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Orlando Magic Preseason Review

Orlando finished its preseason schedule Friday with a loss to Houston, dropping to 2-6. Here's a look at how the Magic's players fared.

Douglas Jones - US Presswire

The Orlando Magic's 2012/13 preseason campaign is in the books, with Orlando finishing with an uninspiring 2-6 record. The regular season begins Friday, November 2nd, with Orlando hosting the Denver Nuggets at Amway Center. Let us take a look back at what took place in the eight-game exhibition season.

First, a team-wide look at the offense and defense. The numbers, as one might expect from this rebuilding club, aren't pretty.

Team Offense and Defense
Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Magic Offense 775.0 100.6 49.6% 17.0 24.9 17.7
Magic Defense 775.0 107.3 50.9% 22.9 24.1 15.2
Green denotes a stat better than the league's 2011/12 average;
red denotes a stat worse than the league's 2011/12 average.

At the defensive end, Orlando rebounded and forced turnovers at a good clip, but got hammered anywhere else. Its opponents shot 38.3 percent from three-point range on nearly 22 attempts per game, which is simply miserable. Further, opponents were plus-69 on three-pointers and plus-39 on free throws. In a preseason in which it surrendered 52 more points than it scored, Orlando was minus-108 on the two most efficient shots in the game that aren't dunks.

It's going to be a long season.

In case you're wondering about the team's offense: it's not particularly healthy either. The Magic turned the ball over on an alarmingly high number of possessions, and though it shot two-pointers well--49.1 percent overall--its accuracy (34.6 percent) and frequency (0.189 threes attempted per field-goal attempt) from beyond the arc left plenty to be desired.

Let's now take a look at the players' individual numbers.

The Departed

Armon Johnson: 3.2 points, 1.2 assists, 38.1 percent True Shooting, -6.2 Pure Point Rating
Chris Johnson: 2 points, 43.7 percent True Shooting
Christian Eyenga: Did not play - injury
Justin Harper: 4 points, 2.3 rebounds, 44.5 percent True Shooting
Quentin Richardson: 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 31.8 percent True Shooting

We'll be brief here: Armon Johnson had a puncher's chance of making the team as its fourth point guard, but squandered that chance by tallying just six assists to eight turnovers in 65 minutes across five games.

Chris Johnson didn't have much of a chance to make the team to begin with, and did nothing to help his case in the preseason.

Eyenga entered Magic camp at arguably its deepest position and, owing to an ill-timed injury, never had the chance to play. It's no surprise the Magic cut him loose.

Harper is an interesting case. On the night of the 2011 Draft, Orlando traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers two future second-round picks in exchange for Harper's rights, and he didn't get many chances to prove himself as a rookie. The Magic liked him because of his ability to stretch the floor as a jump-shooting power forward, but in the preseason, he shot only 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. Clearly he's better suited to play small forward, except his lack of quickness makes him a defensive liability. Put simply, he doesn't have a single definable NBA skill.

Richardson hardly played and went from a safe bet to make the team to expendable in no time flat. Unless another team claims him off of waivers, the Magic will be on the hook for the $5.4 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons.

The Wounded

Maurice Harkless and Al Harrington: Did not play - injury

Due to injury, neither of these two newcomers suited up for Orlando this preseason. Harkless is a rookie combo forward with good long-term upside, but he probably won't make an immediate impact even once he's healthy.

A 14-year veteran with much better things to do than score a point every two minutes off the bench for a lottery team, Harrington likely won't last the full season with Orlando: the Magic will play him once he's healthy in order to showcase him for a trade, and reap the occasional 20-point outing as a reward.

The Starters

Jameer Nelson: 9.3 points, 4.9 assists, 52.9 percent True Shooting, 6.1 Pure Point Rating
Arron Afflalo: 9 points, 63.3 percent True Shooting
Hedo Türkoğlu: 8.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 58.3 precent True Shooting, 0.7 Pure Point Rating
Glen Davis: 16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 65.5 percent True Shooting
Nikola Vučević: 8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 50.7 percent True Shooting

Afflalo played in only the final two of Orlando's preseason games. Don't read too deeply into his numbers.

Davis, whose 16.9 points led the team in scoring, was the only Orlando player who showed any sort of consistency at the offensive end. He made his hay by drawing fouls at a high rate and converting his free throws: the five-year veteran averaged 0.575 free throw attempts per field-goal attempt and made 82.6 percent of his freebies. There's reason to be skeptical he can maintain that style of play once the games start to count--those numbers, for his career, are 70.6 percent and 0.393, respectively--but the preseason offered hope that he may have turned a corner.

Vučević, who turned 22 on Wednesday, rebounded at an excellent clip by any standard, but especially for a player of his age and relative inexperience. His 61 rebounds came in just 143 minutes of playing time, which equates to 15.3 boards per 36 minutes; for comparison, Kevin Love's career average in that department is 13.7 rebounds. Rebounding tends to be a fairly consistent skill. Now if only the seven-footer could score more efficiently.

Key Reserves

E'Twaun Moore: 11.4 points, 5.4 assists, 53.1 percent True Shooting, 3.5 Pure Point Rating
J.J. Redick: 13.7 points, 5 assists, 69.3 percent True Shooting, 6.1 Pure Point Rating
Andrew Nicholson: 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 51.6 percent True Shooting
Gustavo Ayón: 8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 61.9 percent True Shooting

With the exception of Pure Point Rating, Moore put up better offensive numbers than Nelson did, and he did so while learning to play a new position, arguably the hardest one in the game, at the NBA level.

Redick shot 55.6 percent on twos, 52.4 percent on threes, and 90 percent on his free throws. He also posted the best passing numbers of anyone in pinstripes. He's fine. Next.

Whether Nicholson will be a rotation player for Orlando this season is an open question, as he seems to merely be keeping Harrington's rotation spot warm until Harrington returns from knee rehabilitation. Nicholson ranked second only to Davis in per-minute scoring among Magic players, but his efficiency could use a boost: his 47.1 percent mark on twos is more "okay" than "good," and he doesn't draw enough fouls just yet.

Ayón will miss at least the first few games of the season with a sprained thumb, which is a shame, because it's very clear that he can play rotation minutes. Ayón plays within himself and is an excellent passer for a big man.

Deep Bench

Ish Smith: 6 points, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 60 percent True Shooting, -8.3 Pure Point Rating
DeQuan Jones: 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 61.5 percent True Shooting
Josh McRoberts: 3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 36.2 percent True Shooting
Kyle O'Quinn: 2.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 44.4 percent True Shooting

Smith rehabbed a shoulder injury for all but 12 minutes of the Magic's exhibition campaign, so one can absolutely feel free to disregard his statistics. Until such time as he's brought up to speed in practice, the privilege of backing up Nelson is squarely Moore's.

Jones' per-game scoring is a bit deceptive, given all the minutes he played--his per-36 average of 13.1 points is modest at best--but what's impressive is his efficiency. Jones shot 59.6 percent on his two-pointers, which helped him post a ridiculous 61.5 percent True Shooting mark despite making just one three-pointer.

McRoberts averaged 14 minutes per game in the preseason. How many 6-foot-10 forwards, do you think, could play 14 minutes per game in an NBA preseason and manage less than three points and 2.7 rebounds per game? Not many; his lack of productivity is a special one. McRoberts is a non-entity at the offensive end, continuing the puzzling trend from his lone season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

O'Quinn will make the team, but the fact that he logged double-digit minutes just twice in seven games despite being fully healthy indicates he isn't in Orlando's immediate plans--not yet, anyway. On a per-minute basis, only Vučević bested him in rebounding, but it's worrisome that the Norfolk State product shot just 6-of-16 from the floor. That's a horrid percentage, especially for a guy who should only be shooting layups.

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