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Dennis Scott on the evolution of the three-pointer, Magic and more

Dennis Scott talked with our Zach Oliver about the three-pointer, Magic and much more.

Mr. Chibbs World Premiere Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for BMG Brokers

Retirement hasn’t been too hard on former Orlando Magic sharpshooter Dennis Scott.

Since hanging up the sneakers for the final time in 2000, Scott has worked as the general manager of the Atlanta Vision of the American Basketball Association, as well as an analyst for NBA TV, and the Atlanta Hawks radio coverage.

Scott, who set the NBA record for most three-pointers in a single season (267) and most three’s made in a game (11) — both records have since been broken — was an important part of a Magic team that helped changed the landscape of the NBA.

Now, as the three-pointer is used more and more, Scott thinks that it’s good teams are using it, but the teams with the right personnel will be the most successful. “It’s good that teams are using it, but what people have to realize is that the teams that have the right personnel use it the best,” said Scott in an interview with Orlando Pinstriped Post.

“Most sports are copycat. Now, because the Warriors and the Cavs have exposed that, if I have the personnel, we’re going to use the three ball. Better yet, let’s use San Antonio. In years past they have used the three ball at a higher rate. But, have they used it at a higher rate this year or last two years? No. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, even though Kawhi Leonard shoots his share of threes, they don’t shoot them like they used to in years past. To me, the smarter teams are saying, if my personnel fits, we will use the three ball when we need to.”

While many teams have gone to relying on the three-pointer more, and playing with smaller, faster lineups, Scott’s former team decided to go the other direction. The Magic’s offseason moves signaled a change to a bigger, more physical lineup that just didn’t work.

The sharpshooting Scott made sense of what the Magic did, saying they were trying to figure out which young talent could be a long-term piece. “I think not having consistent play from either side is where the Magic got stuck. As much as we love Aaron Gordon’s athletic ability in the dunk contest it’s great, but now how does all that ability translate to wins on the floor, and that part they couldn’t figure out.”

However, since the recent move of Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline, the Magic have begun playing smaller, and faster, and while it hasn’t shown in the win column, the Magic’s play since the All-Star break and trade deadline has been better.

Moving Ibaka signaled that the Magic were cutting their, potential, losses early, and getting something back in return for Ibaka, who could’ve left as a free agent at seasons end. While the move appeared to be a smart one for the Magic at the time, the lack of a clear, defined role that truly fit Ibaka was one of the Magic’s biggest missteps, says Scott.

“When you made that trade for Ibaka, you had to say to yourself you were going to make him a focal point on the offensive end of the floor, because that’s what he had been trained the last few years that he needed more shots. If you had the right conversation with Ibaka, you were telling him “hey, we want you to get back to being that guy you were that helped OKC get to the final where you were arguably the best defensive player in the league those years. You were blocking shots and you made the midrange jump shot when it came to you.” When Ibaka thought he had to be an offensive minded player, that’s when, in my opinion, his value slipped a little bit.”

The trade for Ibaka saw the Magic give up two young players, which Scott said he felt was poor asset management from Rob Hennigan. The former Georgia Tech star also said he felt as though the Magic “gave up on” Victor Oladipo too soon, and should’ve given him more time to grow with the team.

As the Magic get closer and closer to their fifth lottery appearance in five seasons, Scott, who focus’ mainly on the NBA game, says they need to find their cornerstone. Someone like a Nick Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal or Penny Hardaway, who could be with the franchise for the long-term and make a profound impact.

That decision could be Hennigan’s to make, should the Magic decide to stick with the incumbent General Manager who has struggled to put together a cohesive roster over the past two seasons. Should the Magic decide to make a move and go in a different direction from Hennigan, Scott said he’d like for his name to be amongst those considered.

“I would love for [Magic CEO] Alex Martins to give me a call and say ‘Hey, D, let’s have a talk and you come on down here and be like Magic Johnson is for the [Los Angeles] Lakers.’ Just change the whole culture, get the excitement back. Bring in some fresh minds, and ideas and then see if maybe you can land some of those big time free agents that, back in the past, when T-Mac came, and Horace Grant came for us, and Grant Hill came. I don’t see that excitement and energy and love that we created, the original teams and the Dwight teams and the T-Mac teams kind of got back. I think it’s missing that right now.”

Bringing in a former player as General Manager could work, but with no experience in a front office, Scott would need a strong team around him to make things work as well as possible. Still, the idea could be on that intrigues the Magic, should they look to go in that direction and move on from Hennigan at seasons end.

Part of the teams that brought the excitement to Orlando, Scott said it was disheartening to see the lack of support recently for the team, but he understands why the fans haven’t been in the stands. Citing a better knowledge of not only the game on the floor, but the business aspect as well — something Scott believed fans didn’t understand as well in the 1990’s — shows why the Magic haven’t had the support they had previously.

As his post playing days grow older, Scott now has the luxury of being part of TNT’s new “Players Only” series, which utilizes players, and no traditional play-by-play commentator during Monday night broadcasts. Scott, who is one of a rotating panel on NBA GameTime, serves as a sideline reporter during the “Players Only” broadcasts.

Scott says the main role for the players is to better paint the picture that the viewer is seeing. “This is not radio, we don’t have to paint the picture, the pictures already there for you. Now we, as players, get to paint that picture better for you and tell you exactly what is happening and why it’s happening and why it continues to happen.”

Having the role as a sideline reporter is something that 3-D said he got pointers on from the late, great Craig Sager, who he said was his mentor. Sager was one of the first people Scott met when he moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia Tech in 1987, and had a big influence on his life while the duo worked together with Turner.

Aside from the “Players Only” broadcasts, and NBA GameTime duties, Scott also hosts the show “3DTV” on NBA TV, where he does sit down interviews with people from across the game of basketball. In the newest episode, debuting this Saturday, March 11th at Noon Eastern, Scott sits down with University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

Calipari, one of the best coaches in the college game, has been one of the biggest proponents of the “One-and-done” rule that forces players to wait at least one year after leaving high school to enter the league. While some players, like Kentucky stalwarts Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall were able to make direct impacts, many players struggle in their first years in the league.

With the “one-and-done” becoming so popular, Scott thinks the NBA would be smart to adopt a rule similar to what Major League Baseball does, and let kids come straight out of high school, or have to stay more than a year in college.

“I think in basketball you should either let the guys go, or make them go to college for two years. Now, if he’s pretty good, two years lets you get seasoned, a little more mature, and get ready for the game. We see now there are the Kevin Garnet’st, the LeBron James’, freak of nature guys, look at Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, one year in college, are successful. Certain guys can do it, but I don’t think it’s for everybody.”

Making a change to the rule of when college players can come out could benefit the game. With an increasing amount of “one-and-done” players, we’re seeing more and more players struggle, something that continues to muddy down the game.

Ed Note: We thank Dennis Scott for taking the time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk about the Magic, and everything he’s doing for Turner Sports. We look forward to seeing his continued work and analysis on the Magic and the NBA.