Magic offense working; defense broken.
Defense Will Struggle
Offense won’t be an issue this season. Defense, well, maybe. Maybe yes.
An undersized team at most positions and those where they are not (Hedo, Vucevic/Ayon), they are slow. Gone is Stan Van Gundy’s defense first system and inserted is Jacque Vaughn’s do-what-you-want and run all day. Running = scoring. It does not however, = stops.
In the first preseason game, Vaughn didn’t call an offensive set play until the 6 minute mark of the 2nd quarter and then was mad at himself for not making it to halftime. How did he fare in Game 2? He proudly made it into the 3rd quarter.
And that old mantra that the best defense is a great offense? Well, this Magic team isn’t exactly Mike D’Antoni’s old Suns teams. I asked Coach Vaughn after the game if the offense was ahead of the defense and he said that both were work “works in progress”.
For a team that wants to run, they better work quickly to improve an extremely porous transition defense. Slow and undersized can be made up for with teamwork and switching, but in transition it comes down to effort… and well, size.
Jacque Vaughn on setbacks tonight, “Transition D was a setback.” Cautiously choosing his next words, “Transition D tonight was… Not good.”
Battle For Center Spot
Coach Vaughn stated that the Center competition will remain throughout the preseason with the starter likely to alternate until the point when someone outright earns the spot. Gustavo Ayon started preseason game 1 and Nik Vucevic started tonight’s game 2.
Both looked strong and brought different elements to the game. Vucevic showed a knack for corralling rebounds and having a generally strong interior presence. Ayon came into the game with great energy and moved the ball extremely well in the post. Vucevic has 12 points and 10 boards in 20 minutes and Ayon put up 8 points, 6 boards and 5 assists in 17 minutes. They combined for 20 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists; aka Dwight Howard numbers.
Of course they miss the most important aspect of Dwight’s game… Defense.
Injuries Slowing the Team
Injuries have caused the team to slow down installation of things, but with the young team, Coach Vaughn emphasized that the slowing down was probably a “good thing” which has helped the team mesh faster.
The Magic were without Arron Afflalo, Christian Eyenga, Maurice Harkless, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts and Ish Smith tonight due to injury.
As those guys start to get healed up, it will greatly boost the second unit depth and allow the team to run their little hearts out.