Rules are not meant to be broken. The Orlando Magic learned that lesson the hard way after a tough 107-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night.
“Because there’s no possession when the clock goes off, the ruling is that there’s a jump ball, center circle, the rule is 13E-9-2. And anytime there is either an inadvertent whistle and/or a horn when the ball is in the air, there’s no possession and we go center circle, jump ball.” – NBA Crew Chief Bill Spooner
And with that rule, the Orlando Magic found themselves losers of their second game in a row Wednesday night.
The Orlando Magic felt cheated. Hurt. Flat out disappointed. A NBA rule took their final possession taken away from them because of a game clock error.
“We feel cheated,” Orlando forward Aaron Gordon stated in the locker room. “It felt like they gave them the game. It’s just a terrible end to a game of basketball. They didn’t even give us a chance to win. And that’s the last time we see them. We have to wait a year to play them again. They have gotta change that rule and I think they will.”
The Magic made a late 10-0 run to put themselves up one point just before fouling Laker’s center Brook Lopez. Lopez, who finished with 27 points on the night, made two free throws that put the Los Angeles Lakers up for what would be the final possession.
With six-tenths of a second left, the Magic attempted an inbound alley-oop towards the rim for forward Aaron Gordon. The shot clock began as the ball was thrown and the buzzer sounded in the air before being touched by anyone or anything. Based on the current NBA rule, the shot clock issue required a jump ball at center court. After the jump ball, the Lakers swatted the ball away as the real game clock expired.
Aaron Gordon most critical of necessary change
Gordon seemed to be most vocal about the need for a rule change as he finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds.
“Vucevic played perfect defense,” Gordon told reporters. “They called a foul. They gave them the game. For the most part the referees did a good job throughout the game. Just down the stretch it was bad. So they’ve got to change the rule.”
After the game was over, head coach Frank Vogel made critical comments about the officiating late in the game as well.
” They took the ball from us and made it a jump ball with 0.6 seconds, which kills any chance of us tying the game or winning the game,”Vogel said. “I don’t know. It’s just common sense would tell me that in that situation, the clock started early, that you do redo the possession. They felt otherwise.”
Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic finishes with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball ended the game with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The Orlando Magic have assembled quite a roster for the 2017-18 NBA season. The front office has excelled this off-season by infusing veterans and winning cultured players into a team of inexperienced youth.
The Orlando Magic look a hell of a lot better in year one of their new era of basketball. Under general manager, John Hammond and team president Jeff Weltman, the Magic are in evaluation mode.
Slight frustration amongst some fans loomed as the team opted to select forward Jonathan Isaac over guard Dennis Smith Jr. More confusion ensued as the team traded away a 1st round pick and 2nd round pick for next to nothing.
And then the Magic drafted another wing prospect with their remaining second round pick in Wesley Iwundu — a four year senior out of Kansas State.
Heading into free agency, rumors indicated the Orlando Magic would maintain close to the same roster from the 2016-17 campaign. Mostly due to lack of cap flexibility.
But the first change of the summer — hiring team president Jeff Weltman — proved otherwise. The second addition to the front office of John Hammond formed a familiar pairing of front office executives.
Hammond and Weltman, took a few copper pennies and turned them into a pot of gold — Magic Gold.
The Magic were able to add three quality veteran players from winning atmospheres to join the team in Marreese Speights, Shelvin Mack, and Jonathon Simmons. Seemingly, righting a wrong, the Magic added a former player for a second stint, in Arron Afflalo. Lastly, they added one hell of a big man in unknown Canadian, Khem Birch to round out the roster.
That’s a total of seven new players the team added in hopes of becoming a more competitive team.
The Orlando Magic Season Outlook
The Magic will be a better team than they were last season. Odds makers believed so and this time it is worth trusting them. Vegas lines had the Orlando Magic at the 40.5 game win mark this summer — before the team signed Afflalo, Speights, Mack, Simmons, and Birch. Rest assured those five players will add a few more wins on the year.
After five years of wandering hopelessly, the Magic have indeed found themselves a team identity. They are built to play tough man defense and run in transition offensively.
The current roster is designed to feature long armed, athletic players at every position. As one player goes to the bench, another similar player in the folds waiting to substitute in the game.
The versatility the team will have this season is something the team has focused to achieve this off-season.
As opening day approaches, expectations have dipped a bit as the Magic are projected to hover around the 32 win mark. BleacherReport.com pre-regular season power rankings land the Orlando Magic at 23.
Orlando Magic players have failed to acknowledge those rankings. In particular, Arron Afflalo and Marreese Speights have continued to bet on the Magic making the playoffs — this year. The Orlando Magic organization have remained mum about the playoffs but it’s clear that is the objective for this season.
Consistency is the Reason For Optimism
While everything the Orlando Magic can do on the court will depend on players continuing to remain consistent in improving, the area that is often forgotten is the coaching staff. While the front office executives may have changed and new consultants may be lurking around the Amway Center, the coaching staff is entering year two. That’s finally something the Magic can be proud of after playing musical chairs with their head coaches the past four years.
As head coach Frank Vogel prepares this team for their 28th NBA season, its worth noting that a Vogel led team has only missed the playoffs twice with him as a head coach — both being his first year tenures with his new NBA clubs. If history repeats itself, expect Vogel and the Magic to improve defensively and in the standings.
Assistant coach Chad Forcier is also entering his second year with the club and excels at player progression. He was one of the driving forces behind the growth of Spurs’ superstar Kwahi Leonard, and was very familiar with new Magic wing player Jonathon Simmons. Expect growth this year from all Magic players as the coaches continue to instill a winning foundation in Magic Kingdom.
The Orlando Magic are revving up the rebuild engines. If they truly are to turn the corner of their current rebuild process, they will need Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon to cement themselves as cornerstone pieces.
The Orlando Magic believe they have improved their roster heading into next season. The team has added eight new players this summer in an attempt to further the development of the team. They also have tenured players working hard this summer to expand their games. Of those tenured players, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon are the two who must take the next step in expansion for the Magic to build off last season.
Elfrid Payton had a season of mixed results last year. Payton saw his starting role relinquished twice in favor of inferior players. And twice he was able to regain his starter status. Amidst trade rumors, he finished the year on a statistical increase in points, rebounds, and assists. Payton is the Orlando Magic’s all-time triple-double leader. He trailed superstars Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, James Harden and up-and-comer Nikola Jokic in triple doubles last season at five on the year. Payton did not have the resources needed last year to improve his game. He desperately needed shooters and he started the year with a roster full of big men who lacked the ability to knock down perimeter shots. The only legitimate threats were Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks — when he was healthy.
Elfrid Payton is naturally a pass first point guard. His strength is attacking the paint and breaking down defenses. He plays solid defense on the perimeter but needs to improve his ability to guard the pick and roll.
What makes this coming year outlook so different with Payton is his performance after the all-star break last season. The cohesion and chemistry with the starting five improved vastly after the trade of forward Serge Ibaka. After figuring out everyone’s role and how coach Frank Vogel wanted the team to play, Payton was visibly more comfortable and began to play up to his forecasted potential that made him a lottery pick in 2013.
The Orlando Magic have a slew of other capable defenders such as Jonathon Simmons, Jonathan Isaac, and Aaron Gordon to help fight over pick and rolls and screens which should allow Payton to become more aggressive on defense
This summer he has been working with the likes of Chris Paul on improving his game and it should pay dividends for him this year.
Aaron Gordon‘s career has been defined with injuries. Many Magic fans were getting frustrated with Gordon and his never-ending series of freak injuries. It seemed as if every year right before the season started he would endure an injury. Last season was about staying healthy for Aaron Gordon and starting the season on a positive note.
With the addition of Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon was anointed as the team’s starting small forward. While he showed signs of improvement as the season went on, he was clearly out of position. After the all-star break, the line-up changed and he was moved back to the power forward position exclusively. That’s where he displayed the playing style that got him to the NBA. Gordon excelled by using his size and athleticism to exploit mismatches. After the break, Gordon nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.
Aaron Gordon’s shooting woes, doomed him as a small forward. While capable of knocking down the three ball, he failed to do so efficiently. His current strengths, indicated he needed to be close to the basket. Recent indications are for Gordon to become a versatile stretch-four who can mix and match his court duties. The ideal scenario for Gordon is to develop into a more athletic Draymond Green type of player. He is surely capable of affecting the outcome of a game in multiple ways, and Orlando will surely want to see him take a leap in his game this season.
Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon have both been working hard to improve this summer. What both of these guys need is consistent coaching schemes and more defined roles — both of which should occur this season. Coach Frank Vogel still believes in both players being able to develop consistently into their late season forms from last year. The team added competition and veterans to the roster to help develop the young players and reach their full potential. Both Payton and Gordon came into the league billed full of untapped potential and as project players. The coaching staff behind Vogel excel at getting the most out of players. A second year in Orlando will bode well for everyone involved.
So the question is will both players make the splash that Orlando needs them to make this season?
The Orlando Magic are a mess. More like a quick cleanup on aisle three in the grocery store type of mess — for the moment.
You name it and the Orlando Magic probably have done it and not in a good way.
They have traded assets for essentially nothing. They have overpaid veterans and signed players to bad contracts. They have leaked the future free agency plans inadvertently. They rank towards the end of the league in team efficiency despite brining in 10 new players this year than last year. Despite all of this, the Magic have one glaring issue to address before they start winning again — the offense.
Let’s talk numbers for a minute. Here are a few offensive categories and where the Orlando Magic rank in those categories.
Win percentage – 35.4% (27th)
Points – 101.1 (T27th)
FG % – 44.0 (29th)
3pt % – 32.5 (30th)
FT % – 74.5 (26th)
Ast – 22.1 (18th)
OfRtg – 101.3 (29th)
So what do the numbers suggest?
The Orlando Magic are one of the worse offensive teams in the league, which really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in terms of their current player personnel.
Now before people start screaming bloody hell, allow me to explain.
The Magic have the right personnel.
Elfrid Payton is capable of leading the team every night in transition and setting up the half court sets. As a team, the Magic are near the middle of the pack in assists.
Aaron Gordon is the dirty work guy who utilizes his mismatches on offense.
Nikola Vucevic is the low post scoring threat and offensive rebounder.
Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks are capable of lighting up from downtown on any given night.
The rest of the role players are complimenting the core players just fine.
But are the Magic playing the way Frank Vogel intended for the team beginning the season?
…but we’re also going to play a style offensively where we adapt to the way today’s NBA game is played on the offensive end. We’re gonna play with pace, and we’re gonna take advantage of the athleticism we have on the roster, run the floor, and we’re also gonna space similarly to the way a lot of these teams are playin’ in today’s NBA.
…I’ve got a great desire to play up-and-down, great desire, and I feel like we have the athleticism and youth to achieve that right away.
– Frank Vogel
Earlier in the year, the magic ranked towards the end of the league in offensive pace. They rarely got up and down the floor like the team should have been able to do and most of that had to do with a clog in the middle with a trio of big men that didn’t fit together. They didn’t play the way Vogel expressed he wanted his team to play.
Fast forward to after the trade deadline and the acquisition of wingman Terrence Ross and now the Magic are looking like an NBA caliber team – at least on offense. They have finally accepted a smaller lineup and a faster playing team.
The clear issue was the offensive schemes and lack of efficient play calling. During the Serge Ibaka era, the Magic would settle for setting up in a half court set and force feeding Ibaka on the low post. Aaron Gordon would camp at the three-point line waiting for force a bad shot and not be in position to battle for an offensive rebound. At times they would move their best rebounder in Vucevic to the three-point line to create more space for Ibaka to work. The problem with this scheme was Vucevic and Gordon were always out of position limiting their effectiveness.
Insert Terrence Ross into the lineup and remove Ibaka and now the same offense gets out and runs openly as Ross sets up as a better three-point threat while Vucevic runs down low to set up his position for a second chance rebound or a mismatch. Aaron Gordon slashes to the rim instead of camping out at the three-point line and now we have rotations and positions that make basketball sense. The end result is usually a dunk or high percentage three-pointer.
It took Vogel and staff, five months to adjust and make a change and that just shouldn’t happen at the NBA level.
Moving forward, the Magic have a blueprint to build from but it will take finding a way to consistently put players in position to score easier to truly elevate this team. The three alarming categories the Magic must address this off-season need to be three-point percentage, free throw conversion percentage, and field goal percentage.
Looking at the numbers the Magic need to get more production from two main positions, small forward and shooting guard. These two positions should feature the heavier load of three-pointers allowing Aaron Gordon to use his athleticism more in the paint and Elfrid Payton to penetrate and kick to wide open players or finish at the rim.
By playing Gordon, Payton, and Vucevic closer to the rim, the Magic should be able to see an upswing in their field goal percentage increasing their offensive efficiency. This will also translate over to the transition game.
The area of concern still remains at free throw percentage. While near the league bottom in attempts per game as a team 21.6 (26th), at the very minimum Orlando needs to aim to convert closer 80% than the current 74%. A lot of this falls on center Bismack Biyombo but with a talented guard/small forward this pressure shifts from Biyombo late in games to their scoring player(s). As of now Orlando doesn’t have a player who can get to the foul line 8-10 times per game and they desperately need someone who can do so consistently.
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The Magic seem like they will add a high offensive rookie this summer to fill the holes on offense and follow-up with established veterans via free agency and trades.
Whatever they ultimately decide, they need to address the offense first and allow the defense to come afterwards.
The Orlando Magic made a trade to send free agent to be forward Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for combo wing Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick.
Terrence Ross is the newest member of the Orlando Magic. Ross was selected eighth in the 2012 NBA draft. At the time, Ross was known to be near the top of the athleticism charts coming into the league and has continued to develop into a complete player over the last five years. On paper, Ross looks to be the player that Hennigan was seeking to compliment the young player rebuild—a wing player who can score from all areas of the floor. Lets look at what Terrence Ross will bring to the Orlando Magic.
Ross comes to the Magic, averaging a pedestrian 10 points per game. On the stat sheet, that number won’t jump out at you but he did so playing 22 minutes and attempting just under nine shots per game. Even more so, Ross was never more than the fourth or fifth scoring option with the Toronto Raptors.
In Orlando, Ross will be used very differently.
The Magic are starving for a go to scorer and after trading away Ibaka, the Magic should attempt to make Ross that guy. Capable of scoring from all areas on the court, Ross should instantly feed off of the play of Magic guard Elfrid Payton. Payton’s ability to penetrate the paint and draw double teams, should leave Ross with plenty of opportunities to convert on open threes and cuts to the rim.
53% of Ross’ shot attempts come from three-point land. 16% come between 16 feet to the three-point line, and 12% come at the rim.
What Frank Vogel should incorporate into the game plan is reducing the amount of long two-point shots and increase the amount of attempts at the rim. Ross will still take a hefty amount of threes per game but by reducing the amount of high risk, low reward shot attempts, he should be able to increase his scoring into the 20 point per game range.
The hole in Ross’ offensive arsenal is his ability to draw fouls. He must develop the ability to draw contact, something that will happen as he gets the rim more often. Currently he averages less than one attempt per game. For a player who converts at an 82% rate, the Magic will need to take advantage of and tap into his full scoring potential.
The Magic have finally found themselves a guy who can finish through players as opposed to changing to a tough lay-up or floater. Ross has the ability to go through, around, over, under, and however else is possible to score a bucket. Just take a look at what he is capable of doing.
And here is a another look at his finishing ability.
Ross will become one of the best finishers on the Orlando Magic from day one.
While not known to have elite defense, that doesn’t mean Ross is not one the better defenders at his position. He is capable of defending the perimeter and the paint. Of the 21 fouls per game committed by the Toronto Raptors, Ross accounted for one foul per game. That’s right. One. For a player who is playing roughly two full quarters per game, he rarely fouls his opponent. The Magic on the other hand are already near the league best in 19 fouls per game (league best is 17 per game with the Charlotte Hornets). Adding a player like Ross who barely fouls, should help boost them into the top five of this category and decrease the freebies other teams get against the Magic.