be contagious amongst the other bigs. O’Quinn brings a blue-collar mentality to the table and isn’t afraid to confront anyone.
  • Maalik Wayns played the role of distributor today and was a master at it. He had a game-high 10 assists and was reading the Nets’ defense at an extremely high level. As an undrafted free agent, one would expect to critique Wayns’ ability to run a professional team but he was as calm and poised as any point guard today. Wayns must continue to improve his outside shot and do a better job of containing his man off the dribble. He will be tested by talented point guards the rest of the week, like Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, so the remaining games will truly show how composed of a player he is.
  • With Ryan Anderson acquired by New Orleans in a sign-and-trade, the Magic will need one of their bigs to be a consistent three-point shooting threat. Although it was only one game, Justin Harper didn’t lack confidence in his outside shot and knocked down two three-pointers with relative ease. Harper also hit a few mid-range jumpers on pick-and-pop situations. With Nicholson and O’Quinn battling in the post, it is imperative that Harper develops into a legit outside shooting threat to keep defenses honest.
  • Al Thornton was really the only bright spot for Brooklyn today. In the first half, he was over-penetrating and trying to create on his own. In the second half, he let the game come to him and was reading the defense. He got out in transition for some easy buckets, which gave him confidence in his mid-range game. Given the intimate setting of the practice court, you can hear practically everything from press row and Thornton made a huge mistake that is unacceptable for being one of the few NBA veterans on the floor. On the final possession for the Nets when they were down 91-88, Nets Summer League coach Popeye Jones called a timeout and drew up an elevator screen at the top of the key for Tyshawn Taylor. Thornton was one of the screeners, but obviously did not make enough physical contact with Taylor’s man to free him up for a clean look. Taylor attempted to drive and missed a layup, which essentially ended the game. Thornton helped Taylor up off the ground and said, “I forgot the play, dawg. My bad.”
  • This week, Magic fans have been hearing MarShon Brooks’ name in Dwight Howard trade talks. Thankfully, after his performance today, the latest trade rumor has Brooks going to the Los Angeles Clippers in a four-team deal instead of Orlando. To Brooks’ defense, today was his first time primarily playing the point guard position at the NBA level. But Brooks struggled at doing the one thing that he does best — creating his own shot off the dribble. Anyone that has followed Brooks’ career knows that he can score with relative ease, so today should be viewed as an anomaly.

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Jul 09

Figuring out a post-Dwight Howard roster

Marc Serota/Getty Images

Somewhere between the Van Gundy firing and the word “blackmail,” it became abundantly clear that Dwight Howard probably isn’t coming back to Orlando next season. This has gone on for too long, with too many superlatives thrown about in the process, and with Dwight’s loyal downright bizarre opt-in episode in March, the Magic have been afforded with a rare second opportunity to play the trade market instead of just watching their superstar leave in free agency.

The future of the rest of the roster, however, is very much in flux. Ryan Anderson has been signed-and-traded for Gustavo Ayon, J.J. Redick got his no-brainer of a guarantee for next season, and Jameer Nelson is fresh off a new, questionable 3 year deal, but their long-term prospects are still completely dependent on the new direction that will eventually be chosen by general manager Rob Hennigan. With Hennigan as much of an unknown as any other portion of the roster, any speculation –- even the kind that shrewdly points to Hennigan’s OKC background and the supposed Presti Teardown Blueprint -– is incredibly premature.

In the meantime, it will be Hennigan’s responsibility to devise a course of action, and subsequently put either an effective or an abjectly horrible team on the floor. And that sort of squad will consist of a completely different make-up than what Magic fans have gotten used to. Howard’s mere presence on the floor significantly alters the style of play of his teammates, and yet, Orlando’s entire roster is working with the market value of Dwight’s teammates. On a team looking at major changes, these disparities between Dwight-inflated value and Dwight-less production can be exploited to bump up from a 32-win team to a 39-win team –- or, conversely, to trade a secondary player for a better asset that will further help a rebuild.

Having said that, here is a look at Orlando’s seven rotation players from last season, and the way they played both with and without Dwight. I set the cut-off at 50 games played, thus conveniently absolving myself of the responsibility to acknowledge Quentin Richardson in now-former head coach Stan Van Gundy’s rotation. So without further ado.

Glen Davis

ORtg DRtg Net TRB% TOV% TS% USG%
Dwight Off 105.2 106.6 -1.5 15.1% 13.2% 50.4% 22.1%
Dwight On 95.7 97.2 -1.5 11.9% 12.6% 40.4% 16.9%

 

To the naked eye, Big Baby thrived as a starting center and an offensive focal point with Howard out of the picture, averaging 19 points and nine rebounds in the Indiana series. Indeed, the numbers show us a similar picture. Taking Howard out of the lineup coincided with a huge bump in Baby’s usage rate, True Shooting percentage, and rebound percentage, with the only negative coming with a slight bump in turnovers. As for team performance, the expected is once again the truth, as Orlando played much better offensively and much worse defensively with Davis alone instead of Davis and Howard together.

It’s not hard to understand why this is the case –- Davis seems to think he is a decent mid-range shooter, but he is horribly wrong in this regard. Pairing him with Dwight pushes him out of the paint, where his strong build helps him gain position and his surprisingly agile feet lead to a nice little array of moves. Indeed, we can see that Davis shot virtually the same number of mid-range shots with and without Howard, but his shots in the restricted area nearly tripled with him working as an offensive center, with his success rate on those shots going way up as well.
 

Dwight On Court Dwight Off Court
Shot Type – Detail FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG%
Restricted Area 27 58 46.6% 89 147 60.5%
In The Paint (Non-RA) 12 29 41.4% 20 54 37.0%
Mid-Range 35 115 30.4% 40 117 34.2%

 

Davis’ value is much higher as an undersized center than as a roaming power forward; with Dwight on the team, he was more of the latter, which caused a major hit in his production. That Orlando traded for him because Dwight wanted to play with him shows us once again Dwight’s skill at putting together a roster, but he wasn’t wrong in the sense that Davis is a productive player. He could certainly be the sort of guy who can give the team a lot once Dwight leaves, although the new head coach, whoever he may be, will have to think of a way to compensate for his size defensively.

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Jul 09

Hornets acquire Ryan Anderson in sign-and-trade

Marc Serota/Getty Images

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Ryan Anderson has reached agreement with the New Orleans Hornets on a four-year, $36 million contract in a sign-and-trade deal that will send backup center Gustavo Ayon to the Orlando Magic, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

As a restricted free agent, Anderson intended to sign an offer sheet from the Hornets that the Magic didn’t want to match. Orlando then decided to negotiate the sign-and-trade.

Jul 06

The case for trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers

Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic are going to trade Dwight Howard sometime between now and the start of training camp in September. That much is clear.

Where Otis Smith’s regime made a habit of making franchise-altering decisions based on what they thought would please their mercurial superstar, new general manager Rob Hennigan seems to want no part of the charade. Dwight is effectively gone, and everybody knows it. The deal that Hennigan takes to move him will tell us a lot about his vision for the franchise, and Howard’s two most high-profile suitors embody the dichotomy between the win-now approach and that of tearing the entire thing up and starting over.

There’s always the outside chance that a team like the Rockets or Hawks will swoop in with an offer, but for all intents and purposes, it’s pretty safe to assume that Howard will tip off the 2012-13 NBA season either as a Brooklyn Net or a Los Angeles Laker. It’s common knowledge that he prefers the former destination.

However, looking at the packages the two teams can offer, it’s tough to argue that it’s not in the best interests of the Magic organization for Howard to wear purple and gold. Orlando won’t reap the rewards of this move right away, and fans will likely be in for two seasons of middling to outright bad basketball. But if Hennigan wants to wash his hands of Howard and Smith entirely, it’s the only way to go.

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Jul 05

Magic to guarantee final year of J.J. Redick’s contract

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Orlando plans to pick up $6M option on final year of J.J. Redick’s contract, league sources tell Y! Sports. Magic have until week’s end [to fully guarantee his contract].

Jul 05

Magic, Jameer Nelson agree in principle to new contract

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic and free-agent point guard Jameer Nelson have reached an agreement in principle on a new contract that will keep him with the franchise, Nelson told the Orlando Sentinel this morning. [...]

Nelson, 30, would not disclose the length of the agreement or what his annual salaries will be, but the Sentinel has learned the deal will be for three seasons.

Jul 04

3-on-3 roundtable: Getting to know Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn

Via Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding Dwight Howard’s future with the Orlando Magic, newly hired general manager Rob Hennigan began the process of shaping the franchise in his own image by drafting Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn in last week’s NBA Draft. Nicholson was selected with the No. 19 pick in the first round, while O’Quinn was chosen with the No. 49 pick in the second round.

You can excuse Magic fans if they know little to nothing about Nicholson and O’Quinn. Both went to unheralded schools (St. Bonaventure and Norfolk State respectively) to play college basketball and even though they each played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, with O’Quinn and No. 15 seed Norfolk State making noise by upsetting No. 2 seed Missouri in the second round, neither player has the national profile of an Anthony Davis entering the NBA.

Enter Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland, Brett Koremenos of HoopSpeak, and Alton Clark of NBA Playbook. They’ll shed light on what Nicholson and O’Quinn bring to the table and what their ceilings might be in the league.

What is Nicholson’s ceiling as a player?

Alton Clark, NBA Playbook: What Nicholson will immediately provide to the Magic will be his ability to pop off of ball screens. According to Synergy Sports Techology, Nicholson was the 2nd most efficient shooter amongst all post players in the 2012 NBA Draft (1.096 points per possession). With Ryan Anderson, Glen Davis, and Nicholson, the Magic will have three legit bigs who can stretch the floor with their shooting. 

Brett Koremenos, HoopSpeak: Nicholson’s ceiling could be very similar to a potential teammate of his; Ryan Anderson. While Nicholson holds a slight edge as an athlete, both pair a smooth outside stroke with excellent rebounding numbers — a rather efficient combination. He’ll likely never be a star, but a solid starter on a good team is definitely possible.

Sebastian Pruiti, Grantland: I’m pretty high on Nicholson and his post game. He’s got a good body, a very nice touch around the basket, and solid footwork. For my Grantland article looking at his game, I described him as a smaller Al Jefferson. It might take a year or two, but he could be a guy you can dump the ball into and expect a bucket.

What is O’Quinn’s ceiling as a player?

Clark: O’Quinn will be called upon to bring toughness and physicality on the offensive end for the Magic frontline. At 6-foot-10, O’Quinn might be deemed a tad bit undersized for his style of play, but his 7-foot-5 wingspan will help him compete against taller posts in the league. If utilized correctly, O’Quinn can be a more interior-oriented DeMarcus Cousins.

Koremenos: I don’t see much that tells me O’Quinn has what it takes to stick in the league. Despite decent size and length, he is a middling athlete with a poor feel for the game who basically made his name off two monster performances in the NCAA Tournament. At best, O’Quinn has a makes a career as a fourth or fifth big on whichever roster will have him.

Pruiti: I’ve seen O’Quinn twice in person (once at Portsmouth, where he was the MVP, and once at the Nets’ workouts) and he performed pretty well both times. He’s more of a below the rim guy than someone who can explode through a defender and finish with a big dunk. Not the worst thing, but that limits what he can become in my opinion.

Hennigan felt that Nicholson and O’Quinn were the best players available when the Magic selected them. Agree or disagree?

Clark: Agree. When it comes to acquiring talent, both the Spurs and the Thunder place an emphasis on high character and being able to contribute immediately. It is no coincidence that in Hennigan’s first draft as the Magic’s general manager, he picked two 22-year-old college graduates from mid-major programs who were the primary focal point of their opponent’s scouting report every night. 

Koremenos: Agree. Perhaps Quincy Miller was worth considering over Nicholson at No. 19 but it certainly was far from something widely viewed as an egregious oversight. O’Quinn seemed like a solid choice near the end of the second round. Definitely hard to fault the selection of a kid with the size to stick when pickings are so slim.

Pruiti: Agree. Orlando needed bigs, especially because of the whole Dwight Howard situation, and in my opinion Orlando got two good ones who should be able to be productive on their roster.

Jul 03

Magic sign first round draft pick Andrew Nicholson

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have signed rookie forward Andrew Nicholson, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

Nicholson was selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft. He will participate in the upcoming 2012 AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League, taking place at Amway Center from July 9-13.

Jul 03

Magic announce roster for 2012 AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic will host the AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League at the team’s practice court at the Amway Center from July 9-13, 2012. The 20-game event will feature the Magic, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons.

Due to space limitations, the event is not open to the public and will be open only to media and professional team/league personnel. Games will begin at 11 a.m. from July 9-12, and at 8 a.m. on July 13. Fans can access box scores, game recaps and cumulative statistics by visiting www.orlandomagic.com.

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Jul 02

Thank you Danny Nowell; Welcome Sean Highkin and Noam Schiller

490 days.

That’s the number of days in which Danny Nowell has been a part of Magic Basketball. However, today, on the 491st day, I’m here to announce that Danny will be stepping down as a contributing writer of MBN. He has taken his talents to the TrueHoop Network’s sister site, Portland Roundball Society, where he’ll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers moving forward from here. He recently moved to Portland from North Carolina, so Danny will not only write about the Blazers but cover the team as well.

Over the past 16 months, I’ve gotten to know Danny and I can safely say he’s the best writer I’ve ever worked with (by far) and he’s a good person, too. I consider him a friend and MBN was blessed to have him opine about the many wonders of Stan Van Gundy.

PRS and the Blazers’ fan base is in good hands.

Fortunately, even though MBN bids farewell to Danny, I’m happy to announce that Sean Highkin and Noam Schiller (both of Hardwood Paroxysm) will be joining MBN as the website’s two newest contributing writers. If you’re unfamiliar with either of their work, all you need to do is take a quick peek at Sean’s take on Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and his pursuit of Dwight Howard or Noam’s take on the validation of LeBron James’ transcendence after he captured his first NBA title with the Miami Heat and realize they’re tremendous writers with a seemingly never-ending passion for the NBA at large.

Sean’s and Noam’s roles at MBN will be similar to what Nate and Matt do — they’ll provide both an aerial view as well as a zoomed-in look at the Orlando Magic and NBA in general.

I think highly of Sean and Noam as writers. I hope in time you — the readers — will, too.

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