I felt like putting these two Orlando Magic men together because Andrew Nicholson is beginning his ’15-’16 campaign most likely as a 3rd-string big man, and Melvin Ejim very well may not make Scott Skiles‘ 15-man roster come the beginning of the Magic’s regular season in late-October. But on Team Canada, both men are quite valuable on Jay Triano’s 12-man roster.
Canada begins their FIBA Americas Championship Group B action on Tuesday afternoon in Mexico City, but the tournament itself actually began on Monday. In their pool, Venezuela easily beat Cuba and Argentina defeated Puerto Rico with a strong second half showing as international basketball-lifers Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni dominated with double-doubles. Rick Pitino is going to miss not having Maurice Harkless‘ defensive abilities for P.R.
Top 4 in each group move onto the second round where another group stage occurs. It’s safe to say that Cuba will be the one going home early from Group B unless something crazy happens to one of the other four teams (including Canada).
So here’s the Group B schedule for Canada this week:
Mario Hezonja is a freaking magician, and not just in the Orlando Magic sense of the word. Anyone that has seen the 20-year-old Croatian play knows he’s not just a perimeter player. I’m here to provide you more highlights to prove that.
Croatia beat Israel 86-76 on Friday to go 9-0 in their EuroBasket exhibition warm-up preparation. Mario Hezonja got in some foul trouble, so he only managed 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists, but he still put on a show.
— B-PlayerAdvisor (@bplayeradvisor) August 28, 2015
Along with the beautiful dunk, Hezonja decided to put 6-season NBA veteran Omri Casspi in the spin cycle on this gorgeous and-1 transition play.
Oh yeah, and Mario had a fantastic no-look tip pass as well.
‘Super Mario’ is looking just that this offseason, super. EuroBasket is less than a week away.
There wasn’t any doubt, but it’s official now, Orlando Magic players Andrew Nicholson and Melvin Ejim have made Canada’s finalized 12-man roster for the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship that will take place in Mexico August 31st through September 12th. Top two countries from this 10-team tournament gets an automatic qualification into the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil – as Olympic hosts – get an automatic Olympic spot next summer no matter how they perform over the next few weeks.
Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton was on familiar soil on Friday. The 21-year-old was in his hometown of Gretna, Louisiana giving out free school supplies to about 700 students at Gretna Middle School. Payton attended classes there and also played basketball. It was supposed to be only a charitable-type visit for Elfrid. However, the school had other ideas. Trey Iles of NOLA.com put together a wonderful story.
Payton, about to enter his second year with the Orlando Magic, got a surprise when his old school retired his No. 4 jersey during a school assembly Friday morning.
“That’s huge for me,” Payton told the student body. “You almost made me cry.”
Along with expressing his gratitude for the jersey retirement, Elfrid talked about how comfortable he is playing in the NBA and improving his shot.
“It’s (NBA compared to college) definitely different,” Payton said. “But it didn’t take me that long to get used to it. By the end of December, first of January the game started slowing down for me and I was able to do what I do best, penetrate the paint, play defense, things like that.”
“I think my shot will be better this year,” Payton said. “Picking my spots, knowing when to take my shot. That’s the biggest thing that will be better. Just having experience, understanding the game more, will help as well.”
Payton is expected to do big things in his upcoming sophomore season under the guidance of new Magic coach Scott Skiles due in large part to a very strong 82-game rookie campaign where he averaged 8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.5 apg, and 1.7 steals per contest. Despite the large expectations, he’s still as humble as ever. The man from Gretna has hung tight to his roots.
According to the NOLA article, Elfrid is expected back in Orlando on Tuesday to begin preparation for next month’s training camp.
Add another player to the Orlando Magic training camp roster. David Jablonski of the Dayton Daily News reports that Jordan Sibert was in Florida in Friday and that the 23-year-old Dayton Flyer is expected to be officially announced as an addition to the Magic squad very soon. No contract terms are known at this time.
The 6’4″ 187-pounder can shoot the rock well from the outside, and he’s not afraid to be the guy to take a final shot. Sibert played 3 games for Orlando ‘Blue’ on the back-end of the Orlando Summer League back in July, and posted some solid games including an 18-point showing. Sibert in his 3 games averaged 11.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, and 1.0 spg on 45.8 FG% and 42.9 3PT% (6-of-14).
His odds of making the 15-man roster are not good in my opinion. This very well could be a situation where Sibert ends up in the D-League with the Erie BayHawks. Sibert is certainly excited for his Magic opportunity.
Orlando Magic #5 Draft pick Mario Hezonja chose a great time to have an outstanding contest for his Croatian national team with EuroBasket just over a week away. Croatia defeated Bosnia Herzigovina 97-79 in a friendly on Thursday. ‘Super Mario’ scored 24 points on 5-for-6 3-point shooting. The 20-year-old also racked up 6 rebounds and 2 assists. It’s by far Hezonja’s best international performance so far this summer.
— CroSports (@CroSports_) August 27, 2015
Coach Velimir Perasovic should be pleased with how Hezonja was able to step in for #1 scoring option Bojan Bogdanovic. The 6’7″ Brooklyn Net got injured – he should be fine for EuroBasket – and that opened the door for more Mario touches in this contest.
Let’s show some maturity, Orlando Magic fans. It’s not that word. It’s also not ‘football’. And it’s not even ‘FIFA 16’. Let’s ‘FIBA’. Welcome to my favorite part of the NBA offseason: FIBA action. Specifically, FIBA’s Americas Championship and EuroBasket tournaments. To most Americans, they’re only viewed as pre-Olympic qualifying tournaments for Brazil in 2016. To the rest of the world, winning gold at these FIBA tournaments can be as important as taking gold at the Olympics. And I love it.
The 17th FIBA Americas Championship runs from August 31st through September 12th. It is taking place in Mexico. Team USA won’t be participating because they already won last year’s FIBA World Cup and have the automatic Olympic bid. Going across the pond, we have the more prestigious and larger 39th FIBA European Basketball Championship – commonly known as EuroBasket – which runs from September 5th through the 20th.
Magic fans should pay attention over the coming weeks to these two FIBA tournaments because potentially four Orlando men will be competing. Can’t recall the last time the Magic had four players participating in international competition in one summer.
You already know about the 82-game regular season schedule, but here is also the Orlando Magic 2015-2016 preseason campaign. It begins at Amway Center against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday October 3rd. Orlando opens training camp on September 26 at Amway Center.
The Magic will play a total of eight preseason games, including four at Amway Center. The other three home games are Tuesday October 13th against the Miami Heat, Wednesday October 21st vs. New Orleans, and Friday October 23rd vs. Memphis.
Orlando will also participate in NBA Global Games Rio 2015, when they take on Brazilian champion Flamengo on Saturday October 17th at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Magic’s first road game comes October 7th in Louisville, Kentucky against the Miami Heat. Double the sunshine state rivalry in one week.
The entire schedule is below.
The 2015-2016 regular season schedule for the Orlando Magic has been released. The Magic will open their season on Wednesday October 28th at Amway Center against the Washington Wizards at 7 p.m. EST. Orlando closes the month out on October 30th as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder. So two home games to begin the ’15-’16 campaign.
Orlando opens training camp on Saturday September 26th – I’m assuming that’s Media Day – at the Amway Center. All Magic games will be televised locally in high definition on FOX Sports Florida.
The Magic will play 52 games vs. the Eastern Conference (18 games vs. the Atlantic Division, 18 games vs. the Central Division, and 16 games vs. the Southeast Division) and 30 games against the Western Conference (ten games each vs. the Northwest Division, the Southwest Division, and the Pacific Division).
Orlando will play a total of 23 home games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this season. It’s actually fewer Saturday and Sunday games though. The Magic’s schedule also features 19 back-to-back contests (38 games played on consecutive nights; eight away/away back-to-backs, seven home/away back-to-backs and four away/home back-to-backs).
Orlando “hosts” the Toronto Raptors at The O2 in London, England on Thursday January 14th. So Orlando only has 40 regular season games at Amway Center. That European trip is a reason why Orlando’s back-to-backs may seem a bit high.
A negative for the Magic: They’ll play a total of 19 back-to-backs. Last season, they played 17 pairs of back-to-backs.
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) August 12, 2015
The Magic have just one stretch of 4 games in 5 nights, and it arrives during the tough early season stretch of Nov. 3-7.
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) August 12, 2015
Looking at the sunshine state rivalry, Orlando plays Miami on December 26th. However, the other 3 games are March 25th and later. So some potential playoff implications there.
The Magic will enjoy a season-long 4-game homestand from December 23rd through the 30th. Orlando faces a season-long 5-game road trip from December 1st through the 9th (five games in nine days) and a pair of 4-game road swings (March 7-12 and March 20-25). Orlando is going to have a rough post-All-Star Break.
Orlando’s home finale is on Monday April 11th against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Magic close the regular season on Wednesday April 13th at the Charlotte Hornets. Interestingly, that Hornets game is Orlando’s only true nationally televised game at the moment as ESPN will show that contest.
The Magic are supposed to be on NBA TV 4 times: December 21st at the New York Knicks, January 14th in London against the Raptors, January 18th – MLK Day – at Atlanta, and Sunday January 31st when they host the Boston Celtics. No Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve Magic game. However, Orlando does play a road back-to-back on New Year’s Day and on January 2nd when they take on the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Look, the schedule means nothing if the Magic don’t improve their play on the court. This season’s schedule sort of reminds me of the ’14-’15 campaign. Difficult November and early-December to begin the season, but room to gain momentum in mid-December, January, and February before the schedule gets tough down the stretch. Orlando survived their tough part of last year’s schedule only to waste it with horrible play at Amway Center. They need to take much better care of Amway Center than the awful 13-28 home record in ’14-’15.
In our Magic 8-Ball you’ll find quotes, tweets, Orlando Magic player social media posts, a random prediction that sticks to the Magic 8-Ball theme, any stats or tidbits you don’t find in our other MBO postings, and more. Basically a buffet of things that may slip through the cracks that are worth bringing up.
Been a long while since we did one of these, so we have some big offseason cracks to fill.
#1: C.J. Watson is Quite the Giver
— Impact Basketball (@impactbball) August 8, 2015
C.J. has been working out in Las Vegas for Impact Basketball, so he’s actually had a few workouts with former Magic man Kyle O’Quinn. It’s Vegas though, and you’re allowed to have some fun. I like C.J.’s birthday cake.
Below are #2 through #8. read more…