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. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Best Postgame Home Quotes of March

3/2/14 - Philadelphia 76ers

Jacque Vaughn on Tobias Harris: "A few times he bailed us out at the end of a shot clock violation so the ability to make shots that's crucial in this league and he has that ability."

Tobias Harris: "They were focusing a lot on Nik (Vucevic) tonight and I saw a lot of openings spacing wise, and so I used it to my advantage."

Sixers Coach Brett Brown: "Our offense hurt us probably more than our defense. Throwing the ball away, not knowing who to go to. And I give Orlando credit that they've raised their intensity and it bothered us. It was a game until the fourth period."

3/5/14 - Houston Rockets

Jacque Vaughn: "I think overall we did a good job especially in the 1st half. A lot of times defensively your offense can help you out. In the third quarter we weren't efficient with the basketball offensively and that hurt us defensively."

Vaughn on a player being booed: "I think at the end of the day the great thing about sports is that you can pay to get a ticket and you can come in and you can cheer and boo for whoever you wan to, it's just a part of sports...What I do love about our fans is that they are passionate and they know they have a group in our locker room that wants to be there."

3/12/14 - Denver Nuggets

Nuggets Coach Brian Shaw: "We knew going in that the team was 0-30 when they've been outrebounded, so we really made an emphasis on rebounding and I thought we did a good job on the boards tonight."

JJ Hickson: "I fee like Orlando is a team we are supposed to beat. Nothing against them...but they are a team we are supposed to beat. We will take it and build off of it."

Victor Oladipo: "We have to learn how to play with a lead and when we get the lead, we have to play like we're down, really. Just continue to keep the foot on the gas pedal."

3/14/14 - Washington Wizards

Tobias Harris: "We were up six with one minute. It's a hard game and we feel that we should be in here enjoying that win but we lost the game. It's a tough one because they made some really tough shots but we still need to execute better down the stretch."

3/25/14 - Portland Trail Blazers

Jacque Vaughn: "Offensive rebounds kept them in the game early and that's something that we talked about in the huddle a few times but overall it was impressive to hold that team to 85 points; a team that is second in the league in points per game. They can put up points extremely fast."

Robin Lopez: "We need to be the aggressors. Orlando put us on our heels tonight."

3/28/14 - Charlotte Bobcats

Bobcats Coach Steve Clifford: "We didn't rebound. We don't want to defend all the time right now. We lack physicality, and then at the end of the game we still had the game won, and we made an incredible mistake."

Nikola Vucevic on his 23 rebounds: "They started off the game really well, then they started to miss some shots and I was able to get some rebounds."

3/30/14 - Toronto Raptors

Jacque Vaughn: "It's more than just one play, guys, there's a 30-point quarter we gave up in the second quarter and it's more than one possession at the end of a game."

Coach Vaughn on free throw disparity: "I'm just going to say the referees were great throughout the game and I'm going to leave it at that."

Tobias Harris: "They are a top team in the East for a reason. You have to be really sharp defensively and offensively first. They are a good team offensively, they have guys that can make shots and it was tough for us."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Magic Are Sort of Popular

Nate Silver who heads the statistical haven of a website that is FiveThirtyEight has taken 10 years of search data from Google Trends to come up with popularity search scores for all thirty NBA franchises. No one should be shocked at the top 5.

Your Orlando Magic over this ten years of data is ranked 21st in this fandom ranking. That's not bad considering how awful the Magic were in 2004. Yeah, they had the 4-5 years of the Stan Van Gundy era that peaked with the 2009 Finals appearance, but the past few seasons have been brutal to endure as Orlando rebuilds. I'll take that #21 spot considering Orlando is only the 19th largest TV market. Expect Orlando to rise in the coming years in both Google searches and television market.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tobias Harris is Too Good for Tanking

Tobias Harris in 36.1 minutes per contest averaged 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, and 1.4 bpg in the 27 games he played late last season after being acquired from Milwaukee. 'T12' reminded me of a Carmelo Anthony-type forward, and that hasn't changed one bit in my mind in '13-'14. Harris was unfortunately snake-bitten by ankle injuries that kept him out of Summer League, and then forced Tobias to miss crucial training camp and regular season time. Tobias didn't get back to being the Tobias we were used to last year until January. He's barely been healthy 3 months this season.

Despite Jacque Vaughn's discreet tanking rotations and benching Tobias Harris for the past 9 games entering Friday's contest against Charlotte, Harris is proving his potential star value hasn't gone anywhere.

Since Glen Davis got waived away on February 21st, - but before Tobias was sent to the bench on March 8th - Harris averaged 19.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.1 spg, and 95.1 FT% (39-of-41) on 50.5 FG% in 7 games at just under 33 minutes per game starting at power forward. Orlando had a 3-4 record in that stretch. Since then, the Magic had lost 8 straight with Tobias coming off the bench until finally knocking off Portland on Tuesday.

Now you tell me how many coaches and teams in this league would turn down that type of production from their starting power forward unless winning wasn't the priority? No more than a handful.

Even with the coaching staff having Harris produce off the bench, Tobias - in that 1-and-8 team stretch coming off the bench - has been solid. In just over 26 minutes per game off the pine, Tobias is averaging 16.2 ppg and 7.0 rpg on 52.2 FG%. You can see it at after every postgame loss, Tobias doesn't accept defeats. Not to say that other Magic players do too, but you can hear it in his voice through what appears to be a calm demeanor. You can see it in those determined eyes. Tobias hates losing. That's what we all want from any athlete starving to be a top asset in any profession. Seeing T12 having to come off the bench is like watching a thoroughbred race horse not being allowed to sprint with all its natural capability.

This is Tobias' 3rd season in the league. Barring an injury here down the stretch, Harris will have played his most games in a season (looking at over 60), surpassing his combined 55 contests with the Bucks and Orlando last season. More impressively, is Tobias just gets better the more games he plays consecutively as his monthly game splits log shows.

In 12 March games, - in which he's only started 3 - Tobias in just 27.1 minutes per night is averaging 17.3 ppg and 6.6 ppg. The key is the shooting percentages. 50.6 FG%, 37.5 3PT%, and 58.4% true shooting are stats of an elite level player. It puts Tobias in the discussions with the Carmelos, the Dirks, and even be in reach of the Durants.

Tobias will I'm sure be in discussions about a possible extension with the team. Harris is on an outstanding rookie contract. He along with Maurice Harkless and Arron Afflalo will be watching who the Magic select come this summer's draft and in free agency. One thing that needs to be certain is that no matter who gets their contracts extended and which additions show up to training camp in October, Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, and yes, Mr. Tobias Harris need to be starters. They're your early-20s building blocks who all can be massive pieces to a championship contender.

Tobias has the makings of a stud All-Star who can be your go-to scorer down the stretch of games. Harris is showing his value to the front office both as a starter and even as a bench contributor. Tobias is wise beyond his 21 years. Harris' work ethic and effort will never be questioned on this Magic team. He's come a long way since his heftier Tennessee Volunteer days and being buried on the Bucks' bench. There's no ceiling on how high Tobias' star can reach.

I would be doing my blogging brethren wrong had I not mentioned how outstanding his 'Arrive Alive' commercial campaign has been this season. Get this man some more ads. If his player growth continues, Tobias will be looking at national fame soon.