Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 92

Aug 02

Ryan Anderson: A sad farewell

Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images

Since its inception, the Most Improved Player award has gone to an Orlando Magic player five times in 27 years. If you include Gilbert Arenas, who earned the award in 2003 while he was in Golden State, 22 percent of the Most Improved Player award winners since 1985 are Magic players — a sort of cosmic and longstanding joke to the Magic faithful who have yet to win a championship. Good job, fellas. Keep it up. You’re improving. Some day, guys. Some day.

If you’re like me, you operate under the assumption that sportswriters voting for awards has almost nothing to do with statistics, and everything to do with narrative popularity and social context. This was seen most clearly in the 2011 MVP voting where (somehow) Derrick Rose took home the award over the likes of LeBron James and the then-beloved Dwight Howard.

We can only assume an award as superfluous as Most Improved Player, an award being voted on by the same cast of writers triumphantly chanting “we love drama,” will at best be as unfounded and inane as the coveted MVP award. After all, these writers are only human, and statistics are just a silly, insignificant game played by smarty-pants blog junkies who have no concept of how the game is meant to be played.

The pragmatist in me wants to write off this award completely, to discard it the same way I trash Academy Award winners for Best Supporting Actress for their role in a miserably unwatchable art film.

But never mind the meaninglessness of the award. Never mind the fallen system these writers use to determine who in fact “improved the most.” Forget the fact that the system itself is an exercise in arbitrary futility. This year, even if it was by accident, when they named Ryan Anderson the Most Improved Player in the league, they got it right. And with one swift move that sent Anderson to New Orleans in exchange for Gustavo Ayon in a sign-and-trade, the Orlando Magic once again got it wrong — but that’s another topic altogether.

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Aug 01

Orlando Magic’s 2012-13 preseason schedule released

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic will open the 2012 preseason in Mexico City, Mexico on Sunday, October 7 against New Orleans. Orlando then hosts its first preseason game on Thursday, October 11 vs. Philadelphia. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

The Magic will play a total of eight preseason games, including four at Amway Center. The other three games are Friday, October 19 vs. Indiana, Sunday, October 21 vs. San Antonio and Friday, October 26 vs. Houston.

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights for the 2012-13 season in the Amway Center, named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Sports Facility of the Year, include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 10,000 seats priced $50 or under. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting

Orlando opens training camp on October 1 at the Amway Center. The Magic’s complete schedule is available through their official website: All local telecasts will be available in high definition on FOX Sports Florida. Orlando opens its regular season on Friday, November 2 at home against Denver (7 p.m.).

Click here for the 2012-13 preseason schedule.

Aug 01

3-on-3 roundtable: Getting to know Jacque Vaughn

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic announced the hiring of Jacque Vaughn as their new head coach, thus officially closing the door on the Stan Van Gundy era after five years.

Prior to his hiring, Vaughn served as the assistant coach under head coach Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs for two seasons in 2011 and 2012. And prior to that, Vaughn played 12 seasons in the NBA mostly as a back-up point guard, winning a championship with the the Spurs in 2007 while backing up Tony Parker.

This will be Vaughn’s first head coaching gig in the league.

With Vaughn’s hiring, it’s clear at this point that the Magic are fully committed to trying to emulate the Oklahoma City and San Antonio model of building an NBA franchise. More specifically, it’s more than obvious that Orlando wants to achieve the same level of long-term success and sustainability, as a small market team, that the Spurs have achieved and that the Thunder are well on their way of achieving — with the added benefit of having one of the best, if not the best, arena in the league, an ownership willing to spend, and a city that’s historically drawn high-profile free agents in the past.

Will Vaughn be the head coach to help the Magic reach their goals?

That question remains to be answered. What can be answered are questions related to the hiring of Vaughn. The trio of Graydon Gordian, Andrew McNeill, and Tim Varner from the TrueHoop Network’s sister site, 48 Minutes of Hell (a Spurs-based blog), share their knowledge of Vaughn and project his future as Orlando’s newest head coach.

What type of head coach will Jacque Vaughn be?

Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: While beloved by Popovich, I don’t expect Vaughn to emulate his acerbic, demanding style. Vaughn’s experience in the NBA will more likely make him a “player’s coach,” as they say. Given the tension between certain members of the Magic and Stan Van Gundy, Vaughn’s more amicable, understated demeanor might be a breathe of fresh air. 

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: It’s hard to tell based on his behind-the-bench role with the Spurs the last two seasons, but after coaching the Spurs’ Vegas Summer League team I get the impression Vaughn is a “player’s coach.” Vaughn relates to younger players well because of his experience with both the on-court and off-court parts of the NBA. He can surround himself with an X’s & O’s-type of assistant coach and really succeed.

Tim Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Vaughn is only a partial Popovich disciple — he also played for Jerry Sloan (among others). Above all else, Popovich values intelligence. Vaughn, who writes poetry and has a knack for relating to players, is said to have a surplus of smarts. 

What will be Vaughn’s offensive philosophy?

Gordian: It’s tough to say exactly, but if he truly is a disciple of Popovich, the offense in Orlando might not change dramatically. Although they go about doing so in slightly different ways, both Van Gundy and Popovich focus on scoring at the rim and from beyond the three-point line. Vaughn will likely look to have his guys in Orlando doing the same.

McNeill: Again, tough to say. With the Spurs, Vaughn’s role was as a behind-the-bench assistant, so his impact was limited on a game-by-game  basis. I would expect him to take a look at what he has in Orlando and tailor whatever system he wants to implement to those players. Simply trying to force “your system” on whatever players a roster has when you arrive is a recipe for a flop.

Varner: Given his background, I expect Vaughn to feature an endless amount of pick-and-rolls. One wonders if his recent seasons with the Spurs means he will push the pace, but Vaughn is so young it’s hard to know much more about him other than he’s earned his shot.

What will be Vaughn’s defensive philosophy?

Gordian: As long as Dwight Howard is on the Orlando Magic, it allows for aggressive closeouts and even a bit of gambling on the part of perimeter defenders. But as far as specific wrinkles the defense will utilize, Vaughn wasn’t involved enough in the crafting of San Antonio’s defense to predict his philosophy with much accuracy.

McNeill: Funnel anyone and anything to Dwight Howard. That’d be my guess. In the event that Howard gets traded, well, I would think his new defensive system would involve prayer.

Varner: I haven’t the first clue. Curiosity runs high. 

Jul 28

Jacque Vaughn named Magic head coach

Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Jacque Vaughn, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and was a member of their 2006-07 NBA World Championship team as a player, has been named head coach, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Vaughn becomes the tenth head coach in franchise history.

“We are beyond excited to name Jacque Vaughn as our head coach,” Hennigan said. “As we navigated through our coaching search, we quickly saw that Jacque’s spirit and leadership strengths made him the clear choice. We are confident that his diligence, attention to detail and communication style will help establish the bedrock of our culture moving forward. His commitment and passion to building a sustainable program will help steer our organization for years to come.”

During Vaughn’s two seasons on San Antonio’s staff, the Spurs compiled a regular season record of 111-37 (.750).

Jul 26

Orlando Magic’s 2012-13 regular season schedule released

Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The National Basketball Association today released its 2012-13 schedule and announced the Orlando Magic will open its 24th season on Friday, November 2 at the Amway Center against Denver. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights for the 2012-13 season in the Amway Center, named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Sports Facility of the Year, include: 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 10,000 seats priced $50 or under. Single-game tickets for the first half of the regular season will go on sale on October 1 at 10 a.m. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting

Orlando opens training camp on October 1 at the Amway Center. The Magic’s complete schedule is available through their official website,, while the entire NBA schedule can be found at

For the first time in team history, all Magic games will be televised locally on one channel. All local telecasts will be available in high definition on FOX Sports Florida.

Each NBA team will play an 82-game regular season: 41 home and 41 away.The Magic will play 52 games vs. the Eastern Conference (18 games vs. the Atlantic Division, 18 games vs. the Central Division and 16 games vs. the Southeast Division) and 30 games against the Western Conference (10 games each vs. the Northwest Division, the Southwest Division and the Pacific Division).

Orlando will play a total of 22 home games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this season. The 2012-13 Magic schedule also features 13 back-to-back contests (26 games played on consecutive nights).

The Magic will play 15 games in November (9 home, 6 away), 16 games in December (8 home, 8 away), including a day game on New Year’s Eve at home against Miami (5 p.m.), 14 games in January (7 home, 7 away), 13 games in February (6 home, 7 away), 16 games in March (8 home, 8 away) and eight games in April (3 home, 5 away).

The Magic will enjoy a season-long five-game homestand from November 21-30 (five games in 10 days). Orlando faces three season-long five-game road trips which take place December 2-9 (five games in eight days), January 28-February 4 (five games in eight days) and March 30-April 7 (five games in nine days).

Orlando closes the season on Wednesday, April 17 at Miami.

Click here for the 2012-13 schedule.

Jul 25

Gustavo Ayon’s pick-and-roll abilities

You can forgive Magic fans if they don’t know much about Gustavo Ayon.

When the Orlando Magic executed a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Hornets to acquire Ayon in exchange for Ryan Anderson, a lot of people within the Magic fanbase were asking themselves, “who?” That was to be expected.

While Anderson was raising his national profile around NBA circles with his “breakout” year last season, Ayon quietly had a solid rookie season with the Hornets. You just didn’t really hear about it because Anderson was a part of a seemingly never-ending soap opera with the Magic that garnered constant headlines and attention (courtesy of Dwight Howard, Stan Van Gundy, and company), while Ayon was a part of a bad New Orleans team that wasn’t in the news much apart from a fleeting Chris Paul reference.

So who is Ayon and how can he help Orlando?

One of Ayon’s strengths as a player is his ability to be an effective pick-and-roll big man. Even though it remains to be seen what the offensive philosophy will be when the Magic eventually hire their new head coach, considering the personnel on the roster, you have to figure Orlando won’t stray too far from Van Gundy’s pick-and-roll heavy offense in recent years, even if Dwight is eventually traded because of guys like Glen Davis, Andrew Nicholson, and Kyle O’Quinn. Assuming that’s the case, Ayon should be a good fit with the Magic.

Last season with the Hornets, Ayon averaged 1.17 points per possession as the roll man in pick-and-rolls in 53 possessions (19th in the NBA). Ayon did a majority of his damage at the rim, but he didn’t hesitate popping out for the occasional midrange jumpshot either.


On this possession, New Orleans executes a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Jarrett Jack and Ayon. Ayon sets the screen, then pops out free-throw line extended.

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Jul 24

Getting to know Gustavo Ayon

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

When the Magic signed-and-traded Ryan Anderson to the New Orleans Hornets for Gustavo Ayon, many Magic fans were probably displeased. Anderson was one of the sole bright spots on the team last season, while Ayon is hardly six months removed from toiling in complete basketball obscurity. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound 27-year-old had been nowhere near the NBA radar as he spent the early portion of his career between his home country of Mexico and Spain. Even when Hornets general manager Dell Demps brought him over to New Orleans last summer, it was to a team decimated by both offseason trades and injuries, one that few people would willingly watch all year.

Those who watched, though, were pleasantly surprised. Ayon broke into the Hornets’ rotation early in the year last season and stayed there, displaying a smart game to go with nimble feet and constant effort. As such, he shot above Eduardo Najera and Earl Watson (bet you didn’t know that) for the position of best Mexican NBA player, as well as ensuring that his 3-year, $4.5 million deal would be a huge bargain.

The first thing that meets the eye with Ayon, as mentioned, is his smart play. Ayon rarely does the things he’s bad at — 60 percent of his shots came in the immediate basket area, where he converted 65.4 percent of his attempts, as he left his jumper in the closet more often than not. This definitely seems like the right decision, as he shot only 36.5 percent away from the basket all year.

Ayon’s shots come mostly in the flow of the offense, as he struggles to create off the dribble. classified only 26 possessions all year as ones where Ayon isolated, and they mostly ended badly, as he averaged just 0.42 points per possession. Things weren’t much better in the post, where he averaged 0.52 points per possession in 33 possessions.

Ayon actually has a pretty solid first dribble -– he likes planting himself at one of the elbows, faking a handoff to a guard curling around him, then dribbling hard to the rim -– and he uses this combined with his speed to get by some of the league’s slower big men defenders. However, if that first dribble doesn’t gain him an advantage, he is often lost, left with no choice but to barrel into an array of defenders and throw up an awkward layup. It is a weapon to be used only in very favorable matchups, and Ayon definitely seems to realize that his iso game is not his strength.

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Jul 19

NBA Mexico Game 2012 to feature Magic and Hornets in October

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Zignia Live, a premier live entertainment and events company in Mexico, today announced a multiyear partnership that includes a preseason game in Mexico featuring the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets on Oct. 7 at the newly launched Mexico City Arena as part of NBA Mexico Game 2012.

The game marks the NBA’s 18th visit to Mexico City and the league’s 20th game in Mexico overall, the most NBA matchups held in any country outside the United States and Canada. Game tickets are available for purchase starting July 20 through Super Boletos (

“NBA Mexico Game is an important part of our 2012 international games schedule and a great opportunity for us to connect with our fans in Mexico and across Latin America,” said Philippe Moggio, NBA Vice President, Latin America. “As the most frequent international host for NBA games, Mexico will again provide a great showcase for the game of basketball as the New Orleans Hornets and Orlando Magic put on an exciting show for our passionate fans at the new Mexico City Arena.”

Jul 16

Magic re-sign Jameer Nelson

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have re-signed free agent guard Jameer Nelson, general manager Rob Hennigan announced tonight. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

“Jameer (Nelson) has been an integral member of this organization for the last eight years, both on the court and in the community,” said Hennigan. “His leadership, toughness, and commitment to his teammates will continue to help guide our program in the right direction. We are excited to have him back in a Magic uniform.”

Nelson (#14, 6’0”, 190, 2/9/82) played and started in 57 games last season with the Magic, averaging 11.9 ppg., a team-high 5.7 apg. and 3.2 rpg. in 29.9 mpg. He shot .377 (87-231) from three-point range and .807 (71-88) from the free throw line. Nelson ranked 15th in the NBA in assists. He led (or tied) the team in scoring eight times and in assists 36 times, including a career-high-tying 14 assists on Feb. 15 vs. Philadelphia.

Jul 13

2012 Orlando Pro Summer League Recap

July 3

July 9-13

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