A Basketball Tragic - Story of the Orlando Magic

A Basketball Tragic - Story of the Orlando Magic

Postby OzzieLaker » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:00 pm

It was a brisk evening in Oklahoma City. I, Josh McCaw, had just finished a long season as the assistant GM of the Thunder, taking us all the way to the NBA Finals only to lose to the three-headed juggernaut that is the Miami Heat.
Assembling such a dynamic, young squad had taken years of hard work for me, Sam Presti and the remainder of the scouting team. We had finally developed a nucleus that was ready, willing and able to compete with the best of the best for the next decade.

Or so we thought.

Inside word had spread that James Harden was unhappy with the contract extension he was being offered. Our owner Clay Bennett, being the stingy bugger that he is, refused to let our cap situation get out of hand, even if that meant giving up one of THE best talents in the league.
I knew this for a fact. I had spent countless days at the Wells Fargo Arena the 08-09 college season – our first season under the ‘Thunder’ name – to watch James ball out for Arizona State. You could tell there was something special there, the way he moved with basketball in hand. As his beard grew, so did his talent – and now we were looking likely to give it away.

At this point in time, I had myself thinking, why do I want myself stuck in a culture that obviously doesn’t want to win? After studying Business Administration and Law in Illinois as a lad, as well as being a top flight college sprinter, I knew what it took to win. And the culture Bennett was creating was not going to cut it.

Then a blessing came. At around 9pm, whilst sitting with pregnant wife Robyn, I received a call from an unknown number.

“Is this Josh McCaw?”
“Yes, you have the right guy.”
“Good, my name is Richard DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic.”

Was this really happening?

I had seen in the news earlier this year that Otis Smith had stepped down as GM of the Magic, largely due to the mishandling of the Dwight Howard saga. They had been searching for their new candidate for months on end, leaving an assistant interim GM to do the job in the meanwhile. The time had come to hire the man trusted to lead them through the tough rebuild.

“Josh, you’ve done a fantastic job helping manage that great OKC team over the years,” DeVos says, seemingly more interested in my efforts than I expected.
“Thanks Mr DeVos, it’s been a tough few years but it feels good to finally be at the top,” I reply, hoping for some good news.
“I’m sure you’ve heard about our search for a GM over the past few months, we need to find someone to lead us to glory again,” he continues.
“Yes, I’ve heard much about that.”
“We think you’re the right man to take us to that glory. I’d like to offer you the General Manager position of the Orlando Magic.”
I partially thought that sentence was coming from the start of the phone call, but I’m still so shocked.
“Wow, this is an amazing offer, can I let you know within the next hour? I need to discuss this with my family,” I reply. I still cannot hide the eager tone in my voice.
“Of course, you have my number Josh, let me know,” he says before hanging up.

I discuss the opportunity with my wife. She thinks it is a brilliant opportunity to start afresh, especially after living in OK for the last 6 years of my life. She knows it’ll be hard for both of us to move away from our friendships we’ve developed over the years, but she assures me it’ll be worth it. I also have this underlying feeling it’s a good time to move away from the Thunder – with James Harden about to be traded, and Bennett at the helm, things are bound to only go downhill.

I decide to call Mr DeVos back.
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Re: A Basketball Tragic - Story of the Orlando Magic

Postby OzzieLaker » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:01 pm

In my first meeting with Mr DeVos, he gives me a sheet with a list of every player. The list looks like this:

PG Jameer Nelson
PG Ishmael Smith
PG E’twaun Moore

SG Arron Afflalo
SG J.J. Redick

SF Moe Harkless
SF Hedo Turkoglu

PF Glen Davis
PF Josh McRoberts
PF Al Harrington
PF Andrew Nicholson
PF Kyle O’Quinn
PF Gustavo Ayon

C Nikola Vucevic

I have a long look over the list. From scouting the Magic in the past, I know there are some bad contracts on that team. Afflalo, Nelson, Big Baby, Turkoglu and Harrington I’d prefer not to have.

I tell Mr DeVos we are obviously in a rebuild, and he agrees. I say it might take 3-4 years for this team to fully recover from the ‘Dwightmare’, but we both know that our culture is now healthier without him on the team. It can only be up from here.

After setting up my office, I immediately get to work. There are way too many power forwards on the squad, so my aim is to balance out the roster a little first and foremost.

I contact Cleveland GM Chris Grant. One player I would have loved to get in the most recent draft is Dion Waiters, a young prospect with great defensive potential and a knockdown outside shot. Surprisingly, they seem willing to give him up. I have to give up our recent pick 15 and 19 in the process, but what the hell, it’s worth it.

Cleveland trade:
SG Dion Waiters
SF Alonzo Gee
C Tyler Zeller

Orlando trade:
SF Moe Harkless
SG Arron Afflalo
PF Andrew Nicholson
2014 ORL 2nd Round Pick
2015 ORL 2nd Round Pick

Winner: Orlando. New GM Josh McCaw reportedly loves the potential of Waiters, and so do we. We’re not entirely sure why the Cavs were so willing to give up on their prized pick 4 so early, but time will tell if they’re proven right. They do get to fill the void with veteran Afflalo in the meantime, even if his contract isn’t desirable.

I’m happy. Waiters and Vucevic can be the face of the franchise going forward, for the time being anyway. We also get under the cap, which is nice.

I do one more trade to balance out the side a little:

Orlando trade:
PF Josh McRoberts
2013 ORL 2nd Round Pick

New Orleans trade:
SG Roger Mason
2014 NO 2nd Round Pick
2015 NO 2nd Round Pick

Winner: Orlando. Very much a nothing deal, but at least Orlando save some cap space and gain an extra pick out of it, even though McRoberts might play some more meaningful minutes for the Hornets.

I’m done for trades for now. Need to develop some team chemistry, which only comes with stability. I do, however, sign Jordan Farmar as our point guard depth is questionable at best.

We’re predicted to finish last in the East by nba.com, which is no surprise. The rest of the conference is positioned as you would expect. What does surprise me, on the other hand, is that the Jazz are predicted to be 2nd in the West, only behind the Lakers? The Clippers, Thunder and Spurs are all behind Millsap, Jefferson and company.

Bring on the losses!
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Re: A Basketball Tragic - Story of the Orlando Magic

Postby OzzieLaker » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:09 pm

I talk to a few guys around the organisation about the attitude of Mr DeVos. He’s apparently just an average owner in every way. He’s willing to spend, but not too much. He’s got patience, but not five years’ worth. He wants to win, but he’s not massively worried if we don’t. I can cope with that.

Coach Vaughn says that he wishes to start Tyler Zeller over Nikola Vucevic. I tell him that these decisions will not fly, as Vucevic arguably has the 2nd most potential on our roster behind Dion Waiters. If he continues to mess our rotation up, no question, he’ll be gone at the end of the season.

Our first game is against Atlanta at home. Against all odds, we take out the win! Jameer Nelson is outstanding with 22 points, whilst restricting Jeff Teague to only 6. Dion Waiters is a bit nervous in his first game, going 1 for 8 with 9 points, but he’ll be better for the run.

Magic 1-0

There’s reportedly some tension between Jordan Farmar and E’twaun Moore in the locker room, but I call them both and tell them to cool it and they seem to react okay. We’ll see if it continues.

Rudy Gay goes nuts against us in Memphis, scoring 33 points and grabbing 5 steals against Alonzo Gee, who doesn’t have the most desirable game. It’s expected I guess; his lack of defensive skill isn’t desirable. Dion Waiters is our leading scorer with 15.

Magic 1-1

We go up another win with a 112-117 victory over the Kings. Alonzo Gee redeems himself with a nice 23-point, 7-rebound performance, whilst Jordan Farmar and Hedo Turkoglu are also impressive off the bench, each having 14 points. Nikola Vucevic is taught a lesson by DeMarcus Cousins, who has a field day with 26 and 14.

Magic 2-1

Chicago puts us back in our place with a dominant 130-106 display. Four Bulls score in the 20’s, led by Derrick Rose, who almost puts up a triple double with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists. Hedo Turkoglu gets a lot of minutes off the bench and has 19 points and 7 assists.

Magic 2-2

We record another win, this time over the 76ers, despite Andrew Bynum going absolutely berserk for 42 and 10. Alonzo Gee is putting up some nice numbers now after a slow couple of games to start the season, being our leading scorer with 21 points. Jameer Nelson and Dion Waiters help out with 18 a piece.

Magic 3-2

We seem to be in some actually decent form, now, smashing the Wizards 93-118. Dion Waiters is really putting in the effort these last few games, putting up a solid 23 points on 10 for 16 shooting. Nikola Vucevic also has his first decent game of the year, putting up 15 points and 9 boards. Hopefully this match can give him some confidence.

Magic 4-2

I’m slightly worried we’re going to be in too good a form for our own good. We give out another thrashing, this time to Damian Lillard and the Blazers. Jordan Farmar does a brilliant job locking down Lillard, limiting him to 12 points, while Gustavo Ayon is the player of the match with a very efficient 21 points and 7 rebounds.

Magic 5-2

Farmar and Moore are fighting again, and I’ve had enough. I cut E’twaun Moore in order for our team chemistry to get back on track. Coach Vaughn has said some questions have already been asked about the pair.

We face my old friends at the Thunder and go down in the last few minutes, after a valiant fight. Gustavo Ayon goes crazy efficient again with 20 points on 9/12 shooting. Still, that can’t stop the wrecking balls that are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who put up 30 and 27 respectively.

Magic 5-3

Dirk Nowitzki, at the ripe old age of 33, is yet again refusing to slow down this season. He puts on a clinic for Glen Davis and scores 30 points with 8 boards to lead the Mavericks to a 91-116 victory in Dallas. Alonzo Gee is our best with 18 points, but no one was really able to stop the German maestro tonight.

Magic 5-4

It seems our early season form was a little bit of a fluke. The winless Charlotte Bobcats, on the back of 28 points and 10 assists by the great Ramon Sessions, defeat us convincingly. Dion Waiters is the only guy on the team who seemed to be able to shoot efficiently. Not a day to remember.

Magic 5-5

On a very interesting note, James Harden’s Houston Rockets are now the only winless team in the league, at 0-11. This is a big surprise to me, James seems to have a decent supporting cast in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, but maybe he needs more help? They have the cap room for it, at least.

But back to us. Toronto is the next team to visit the Amway Center, and we continue to make it a fortress, winning on the back of a dominant first quarter. Alonzo Gee continues to be the best scorer on the team with 29 points, while J.J. Redick misses only one shot out of six on his way to 17 points off the bench.

Magic 6-5

It seems like we have an insane ability to win at home, but fall to pieces when we travel out of Florida. This trend continues with a 104-110 loss to the Pacers. Roy Hibbert absolutely dominates Nikola Vucevic with 18 and 13, compared to Nikola’s 3 and 2. Seems to be lacking more and more confidence, unfortunately. Glen Davis is our best with an efficient 20 points.

Magic 6-6

Might have spoken too soon about the Rockets, they’ve won the last two games and proceed to beat us at our ‘fortress’ convincingly. James Harden continues the breakout season I knew he’d have with 31 points. The rook Dion Waiters simply had no answers. Glen Davis again is our best player with 19 and 13, even though he makes only 3 of 13 shots.

Magic 6-7

Monta Ellis seems to have found his Golden State mojo once again this year in Milwaukee, as he scores 32 points to lead the Bucks to a 97-85 victory over us. Glen Davis scores 27 to be our best once again, but on the bad side Hedo Turkoglu has sprained his abdominal muscle and will be out for two weeks. Not ideal, but we’ll cope without him.

Magic 6-8

We say hello to Andrew Bynum once again, and he says hello back with a staggering 37 points and 23 rebounds to lead Philly to the win, despite a solid fourth quarter push led by Gustavo Ayon. We also say hello to another injury as Dion Waiters sprains his wrist. He’ll be out for a solid two weeks.

Magic 6-9

We travel to D.C. to go up against the Wizards for the second time, and this time they get their payback, in the form of the win, 28 points for Bradley Beal and 25 from Nene in an out of the box performance. Jameer Nelson fights hard for 21 points and wins the battle against John Wall, but it isn’t enough.

Magic 6-10

Very solid month for a team predicted to be last in the East. We are 5th last in the conference, ahead of Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto and the flailing Bobcats. New York are surprisingly leading the conference with an 11-4 record, ahead of LeBron and the Heat. The Clippers sit atop the West, with Houston and James Harden still last.

Orlando Top Points
Alonzo Gee – 14.1
Glen Davis – 12.5
Dion Waiters – 12.5

Orlando Top Assists
Jameer Nelson – 4.6
Dion Waiters – 3.3
Jordan Farmar – 3.1

Orlando Top Rebounds
Glen Davis – 6.6
Nikola Vucevic – 6.2
Gustavo Ayon – 5.9

League Top Points
LeBron James (MIA) – 32.5
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 32.3
Kevin Love (MIN) – 28.2

League Top Assists
Damian Lillard (POR) – 10.0
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 9.6
Kyle Lowry (TOR) – 9.6

League Top Rebounds
Anderson Varejao (CLE) – 12.0
Roy Hibbert (IND) – 11.4
Kevin Love (MIN) – 11.2

League Top Efficiency
LeBron James (MIA) – 31.6
Chris Paul (LAC) – 30.5
Kevin Love (MIN) – 27.8

Rookie Top Efficiency
Damian Lillard (POR) – 21.9 (14.3 points, 10.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks)
Anthony Davis (NO) – 17.6 (10.5 points, 1.9 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 2.7 blocks)
Bradley Beal (WAS) – 15.7 (16.6 points, 2.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks)

First Round of NBA Draft Prospects

1 – PF Brian Randolph (North Carolina State), Freshman, 6’10”, 230lbs
Although skinny, this guy is simply a dominant force. Already manning up with ease against much mature bodies. A natural scorer, and the type that will flourish in a professional environment.

2 – C Casey Dennis (Seton Hall), Freshman, 6’11”, 249lbs
All about the upside with this guy. With a humongous wingspan and athleticism unheard of for a center, there’s oodles of potential here.

3 – SF Ezequiel Fernandez (Argentina), 20 years old, 6’7”, 233lbs
Although a little on the short side for a small forward, this guy might not put up big stats but is one of the most efficient players you’ll come across. Already well-built, too.

4 – C Abdul Jones (Purdue), Freshman, 6’10”, 249lbs
Maybe somewhat undersized for a big man, whilst lacking some athleticism, but Jones has one of the best rounded games in the draft crop. A force both offensively and defensively.

5 – SF Ryan James (Connecticut), Junior, 6’6”, 215lbs
Has refined his game over the past three years, and is now dominating the system. Maybe not as much upside as some of his top 5 companions but a great offensive force. A natural passer for a small forward, too.
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Re: A Basketball Tragic - Story of the Orlando Magic

Postby OzzieLaker » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:15 pm

November Player of the Month: LeBron James (Miami) – 32.5 points, 4.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 0.3 blocks

November Rookie of the Month: Damian Lillard (Portland) – 14.3 points, 10.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks

Impressive from Lillard to average a double double at this point in his career. Expected form from King James, though.

Only been the one trade the past month, and it’s not a mover and shaker.

New York trade:
SG Ronnie Brewer

Sacramento trade:
PG Aaron Brooks
2013 SAC 2nd Round Pick

Winner: New York. It’s hard to pick a winner for either team, as New York now has 5 point guards and Sacramento 5 shooting guards as a result of the trade. But, the Knicks get the extra pick, and Brooks has been performing slightly better, so they get the win here.

We start off December horribly, scoring only 68 points as we go down to the Pacers. Not surprising against one of the top defensive teams, but it still sucks. Danny Granger is the killer with 26 points, whilst Jameer Nelson plays a lone hand for us with a non-efficient 17 points.

Magic 6-11

It’s expected that a loss might be coming up against the Celtics, and they don’t surprise us, coming out victors 91-102 in Boston. J.J. Redick has a great shooting performance, not missing a shot from deep on his way to 20 points. This doesn’t stop Kevin Garnett from having 24 points and 13 rebounds though.

Magic 6-12

I finally give in to Coach Vaughn to bench Nikola Vucevic and move Tyler Zeller into the starting spot. He’s been down on form this past month, and Coach obviously saw something in Zeller that I didn’t.

Kevin Love and the Timberwolves are our next opponent at home, and he puts on a show with a 30 and 10 double double, leading Minnesota to the win. Glen Davis just doesn’t have the defensive skill to stop him. Gustavo Ayon puts up a neat double double, while J.J. Redick has yet another good shooting night with 18 points.

Magic 6-13

It’s time to face the two headed OKC monster again, and this time they defeat us a bit more convincingly, 117-100. Kevin Durant does his thing, going for 43 points and 9 rebounds, even though Alonzo Gee puts as much defensive effort in as he can. Both Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick score in the 20’s, but it doesn’t matter.

Magic 6-14

The good thing is, Hedo Turkoglu is allowed to come back! We’ve missed his efforts off the bench I think, recently it’s been Gustavo Ayon playing a lone hand from our depth.

The Clippers have been dominating the West recently, so it’s no surprise to lose to them at the Staples Center. Blake Griffin is the best player on the court with 32 points and 9 boards, while Glen Davis puts up a solid 22 points and 8 rebounds for us. He’s been quietly decent this year, has Big Baby.

Magic 6-15
In our last game before Dion Waiters gets back, Portland gives us a thrashing, 94-112. It is J.J. Hickson of all players who is the hero, grabbing 18 REBOUNDS as well as having 26 points, dominating Tyler Zeller. Alonzo Gee is our leading scorer with 18.

Magic 6-16
I move Nikola Vucevic back into the starters, as Zeller has been extremely underwhelming for Coach Vaughn’s expectations of him.

Our first victory in what seems like years comes against Phoenix, going on a 36-20 run in the fourth to get the W. It’s a balanced score sheet for us, but Glen Davis is our best player with 19 points and 8 boards, even though he still can’t hold Luis Scola to less than 22 points.

Magic 7-16

Utah has been performing, for my expectations, out of their skin this year, and this continues with a 109-117 victory over us. Mo Williams put on a clinic with 30 points and 8 assists, but this doesn’t mean he can’t hold our point guards Jameer Nelson and Jordan Farmar to 21 and 19 points, respectively.

Magic 7-17

A young Golden State team continues to show promise with a massive first quarter display, on their way to victory. Three players for them score over 20, but it is David Lee who is truly dominant with 32 points and 11 rebounds. Jameer Nelson is our top scorer with 21 points, whilst going 5/6 from deep.

Magic 7-18

The Spurs continue to do their thing with a 116-86 victory over us. Tony Parker is neat for San Antonio with 20 and 8 assists, whilst limiting last game’s danger man Jameer Nelson to 5 points. Glen Davis top scores with 13, but we are overall pretty uninspirational.

Magic 7-19

Young Nikola Vucevic seems pretty worried to be coming up against Dwight Howard, and rightly so, he’s arguably the best big man in the game. Dwight has a field day against his old side, going for 34 points and 15 boards as the Lakers win 124-107. Alonzo Gee scores 23, whilst Dion Waiters is very impressive defensively against Kobe Bryant, but it isn’t enough.

Magic 7-20

It appears Jameer Nelson sprained his finger in the past game, so he’ll be missing two weeks.

I give Jordan Farmar the start against Golden State on Christmas Day, and he goes nuts!!! Jordan puts in a great scoring performance with 25, 15 of which came in the first, whilst limiting Steph Curry to only 4 points. This helps us get the win over Golden State, giving us a bit of much needed confidence.

Magic 8-20

We get our second win in a row against New Orleans, thanks to some efficient shooting from Jordan Farmar and Dion Waiters, who both have a solid 21 points. What’s more impressive however is that each member of our front court had a double double – each of them their first for the year, too!

Magic 9-20

Our last game for the month is against the Timberwolves, and this time, Kevin Love has a horrible night, going 3 for 19 on his way to only 9 points. Dion Waiters is the star for us with 24 points, while Gustavo Ayon is impressive off the bench with 16 and 8 rebounds to give us the victory.

Magic 10-20

Not a bad way to end the month. We’re still 5th last in the confrerence, with Milwaukee going ahead of us and the inexperienced Cavaliers dropping below. Miami have finally taken over as rightful leaders of the East, whilst the Clippers still head up the West.

Orlando Top Points
Alonzo Gee – 13.4
Jameer Nelson – 13.0
Dion Waiters – 13.0

Orlando Top Assists
Jameer Nelson – 4.0
Dion Waiters – 3.4
Jordan Farmar – 3.2

Orlando Top Rebounds
Glen Davis – 6.5
Nikola Vucevic – 6.3
Gustavo Ayon – 5.9

League Top Points
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 33.2
LeBron James (MIA) – 31.4
Carmelo Anthony (NY) – 28.5

League Top Assists
Kyle Lowry (TOR) – 10.0
Raymond Felton (NY) – 9.1
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 8.7

League Top Rebounds
Dwight Howard (LAL) – 12.0
Andrew Bynum (PHI) – 11.6
Anderson Varejao (CLE) – 11.6

League Top Efficiency
LeBron James (MIA) – 31.0
Chris Paul (LAC) – 29.5
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 27.9

Rookie Top Efficiency
Damian Lillard (POR) – 19.1 (13.4 points, 8.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks)
Anthony Davis (NO) – 16.8 (10.5 points, 1.8 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 2.2 blocks)
Thomas Robinson (SAC) – 15.8 (12.3 points, 1.2 assists, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks)

Second Round of NBA Draft Prospects

1 (4) – C Abdul Jones (Purdue), Freshman, 6’10”, 249lbs
Jones has proven in the past month he can absolutely dominate games, despite his lack of size. His ability to post up is second to none, whilst he has great defensive presence in the paint.

2 (1) – PF Brian Randolph (North Carolina State), Freshman, 6’10”, 230lbs
Randolph’s drop is more to do with the great form of Jones rather than his own form. He’s continued to show his potential, taking over a couple of games with his wide offensive arsenal.

3 (3) – SF Ezequiel Fernandez (Argentina), 20 years old, 6’7”, 233lbs
The stocky Argentinian is quietly going about his business in the Euro Leagues, putting up decent numbers for a successful Besitikas side. Already well and truly holding his own against many former seasoned NBA players.

2 (4) – C Casey Dennis (Seton Hall), Freshman, 6’11”, 249lbs
Still a lot of upside to be seen with Dennis. Although his 3 point shot has lifted this past month, he is still very raw, and will take time to grow into his skin. Could develop into a prime Jermaine O’Neal.

5 (N/A) – SF Winston Taylor (UCLA), Junior, 6’6”, 215lbs
A nice scorer with some clever Iso moves for a small forward, Taylor is another who has taken time to get to the level he is now at. Needs a bit of work on his defensive intensity but could be a top flight scorer for a good side in time.
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Re: A Basketball Tragic - Story of the Orlando Magic

Postby OzzieLaker » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:26 pm

December Player of the Month: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) – 33.2 points, 1.1 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks

December Rookie of the Month: Mirza Teletovic (Brooklyn) – 12.6 points, 1.3 assists, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 0.2 blocks

It’s interesting Teletovic got the honours this time around. Then again, he’s been performing well as a mature age rookie, compared to pro basketball babies such as Davis and Lillard, albeit talented ones.

A few small trades:

Charlotte trade:
C DeSagana Diop
2013 CHA 2nd Round Pick

Milwaukee trade:
PF Ekpe Udoh

Winner: Charlotte. What is Milwaukee doing? Sure Udoh might only end up a decent starter at best, but his defensive potential is astounding, and to get only an expiring and a 2nd round pick back is not doing due diligence.

Phoenix trade:
SG Shannon Brown

LA Clippers trade:
SF Caron Butler
2013 LAC 2nd Round Pick

Winner: LA Clippers. This trade allows Jamal Crawford to move back to his more comfortable sixth man role, whilst Brown is a better player, younger, and on a better contract than Butler. Easy call here.

Chicago trade:
PF Taj Gibson
PG Nate Robinson
C Nazr Mohammed

Denver trade:
SG Corey Brewer
2013 DEN 2nd Round Pick

Winner: Denver. Unsure what Chicago are doing here, they get rid of a nice young piece in Gibson, as well as Robinson, for an average player at best. Denver gets a couple of solid depth pieces here. Mohammed was immediately waived.

Minnesota trade:
SF Derrick Williams

Utah trade:
2013 UTA 1st round Pick

Winner: Utah. Minnesota seemed eager to give up on their sophomore pick 2 for some reason. They could have easily got more than Utah’s pick for him, who are currently 21-11 and will likely use Derrick as a potential replacement for their other Williams, Marvin.

Dallas trade:
PG Rodrigue Beaubois

New Orleans trade:
2013 NO 1st Round Pick

Winner: Dallas. To get a lottery pick out of a role player is always a good move. In a strong draft such as this, they can likely get a player better than Beaubois.

We continue our run of good form with a victory over Detroit. Greg Monroe, who is having a breakout year, drops 25 points on Glen Davis, but Alonzo Gee (23 points) and J.J. Redick (19 points) shoot efficiently to help get us over the line.

Magic 11-20

The trio of Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah is feared all over the NBA, and you could see why in their 87-118 defeat of us. Glen Davis gives up 25 points and 10 boards to Boozer, whilst Rose also has a double double with 20 points and 11 assists. J.J. Redick with 13 points is our most effective off the bench.

Magic 11-21

From one MVP to the next, we go down to LeBron James and the Miami Heat 110-84. All of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh score in the 20’s, with LeBron the most impressive with 29 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. Glen Davis and Jordan Farmar battle valiantly with 19 and 16 points respectively.

Magic 11-22

Jameer Nelson is back in the lineup, but that doesn’t help us get up against the 6-win Raptors, who defeat us on the back of 23 points by freaking Andrea Bargnani. Alonzo Gee tops our scoring with 18 points, but is inefficient, shooting 0 for 6 from 3-point land. At least we’re on our way to a decent lottery spot.

Magic 11-23

Washington appears to be on a mission against us, and outscores us by 25 in the second half alone to defeat us convincingly. Alonzo Gee and Glen Davis score 16 each, but we can’t battle with Trevor Ariza, John Wall and Nene, who all score 21 points. Dion Waiters keeps Bradley Beal to 10, but can only score 2 points himself, goddamn.

Magic 11-24

We might have beaten the Hawks in the first game of the year, but now they’re in a decent patch of form. They beat us 97-130, with Lou Williams on a rampage with 24 efficient points. Dion Waiters is our best with 14 points, but it’s turnover city today in Orlando, with 24 compared to Atlanta’s 9. Ugh.

Magic 11-25

In the rematch, the result is pretty much the same, but this time it’s Josh Smith who does most of the damage, going 11/13 on his way to 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks! Alonzo Gee does well with 17 points, but again there’s not much to write about.

Magic 11-26

Going up against the Spurs and their veterans, there’s nothing much we can do as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker both achieve double doubles. Dion Waiters goes alright with 13 efficient points, together with four steals, as does Alonzo Gee, who top scores with 15, but other than that, pretty uninspiring.

Magic 11-27

We get our first win in what seems like forever against the DeMarcus Cousins-less Kings. J.J. Redick goes nuts in limited game time, scoring 17 points in 16 minutes, aided by fellow bench maestro Gustavo Ayon, who makes 19 points and 8 boards. Other than Jason Thompson and Thomas Robinson, who score in the 20’s, the Kings are powerless.

Magic 12-27

It was bound to happen, but a 85-107 loss to the Lakers follows. Dwight Howard again goes nuts on us with 22 and 17, continuing his run to the All-NBA First team. Alonzo Gee plays a sole hand for us with a solid 22 points, but it isn’t near enough.

Magic 12-28

Kenneth Faired is going somewhat under the radar this year as a top player in the league, and you can see why, as he goes for 28 points and 10 rebounds, including 16 points in a rampant second quarter, on thee way to a Nuggets victory. No real standout performer for us. Even J.J. Redick is uninspiring, shooting only 25% from the three-point line.

Magic 12-29

We have a few days break to recuperate, before going up against the Celtics. Jason Terry is actually the one who gives us troubles tonight with 24 points, aided by the other Celtics veterans. Dion Waiters has a nice night with 17 points and 6 assists, whilst Gustavo Ayon gets a double double, which is nice.

Magic 12-30

We actually put up a surprisingly good fight against the Heat in Miami, only going down by 9 points. Even more impressively, known average defender Alonzo Gee limits LeBron James to ‘only’ 21 points, which is an impressive effort. Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson top score with 15 each.

Magic 12-31

Al Harrington emails me the night after the game, worried about the lack of playing time Coach Vaughn is giving him. I tell him to not worry about it, but secretly he’s one of the players I’m going to try to move at the deadline, his contract is very much dead weight.

Final game for the month is an impressive win over the Pacers. Dion Waiters has a sublime game, scoring 15 points off 6/6 shooting, whilst limiting Paul George to 7 points at 20%! Glen Davis also dominates on the inside with 27 points and 8 rebounds. Nice to end the month on a high point.

Magic 13-31

We have now dropped to third last in the East, only one win ahead of Charlotte and two wins ahead of Toronto. It actually surprises me Cleveland are doing better than us right now, apart from Kyrie Irving they have little else on their roster. Miami and the Clippers are leading the East and West, respectively.

Orlando Top Points
Alonzo Gee – 13.5
Glen Davis – 12.5
Jameer Nelson – 12.1

Orlando Top Assists
Jameer Nelson – 4.0
Dion Waiters – 3.2
Jordan Farmar – 3.1

Orlando Top Rebounds
Nikola Vucevic – 6.3
Glen Davis – 6.0
Gustavo Ayon – 6.0

League Top Points
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 33.2
LeBron James (MIA) – 31.1
Carmelo Anthony (NY) – 29.0

League Top Assists
Kyle Lowry (TOR) – 9.8
Chris Paul (LAC) – 9.2
Raymond Felton (NY) – 9.0

League Top Rebounds
Dwight Howard (LAL) – 11.5
Andrew Bynum (PHI) – 11.4
Anderson Varejao (CLE) – 10.8

League Top Efficiency
LeBron James (MIA) – 31.4
Chris Paul (LAC) – 28.3
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 27.9

Rookie Top Efficiency
Damian Lillard (POR) – 19.5 (13.4 points, 8.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks)
Anthony Davis (NO) – 18.5 (11.7 points, 1.8 assists, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 2.5 blocks)
Thomas Robinson (SAC) – 16.2 (12.7 points, 1.4 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks)

Third Round of NBA Draft Prospects

1 (2) – PF Brian Randolph (North Carolina State), Freshman, 6’10”, 230lbs
Knocks Abdul Jones out of top spot, who slides out of the top 10 for the moment due to a navicular injury. Randolph without doubt has the most upside of anyone in this draft class, and has continued to show off his array of post moves and superb mid-range game.

2 (4) – C Casey Dennis (Seton Hall), Freshman, 6’11”, 249lbs
A bit more defensive improvement has been seen in Dennis in the last month, which is the reason for his rise back to the number 2 spot. Still very raw, will probably take 3 or 4 years to get to NBA starter standard, but plenty to work with here.

3 (N/A) – PF Charlie Brown (Indiana), Sophomore, 6’10”, 244lbs
A bit of a ‘meh’ prospect for mine, not sure why he’s related so highly. The namesake of the cartoon character has a nice jumpshot for someone his size, but isn’t a gamebreaker offensively, and is a little uninspiring on defense. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him slip.

4 (3) – SF Ezequiel Fernandez (Argentina), 20 years old, 6’7”, 233lbs
Still hovering around the top 5, Fernandez is starting to develop his game a bit more, having the best passing numbers of anyone in the top 10 outside of Winston Taylor. Although not averaging as many points as his counterparts, his impact for Besitikas is still high.

5 (N/A) – SG Sam Vershaw (Syracuse), Sophomore, 6’5”, 189lbs
A lights out shooter, Vershaw’s scoring arsenal and athleticism makes him more often than not unguardable on offense. His defense leaves a lot to be desired at this stage, but there is upside to develop into a dangerous core part of a successful team.
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