All things seem to be looking peachy for your Orlando Magic. They’re now 2-0 with Victor Oladipo coming off the bench. It’s their first 24-point victory since Stan Van Gundy’s Magic took down the Detroit Pistons by 30 points back on April 9, 2012. Long time coming.
Although the team is pleased with taking care of home court, they’ve got one more at Amway Center against Boston on Sunday that they want to win before embarking on their West Coast trip. Orlando already locked up their first winning month since March of 2012. You can always tell the locker room is happy when the songs are blaring.
No Thanksgiving hangover here. The Orlando Magic on Friday improved to 6-3 at Amway Center as they went their second straight of this 3-game home stand against the Milwaukee Bucks, 114-90 . Orlando crushed it on 3-pointers, going 6-of-6 from long range in the third quarter and 12-of-27 total for the contest.
It’s why Orlando dominated that period 37-22. The 37 points is a season-high for the Magic in a period. It was the first time the Magic had won a regular season game by 20+ points since taking down the Brooklyn Nets by 21 points on November 3, 2013. Over two years. This squad was due.
Elfrid Payton finished with 22 points and 10 assists. Tobias Harris posted an efficient 19 points. Evan Fournier bounced back from a rough showing against the Knicks, tallying 17 points. Victor Oladipo continues his early entry for 6th Man of the Year, putting together a stat line of 17 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds. Orlando shot 52.4 FG% as they scorched Milwaukee in the second half. Skiles’ squad held the Bucks to 41.9 FG%.
Below is the game recap.
Watch Victor Oladipo following the Orlando Magic’s victory over the Knicks. That looked like a player who was not enjoying the previous 24 hours, and who was determined to hush the doubters and try and grab his starting job back. The guard talked about “growing up” and getting the ‘chip off his shoulder’. He looked mad, relieved, and happy all in that postgame interview. If that’s what it takes to get more performances like that out of Victor, I think we’d all sign up.
One thing is certain for that Magic locker room, they needed a bounce back win badly following the disappointing home loss to the Kings and then getting punched in the gut in Cleveland. It was a contest that refuels the belief that Orlando could be a playoff team. I guess we should start the Sixth Man of the Year campaign for Victor now. I’m quite intrigued for what Friday will bring. Happy Thanksgiving, folks.
The Orlando Magic got back to their winning ways on Wednesday, taking down the New York Knicks 100-91. Victor Oladipo emphatically responded to no longer being in Scott Skiles‘ starting lineup. Not only did he score a season-high 24 points, but eighteen of those came in the second half.
The 23-year-old entered the evening having only attempted 24 free throws. He was 13-of-15 from the charity stripe, both numbers a career-high. That’s a big deal. He by himself won the free throw battle for his squad (27-of-32 v. 20-of-25). To top it all off, Vic got to carve the FOX Sports Florida turkey as the contest’s best performer. The sixth man role suits him and the team fine after one game.
Orlando’s defense compensated for a 39.5 FG% night. They held the Knicks to 37.3 FG% as Carmelo Anthony (28 points) and Jose Calderon (25 points) were the only two players able to score for the visitors. Orlando got large performances not just from ‘Dipo. Nikola Vucevic had a huge 22 points and 12 rebounds. Tobias Harris notched 17 points and 10 rebounds on a very efficient 4-of-6 FGs (8-of-8 FTs). Elfrid Payton added 12 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds.
The Magic avoided a third quarter collapse, and survived foul trouble in the fourth quarter as their largest lead reached 15 points late in the contest. It’s a solid win over a Knicks team that will be in the fight to make the playoffs along with Orlando.
Below is the game recap.
The Orlando Magic proved to be no match for the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Magic once again had a bad third period and fell in Cleveland 117-103 on Monday night. After keeping pace in a high-scoring first half, the Magic got out-scored 33-21 in the third period. The final twelve minutes were basically deemed irrelevant. Orlando only got 44 points out of their starters. The Cavs shot 53.1 FG% and 34 of their 43 made field goals were assisted. Scott Skiles can’t be thrilled with the bad defense.
Orlando shot 10-for-22 on 3-pointers. Typically, that’s a pretty fantastic performance from deep. However, Cleveland converted a ridiculous 18-for-35 on triples. Many of those looks were wide open thanks to fabulous ball movement that began with LeBron James. ‘LBJ’ only had 15 points, but that 13 assists proved how dominating he was. Kevin Love led all scorers with 34 points on 6-of-9 from downtown. J.R. Smith wasn’t far behind with 26 points on 6-for-10 from deep.
Andrew Nicholson led the Magic with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Shabazz Napier tallied 11 points and a career-high 9 assists. He’s never posted a double-double. Aaron Gordon added 11 points and 6 boards, and you wonder how much better Orlando would have been off had ‘AG’ played more in the first quarter. The bench was the reason the Magic were even in the contest at halftime. Evan Fournier posted 13 points, but curiously only had 5 shot attempts and 3-for-3 on triples. Nikola Vucevic had twelve, and Oladipo added ten.
Below is the game recap.
Victor Oladipo is looking nothing like a prime Dwyane Wade to begin this 2015-2016 season. That’s not bad considering Head Coach Scott Skiles is praising Victor’s defense, but the Orlando Magic fans and front office I’m sure expected more from their 2013 #2 overall Draft selection on the offensive end.
I’ve been thinking about this for a week or two now, but I really believe that the Magic should have Victor Oladipo come off the bench. ‘Dipo can still play 25-30 minutes per night. But start Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Elfrid Payton. Especially with the upcoming games against the Cavaliers, Knicks, and Bucks.
‘AG’ is the Magic’s best defender, yet he’s not even tallying 20 minutes per contest. The injury worries at this time should be behind him. There’s no reason not to let #00 shadow LeBron James, then Carmelo Anthony, and then Giannis Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton for an entire contest this week. Nothing scares the 20-year-old. Aaron is more than capable of it. We saw last night the fantastic defensive moments he had challenging DeMarcus Cousins during the comeback attempt. Unfortunately, starting Aaron leads to someone having to sit. I think that should be Oladipo.
I also want to see Oladipo play with Mario Hezonja together more. Those two have played just 64 minutes on the court together. As a comparison, Fournier and Vic have played 273 minutes together. More importantly, the team will improve when C.J. Watson comes back healthy – hopefully sooner rather than later – as the backup point guard where Shabazz Napier has struggled. The 3rd-best Magic net plus-minus 2-man lineup so far this year has been Watson and Oladipo at +32.
This isn’t an overreaction to Saturday’s loss against the Kings. The Magic missed a ton of open jumpers in the first quarter, and that led to their defense suffering on the other end. And I can tell you the officiating will not be that atrocious every single game. That played a huge part in Orlando’s struggles even if the players or coaching staff don’t want to admit it for fear of being fined/punished. Oladipo actually had a decent opening period against the Kings before finishing 4-of-11 from the field. He was on the bench the entire fourth quarter. So clearly the coaching staff is noticing something.
I want to bring up statistics that show Oladipo has severely regressed in comparison to his sophomore – and even rookie – year so far in this 3rd NBA season.
The Obvious Cumulative Statistics
In the last 26 games of last season, Victor Oladipo was playing at nearly an All-Star level. 20.3 ppg, 4.3. rpg, and 4.5 apg on 42.5 FG% and 33.6 3PT% in his second year as a professional. He was primed to make the leap as we were all anticipating a rise in inefficiency. October’s preseason showed promised.
In the 11 games he’s played this regular season though – having missed 2 due to that concussion – Oladipo is averaging 13.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 3.7 apg on 36.6 FG% and 28.0 3PT%. That’s way worse than even his rookie numbers. You can’t be a starter shooting awful percentages like that in the long term. It’s just not acceptable. Only Andrew Nicholson (26.3 FG%) – we won’t count Devyn Marble‘s spot minutes – has shot worse than Victor.
The 23-year-old Indiana Hoosier product has been even worse scoring the ball at home. Through 6 games played at Amway Center, Vic is averaging 11.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 4.2 apg on 33.8 FG%.
Here are all of Oladipo’s 11 shooting nights in order and you tell me if this looks good or not:
1-of-2 (early concussion sustained v. Lakers)
You would think Oladipo by now would have had one game where he shot over 50% from the floor.
Finishing at the Rim
So let’s dig a little deeper. The team as a whole has not been adequate within 3 feet of the basket, but Oladipo in particular has been awful finishing at the rack. When it comes to attempting field goals between 0 and 3 feet from the basket, Oladipo is a gawdy 44.2 FG%. It was 56.9 FG% the season before, and 55.4 FG% his rookie campaign. His at-the-rim finishing has mysteriously fallen off a cliff.
Let’s look at other Magic players’ shooting percentage at the rim. Fournier is a fantastic 70.0 FG%. Tobias Harris is 61.8 FG%. Aaron Gordon 60.5 FG%. Mario Hezonja at 50.0 FG%. Elfrid Payton is at a bad 46.0 FG% at the basket, but it’s still better than Victor. Only Shabazz Napier’s 12.5 FG%(?!?!) is worse than ‘Dipo at the rim on this squad.
It should be noted, that Oladipo has chosen to settle more for jumpers than actually attacking the basket. Last season, 42.3% of Oladipo’s field goal attempts came at the rim. Through the 11 games he’s played, it’s down to 28.1%. Last season, 22.8% of his shot attempts were from behind the 3-point arc. This season it’s 32.7%. But it’s not like his 3PT% is better in ’15-’16 – just 28.0 3PT% – as Vic’s percentage from deep in ’14-’15 was 33.9 3PT%. Oladipo is shooting a respectable 46.7 FG% from between 10 and 16 feet. The problem is in the paint and 3-point range.
The Magic lead the league in miles traveled per game and field goal attempts per game. That’s a non-microscopic indication that Scott Skiles and his coaching staff have been moving the roster into positions to get plenty of scoring looks. It’s up to the players to get the job done.
Skiles’ ‘less dribbling and more off-ball movement’ offense should be benefiting Victor. 42.9% of the Oladipo’s 56 total made field goals have been assisted this season. Under Jacque Vaughn‘s system, Oladipo only had 31.6% of his 473 made field goals in ’14-’15 assisted. It was even lower his rookie year: 23.6% of his 392 made field goals were assisted. Those numbers indicate that life should be easier on Oladipo to score under Skiles’ system. He’s just not converting.
In general, you can pick out a few of the Magic’s 7 losses that possibly could have been transformed into victories had Oladipo not had questionable shot selection in crucial moments – OKC double OT loss, and the OT loss in Houston come to mind – or even if Victor wasn’t on the floor at all and someone else was getting up the field goal attempts.
Lack of Free Throws
2013-2014: 4.0 Free Throw Attempts per game – 78.0 FT%
2014-2015: 4.4 Free Throw Attempts per game – 81.9 FT%
2015-2016: 2.2 Free Throw Attempts per game – 75.0 FT%
This supports the ‘shot selection’ observations above. Oladipo isn’t getting to the rack as much, which means fewer free throw opportunities.
The Magic as a team are back to struggling to get to the free throw line as they rank 27th in the league at 19.8 free throw attempts per contest. Worse, they’re in the bottom five when it comes to coughing up free throw attempts to opponents at 26.8 per game.
Oladipo in the past was at least one of the best on the team at getting to the charity stripe. That’s not the case right now. His attempts are literally chopped in half from last season. Four guys are averaging more FTAs per contest: Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Elfrid Payton. It’s part of my reasoning as to why I believe those four deserve starting positions over Oladipo…for now. Starting shooting guards can’t average just two free throw opportunities per contest.
According to Basketball-Reference – where I’ve been getting all of the statistics for this piece – Victor Oladipo has not had a single field goal make in which he was also fouled. This is commonly referred to as an ‘and-1’. Not a single one for Vic in ’15-’16. He had 25 as a rookie, and 19 last season.
For comparison purposes, Elfrid has five and-1s this season. Aaron also has five. Fournier has six. Tobias is low with two and-1s. This could be an indication that referees believe that Oladipo just isn’t drawing the necessary amount of contact at the rim to earn whistles.
Oladipo has drawn 7 shooting fouls so far this season. Aaron Gordon is already at 17, and he’s come off the bench every game. Fournier – the Magic’s MVP up to this moment – also has drawn 17 shooting fouls. Harris is at 20. Even Elfrid is up to 14. So why is Victor failing at drawing fouls?
I like Vic. We all do, but he’s no where near having an All-Star season as many hoped/expected. It may be to his benefit to try and build up his on-court performances by having ‘Dipo going up against second units. Oladipo has proven throughout his life that he’s a ‘team first’ character and talent. He was used to being underrated and counted out back in high school and at Indiana. He’s got the work ethic and confidence to play his way back into the starting lineup. He accepts challenges and typically dominates them. This is new territory though in trying to get into the NBA playoffs. This Magic squad can make the postseason. Vic can’t be an offensive handicap though. For now at least, Vic should be a sixth man.
As with any and all current Magic players, I want them to prove me wrong when they’re in the midst of a rough spell. I don’t like having to point out when a guy is playing bad. Knowing Oladipo, he’ll find a way to satisfy folks and shut me up.
Ah yes, the roller coaster ride of an NBA season. The Orlando Magic locker room was full of very silent and frustrated players on Saturday evening. They did a lot of things bad, but clearly there was some anger caused by a poor NBA officiating crew. No one obviously vented against the officials because that’s a one-way ticket towards a hefty fine. Hopefully the squad bounces back and puts together a nice showing in Cleveland. They’ve made too much decent progress to have a bad stretch now.
Believe it or not, the Orlando Magic had the lead midway through the third period. Then a Sacramento Kings 22-2 run to end that quarter flipped the outcome of the contest entirely on Saturday night. Orlando would make things interesting in the fourth, before falling 97-91. Despite some very questionable officiating, the Magic just weren’t good enough.
Orlando held Sacramento to 38.3 FG%, but the difference in the final score was free throws. Kings shot 28-of-31 from the charity stripe while the home squad only mustered 6-of-8. DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. Tobias Harris had 24 points for the Magic. Evan Fournier tallied 17 points on a bad 7-of-20 shooting. Nikola Vucevic added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Oladipo also had eleven. Both Vooch and ‘Dipo were on the bench for the entire fourth period.
Below is the game recap.
That’s a pretty pumped up Orlando Magic locker room following a crazy comeback victory. Victor Oladipo despite an awful return was whistling and singing the French national anthem. Oladipo and Elfrid Payton were giving Jason Smith props for that blocked shot on Shabazz Muhammad and saying how he should be on SportsCenter. Payton wasn’t shy to say that Wednesday night would have been a loss last season. Instead, a lot of Magic players had smiles on their faces for prevailing in overtime against a Minnesota team that has been a very good road squad early on this season.
Orlando Magic wing Evan Fournier has had roller coaster past few days. Friday he had to worry about the livelihood of family and friends after terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France. He played well in a win that same evening over Utah as well as a defeat on Saturday in D.C. Fournier over the past few days has been under-the-weather as he had to deal with a fever. His status for Wednesday’s meeting at Amway Center against the Minnesota Timberwolves was up in the air.
Not only did Fournier start, he put forth an outstanding 26-point effort that included clutch shot after clutch shot. He was 5-of-7 on three-pointers, draining his last one with just seconds to spare in overtime to hand his Magic squad a 104-101 victory. The fans waiting in the tunnel near the locker room doors bathed Evan in ‘M-V-P’ chants. Orlando’s best player this 2015-2016 season continues to astound.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) November 19, 2015
The game had its controversies. Not just from officials, but from decisions that Scott Skiles can now be congratulated for. At least for one night. The Magic were down 14 points at halftime. So Skiles chose to sit Nikola Vucevic out the entire second half while also benching Victor Oladipo for much of that period as well. In their places came two unlikely heroes: Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith.
The 15-0 run from the Magic that came past the halfway mark in the third didn’t seem likely to occur. Not with Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson leading the charge anyway. Orlando was floundering. Desperate for offense and energy. But the charge came to put Orlando ahead 65-64 at that juncture just when the Magic appeared dead in the water.
This is how crazy this contest was. Andrew Nicholson entered the evening having played 7 minutes and 5 seconds in just 2 games. In this contest alone, ‘Drew played 21 minutes and 33 seconds. Consecutively, all in the second half. This game was so crazy that Fournier, Nicholson, and Smith take attention away from Elfrid Payton who won his matchup against Ricky Rubio while posting a career-high 24 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Twelve of those Payton points came in the fourth. 1-of-5 shooting from Smith and 3-of-12 shooting from Nicholson don’t seem like much, but their +16 and +17 plus-minuses indicated they answered the call.
The Magic figured out a way to get the job done despite only shooting 37.3 FG% and losing the rebound battled 46-34. Minnesota prevailed 13-4 in blocked shots. Skiles’ bunch shot poorly in the paint again, 28-of-67. Orlando survived a beastly 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks from Karl-Anthony Towns while Andrew Wiggins added 28 points. The Magic can thank Evan for carrying the 3-point shooting as the squad shot 9-of-21 from deep. This is a gutsy win that signifies that the Magic were able to come back and take a game that wasn’t going their way.
Below is the game recap.