Orlando Magic News for October 1st: A Report from John Hollinger; Dwight Howard Reflects on South Africa

  • Wayne Winston: Mark Cuban's Stats Expert Isn't Bashful, Part 2
    Henry Abbott of TrueHoop shares part two of his discussion with Wayne Winston, who's been a statistician for the Dallas Mavericks the past nine years. Here's a portion of the write-up that stood out to me:

    Why did Cleveland lose to Orlando? I did a post on that. Everybody thinks Mike Brown did a bad job coaching, right? OK, when Ben Wallace played, they lost by a point a minute. 

    They have a stat guy who does this kind of work. They used to have Dan Rosenbaum.

    They still have Dan Rosenbaum. Then ask Dan Rosenbaum why he let this happen. I would never let his happen. 

    The 57 minutes when Ben Wallace played, and they didn't have Joe Smith in there, they lost by 58 points. 
    FYI, Orlando outscored Cleveland by 13 points in the series.
  • How will Orlando use its new players?
    John Hollinger of ESPN.com gives his report from training camp for the Orlando Magic. For those curious, he was in town on Tuesday and I was able to chat with him before and after practice - very nice and personable person.

  • Stan Van Gundy Doesn't Do Honeymoons
    Bethlehem Shoals of The Baseline chimes in on the "controversy" surrounding head coach Stan Van Gundy critiquing Vince Carter's defense, so far.

    Could he play better defense? Yes, anyone could. But is this really the right foot for SVG to get off on with his prized off-season acquisition? Treating a player set in his ways like a rookie and acting like you didn't know what you were getting is just a little naive. Maybe Van Gundy could push Vince later, or do so situationally. Like this, though, right off the bat, almost ultimatum-like ... I kind of see what Shaq was talking about.

    First, for what it's worth, I was the individual that asked Van Gundy about Carter's defense (not that it entirely matters in the grand scheme of things). Second, this is who Stan is and he's not going to change. After it was all said and done, Vince agreed with what his coach had to say and that was the end of it. I think more time needs to pass before people start declaring the "marriage" is in crisis mode. Let's see what happens, first.

  • Reflecting on South Africa
    Dwight Howard posts on his official blog, today, and shares his experience being over in South Africa for the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program.

    It was a life-changing experience for anyone who goes over there. I’ve never been a cocky person, never been a person who cares about material things and for anybody who does, the best thing they could do would be to go to Africa and see how the people there are. They don’t care about material things or money and being rich is not the goal of the people there. They are rich at heart and rich in spirit.
  • Thursday-afternoon practice report (with audio): team to have Friday off, Pietrus turns ankle
    UPDATE: Josh Robbins has his report of the team's afternoon practice session and and offers an encouraging quote from the ol' coach.

    After Thursday afternoon’s practice, there was no need to joke. Van Gundy decided to give his players Friday off.

    "Their effort was great," Van Gundy said. "I know they’re tired, but they pushed through it good, and we got a lot of defensive work in. So, I thought that was good. We need to continue a lot of that, but they did a great job."
  • The 10 best centers of the last decade
    UPDATE 2: Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie lists his top ten centers of the past decade and Superman makes the list (#3), not surprisingly.

    Only on the scene since 2004-05, he's taken a while to come around defensively (despite all the blocks) and offensively (despite all the dunks), and he's a bloody beast.

    Forget the mitigating factors. Forget the growing pains. Let's talk about right now, and what he's done right then. Howard has averaged 17.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.9 combined steals/blocks, 57 percent shooting in 36 minutes a game.

    Five seasons in, turns 24 in December. Good luck with all ... that.
  • Greek strategy: An alpha male must emerge in Orlando -- right?
    UPDATE 3 (from Ben): Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes about what he perceives to be the perceived lack of leadership Dwight Howard and Vince Carter--the Magic's two best players--display.

    What happens when you pair two franchise cornerstones who are reluctant to lead and ask them to split the job? That is why Orlando will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season -- even more so than teams like the Celtics, Cavaliers and Lakers, who have cornered the market on dominant personalities.

    [....]

    If you agree with my theory that the Magic would be better if Howard fully embraced the role of franchise player, then you'll agree that the only thing that will save him this season is Carter's reluctance to do the same.

    I asked Carter after practice Wednesday how it struck him that he doesn't need to be the offensive focal point in Orlando, and his answer was exactly what I expected: That's not what he wants, anyway. In fact, one of the things that most enthused him about coming to Orlando, according to a source, was the assurance he received from the basketball staff that he wouldn't be the center of attention.

    There's plenty to unpack in Berger's article, so please click-through to read it. Among the more thought-provoking takes on the Magic I've read in a long time.

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