10 Ways the Orlando Magic Can Stop the Bleeding
10 Ways the Orlando Magic Can Stop the Bleeding
It hasn’t been an easy season for the Orlando Magic. Their injury-riddled, inexperienced squad has stumbled to an 8-18 record so far and remains at the bottom of the Southeast Division. As expected, year two of the post-Dwight Howard rebuilding project has had some growing pains.
They do have some positives to hang their hat on, however. Their top draft pick, Victor Oladipo, is a candidate for rookie of the year, scoring 13.6 points per game while showing impressive defense and versatility. Center Nikola Vucevic picked up right where he left off last year, averaging a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds). With a little more development, he will be known as one of the best big men in the NBA. In addition, forward Andrew Nicholson has shown steady improvement, putting up 9.4 points and five rebounds per contest. And Glen “Big Baby” Davis provides a spark at the offensive end, with 13 points per game. He seems to have really taken off since the departure of Howard, showing excellent abilities when he’s playing in space. The key for him is to stay healthy, as he was able to return from a serious injury earlier this month. When you combine that with their best player, Aaron Afflalo (22 points per game), you’ll see that the Magic have a good nucleus to build on.
The main objective for Orlando is to turn all of that promise and potential into consistent productivity. Their season is in danger of being lost unless they get it together quickly. Here are 10 ways that the Magic can stop the bleeding:
Put the Ball in the Basket
The first and most obvious thing the Magic need to do is score more points. Orlando averages just 96.4 points per game, 22nd in the NBA. While Aaron Afflalo provides excellent scoring almost every game, other players need to step up and play more consistent on the offensive end.
Get More Rebounds on Offense
One of the most overlooked parts of being able to score the ball is getting second chances with offensive rebounds. The Magic only get 9.3 of these per contest, fourth worst in the league. Besides Vucevic, who brings down three per game, the Magic have no other player who gets more than 1.9. With Big Baby Davis healthy, there's a good chance that the Magic will be able to improve in this area and get more opportunities for their offense.
Get to the Line
The term "free throw" is pretty self explanatory -- it's a free -- an uncontested opportunity to score a point. If the Magic can find ways to get to the line more often (just 20.7 attempts per game, 24th in the league), then they will give themselves a much better chance to win, even on the worst of shooting nights.
Distribute the Ball
The Magic need to get everyone involved, as they are among the bottom of the barrel in terms of assist totals. That responsibility mainly falls on point guard Jameer Nelson. While his average (6.1) is certainly respectable, he needs to show that he is one of the best point guards in the league and a key part of the team's long-term plans by distributing the ball more often and more efficiently.
Take Smarter Shots
Many say that blocks are an overrated NBA stat. However, they affect the psyche of a player and often cause teams to stay away from the paint. The Magic need to do a better job of preventing rejections by taking smarter shots, as opponents have blocked six of their shots per game (fifth in the NBA).
Get Tobias Involved
Thought of as nothing more than a bench player,Tobias Harris played exceptionally well at the end of last season, showing star potential. Harris, acquired in the J.J. Reddick trade, caught a cold earlier this year and hasn't been able to play much this season. However, he now seems to be feeling better, and the Magic need to give him as many minutes as possible and help him return to form. If he can, then I have no doubt that the Magic will start to turn things around.
Create More 3 Point Oppurtunites
In years past, the Magic thrived on their ability to be among the top three-point teams in the league. This year, they need to get back to doing that, as they are a middle-of-the pack team in terms of three-pointers attempted and made. They have the shooters to do it (Afflalo, Nelson), as well as big men to draw attention (Davis, Vucevic). There needs to be more outlet passes by Vucevic and Davis whenever they get double teamed, as that will create open shots beyond the arc.
Orlando has had terrible luck with injuries this season. Many of their players have landed on the injury report this season, and some (such as Vucevic, Harris and Davis) have missed multiple games. Afflalo is the most recent case, coming down with the flu earlier in the week. If they actually get everyone healthy (and that's a big if), then they will surprise people with the amount of talent that they have on their roster.
Don't Be Discourageed
Many believe that Orlando is miles away from making the playoffs due to their 8-18 record. However, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Thanks to the East being an extremely weak conference, Orlando is actually very much alive in the hunt. The No. 8 seed currently belongs to the Toronto Raptors, who sit at 9-14. The Magic need to keep their heads up and realize that they have a real chance of nabbing that slot. And if Orlando gets healthy at the right time, wins when they need to and makes the playoffs, then who knows what can happen?
Take Advantage of the Schedule
If the Magic want that playoff spot, then they need to start stringing together a winning streak. This is a very realistic goal, because Orlando has their next five games at home, starting with three losing teams -- the Sacramento (7-17), New York (8-17) and Detroit (13-14). In order to orchestrate a turnaround, you have to get hot at the right time, and the Magic have the perfect opportunity to do so.