In the second game of their 2014 Pokal Adecco exhibition tournament in Slovenia, the senior Canada men’s basketball team managed to hold off Coach Mike Fratello’s Ukraine squad to prevail in overtime 80-75. Orlando Magic big man Andrew Nicholson did indeed start in this contest. In 17 minutes, the St. Bonaventure product tallied 7 points and 4 rebounds on 3-of-5 two-point shooting and 0-for-3 from 3-point range.
Canada was up 59-44…and then Andrew fouled out with 7:14 remaining in regulation. Dwight Powell and Kelly Olynyk were clearly not defensive upgrades over the 24-year-old, as Ukraine utilized a 24-12 4th quarter to tie the contest at 68-68 and send the game to overtime. In the extra period, Olynyk, Melvin Ejim, and NBA champion Cory Joseph did enough to help earn Canada the victory. Andrew is shooting 54.5% from inside the 3-point line after two contests. Canada continues their tourney by facing Georgia on Saturday.
The Canadian national basketball team began their 11-game exhibition tour of Europe today as they fell to Slovenia 92-80. The game was played in Rogaska Slatina, Slovenia as part of the Pokal Adecco 2014 mini-tourney. Andrew Nicholson did not start the contest. Instead, Coach Jay Triano decided to have the 24-year-old come off the bench and play at center. Andrew tallied 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting and was 4-of-6 from the free throw line. The St. Bonaventure product only attempted one 3-pointer, though the result wasn’t ideal.
Andrew Nicholson does not look like he’s in good shape. Hoists a 3PT shot and nothing but air. Jacque Vaughan has crushed his confidence!
— Hoops Hype Canada (@HoopsHypeCA) July 24, 2014
I won’t comment on Nicholson’s fitness, defense, or rebounding until after Andrew gets some more games under his belt. I will say that Andrew needed more touches on offense and more minutes on a second unit that clearly lacked weapons. Slovenia won thanks to their 13-of-26 shooting from 3-point range as Canada couldn’t counter the outstanding ball movement from the hosts.
I think the team should get the benefit of the doubt for having their lackluster moments during the contest. They had flown to Venice, Italy on Wednesday and then had to endure a 5-hour bus drive to their Slovenian destination. The body takes a few days to adjust to the time change from traveling. The Canadian squad remains in Slovenia and will take on Ukraine on Friday at 11:15 a.m. EST.
On a side note, Andrew Nicholson responded to a very curious statement from ESPN’s Jason Whitlock. The Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat has that story.
American provocateur Jason Whitlock got his desired result Tuesday, when he said Canadian athletes — and Vaughan’s Andrew Wiggins in particular — “perhaps don’t want it as much as some of the Europeans and certainly the American players.”
Speaking with fellow ESPNer Keith Olbermann, Whitlock, no stranger to controversial, attention-grabbing comments, said “Andrew Wiggins’ effort and intensity sometimes was inconsistent at Kansas and that might be a personality quark he’ll deal with throughout his career. “That’s why (the Cavs) would probably prefer to play with Kevin Love.
“This is what a lot of NBA people believe. American-born … players have more intensity, they’re not as laid back.”
Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson, who played extremely aggressively, getting himself into foul trouble a year ago, was stunned when he heard the quote.
“Wow. I don’t agree with that. I know we have motivation, that’s why we are here,” Nicholson said.
That’s quite the controversial statement to make and clearly would warrant responses from Canadian players and brass, including from Nicholson who we know is typically a man of few words.
The Orlando Magic hosted their first ever NBA FIT Draft Combine on Thursday at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland. 18-year-old Aaron Gordon and 20-year-old Elfrid Payton took charge of six stations dedicated to exercises and basketball drills with exactly 200 children from the Central Florida community. The 3-hour FIT program also taught kids about making healthy food choices. Most importantly, a lot of fun was to be had for both the children and the adults.
— Adam Papageorgiou (@adamosgp) July 24, 2014
Aaron and Elfrid were kind enough to chat a bit during the event.
As initially reported by MBO, the Orlando Magic have officially announced the signing of 56th overall Draft pick Devyn Marble. The Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins was the first to reveal some of the terms of the contract. It’ll be a 3-year deal, but only the ’14-’15 season will be guaranteed. Exact monetary figures are unknown at this time.
As a senior at Iowa, Marble played mostly point guard and shooting guard and started in 33 games, averaging 17.0 ppg., 3.6 apg., 3.2 rpg. and 1.8 spg. in 30.2 minutes per contests. He was named First Team All-Big Ten after leading the team in scoring and ranked second in assists. Marble scored in double figures 27 times.
The #56 pick was acquired as part of the Evan Fournier-Arron Afflalo deal with the Denver Nuggets. The Hawkeyes wing player proved to be quite versatile during the Orlando Summer League. Devyn averaged 9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, and 1.2 spg on 37.2 FG% (16-of-43) and 31.3 3PT% (5-of-16) in the five games he played earlier this month. The 21-year-old born and raised in Southfield, Michigan adjusted himself well as Devyn saw time at PG, SG, SF, and even PF. His solid defense, outstanding hustle, praised character, great off-ball motion, efficient transition play, and shooting potential has certainly caught the attention of Orlando’s coaching and front office staff. Expect Marble to play more of the small forward position as we head into training camp in October.
The Orlando Magic finished with a 23-59 record last season. Their defense ranked 17th in the league. Better than its beleaguered offense that ranked 29th, but the defense still needs improving if Orlando wants to have a chance at reaching the playoffs this upcoming campaign. Head Coach Jacque Vaughn‘s squad ranked 17th in the Association in opposing field goal percentage at the rim with 53.1% conversion allowed. Not horrible, but not good either. The Pacers were first at 45.9%. Orlando ranked 9th-worst in blocks tallied at 4.3 per contest. It’s a big reason why Orlando drafted Aaron Gordon 4th overall back in June. The 18-year-old only allowed a total opposing shooting percentage of 34% when Gordon was the primary defender at Arizona.
Below is a ’13-’14 regular season chart from The Chilltime that includes the amount of field goal attempts a defending player faces per contest (vertical axis) and the field goal percentage converted against that defensive player (horizontal axis). All data is from NBA.com, and players you see in the chart were on the court at least 25 minutes per game for 30 games and faced at least 4 shot attempts at the rim. Those with reddish dots represent your better shot blockers. Those with green dots represent players who notch very few blocks.
The installation of SportVU cameras in NBA arenas is the reason these statistics are possible. Ideally, a player wants to be positioned as far right on the chart as possible. Guys like Robin Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka, Joakim Noah, Andrew Bogut, and DeAndre Jordan are your elite NBA rim protectors. Even former Magic men Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat were beyond respectable. Tristan Thompson is the worst rim protector on this chart having given up an opposing field goal percentage of 59.1% on just 5.2 field goal attempts faced per game.
Below you’ll find analysis on specific Magic players.
Orlando Magic fans will be happy to know they have a potentially great true point guard on their hands in Elfrid Payton. At just slightly under 6′ 4″, Elfrid has his head on a swivel at all times and at both ends of the court. He’s not going to be a defensive liability, he’ll thrive in transition situations, and Elfrid can finish with authority at the rim. In 25.8 minutes per contest, the Louisiana-Lafayette product averaged 9.2 ppg, a Summer League best 7.0 apg, 5.2 rpg, and 1.4 spg on 59.3 FG%, 50.0 3PT% (1-of-2 on 3s), and 65.0 FT%. Elfrid had an outstanding week despite a very jittery first game. Payton averaged 4 turnovers per contest, which is fairly typical for a rookie guard. The 20-year-old proved why it was worth Rob Hennigan trading up to grab him.
Let’s take a look at Elfrid’s 2014 Summer League.
July 5th – 83-77 win over the Philadelphia 76ers
2 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds on 1-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes.
Again, it’s definitely the more forgettable of Elfrid’s showings. It didn’t help that Philly had tenacious defenders like Nerlens Noel, Casper Ware, and Aaron Craft. It was trial by fire and Elfrid just wasn’t comfortable. It happens. Pierre Jackson was offensively getting the better of Payton before he suffered a gruesome injury. Elfrid debuted off the bench as point guard backup to Victor Oladipo though the two would play together in the backcourt throughout the week. At the 1:21 mark here, Elfrid’s only bucket did come on a nice drive past Casper Ware and Ed Daniel. Elfrid’s assists were definitely the best part about his game against the Sixers. Cross court finds, bounce passes, hesitation dump offs. Brighter days were ahead.
Below you’ll find more of Elfrid Payton’s Summer League week.
On July 24th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Orlando Magic rookies Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon will be part of the very first MAGIC FIT Draft Combine to promote health and wellness among the youth of Central Florida. Also joining the rookies will be Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw as well as Magic trainers. This special NBA/WNBA FIT program is the franchise’s first that they’re hosting, as about 200 youth from local community centers (Jackson, Callahan, Rosemont, and Smith) will be attending.
The mission statement of the NBA/WNBA FIT program is pretty straightforward:
NBA/WNBA FIT is the league’s comprehensive health and wellness program that encourages physical activity and healthy living for children and families through programs, events, and products.The NBA/WNBA FIT nationwide network includes more than 1,200 organizations committed to bringing NBA/WNBA FIT programs and events to more than 2.5 million children, adults, and families. Network members include YMCAs, the National Recreation & Park Association, Police Athletic Leagues, Boys & Girls Clubs, Jewish Community Centers and community organizations globally.
Team-up with the NBA Family to BE ACTIVE, EAT HEALTHY and PLAY TOGETHER!
On Thursday, the 200 children will be broken up into 6 rotating stations for a variety of physical fitness challenges and basketball drills led by the players and training staff. The youth will also learn about different foods and making good food choices.
“The Magic are excited to get this program started for the youth in our community,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “Physical fitness and obesity are a large problem among today’s youth. We hope MAGIC FIT will make staying active and eating right a common practice among our children, while continuing to give the youth of our community the opportunity to participate in the game of basketball. Together we can use the game of basketball to point our youth towards a healthier future.”
Orlando Magic big man Andrew Nicholson will indeed play for the Canadian senior national basketball team this summer. Even though Canada didn’t qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup which begins August 30th in Spain, Canada Head Coach Jay Triano still wants to go on an 11-game, 20-day European road trip to prepare for the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship which will also help determine who qualifies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The precise schedule hasn’t been released just yet, but Canada will play in the countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, and Spain from July 24th through August 12th. The eleven teams they will face are: World Cup host Spain, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia (twice), Serbia, Turkey, and Angola, as well as teams that didn’t qualify for the World Cup, Georgia, Italy, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. That’s a solid schedule filled with plenty of quality big men for Nicholson to face. Canada’s first game will be on July 24th against Slovenia.
Below is the internationally inexperienced roster that will depart Canada for Europe:
Andrew debuted his 3-point shot at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship last August in Venezuela. There’s a reason why Nicholson carried over that 3-point shot to Magic training camp, it was beyond accurate. Had Canada stayed a bit more healthy and dealt with the wear-and-tear of playing back-to-back-to-back contests, they would be playing in the World Cup. In 8 games in Venezuela, Andrew averaged 15.0 ppg and 3.4 rpg at 52.9 FG%, 45.5 3PT% (10-for-22) and 94.7 FT% in 20.3 minutes per contest. If Andrew can find that type of top notch form again, he has high hopes of getting back into Jacque Vaughn‘s rotation.
Nicholson and his teammates will actually get to know what a ‘hostile’ international environment looks like in a handful of those upcoming European exhibitions they’ll be playing. Venezuela didn’t exactly fill up the stands last summer. All of this benefits the 24-year-old and his road to recovering from a bad sophomore NBA season. Nicholson started every game last August for Coach Triano and I expect that to be the case again with Kelly Olynyk sliding in to replace Tristan Thompson to play next to Nicholson in the frontcourt. Robert Sacre will be a backup upgrade as he’s replacing Joel Anthony.
The Orlando Magic’s 4th overall Draft selection Aaron Gordon reminded us that he is in fact 18 years old. The Arizona Wildcats product was born after Orlando’s first Finals run, so any critiques of the 6′ 9″ forward do need to be kept in perspective. The 220-pounder was chosen first and foremost to eventually become a first-team all-NBA defender, and in that regard Gordon did well guarding SGs, SFs, PFs, and even centers. The offense will come, and so will his physical maturity. Aaron played in all 5 Orlando Summer League contests. His averages at 26.4 minutes per game were 7.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 1.2 apg on 35.0 FG%, 0-for-10 3-point shooting, and 47.8 FT%. Plenty of room for offensive improvement.
Let’s take a look at Aaron’s 2014 Summer League.
July 5th – 83-77 win over the Philadelphia 76ers
7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block on 3-of-11 shooting in 25 minutes.
That block is just a hint at what type of athletic feats Magic fans will see out of Aaron this season. It’s also quite fitting that Gordon’s first basket of Summer League came in the form of a smooth dunk as a result of a transition break and find by Victor Oladipo. Get used to it. Aaron is going to make guys like Nerlens Noel appear slow. Gordon started at SF and proved to be communicating very well with Romero Osby who was playing PF. Aaron shot a lot of airballs and off-balanced clankers throughout the week, but that didn’t prevent Gordon from getting to the rim as he displays at the 21-second mark. He blows past K.J. McDaniels with his swift dribbling and had enough momentum to flip up a finger roll as three Sixers converged on him.
Being able to dribble penetrate without defenders fearing his jump shot will be difficult, but Aaron’s athleticism will prove invaluable to open up even the slightest of spaces for teammates to shoot jumpers. It’s just up to Gordon to find those open men just like he did with the dish to Victor for the 3-pointer. At the 39-second mark, we see Hollis Thompson giving Aaron the entire left side of the court to drive and finish confidently past Noel. The last clip is Gordon displaying his tenacity as he misses his first shot in the paint, but fights off Philly’s frontcourt to nab the rebound and finish before any Sixer has time to recover and challenge the shot. Aaron is mature beyond his years.
Below you’ll find more of Aaron Gordon’s Summer League week.
Former Orlando Magic player John Amaechi is on a mission to help grow the game of basketball in Great Britain. Basketball isn’t the most popular of games over there, but the 6′ 10″ big man wants to utilize his 5 seasons of NBA experience to influence and motivate young players to strive for basketball greatness and to develop them to be able to compete on a global level. The folks over at Hoopsfix have put together a fantastic clip involving Magic highlights of Amaechi to spread the word about the free camps John is offering to players and teams in England, Scotland, and Wales.
The Twitter hashtag for the pro camps is #PayTheFEE. Amaechi has had quite the inspiring post-NBA career as he’s truly become a British ambassador of sports. Most people recognize John for being the first man to have played in the NBA to openly identify himself as gay. That was back in 2007 after he retired. Magic fans need to also recall that John played two solid seasons in Orlando, and that Amaechi was a very important member of the ’99-’00 Heart ‘N Hustle team. In 162 games with the Magic – starting 89 of them – John averaged 9.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 1.0 apg on 42.0 FG% and 70.0 FT% at 21 minutes per contest.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Orlando Magic players Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris will be participating with the Team USA Select squad that will play a large role in prepping Team USA for the FIBA World Cup.
Among USA Basketball Select Team invitees to Las Vegas, sources tell Yahoo. Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2014
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2014
This would the be first time both Harris and Oladipo are helping out on national team duty. In Victor’s case, we know that Nigeria has been constantly asking Oladipo to join its national team. This is a massive opportunity for the two 22-year-old men to impress Team USA (and Duke legend) Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Select squad will be facing a very talented pool of 19 players such as Kevin Durant, Paul George, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Chandler Parsons, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and others.
Oladipo and Tobias will most likely not make the final Team USA roster that goes to Spain to begin World Cup action on August 30th, but impressive showings open the door for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro or the 2019 FIBA World Cup (moved from 2018 to begin a new cycle).
Training camp begins on July 27th and is scheduled to run until August 1st in Las Vegas. The Team USA roster – most likely without Victor, Tobias, and the rest of the Select team - will reassemble again in Chicago August 14th and 15th and play an exhibition against Brazil on August 16th at the United Center. Team USA. The team arrives in West Point for a 1-day visit on August 18th, before heading to New York City to play two friendlies against the Dominican Republic on August 20th and Puerto Rico on August 22nd. It is assumed that Coach K will cut down his roster to the FIBA mandatory of 12 players following that final exhibition before flying to Spain.