Wednesday evening, Arron Afflalo will return to Pepsi Center for the first time since the Denver Nuggets, its NBA tenants, traded him to the Orlando Magic. He does so in the midst of the hottest individual offensive streak of his career, according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, but also the worst losing streak for any of his teams. As Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes, the losing is taking its toll. Orlando is winless in its last nine chances.
"It's one thing to score points and stop guys," Afflalo said, according to Robbins' piece. "But, for me, it has to transfer to wins, so people can truly see the impact of it [....] I'm hungry to get a 'W.'"
Afflalo's single-minded focus on winning has helped the Magic's locker room, said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "His approach every day is great for us, to have young guys see his approach. He cares, and that's extremely important in this league."
That the nine-game skid is wearing on Afflalo is no surprise to people who have followed his career since the Detroit Pistons drafted him as a three-point and defensive specialist out of UCLA in 2008. Scott Perry, the Magic's assistant general manager, was part of the Detroit organization then and pushed for Orlando to acquire him as part of the Dwight Howard trade in August precisely because his attitude can benefit his teammates.
Before the losing streak became terribly taxing, Afflalo told Grantland, "you play to make the playoffs," a goal which has become increasingly unrealistic for the Magic.