Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Examining the History of Recent Draft Lotteries

The Orlando Magic finished with the 3rd-worst record in the league. The NBA Draft Lottery can yield Orlando the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or #6 pick. Obviously Magic fans want to cross their fingers for #1. The Magic have a 15.6% shot at the first overall pick, and 46.9% odds at the pick staying in the top 3. Here's a realistic scenario below:


But that's not the only lottery pick General Manager Rob Hennigan will have at his disposal. We can thank the Dwight Howard blockbuster deal as well as Denver and New York not reaching the postseason this year. The second Magic lottery pick is the Worst of the Nuggets or Knicks (WoNK) that will be determined once we know the Lottery results on May 20th. The WoNK pick will either be 2, 3, 12, 13, or 14. Odds are it'll be #12. In most drafts you couldn't really get excited about picking from that spot. This summer is different as we're looking at a much deeper draft class than last year.

Play around with the 'Sim Lottery' feature at Tankathon and you can see how unrealistic it would be for both Denver AND New York to both jump into the top 3.



In the above situation, Orlando would end up with the #3 and #5 picks and the Magic would be in Draft scenario heaven. I don't even want to admit how much time I spent trying to get the above to occur. The odds of this happening are under half a percent. But still possible. I honestly feel like I have a better chance at winning the Florida Mega Millions now.

Below is a chart of the past 9 Lotteries and the results that were yielded:



Not since 2004 has the team with the worst record actually ended up with the #1 pick. That team of course was the Orlando Magic who would go on to draft Dwight Howard. Maybe the Milwaukee Bucks are due to get lucky. You can see it's not any better having the 2nd-worst record either (sorry, Philly). Not since 2006 has the 2nd-worst team in the league had the 2nd pick or better.

The Magic are in that intriguing 3rd spot entering the Draft Lottery. Looking at the chart I created, two of the 9 years the pick stuck at #3. The two times the pick did move up they were #1 (including the Cleveland Cavaliers last year). But, 5 of the nine times the pick has dropped. Worse, three times it dropped to 5th or worse. Going from 3 to five or six is the difference between going from Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, or Joel Embiid and more towards the likes of Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, and Noah Vonleh.

Notice the #5 and #6 pre-Lottery spots. For each, 4 of the last nine years have seen them actually improve their draft position. So that's encouraging news for the Boston Celtics (5th pick) and the Los Angeles Lakers (6th pick) who have wishes of getting lucky.

Take a peak at the #11 and #12 spots where Denver and New York are and you can see that in the past 9 years that NO ONE from the tenth pick or worse has moved into the top 3. No one. It'd be ridiculously rare for one of the 11th or 12th selection to move into the top 3, but both? It would take a miracle. The Wikipedia odds table below shows how highly unlikely it is for the WoNK to move up.


The chances that the Knicks stay still at #12 are 93.5% and 2.5% to leap up into the top 3. Denver's odds of remaining at #11 are 90.7% and 2.9% to get into the top 3. Again, the Magic need both to get into the top 3 for that pick be better than twelfth.

To clarify:


This scenario would mean the Magic get the #2 and #12 pick. Denver would have the Knicks' #1 pick. Again, Orlando wants both Denver and New York to jump into the top 3. Maybe Pat Williams has some new lucky charms to take up north next month.

Based on the historical figures, Magic fans should be more than content with the #3 and #12 spots. The WoNK pick is highly likely to remain at #12, while Orlando's odds of staying put at #3 are unlikely. Now whether that move will be up or down is the question. The past 9 years say Orlando will do worse than the 3rd pick. That same history shows though that if the Magic do move up from the 3rd spot, it'll be to snatch that #1 pick. I think everyone in Orlando would be more than satisfied with that outcome.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Magic Much Better at Protecting Amway Center in '13-'14


I already made my remarks on how awful Orlando's 4-37 road record was this season. Let's focus on a much brighter note. The Magic finished 19-22 at Amway Center. The franchise completed its 4th season in the still state-of-the-art facility. It's not .500 ball, but it's better than the twelve home victories earned last season in Head Coach Jacque Vaughn's first campaign. You would hope it's a sign of this Magic roster growing and developing its talent. I'm sure the 25th Anniversary festivities and wearing those legendary throwback black pinstripes helped. Below is a chart of the Magic's wins per season. Excluded are the '99 and '12 Lockout seasons.


The inaugural ‘89-‘90 18-win Magic managed twelve victories at the O-Rena. I was age 1 so I don’t recall that campaign unexpectedly starting off 7-7. I will unfortunately forever have the dreadful ‘03-‘04 21-win Magic campaign imprinted in my brain. That debacle of a season yielded a franchise-worst 11 home victories.

Looking at this season's home-away splits, you can see why Orlando played so much better at home. The Magic averaged 100.1 points per game at home and an awful 92.9 away from Amway Center. Orlando rebounded and assisted better at home which led to improved field goal percentages. Orlando was also more aggressive in front of its supporters with better blocking and more trips to the free throw line.


The line graph above displays an underlying problem: Amway Center just isn’t nearly the formidable place that the old O-Rena was. It wasn’t for Dwight’s remaining time as a Magic man and it certainly isn’t now. The difference being the O-Rena was a basketball venue first and not the spacious multi-purpose facility Amway Center is. No one feared the Magic at home last season. Thankfully, growth and maturation of the youth seemed to translate into fewer home blowouts and more victories.

An outstanding home support for any basketball game can legitimately provide a swing of several points in your favor. Some of that is opponents missing free throws that they usually drain, but mostly it’s producing enough crowd noise where refs will give the home side the benefit of the doubt on a 50/50 play. Those add up in the course of 48 minutes. This year's and last year's Magic squad has been nice and polite about the lack of home noise by ignoring it and still proclaiming Orlando has the ‘best fans in the league’, but I have no problem calling this town out.

The ONE game you expected Magic fans to absolutely go bonkers at last season - against Dwight Howard in his first game back home as a member of the Lakers - ended up being an overall atmosphere disappointment. Oh there were loud moments that game that gave you the spine-tingling shiver of being at the old O-Rena, but bad habits of a fair-weather fan base trickled in.

Especially when it comes to spectators leaving their seats before halftime to hit up the restrooms and food areas, and not returning until midway through the 3rd period. The cheese and wine crowd are both a blessing and a curse. They fill seats but not before tip-off or the start of the 3rd quarter. The latter being the major problem. Players don’t like coming out pumped up and being deflated by empty seats or disinterested spectators. 

Orlando ranked 9th in NBA attendance in the '10-'11 season (inaugural one for Amway Center), 9th again in '11-'12, 15th in Coach Jacque Vaughn's first year at the helm of the rebuilding '12-'13 Magic with Dwight Howard being dealt, and now a painful 23rd this '13-'14 season. The marketing and ticket sales department deserves some props for getting international visitors to fill up large swaths of empty sections. Those attendance figures are actually decent compared to Orlando's bad win-loss records the past few years, but the crowd atmosphere is just dead and I can't fathom how next season would look if the Magic had a tank for a 3rd consecutive campaign.

I get it, Amway Center has like four times more the square footage of the demolished O-Rena. I get that. But watch the current playoffs and you see fans of Toronto, Oklahoma City, Golden State, and others all providing Grade A playoff atmospheres. Those first two franchises being in existence fewer years than Orlando's Those folks are watching basketball. Not socializing and trying to impress folks. It's enough to make jealousy eat at you. This is the 2nd straight postseason Orlando is missing out on. Orlando being a transient and tourist city, this young Magic franchise can't afford to be out of the national spotlight for years at a time. Not with the Miami Heat racking up championships. Let's hope for an outstanding Rob Hennigan draft, maybe one solid free agency signing, and an even better '14-'15.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Former Magic Players to Watch in Playoffs

We're looking at the 2nd straight year of no postseason basketball in Orlando, and that may leave Magic fans extremely disinterested in what occurs in the playoffs. Well, other than praying Miami doesn't win another title. Anyway, Magic fans whether long or short-term can keep an eye on former players they used to cheer for.


(1) PACERS V. (8) HAWKS

There is no former Magic player on Indiana's roster. Atlanta has Gustavo Ayon, but the Mexican big man only played 26 games for the Hawks this season before being knocked out in February for the remainder of the season with a right shoulder injury. It's a shame too because 'Goose' was doing better as a Hawk than he did his half season in Orlando last year, and he would've been very valuable with Al Horford out. Ayon posted a career-high 18 points his second-to-last game before being put on the shelf. So no former Orlando employees to cheer on in this series. Moving on...

(2) HEAT V. (7) BOBCATS

Just so you know, DeAndre Liggins played one game for Miami this season. 'Dre is back in the D-League though and won't be on the Heat playoff roster.


Rashard Lewis (2007-2010)

I'm sure his name has been brought up with Nick Calathes being suspended 20 games. 'Sweet Lew' is reaching the end of the line in his professional basketball career. He's only a 34-year-old, but he's got the mileage of being in his 16th season. Somehow, Rashard's second season in Miami has statistically been worse than last year. 4.5 ppg is the worst since his rookie season. However, Lewis is seeing more playing time and played 60 games for Coach Spoelstra. 'Shard got his first ring last season despite only averaging 4 minutes per contest in 11 games. Lewis' time on the court should be higher this go around, but gone are the days of Rashard being a go-to option.


Josh McRoberts (2012-2013)

I must remember not to call him 'McBob', guy hates that nickname. 'Bobert' probably wouldn't go well either. We're supposed to hate Duke products, but it seems like he and JJ Redick (and I guess now Grant Hill too) have been exceptions. Josh provided some outstanding highlights in his 41-game Magic stint last season before being dealt for Hakim Warrick's salary. His hair is a lot longer presently. Now he's a focal point on a Charlotte squad that is on the rise with Al Jefferson and Stan Van Gundy's former coaching staff at the helm. The 27-year-old played and started 78 games this season at the forward spot which is the most he's ever played in his 7-season career. Josh is entering his third postseason, but this will be the first one he'll be expected to actually contribute. I'm highly intrigued as he's hit his prime playing years.

(3) RAPTORS V. (6) NETS

There are no ex-Magic players on Toronto's roster, which is awesome because we can keep vehemently hoping for Tyler Hansbrough to fail. There are also no former Magic gentlemen on the Nyets either ever since Keith Bogans got traded to Boston last summer.

(4) BULLS V. (5) WIZARDS

No former Orlando employees on Chicago either. Don't worry, D.C. is to the rescue.


Marcin Gortat (2007-2010)

WARLOCK AND POLISH HAMMER ALERT! You're not a Magic fan if you don't love Marcin. Gortat still hangs out in Orlando as humanly possible. The 30-year-old was traded from Phoenix to Washington just before the season began, and his 81 games of production have him feeling happier since he got to play pick-and-roll with Steve Nash. I believe the Warlock - not John Wall, Bradley Beal, or Nene - is the key to the Wizards turning some heads and progressing a round or two in the postseason.


Trevor Ariza (2006-2007)

I'll always have nightmares of AIRiza making Hedo's and Rashard's lives miserable in the '09 NBA Finals. Trevor got paid big time thanks to that series and he's still living up life on a Washington team that can make some huge noise in the playoffs. Recently, Trevor has been spotted still torching the Magic in more ways than just ridiculous 3-point shooting. Ariza is in his 2nd season with the Wizards, and Randy Wittman has played and started his forward 77 games. Ariza statistically had his best season since the Rockets signed him to a healthy contract in 2009-2010. Trevor's in his first playoffs since he was with New Orleans in 2011. The 28-year-old needs to remind people of his once sensational defense and propensity for being oddly clutch.


Drew Gooden (2003-2004)

I still have his authentic star-filled #9 Magic jersey that's meant for a 7-footer to wear. I'll never forget Drew's beastly 2003 postseason or his awful hair follicle debacle that caused him to miss several games during 21-win '04 season. Gooden has been in the league just over a decade, and he's currently on his 10th team in the Wizards. Drew's played 22 games since being picked up in March, and he's shocked me with how well he's played at times. In 18 minutes per game, the 32-year-old Kansas Jayhawk is averaging 8.3 ppg and 5.2 rpg on 53.1 FG%. Gooden is back in the playoffs for the first time since he was on the '09 Spurs.


Al Harrington (2013)

We know the nightmares of Al's knee issues as well as his overall unpleasant time in Orlando, so it's great to see an overall nice guy back on a contender. Harrington has played 34 games this season off the Wizards bench and has contributed 6.6 ppg while averaging 15 minutes per game. His shooting averages of 39.6 FG% and 34.0 3PT% are much better than what Orlando fans so of Al in 10 contests last season. It's tough to say how important his role will be on the court, but we know thanks to his last visit to Amway Center that he loves mentoring the younger guys


WESTERN CONFERENCE 1ST ROUND

(1) SPURS V. (8) MAVERICKS

No former Magic men on San Antonio's roster.


Vince Carter (2009-2010)

Dallas has gotten 3 solid seasons out of Vinsanity. The difference is the price tag. Carter is being paid $3 million per season. In his 2 seasons in Orlando it was about $17 million. The 37-year-old has been durable too having completed back-to-back 81-game seasons as a weapon off Coach Rick Carlisle's bench. Dallas missed the playoffs last year, but in the 2012 postseason Vince averaged a career-worse 8.3 ppg in the 4 games he played. Mavericks fans will hope he shoots better than 29.3 FG% this time around.


(2) THUNDER V. (7) GRIZZLIES

No one on Oklahoma City's roster ever played in Orlando.


Courtney Lee (2008-2009)

Put on the mask again, Leesus, put it on. I was ecstatic to see Courtney get dealt from Boston to Memphis knowing that he'd have a shot to get back in the playoffs with a possible contender. Yeah Lee was on the Celtics team last season and played 4 playoff games, but this is different. Courtney has started 47 of the 49 games he's played for the Grizz, averaging 11.0 ppg on 47.6 FG% in 30 minutes per contest. The 28-year-old will always be that gutsy over-achieving rookie in Orlando fans' eyes, but Lee has a chance to get his NBA career back on track as he'll be looked at to contribute greatly for Memphis.


Mike Miller (2000-2003)

Be honest, you're happy he got his ring. But we all feel guilty that he had to earn it with the Heat last year. Well Mike's back on a Grizzlies franchise where he statistically had his best years in his career. The 34-year-old has been tasked with being Memphis' sharpshooter off the bench. For the most part, Mike's come through as he played all 82 games for the first time since his Rookie of the Year season in Orlando. Miller's averaged 20.8 minutes per contest this season and has tallied 7.1 ppg on an fantastic 45.9 3PT%. Mike will need to stay healthy and relevant against a tough OKC foe for Memphis to have a chance at advancing.


Beno Udrih (2013)

Are we sure Beno didn't slip a little something-something into Nick Calathes food or drink? Anyway, the Slovenian is back in another postseason for the first time since his glorious Spurs days that concluded in 2007. Udrih was picked up by Memphis at the end of February and has only played 10 games on a tiny 5.5 minutes per contest. The 55.6 FG% is encouraging. The 31-year-old is going from being buried on the bench behind Mike Conley and Calathes, to probably being guaranteed minutes throughout this Memphis playoff run.


(3) CLIPPERS V. (6) WARRIORS

Dewayne Dedmon was with Golden State this season, but obviously the current Magic big man isn't there any longer. There are no current ex-Magic players that are on GSW's playoff roster.


Matt Barnes (2009-2010)

He will still kill you. Age may finally be catching up to the 34-year-old. It was inevitable the way the forward has always played with reckless abandonment for his body. Barnes is still averaging 9.9 ppg off Doc Rivers' bench, but his percentages are falling and his top-notch defense can't be labeled that anymore. Injuries only allowed Barnes to play in 63 ball games. He did finish the season on a 19-point high note against Portland, and he still may have enough the gas tank to help the Clippers make a run at the title.


Glen Davis (2011-2014)

Big Baby Gonna Turn It Up for the playoffs? Since getting waived by the Magic after this recent Trade Deadline, Glen played in 23 games for his former Head Coach in Boston. 4.2 ppg on 48.1 FG% at 13.4 minutes per contest. Glen might be the 3rd best-ranked big man on that roster behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. So playoff minutes aplenty can be had if Davis doesn't self-destruct.


J.J. Redick (2006-2013)

Poor guy. J.J. was on his way to the best season of his career only to have the injury bug undercut just how perfect he is in Rivers' system. The 29-year-old only played 35 games this season which are his fewest played since his second year in Orlando. Redick still averaged 15.2 ppg on 45.5 FG% as the starting shooting guard. He seems to be healthy after having played the final 2 weeks of the regular season. If he can just keep his body together, Doc won't have any hesitation to have him running off screens constantly.


Hedo Turkoglu (2004-2009; 2010-2013)

After basically being held in purgatory by the Magic for half this season, Hidayet is also contributing to this Los Angeles playoff run. Hedo's 3.0 ppg on 10.3 minutes per contest in 38 games doesn't seem all that important. But Coach Rivers has Turk in shape and producing semi-decently entering the postseason. The 38.5 FG% and 44.0 3PT% are signs of improvement. We may see the 35-year-old get some time at point forward should the Clippers be desperate for a change of pace.


(4) ROCKETS V. (5) TRAIL BLAZERS

Portland has no ex-Orlando players on their postseason roster.


Dwight Howard (2004-2012)

Oh... Um... Right... Yeah... I'm not looking forward to the 28-year-old getting his first title any time soon. The 8-time All-Star and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year seems rejuvenated and looks drastically better than he did as a Laker.


So that's 4 Wizards players and 4 Clippers players with Magic ties. I guess I know what Finals matchup will occur now. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Orlando's 4-37 Road Record Historically Examined


The 2013-2014 Orlando Magic won't have the worst record in the NBA this season, but they will have the worst road record. Orlando's defeat in Chicago Monday night puts the Magic road win-loss record at 4-37. Even Milwaukee has managed 5 victories on the road. It's the worst away record in Magic franchise history. Worse than the 8-33 road record in Jacque Vaughn's debut season last year. Worse than the 6-35 away record the inaugural '89-'90 Magic had that won eighteen total games. 

The Elias Sports Bureau hasn't reached back to me on how historically bad 4 road wins is in an 82-game season, so I decided to research it myself. I'm omitting Lockout seasons such as the likes of the '99 Clippers, the '99 Vancouver Grizzlies (Brian Hill's team only won 1 road game of 25), and the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats. 

Below are NBA teams that played 82 games and did as bad or worse than this season's Magic team on the road. Thanks to Basketball Reference and their splits logs. Notice I didn't go past 35-win teams. Why? Well. because if there are teams who somehow won more than thirty-five games while notching 4 victories or fewer in a season, they should have their own Hall of Fame wing. 


1. 1990-1991 Sacramento Kings (25-57; 1-40 away)
2. 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73; 2 road wins; 2 neutral arena wins)*
3. 1997-1998 Denver Nuggets (11-71; 2-39 on the road)
4. 1986-1987 Los Angeles Clippers (12-70; 3-38 away)
5. 1988-1989 Miami Heat (15-67; 3-38 away)
6. 1979-1980 Detroit Pistons (16-66; 3-38 away) - Dick Vitale went 4-8, got fired, and Richie Adubato went 12-58 the rest of the way.
7. 1987-1988 Los Angeles Clippers (17-65; 3-38 away)
8. 2002-2003 Cleveland Cavaliers (17-65; 3-38 away)
9. 1987-1988 New Jersey Nets (19-63; 3-38 away)
10. 1990-1991 Denver Nuggets (20-62; 3-38 away)
11. 1988-1989 San Antonio Spurs (21-61; 3-38 away)
12. 2010-2011 Washington Wizards (23-59; 3-38 away)
13. 1974-1975 New Orleans Jazz (23-59; 3-38 away)
14. 2002-2003 Chicago Bulls (30-52; 3-38 away)
15. 1992-1993 Dallas Mavericks (11-71; 4-37 away) - Richie Adubato was 2-27 as Head Coach before being fired on 01/13/93 that included a very sad "I feel very old today" quote.
16. 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets (12-70; 4-37 away)
17. 2004-2005 Atlanta Hawks (13-69; 4-37 away)
18. 1996-1997 Boston Celtics (15-67; 4-37 away)
19. 1970-1971 Cleveland Cavaliers (15-67; 2-37 away; 2-0 in neutral games)^
20. 1980-1981 Dallas Mavericks (15-67; 4-37 away)
21. 1989-1990 New Jersey Nets (17-65; 4-37 away)
22. 2002-2003 Denver Nuggets (17-65; 4-37 away)
23. 1994-1995 Los Angeles Clippers (17-65; 4-37 away)
24. 1971-1972 Portland Trail Blazers (18-64; 4-35 away; 0-3 neutral)
25. 2004-2005 Charlotte Bobcats (18-64; 4-37 away)
26. 1987-1988 Golden State Warriors (20-62; 4-37 away)
27. 1988-1989 Los Angeles Clippers (21-61; 4-37 away)
28. 1978-1979 New Orleans Jazz (26-56; 4-37 away)

*One of those 76ers wins came in Pittsburgh, the other in San Antonio. Philly played 31 home games, 38 road games, and 13 games in designated 'neutral' venues that season.
^The 2 neutral venues were Rochester and Syracuse in New York. Both games were against the Buffalo Braves, so I'd consider those road games more than neutral.


A few thoughts. Orlando is thankfully not as uniquely horrible on the road as we all think. How in the hell did Chicago win 30 games in '02-'03, yet only 3 of them away from the United Center? The Kings had an over .500 record at home in '90-'91, but managed only ONE road win that season which is absurd. Going over that list, I must say that even now you've got to feel bad for Clippers fans as they're shown 4 times with that outrageous '86-'89 stretch of awfulness. 

Poor Richie Adubato has had some rough spells as a Head Coach. Makes you feel even better about his '97 Magic run and almost-upset of the Heat in that postseason.

A lot of bad teams have won 3 or 4 on the road, but at least the Magic didn't have the road-win gap that the '11 Wizards, '79 Jazz, '75 Jazz, '03 Bulls, or the '91 Kings had. Positives, Magic fans, positives. If Orlando wants a chance at sneaking into the playoffs next season, there needs to be a vast team improvement away from Amway Center.