2011-12 Season Recap

If you are having trouble looking at the graphs.... go to right side of screen, and press "Wide". 

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Eastern Conference Rankings

The "Game 52" line" demarcates Howard's last significant game before he was injured. In Game 52, we played against Dallas Mavericks. After that game, he experienced severe tightness in his back which later turned out to be a herniated disc at lumbar spinal cord in need of surgical correction. Game 52 occurred on March 30.

  • Magic were 3rd in East at "Game 52 line".
  • Magic were tied for 5th in league rankings with the Lakers at "Game 52 line".
  • How significant was his injury to the team's win-loss percentage? 14 out of 66 games happened after the injury. This means 21.2% of regular season occurred after "Game 52 line".
  • The last game Howard and Ryan Anderson played together was Game 52. Anderson was injured after Game 53.
  • Howard returned and played Game 55 (L), 56 (W), and 57 (W). On the morning of Game 55, the Van Gundy firing fiasco occurred.

Based on how the team succeeded in games tells a lot about SVG's coaching ability, Dwight Howard's on-court significance, and the team's remarkable resilience.

Dwightmare Timeline

Month News
October Howard states in Esquire magazine, "there’s more you can do in a bigger market. I’ve done so much [...] I just don’t know what else I can do."
December Nets prepare trade request. Deron Williams won't sign extension. Matt Barnes says Howard wants to go to Lakers. Stern rejects Chris Paul trade to LAL. Chris Paul welcomes trade to LAC or Orlando. Bob Vander Weide is fired after he drunk dials Howard. Alex Martins replaces Weide. By the end of the month, Howard's wishlist includes: Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and New Jersey Nets.
January Media reports trade to Nets nearly finalized. Trade collapses. Kobe Bryant shows animus to Howard. Howard informs Lakers he will not sign extension. Howard's wishlist includes: Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers.
February Magic begin to pursue Steve Nash and Monta Ellis.
March Howard told reporters that he isn’t interested in playing in Chicago, citing cold weather. After Heat overtime thriller, Howard tells organization to "roll the dice". Howard decides to waive Early Termination Option. Howard gets injured on the last day of the month.
April-June Stan Van Gundy quitting rumors emerge. Gundy informs media Howard wanted him fired. Howard undergoes season-ending back surgery. Magic lose in the playoffs. Gundy expresses interest in remaining as head coach. Gundy and Otis Smith are fired. Rob Hennigan is hired as GM.
July Howard demands trade to Nets. Media again reports Nets trade nearly finalized. Trade collapses.

Throughout Howard's trade requests, a few constants remained.

  1. Howard wants another friendly co-star to share the burden of carrying the franchise.
  2. Howard wants to be treated like a super-star, not an average player.

D12 averages a serious flip-flop every 3 months. In December, he wanted a trade. In March, he wanted to stay. In July, he wanted to leave. If he keeps it up, by October he would want to stay. Right in time for the start of the season!

Playoff Performance

Against the Eastern Conference's second-round playoff teams, our team's regular season record was:

Opponent W L
Chicago Bulls 1 2
Miami Heat 2 2
Boston Celtics 0 3
Indiana Pacers 3 1
Philadelphia 76ers 3 1

I have no doubt that Indiana Pacers would have been crushed if Howard wasn't carted off to Los Angeles hospitals. The fact that we beat Indiana in Game 1, sent another game to overtime in Game 4, and were leading in the fourth quarter in Game 5 is enough of an indicator. Add that to the sad reality: our no-D12 Orlando Magic played only 11 regular season games together (most with injury-stricken role players too!).

Why we we can still beat Miami? Orlando exposes Miami's weakness at the center position like no other team. But Miami's problem hasn't diminished. Instead of using their money this off-season on a deeper center, they spent it on Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.That hasn't changed the dynamic much. It only adds to Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and James Jones. The Miami Heat got a big break this year. In the playoffs they played the hapless Knicks, the average Pacers, and the injury-riddled Celtics. They did not have to play against D12 or the Chicago Bulls. The East is still wide open.

Why were we underrated as a playoff team even with Dwight Howard?

These were our "Under 70 games":

ORL Enemy Margin
Game 16 Boston Celtics Away 56 87 -31
Game 47 Chicago Bulls Home 59 85 -28
Game 19 New Orleans Away 67 93 -26
Game 21 Philadelphia Away 69 74 -5

And every single "Under 70 game" occurred while Howard was on the floor. Our team had 4 games under 70 points. That ties us with the Charlotte Bobcats who also had 4 games under 70. The "Under 70 games" weren't statistical oddities or a bad day performance. They were all against really good defenses. Consider this chart:

Orlando Magic Regular Season

Is there any surprise that our two biggest blowouts came at the hands of Chicago and Boston?

But good defense alone doesn't take into account why we did so bad so spectacularly. We had some serious lack of team chemistry.

Ryan Anderson vs. Glen Davis

Ryan AndersonEastern Conference Rankings

  • The trend shows Ryan Anderson plays worse in playoffs... consistently.
  • Glen Davis PER trend is much more interesting. If you take a look at his career trend of playoff minutes per game, you will notice that Davis did better when he played a lot of minutes. The more minutes he plays, the better he performs. Perhaps, this is why Davis did not perform so well this season. Hopefully, this trend continues. Davis was rarely given 30+ minutes because Ryan Anderson was ahead of him on the depth charts.
  • Davis had significant troubles this season. His grandmother passed away in January. His dad passed away in February. He had to adjust to Stan Van Gundy's unique coaching style. He isn't SVG's biggest fan and he has expressed this multiple times. (He even got suspended for 2 games because he got into a screaming match with him.) If you want to judge a player by the worst three months of his life, go right on ahead...

Jason Richardson

Orlando Magic Regular Season

  • Jason Richardson has shown two major declines in his career. Both were because of coaching changes. In the 2006 off-season (age 26), he had a coaching change from Mike Montgomery to Don Nelson. In the middle of 2011 (age 30), he was traded from Phoenix to Orlando.
  • Playing with Steve Nash helps... but it doesn't transform your performances from "a player in your prime" to "career-worst". No body just falls off a cliff when you turn 30. But Jason Richardson certainly did fall off a cliff.
  • His strengths lie in transition and the post-up game. He simply does not fit SVG's 4-1 stretch scheme where he acts like a spot-up shooter. Jason Richardson ranks 60th in league at the post-up game and 165th at the spot-up shot. But only 45 attempts came from the post, and a whopping 225 attempts came from the spot-up shot! To put that in perspective: He only got to post-up 7% of the time. He forced the spot-up 32% of the time.

Stan Van Gundy

Season W L W-L% East Ranking Playoff Exit Last Enemy NBA Champion
2007-08 52 30 0.63 3rd 2nd Round Detroit Boston
2008-09 59 23 0.72 3rd NBA Finals LAL LAL
2009-10 59 23 0.72 2nd Conference Finals Boston LAL
2010-11 52 30 0.63 4th 1st round Atlanta Dallas
2011-12 37 29 0.56 6th 1st round Indiana Miami

SVG ranks at best a "Top 3 active coach" and at worst a "Top 7 active coach". Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra, and Scott Brooks are all in his league.

Looking at his record, its amazing how quickly Dwight Howard stabbed the franchise in the back with a trade request after one unsuccessful year. SVG's "firing rant" against management was every bit justified. But it shattered whatever goodwill that was created at the trade deadline.

Its ridiculous to see some players get the minutes they got. Hedo Turkoglu (31.2 min/game) and Chris Duhon (19.5 min/game). But the lockout schedule hampered the chances of a lot of other rotation players (such as Ish Smith and Von Wafer) to join the mix.

Duhon has one strength (and its exaggerated): His 3 point shot (42%). He is 13th in league at 3 point FG%. But its likely a statistical aberration more than anything else. He was a 36.0% shooter when he came to Orlando. And in his two seasons in Orlando, he averaged 36.8% at the 3-point shot. And that's all Duhon should have been doing, shooting 3s. Maybe the Magic should have amnestied Gilbert Arenas one year later. But hindsight is 20/20.

Future Ahead..

The addition of bigs - Gustavo Ayon and Kyle O'Quinn - should definitely strengthen the pathetic defense of the second unit. The cancerous relationship between the star and coach is now gone. Jameer Nelson is bound to rebound from his career low. Mike Prada thinks Andrew Nicholson is NBA-ready, let's hope Prada is right.

More practice time should allow someone else to fill the hole at the backup point guard position. A friendly schedule should definitely buffer our regular season record. We won't get primetime games, but believe me... the entire league will be watching.

The potential range of improvement under a new coach is especially evident in Jason Richardson. A new season should help Glen Davis's solidify redemption somewhat. If anything, Jason Richardson and Glen Davis should improve the value of their contracts! I predict they will be much easier to trade at the trade deadline than right now.

We currently have the expiring contract of J.J. Redick, full Mid-Level Exception, and a few trade exceptions to improve the roster. We can also sign a leftover through a veteran's minimum contract.

And one more thing, our Achilles heel --- the Atlanta Hawks --- has been dismantled. Yay, to that.

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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