We are on the doorsteps of an immensely critical 2016-2017 Orlando Magic regular season, and the path of the franchise is very difficult to foretell. I’m Adam Papageorgiou, and joining me for this terrific trio of a Part I chat are Brian Serra and Spenser Strode. Before we venture into actual predictions in Part II, we preview some thoughts and questions about this current squad?
What have you been most happy about in regards to Frank Vogel so far? It can be character or game-style related.
Brian Serra: My favorite part of Coach Vogel so far is the simple fact that he seems to be an actual sane, normal human being. After the coachspeakrobotic Jacque Vaughn and the liveuptoyourreputation Scott Skiles, it is nice to just have a coach that sounds and acts like a basketball coach. In a shocking revelation, that seems to have given rise to actual respect from the players on his team. I don’t think we have personally seen enough of the game-style related adjustments or rotation maneuvering to make any definitive statements, though I will throw out kudos for trying to get Mario Hezonja some much needed confidence with plentiful, arguably undeserved, preseason minutes.
Spenser Strode: The thing that has struck me most thus far about Frank Vogel, is his ability to empower his players. This season should truly illustrate the difference between a person in a position of authority, and a leader. Frank Vogel is creating buy-in, and he’s empowering individual players to play with confidence, belief in their ability, and belief in Vogel’s trust and confidence in their individual skills.
Adam Papageorgiou: You guys definitely have Vogel’s character and personality down. I’m just happy that he’s actually allowing the main ball-handler – in this case Elfrid Payton – to actually dribble the ball around. Skiles didn’t want that, and we were sold on the PG’s wings being clipped supposedly being efficient for the offense. As we found out, it just keeps you out-of-sync. Also, this team is actually playing fast and not letting the shot clock go to waste. I’ve haven’t seen this much backdoor cutting per game in ages.
Few Orlando Magic players have been as critiqued as much as Mario Hezonja so far this month. The 21-year-old and coach Frank Vogel don’t seem to be concerned with what was not an ideal preseason showing.
Hezonja was the only Magic man to play all 7 exhibition contests this month, averaging 6.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 1.6 apg on just 28.0 FG% and 23.8 3PT%. He needed as many reps as possible as he tries to find his role for this squad. This bad shooting form is not indicative of how great he was just a few months ago at the Rio Olympics.
The Orlando Magic on Saturday announced that they waived Nick Johnson and the recently signed Ramon Galloway. The team is expected to retain Damjan Rudez and Arinze Onuaku. It will be a 15-man roster – the NBA’s maximum – for when the regular season begins on October 26th as Frank Vogel’s Magic will host the Miami Heat at Amway Center.
The 30-year-old Rudez being chosen as the fourteenth man on the squad should surprise no one. ‘Damo’ was fantastic during the preseason. In 6 games, the Croatian PF averaged 5.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, and 1.7 apg on 55.6 FG% and 57.1 3PT% in about fourteen minutes per contest. He looked more like the 28-year-old NBA rookie as part of Vogel’s Pacers squad two years ago, than the struggling player he was in Minnesota last season.
The 29-year-old Onuaku has been a pleasant surprise ever since the center played for the team at Orlando Summer League. In 4 preseason contests with the pinstriped patrol, Onuaku averaged 4.0 ppg and 2.3 rpg on 63.6 FG% in about eight minutes per contest.
Still, I didn’t think GM Rob Hennigan would occupy the 15th roster spot. Part of that could be that Bismack Biyombo is expected to serve his 1-game league suspension opening night. Also, rookie big man Stephen Zimmerman may not be ready to play NBA minutes. Onuaku is a large body who can bring some post-up offense.
Nick Johnson came into training camp as the biggest known name among the six total training camp signings. The former Houston Rocket and Arizona Wildcat never made much of an impression. In 4 games played, the 23-year-old Johnson averaged 4.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 2.0 apg on 31.3 FG% and 14.3 3PT% in about ten minutes per contest.
Johnson, Onuaku, and Rudez were summer non-guaranteed training camp signings. Onuaku and Rudez now are on the team payroll, but their full season contracts won’t be fully guaranteed until January 10, 2017.
Galloway – who was just signed on Friday by the Magic – is expected to be heading to Erie and the D-League. Johnson very well may be joining him with the BayHawks.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The Orlando Magic announced on Friday that they have signed guard Ramon Galloway. No terms of the deal are known at this time, but Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel says the team’s D-League affiliate the Erie BayHawks may be getting Galloway’s services.
The Magic have signed guard Ramon Galloway in order to acquire his D-League rights for the team’s affiliate in Erie.
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) October 21, 2016
The 25-year-old Galloway is 6’3″ and he was last spotted playing for the Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Summer League, averaging 9.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, and 1.7 apg on 47.6 FG%. Since that was held at Amway Center, GM Rob Hennigan and his front office got plenty of looks at him.
Galloway spent last season playing in Italy with both Varese in Serie A, and Fulgor Omegna of Serie A2. In 26 games (20 starts), he averaged 11.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 3.0 apg on 43.7 FG% and 33.3 3PT%. In 6 Eurocup matches with Varese, he shot 48.6 FG% and 47.1 3PT%.
Galloway played two years ago for Fraport Skyliners in Germany and BC Igokea of the Adriatic League. He’s also played in the Las Vegas Summer League for the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets.
Galloway played in college for South Carolina (2009-2011) and La Salle (2011-2013). He’s a two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection, and was a key member of the 2013 Explorers Sweet 16 squad. As a senior in ’12-’13, he averaged 17.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 3.7 apg.
That Orlando Magic locker room was fiery and unhappy at halftime. But, they woke up from a two-game preseason slumber to take down New Orleans with a blistering comeback that paid off with the overtime victory.
It’s an exhibition contest, yes, but it didn’t feel like one down the stretch. It was a chance for Orlando to get more reps in. The Magic were able to go into next week’s regular season having flexed their potential muscle.
Frank Vogel: “We are going to teach and get better at what we didn’t do well but definitely highlight the positives. There was a lot of positives out there… you have to have perspective when things aren’t going your way. The way I saw it, we weren’t as good as we need to be, but Anthony Davis is on of the top five players in the world and went off. So, sometimes that’s going to happen with an elite player and you’ve got to find a way to respond to it. So, I was proud at the way we responded.”
The Orlando Magic concluded their 2016 preseason action with a 2-5 record. They looked awful for about the first 40 minutes of Thursday’s contest, but they took down the New Orleans Pelicans 114-111 in overtime. 23-point comebacks are wonderful, even when they don’t officially count.
Despite trailing by 10 entering the fourth quarter Orlando turned on their defense, winning that period 30-20 to force overtime. Some key stops and a crazy Elfrid Payton banking 3-pointer tied the ball game at 105-105 with thirty seconds remaining in regulation. Payton had himself quite the stat line, and saw good and bad moments with him dominating the ball late. EP finished with 17 points, 12 assists, 2 steals, 6 turnovers, and 4 rebounds on 7-of-14 shooting (2-of-5 on 3s). Overtime would soon follow.
The Magic didn’t take their first lead of the contest until Nikola Vucevic opened the OT with a made jumper. Nik finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, but continues to see his open jumpers not fall as he was 4-of-13 from the field. Evan Fournier had 24 points, but his 4 steals in the fourth and OT were immense in leading the charge.
Anthony Davis led all with 33 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes. Terrence Jones is proving to be a great sixth man as he notched 24 points. For the victors, Serge Ibaka tallied 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon had 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. AG will hit another gear once the ankles fully heal up. Jeff Green had an efficient 12 points. He took 4 field goals attempts but was 7-of-8 at the charity stripe.
Aaron Gordon: “That was big. It was definitely a spread of scoring throughout the whole team and just to go into the season on a high note is big. We need to be able to rally from down. It’s part of the game. We did it tonight. That’s a step forward for us.”
Both teams shot just under 43% from the field. Orlando won the assists battle, 27-23. After giving up 7 turnovers, the Magic only coughed up eight the rest of the way. The Magic won the fast break points sprint, 18-11.
Below is the game recap.
The Orlando Magic’s starters squandered another opportunity to pounce on a weaker opposing starting lineup, as the pinstriped patrol fell in Miami to the Heat 107-77 on Tuesday. Frank Vogel’s crew now own a 1-5 preseason record. All you need to know is that Orlando shot 33.7 FG% (28-of-83) including 2-of-19 on 3s. Heat shot 51.2 FG% including 10-of-24 on triples.
Heat got 16 points and 11 rebounds out of Willie Reed at the center spot. Goran Dragic cruised to 17 points. Dion Waiters dropped fifteen. Wayne Ellington finished with 12 points and a game-high plus-minus of +33. Heat won the assists (23-13) and blocks (9-3) battles.
Only two Magic players scored in double figures: Evan Fournier (10 points) and Serge Ibaka (15 points and 9 rebounds). Elfrid Payton shot 1-of-8 from the field but still posted an encouraging 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists with his aggressive play. Ibaka, Elfrid, and Nikola Vucevic each had a plus-minus of +1. Everyone else was in the negative.
Below is the game recap.
The Orlando Magic are 1-4 in the preseason and improvements in free throw attempts and 3-point shooting are obvious.
Are we going to all believe in Jeff Green?
Who is struggling (Mario Hezonja) and who is impressing? Are we onboard with the Vogel 10-man rotation?
Orlando’s roster is chopped down to 16 players. Has Damjan Rudez locked up the 14th spot?
Plus, much more!
Warning: Adult Language
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The 20-year-old 6’8″ Cliff Alexander played in two preseason games with Orlando. The University of Kansas product made his only field goal attempt and totaled 2 points and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes.
The 23-year-old 6’6″ Branden Dawson also saw action in 2 exhibition contests. The Michigan State Spartan totaled 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in 13 minutes.
Also seeing two games and 13 total minutes, the 26-year-old 6’5″ Kevin Murphy posted 5 points and 1 rebound on 2-of-2 shooting (1-of-1 on 3s).
All three players were originally signed as free agents on September 8. All three of those men can find employment overseas or in the D-League. However, if I had to pick one, I’d say that Murphy has the best chance of landing on an NBA roster in the regular season. The Tennessee Tech product has the shooting ability and defensive capabilities to be a 14th or 15th man somewhere.
GM Rob Hennigan’s Magic roster has now been narrowed to 16 players. There are thirteen Magic men under contract, and now three training camp invites remaining. The NBA allows a maximum of 15 players per team roster once we get into the regular season.
It’s pretty evident that the 14th spot for the Magic will belong to Damjan Rudez based on how heavily involved the Croatian forward has been in Frank Vogel’s rotations.
The thought going into training camp was that the coaching staff and front office was planning on beginning opening night of the regular season on October 26th with 14 players, leaving a vacant spot open in case injuries or something else happens that could give the Magic flexibility to go after a specific type of player.
But Arinze Onuaku and Nick Johnson also remain. The Magic are already heavy at guard, so I’d be surprised if Johnson – considering his bad jump-shooting as well – claimed that final roster spot. Onuaku is intriguing because he’s a big man the Magic could prefer to give third-string minutes to rather than rookie Stephen Zimmerman. The picture gets clearer a week from now.
Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.
The Orlando Magic lost to an Atlanta Hawks squad that rested a lot of players on Sunday, falling 105-98 at Amway Center. With Nikola Vucevic receiving the night off, Magic coach Frank Vogel pounced on the opportunity to see what a starting lineup that included both Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka together on the court would look like for long stretches of a contest.
Statistically, the results were intriguing. Serge Ibaka had a game-high 25 points to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks on 9-of-15 shooting (1-of-3 on 3s) and 6-of-6 at the free throw line in 36 minutes of work. That’s the same amount of time Bismack Biyombo played as Biz had a game-high 19 rebounds and 5 blocks to go with 7 points, 1 assists, and 1 steal. That bad for Biz was the 2-of-7 shooting, but also the concerning 3-of-10 free throw shooting.
The Magic lost this contest because they gave up too many Hawks 3-pointers (10-of-27) and Orlando shooting just 12-of-24 at the free throw line. Hawks were held to 40.9 FG% Orlando shot 44.2 FG% and 10-of-25 on 3s.
At times, Atlanta figured out ways to exploit Biyombo by making sure he had to defend a Hawks big that was capable of hitting triples. After Orlando had the blocks advantage for the majority of the night, Atlanta got some key swats in the fourth period and won that statistic 11-10. When Orlando desperately needed any time of bucket, not having Vucevic available was a gaping absence.
Paul Millsap tallied 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in just 19 minutes of action. Tim Hardaway Jr. also notched 19 points. Thabo Sefolosha added 15 points, and rookie Taurean Prince contributed thirteen. The Magic 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists from Evan Fournier. Elfrid Payton added 14 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds, but also 5 turnovers. D.J. Augustin poured in 12 points off the bench.
Below is the game recap.