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Orlando Magic News for March 12th: A Look at How the Magic Have Performed Lately; Statheads Unite

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  • Are the Magic as good as they have seemed since the All-Star break?
    Tania Ganguli explains why the Orlando Magic have played so well lately.

    Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy talked about the team’s preparation reaching a new level lately. Jameer Nelson seconded that.

    "We’re preparing better; we do everything better right now," Nelson said. "… Individually we’re getting better. Early in the season we really didn’t have too many guys play together too often. Vince [Carter] goes out, Rashard’s [Lewis] out, you had guys go out. We start getting playing time together, practice time, we start jelling a little better."
  • Are Statheads the NBA's Secret Weapon?
    David Biderman of the Wall Street Journal notes that teams with statisticians, a group which includes the Magic, are succeeding on the court. (via TrueHoop)

    According to interviews with every team, The Wall Street Journal found that half the league's teams this season have at least one of these statisticians who helps make in-game, draft-day and trade-deadline decisions. Many of these teams are among the NBA's best. The list accounts for all six division leaders, including the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks, who have a data analyst traveling with the team. These 15 teams that have invested heavily in statistics have combined to win 59.3% of their games this season. The 15 teams without such analysts have won 40.7% of their games, and only three—the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks—are on pace to make the postseason. Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey, one of the pioneers of statistical analysis in the NBA, says more teams will soon come over to the quant side.

More after the jump.

  • NBA's statistical revolution bringing real change, more winning
    Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk says that the statistical revolution in the NBA is an example of the future of sports. A natural evolution.

  • Boston Hoops Road Trip: Sloan, Celtics and More
    M. Haubs of The Painted Area paints a beautiful picture of what the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was like. A must-read.

    After attending on Saturday, I believe Sloan is more than a conference on advanced statistics - a more precise definition would be that it's a conference on New Ideas in Sports.

    Certainly, advanced statistics accounts for a significant chunk of the new ideas currently in the basketball vanguard. But I was fascinated by how often the conference was about more than stats, such as when Mark Cuban talked about how advances in psychological testing, and personalized medicine - tailored to the individual athlete - were things that he was anticipating in the next 20 years. The Sloan Conference was really about what's next in sports, about what potential innovations which might give players and franchises and leagues an edge.
  • Context just as important as numbers in world of stats
    John Schuhmann of provides his thoughts on the Sloan Conference, as well.

    Dismissing the numbers is ludicrous. Relying on them solely is ludicrous, too. To get a true understanding of the game, both an open mind and an understanding of context is needed to make it all work.
  • By the way, an advanced statistics dictionary should be available at Orlando Pinstriped Post in the next few days or so. I'll make an announcement when its posted on the site.
  • Stan Van Gundy Gives Players 'Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook' To Read During Road Trip

    UPDATE (from Ben): Another classic story from The Onion.

  • Stan Van Gundy and Statistics
    UPDATE 2 (from Eddy): On the APBRmetrics forum, Schuhmann crunches the numbers and shows that the Magic are the second-best team in the NBA in transition defense. Why? Head coach Stan Van Gundy doesn't put a premium on the offensive rebound. Instead, he wants the Magic to get back in transition and prevent easy baskets. It's a philosophical reason that has worked for Orlando.

  • Dwight Howard does Men's Health
    UPDATE 3 (from Eddy): Dwight Howard is on the cover of Men's Health. Check it out.