Should the Magic improve their pace?

A few articles caught my eye:

1) Stan Van Gundy shares coaching secrets :

"If you’ve ever sat near the court at a Magic game, you’ve surely heard Van Gundy plead for his players to “Get back!” And yes, this is a rare occasion in which the exclamation point is necessary. Van Gundy believes the second-most important characteristic to a successful basketball team — next to conditioning, which is weirdly unobvious — is getting back on defense. He said the Magic’s guards are instructed to ignore offensive rebounding and always get back on defense to limit opponents’ fast-break points. “We better be first in transition points allowed,” Van Gundy said."

So after shooting Van Gundy is worried about allowing transition points. He doesn't care about offensive rebounds, he just doesn't wan't to allow easy baskets. I am OK with it. But then, on the same article you can read:

"Some people wonder why the Magic don’t run more — in fact, whenever the Magic are struggling, that’s usually what many fans pin the problem on. But that’s the way the Magic are designed. Van Gundy tells all of his players to crash the defensive boards — even Jameer Nelson, the team’s diminutive point guard. Some teams leak their point guard out so he can receive an outlet pass from the guy who rebounds the ball. The Magic don’t. That’s why Nelson is a pretty good per-minute rebounder even though he’s shorter than Hope Solo."

I don't get this. While one of Van Gundy's main concerns is not allowing fast-break points, he doesn't care about his own team making them. I think we should send Nelson or Richardson running instead of waiting for the rebound. Best case scenario is an easy basket, worse case scenario they get an offensive rebound. The Magic has been a better defensive than offensive team since Van Gundy is here. Wehave the best defensive player in the league, not the best offensive player. So betting easy points against defending another ball is a winning gamble for the Magic. Easy points are gold for us, playing D is not that hard. (1)

2) The Clippers' efficient Woody Allen offense

"Of all of Woody Allen's enduring punch lines, none is so practical as a life lesson. You don't have to be a genius to achieve success -- just show up. At its very root, a basketball possession is an opportunity for points. There are no promises you’ll score. But NBA teams that get a shot off at the basket score an average of 1.16 points per possession. Barring an illegal defense call or a foul away from the ball, teams that don’t get a shot off score exactly zero points on average. "

This one is a no brainer: if you don't shoot you won't score. If you shoot a lot you get a lot of chances of scoring. So is the Magic shooting a lot? Not exactly...

3) Magic aren't scoring many fastbreak points and Van Gundy expects little change.

"Orlando is averaging just 8.3 fastbreak points per game, which places the team among the league's worst teams in that statistical category. "I'd like our pace to be up, but I just don't see it happening, to be honest," Stan Van Gundy said . "I don't. I don't see it happening. We don't have guys who really push the ball, and we don't have a lot of runners."

Orlando ranks 26th in Pace with 91.9, while Denver ranks 1st with 98.9. Pace is the stat for possessions per 48 minutes, meaning Denver have 7 extra chances to score per game than Orlando. If Orlando could have those 7 extra possessions they could score more than 7 extra points per game, which is a lot.

It might seem odd to bring this issue now, when our offense is pretty good. But you want to have as many weapons as you can. We all know what happens when the 3s are not falling. Last season the Magic shoot .329 beyond the arch when losing and .378 when winning. It's hard for us to win games when we can't hit the 3. Being able to run in those situations could allow us to score before their defense can set up

Van Gundy is right about saying we don't have runners. But you don't need to be faster than one guy to beat him, you just need to start running earlier. As you can see in the pic, Lebron James is already running while all the other players are looking at the shot.

Of course I don't expect the Magic to pull full court alley oops regularly, but I do think that trying to improve the pace would be good for the team. I've seen this several times: 40 secs left at the end of a quarter. The Magic could take a quick shot knowing they would get the ball back to close the quarter. Instead they just walk the ball, take a shot late in the clock and the other team gets to close the quarter. That's one free possession wasted. And that single possesion could have won us a game or two against Atlanta in the playoffs.

More possessions means more chances to score. Fastbreaks means easy quick baskets. So should we give it a try?

(1) RIght now our Off. rating is 106.8 while our Def. rating is 101.7. Believe it or not, right now we have the best offense in the NBA! That doesn't necessarily mean our offense is great and our D is bad, I think it's just an aberration due to small sample size, amazing 3pt shooting, short preseason, new players learning the system and Stan having to alter the rotation because of tough schedule.

2011-2012: Off: 106.8 (1st) Def: 101.7 (20th)

2010-2011: Off: 105.7 (10th) Def: 99.1 (3d)

2009-2010: Off: 109.5 (2nd) Def: 100.2 (1st)

2008-2009: Off: 107.2 (8th) Def: 98.9 (1st)


This FanPost was made by a member of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community, and is to be treated as the opinions and views of its author, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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