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WATCH: Rob Hennigan’s Post-Draft Interview

2015 June 26
by Adam Papageorgiou

henny

The clock struck midnight at Amway Center, and Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan spoke for about 15 minutes after selecting Tyler Harvey with the #51 pick. It’s the conclusion to what I’d consider to be an outstanding 2015 Draft.

Hennigan touched on a variety of topics. From loving the city of Barcelona, to stating that #5 pick Mario Hezonja will probably only play 1 or 2 Summer League games once a buyout is completed with FC Barcelona. Tobias Harris and free agency. Janis Timma not participating in Summer League. Roster meshing. Tyler Harvey’s offensive skill set. And a lot more.

Below is the video of the interview:

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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Orlando Selects Tyler Harvey with #51 Pick

2015 June 26
by Adam Papageorgiou

harvey

BOOM! I finally predicted an Orlando Magic pick correctly. Rob Hennigan picked the 6’4″, 181-pounder from Eastern Washington. I’ve already gone in depth in describing the 21-year-old. He’s a lucky lefty and was an offensive machine in college, leading the nation in scoring in fact.

His numbers in his 2014-2015 season were outstanding:

23.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 46.9 FG%, 43.1 3PT%, 85.2 FT%

Harvey’s shooting range is unlimited. Magic GM Rob Hennigan says Harvey will participate in Summer League. That’ll be a treat. He finished his collegiate career as the second-leading scorer in school history. Harvey was a two-time All-Big Sky First Team selection and an AP All-American Honorable Mention in 2014-15. If Harvey shoots well in July, I give him a decent chance at making the regular season roster.

We’ll see who else Orlando brings in to fill out their 2 Summer League teams for July.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Twitter and Facebook!***

LISTEN: Mario Hezonja Ecstatic About Joining Orlando Magic

2015 June 25
by Adam Papageorgiou

hez

Any worries about Mario Hezonja not joining the Orlando Magic for the 2015-2016 season were immediately extinguished as the extremely happy Croatian communicated via phone from Barcelona. It was after 3 a.m. local time in Spain and yet Hezonja sounded wide awake.

Listen here:

 

   

As far as the question I asked, in regards to players Mario looked up to when he grew up, Hezonja responding with names of Juan Carlos Navarro, Dimitris Diamantidis, Vasillis Spanoulis, Pete Mickeal, and Carlos Arroyo has me excited about him already. Those types of players have fantastic skill sets all across the board, offense and defense, shooting and ball handling. Oh, and he can dunk.  

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Twitter and Facebook!***

Rob Hennigan and Scott Skiles Discuss Drafting Mario Hezonja

2015 June 25

skileshenny

The Orlando Magic Draft War Room was all smiles, handshakes, and high fives after selecting Croatian wing man Mario Hezonja with their 5th overall pick. They admire Super Mario’s love of the game, his swagger, work ethic, offensive skills, and that he can play both SF and SG. Skiles was not shy to point out he can be a better defender, but Hezonja has all of the tools coming from Barcelona to be a fantastic basketball player.

Here’s the interview:

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Twitter and Facebook!***

Orlando Magic Draft ‘Super’ Mario Hezonja with #5 Pick

2015 June 25
by Adam Papageorgiou

mario

No, it’s not Mario Kasun. The Orlando Magic passed up on Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley-Stein and picked a guy they’ve interviewed and had their eyes on for over a year…Mario Hezonja. The Croatian 6’8″ wing player is as confident as he is good from launching jump shots. There is a buyout that needs to be negotiated with Barcelona to release him from his contract, but there are no concerns. It’s going to happen. Hezonja will be playing for Orlando this season.

Hezonja (6’8”, 218, 2/25/95) has spent the last two seasons playing in the Spanish ACB league with FC Barcelona.  Last season (2014-2015), he appeared in 31 regular season games, averaging 4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, and 1.3 apg in 14.7 mpg, while shooting .392 (29-74) from three-point range.  Hezonja also played in 22 Euroleague contests, averaging 7.7 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 16.5 mpg, while shooting .382 (29-76) from three-point range.

Before joining FC Barcelona in 2012-2013, Hezonja spent four seasons playing in Croatia. He’s been a pro since age 13. He was a member of the Croatian Senior National Team that participated in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. While with the Junior Team, Hezonja helped Croatia win the gold medal at the 2012 U17 Worlds and bronze at both the 2011 U16 Euros and 2011 U19 Worlds. He was named MVP at the 2011 U16 Euros, averaging 20.0 ppg and 8.2 rpg.

Mario has similar traits to Evan Fournier, but Hezonja is more athletic than the quick Frenchman and the Croatian is bigger. Like many highly European talents, confidence can be confused for cockiness some times. He has that Euro-temper, but Scott Skiles and the coaching staff should deal with it just fine. He’s got the agility to be a solid defender. Hezonja plays in probably the best basketball league outside of the NBA in Spain, and he’s had plenty of clutch moments in Euroleague play.

Hezonja didn’t make it to New York for the Draft as he’s still in Spain handling player responsibilities. It’s unknown yet when Mario will fly to Orlando for his introduction. He speaks English. Anyone that has scouted Hezonja praises his fantastic work ethic. Will he play in Summer League? We’ll see. We know the 20-year-old will play for the Croatian national team in September at EuroBasket.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Twitter and Facebook!***

Orlando Has Succeeded in Hiding Poker Hand

2015 June 25
by Adam Papageorgiou

rob-hennigan-magic

Congratulations to Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan and his company. Draft Night is here, and no one has a definitive clue who the Magic are leaning towards selecting with the 5th pick. No one can even narrow it down to 3 prospects. Nor can anyone guess if they’ll keep the pick, trade up, or trade down.  ‘Henny’ should run a security company with how tight information gets covered. Rob would probably be a fantastic poker player. We can only speculate who Orlando picks tonight.

 

Is it Kristaps Porzingis?

He’s the only Draft prospect that we know of who Orlando has brought into town for at least 2 days. The Magic traded for a Latvian in Janis Timma. For the past month, everyone thought the Magic loved the Latvian big man. But over the past day, many ‘experts’ believe the 7’1″ mammoth won’t even be available at #5. That’s fine by me.

 

Is it Willie Cauley-Stein?

The Magic have been very quiet in regards to the Kentucky shot blocker. We only down WCS worked out for the Magic because it came out of Willie’s own mouth. However, concerns about a potential foot injury have dropped Willie’s stock. ‘Trill’ has also been questioned about how much he loves basketball. His ‘unique’ personality can scare certain basketball minds. But WCS fills a need. A guy you can put next to Nikola Vucevic. A defender who can guard five positions and won’t complain about minutes or offensive touches.

 

Is it Justise Winslow?

Had Winslow not made his ‘sunshine state tweet’, we would have had little confirmation of Justise even appearing in Orlando for a workout/interview. I was very confident that Justise would be Hennigan’s pick because no one was tying him to Orlando. My MBO colleagues agreed. And yet, over the past few hours, EVERYONE is now claiming the Magic will select him. So now I’m worried that there’s too much public spotlight on the Duke product. Winslow can play 15-20 minutes immediately based off his unselfishness and fantastic defense. He has the character and the hair to fit in with the Magic.

 

Is it Mario Hezonja?

The man with so much swag you can’t contain him. Orlando has had at least one full-time scout dedicated to keeping an eye on the Croatian. Are teams worried about how expensive his buyout from Barcelona might be? Are the ghosts of Fran Vazquez roaming in the Amway Center practice facility? Mario has the leaping ability and speed to play up-tempo while being one of the best shooters in this Draft. He has a bit of a temper as you’d expect, but that can be contained. Does he want to play defense?

Scott Skiles coached Peja Stojakovic at PAOK Thessaloniki in 1996. Peja likes Mario. Skiles supposedly knows who the pick will be. Maybe it’s Mario. Some prognosticators say the Magic love Hezonja. Will they take him at #5? Can they trade down to get him?

 

Or is it someone not discussed? It’s probably someone else isn’t it?

No one though the Magic would acquire Aaron Gordon or Elfrid Payton. Maybe it’ll be Emmanuel Mudiay, Myles Turner, Trey Lyles, Sam Dekker, or Frank Kaminsky this year. I’m mentally prepared to be shocked and potentially upset.

I’m predicting the Magic end up with Justise Winslow at #5 and Tyler Harvey at #51. Knowing my track record, I’ll probably get both wrong.

Bottom line, the Magic need to get this Draft right. We can’t return the Lottery next summer. Strap in for a crazy Draft experience.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Twitter and Facebook!***

Aaron Gordon Can Start Opening Night Next Season

2015 June 25
by Adam Papageorgiou

"Embrace

This is an MBO series of 2014-2015 Orlando Magic seasonal player recaps and evaluations. As the NBA Draft and free agency approach, we’ll dive into statistics, highlights, and more as we dissect the 15-man roster and figure out who should stay and who should go as we enter a very important offseason in the franchise’s history. 

Previously in the series:
#2 O’Quinn
#3 Dedmon

#4 Payton
#7 Gordon
#8 Frye

#9 Vucevic
#10 Fournier

#11 Marble
#12 Harris
#13 Ridnour
#21 Harkless
#34 Green
#44 Nicholson

 

Whether the Orlando Magic bring back Tobias and/or sign a big time free agent forward, Aaron Gordon has a chance to be in Scott Skiles‘ starting lineup come the beginning of the 2015-2016 regular season. It’s all about health. Health failed the 19-year-old during his rookie campaign. That’s okay, he’ll come back stronger. Plenty of Lottery talent in that 2014 Draft class was decimated by injuries, including names like Jabari Parker and Julius Randle.

A.G. may have had a ‘lost’ ’14-’15 campaign, but he showed Orlando enough glimpses that displayed his outstanding athleticism and two-way potential. Only having 6 games of scoring in double digits is indicative of nothing. Gordon is a valuable piece for a Magic team seeking a return to the playoffs. It also works out that his explosiveness is amazingly entertaining for basketball viewers.

2014-2015: 47 games, 8 starts, 5.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 44.7 FG%, 27.1 3PT%, 72.1 FT%

 

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MBO Roundtable: Draft Day Delirium Edition

2015 June 24
by Adam Papageorgiou

winslow

It’s here, Orlando Magic fans! It’s really here! 2015 NBA Draft Day. Where every team and its base of fans has hope until everyone criticizes your trades, selections, and non-moves. Welcome to another edition of MBO roundtable. I’m Adam Papageorgiou and joining me for this tripod chat are Brian Serra and Spenser Strode. Let’s discuss the June 25th Draft. 

 

What do you make of the Euros: Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja?

 

Brian Serra:

I’ve been trying to sell myself and buy into the hype of Porzingis, but something keeps holding me back. At first I thought maybe I was reserved because of the recent Euro-flameouts, but I think I’ve mentally moved past that point. The only thing I can isolate is that the hype all keeps rising based on individual shooting workouts against ZERO defenders. We keep discounting the critical aspect involved with basketball, and this even applies to crazy athletic 7′ freaks, that you must be able to play complementary team basketball in a system AGAINST other defenders. Maybe he will be solid (likely), maybe he will be great (im not convinced)… but I don’t buy the “if he played at Kentucky he’d go number one” card. I love the Latvian’s fire to be great, but I am reserving my judgment until I see more meaningful results against an entire 5-man defense of equally freakish athletes.

For Hezonja – I absolutely love him as a player. But I am absolutely scared to death of his ego. To me, he has a much higher ceiling than Porzingis – but also has more potential to become a problem in a system that demands ball movement and stops. With that being said, great players have to be cocky to reach that extra level and Hezonja has a great shot to get there.

 

Spenser Strode:

I like them both. I like them more than I did 6 months ago. I like Porzingis more than I did 2 weeks ago. I’m completely and totally swayed by the avalanche of positive pre-draft coverage. If Porzingis is on the board at #5 and the Magic pass, I would be disappointed. I also feel like Hezonja needs/wants to be in an LA or New York based on his personality…I don’t think he’d be a good fit for this organization, but I am sure as hell interested in seeing him play next season.

 

Adam Papageorgiou:

You guys know how little I think of Porzingis. I kind of want to check the bank accounts of some of the media guys who are blindingly in complete love with the ‘Zinger’. The Magic may have given Porzingis a drafting guarantee last year, but that was at #12 where Kristaps would have been viewed as a decent selection. He’s barely a top 10 prospect in this class in my eyes. His reaction time is ‘meh’ at best and you can’t be a solid help defender if your reflexes are not top notch. His shooting drills have been slow and unimpressive considering he’s hoisting up jumpers with no one defending him. I’m stealing this, but he’s more Latvian ‘toothpick’ than Latvian ‘hammer’. Kristaps is still rail thin, and he’s a good 1 1/2 to 2 years away from being able to handle 82 games of physical banging from NBA opponents. Please for the love of God, ‘Henny’, stay away. Let someone else take the gamble. He may know English, but I haven’t enjoyed some of his interviews either.

I love Mario Hezonja. He really could be a Euro-Kobe. He can shoot, dunk, create his own shot, and defend when his coach isn’t trying to bury his confidence. His attitude is very similar to Evan Fournier‘s passionate style of play. I’d be thrilled to watch Mario’s first few months in the Association begin off the bench alongside Fournier as I can see some fantastic on-court cohesion occurring. Mario has drained some clutch shots and made the most of inconsistent playing time at Barcelona. He’d handle the pressure of a loud NBA crowd with no worries. The Magic have interviewed Mario, so obviously if they select him than they know that Hezonja will immediately play in O-Town.

 

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Did the Ridnour-Timma Trade Hint at Orlando’s Draft Plans?

2015 June 24
by Adam Papageorgiou

timmaaward

We’ll probably find out for sure Thursday night, but the trade completed by the Orlando Magic with the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday may have implications with who General Manager Rob Hennigan selects with the #5 pick tomorrow. The Magic dealt veteran guard Luke Ridnour to the Grizzlies in exchange for Janis Timma. Orlando was most likely going to waive Ridnour in the coming weeks before his $2.75 million for the ’15-’16 campaign became guaranteed. So the Magic can pocket that money and utilize it for free agency that begins July 1st, as they’ve now received a European prospect back.

Timma is listed at 6’7” and 220 pounds. He plays on the wing but is currently more of a Small Forward. The soon-to-be 23-year-old was selected by Memphis 60th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. Last season (2014-2015), Janis played 20 games in Latvia with VEF Riga, averaging 12.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.2 apg,and 1.7 spg in 28.7 minutes per contest. Timma was named the VTB League Young Player of the Year.

Timma has been named an All-Star in the Latvian Basketball League (LBL) for the last three seasons (2012-2014). Prior to joining VEF Riga, Timma spent two seasons with BK Ventspils of the LBL. In ’13-’14, he led Ventspils to the LBL championship, earning LBL Finals MVP, All-LBL Player of the Year, All-LBL First Team, and All-Baltic League First Team. In ’12-’13, Timma led Ventspils to the LBL Finals and guided them to the Baltic League championship, earning All-Baltic League Finals MVP.

 

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More Champagne is in Store for Orlando

2015 June 23
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

This is an MBO series of 2014-2015 Orlando Magic seasonal player recaps and evaluations. As the NBA Draft and free agency approach, we’ll dive into statistics, highlights, and more as we dissect the 15-man roster and figure out who should stay and who should go as we enter a very important offseason in the franchise’s history.

Previously in the series:
#2 O’Quinn
#3 Dedmon

#4 Payton
#7 Gordon
#8 Frye

#9 Vucevic
#11 Marble
#12 Harris
#13 Ridnour
#21 Harkless
#34 Green
#44 Nicholson

 

Anyone miss Arron Afflalo?

No?

Well let’s give Evan Fournier all of the credit. Not only did dealing Afflalo on Draft Day last year save the Magic salary cap space, but the Magic also potentially got a future 6th Man of the Year candidate in a young French sharpshooter. The son of judo champions, and the owner of an epic ‘More Champagne’ nickname, Fournier would spend all season having plenty of French conversations with Nikola Vucevic.

From the day he was officially introduced, Fournier was not only going to be the most fashionable player on the roster, but also the most honest. Oh, and provide some much necessary 3-point shooting and drives into the paint.

The 22-year-old showed plenty of promise in his two seasons with the Denver Nuggets, and Rob Hennigan had the vision to realize that Evan could be a huge offensive contributor in the appropriate setting. Magic fans didn’t have to wait for October to see what Fournier could do. Evan helped the French national team win the bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup. That campaign – one in which Jacque Vaughn showed up in person for a few games – would give Evan confidence that would carry over into Magic camp.

2014-2015: 58 games, 32 starts, 28.6 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 44.0 FG%, 37.8 FG%, 72.8 FT%

As a whole, Evan’s season doesn’t look that great. Injuries and inconsistent player-minutes rotations from the coaching staff chopped down what was a phenomenal beginning to his ’14-’15 campaign. Fournier went from bench contributor to starter due to injuries occurring to guys like Victor Oladipo.

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