Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

If the Ship is Afloat, Should the Holes be Ignored?

What I am about to state should not be considered as a negative but rather as a realist point. We are very proud of winning many close games, but that number is misleading. Since we are a young and inexperienced team (saving for Grant's experience) those numbers are not expected to remain high, and eventually the law of averages will bring those percentages down. If we divide those numbers even equally, we would not be leading the East, right now, but will rather be in the middle of the pack hovering somewhere above 500.

The realization of this fact should be sobering in a sense that the shortcomings should be addressed right now or before we know the lead in the East would evaporate. That is why the shortsighted approach by Hill in his starting line-up and planning for the future rotation is a Formula For Failure (FFF). He has stated repeatedly, especially with regard to Darko’s starting, that he does not even think about change while winning. The comparable analogy would be “since the ship is afloat, we should ignore the holes in the bottom”.

If we accept the idea of implementing change, right now before the flaws catch up with us, the following should be the objectives for the near future:

1. Darko should be developed into the force that he is projected to be, sooner rather than later. His numbers right now are good enough (certainly better than Tony's) to push him into the starting line-up. That should provide for better defense from the start, even if Darko is limited in his scoring (which Tony is, as well). That also provides for a jolt of confidence in the kid.
2. The long-range shooting is an issue. Garrity, despite claiming to be healthy, has not provided any relief, and Hedo has been extremely inconsistent in his shooting, even throughout his career. Keyon and Keith are decent, but again inconsistent long-range shooters. So we should look for answers in Travis and J.J. Of the two I prefer J.J. for his size over Travis. Regardless, either of the two or both should be given a chance at the expense of Garrity and/or Bo. I admit that we would face glaring deficiency in the PF, but I never considered Garrity a true PF, and we can always play small ball with Hedo playing the role that Garrity plays.
3. If Hedo struggles, I recommend inserting Trevor in the starting line-up and bringing Hedo off the bench where he would be interchangeable to PF, if need be.

I admit that with Hedo and Keith being out, the proposed changes could not be implemented, right away. However, Darko could be inserted in the starting line-up without any further delay.


  • At 11:38 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Matt i couldnt agree with you more,after last nights game i didnt feel like we had won,i'm about tired of watching battie and jameer in the starting line-up to be honest,jameer is the biggest disappointment to me,he gets 8 pts on four lay-ups in the first half,then in the second half he never attacks the basket again settling for trying to get his jumpshot going(he missed all his second half attempts)carlos and darko should be moved into the starting line-up in my opinion,but matt i guarantee that bsh wont make any changes,as long as we're over 500% he's gonna start that same five,further we lost almost 50 games last year and he never changed the line-up,injury is the only thing that gets this guy to change line-ups.

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    I'm agreeing with the both of you.

    Matt, you pretty much summed up exactly what the team needs to do right now. They really don't need to worry about much else. However, if they ignore these things it's only going to make these issues more difficult to deal with in the future.

    First, with Darko... The kid obviously knows how to play basketball, however, some nights it looks as if his confidence is hanging on by a thread. We've talked about it many times, but I don't see how starting Darko could do anything but positive for our team and him as a player. What really is Tony bringing for us right now that says he's a deserving starter? The biggest thing he has going for him is that he's started 100+ games in row for this team. As you stated, Darko on the other hand needs a jolt of confidence. What is this team, or better yet, what is Brian Hill doing to help this kid out? I'd understand if Sheed or Big Ben was starting, but come on, this is Tony Battie.

    Second, obviously the issue is Brian Hill. He isn't playing J.J. at all. I mean really, if you can give Garrity 10 or so minutes in a game, why can't you give any to J.J.? For that matter, if you can play Dooling 30+ minutes, which he has no business playing, how come some of those couldn't go to J.J.? And why is J.J. back on the inactive list? Could he have not been activated for yesterday’s game since Hedo went down? Now Bogans goes down, and I'm honestly hoping they are both out for awhile. At this point, I don't care if we have to lose a few games, I really think the issue should be forced that our college player of the year lottery pick should be getting some playing time. Is anything that's happening right now going to make him better?

    Just as easy we can make this a 3 point shooting issue. The team is really struggling to hit anything from the outside. In turn, teams are going to be able to collapse on Dwight that much more. So there is even more of a reason to start playing J.J., and as you said, why not put Travis out there for a few minutes? We have 2 of the best 3 point shooting players in the entire league sitting on our inactive list on a regular basis, yet we continue to let them sit there as the team can't make an open 3 to save their life. And again, Brian Hill, your boyfriend Pat Garrity IS NOT the answer! HE IS DONE...

    Bigfigure, I completely understand the idea of starting Arroyo. The team often runs a lot smoother when he is out there. Although, I don't know if I'm ready to see what happens when Jameer has to take a reserve job to Arroyo. However, where I feel Brian Hill could make a HUGE improvement is during the game. It happens pretty much every game and it doesn't matter how well either guy is playing. Nelson could be having a horrible game, and Arroyo could be on fire, and the last 6-7 minutes of the 4th, Arroyo is coming out, and Jameer is going in. I don't know how many times we've had the momentum, and Brian Hill has killed it, cost us a game, or almost cost us a game, by "reloading", when it really wasn't necessary. If it's mid to late 4th quarter, and your team has the momentum and is pulling away, don't make substitutions "just because". There have been plenty of times this year, probably 50/50 where Arroyo had a better game than Nelson, and of course that means Nelson was better the other 50%. But no matter what, pretty much 99% of the time, Nelson is finishing...unless it's a blowout.

    The bottom line, we need a coach that has some testicular fortitude.

  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    I think what we all agree on is Hill's stubbornness in running the team as he deems fit. That is what I warned will be the case even before the start of the season, and right now, is threatening the team's progress, despite misleading early success.

    I don't have a positive feel on changing the starting point guard as a necessity, since Jameer and Carlos each bring something different to the game, and each have had good or not so good nights thus far. However, I absolutely agree with Introvert316 that taking the hot player out could be a momentum killer, and no smart coach would do it unless the hot player gets real tired, which did not seem to be the case a couple of times that Hill took Carlos out to send Jameer in.

  • At 9:05 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Very well-written and thought out, Matt. Your reasoning makes solid sense. However, like Big Figure said, the only thing that would make Hill change the starting lineup would be an injury.

    Regarding the outside shooting, like Introvert316 said, we have 2 outstanding long-range shooters on the bench that rarely see any action; instead Hill chooses to bring in Garrity. Diener and/or Redick need to be given a chance at some point in the season over Garrity. I think that Otis needs to force Hill's hand here by trading Garrity.

    I think that Jameer was playing much better ball the final month of last season than he is now, but I'm confident that as the season goes on we'll see an improvement in Jameer, as Carlos continues to impress as the backup point guard.

  • At 9:30 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    The purpose of airing our views is not that we expect to cash in on Hill's wisdom or lack thereof, but rather to float the ideas that could fly. You would be amazed at the power of public views and how far they may go. One should also remember that consensus views do not always start as such, but sometimes start as minority views and gradually elevate to the level of consensus views.

    With that said, it seems that we are not in disagreement on many views aired on this blog. I am confident that we have many tools at our disposal to spread the words of truth about what is happening.

    On a last note, I viewed the video of Hill's press interview after the loss to Detroit posted on Sentinel, and he did not look like somebody who is in control projecting this sheepish image of a person who is not sure of himself.

  • At 11:01 AM, Blogger Whit Watson said…

    Matt --

    Thanks for the note you posted at my blog...just as an FYI, I haven't lost any passion for the NBA game -- it just so happens that the Florida Gators are playing in this pesky BCS title game, and our schedules out here have been dominated by football. Thanks for the interest in more NBA content on the blog, tho.

    I'll leave a comment on this thread, as you requested, later today. I'll also see everyone Wednesday when I co-host the pregame show for Magic-Raptors on Sun Sports.


  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Thanks Whit.

  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Whit Watson said…

    Okay...got a breather from all the bowl season work. Ton of stuff coming up around here, and I still have to get ready for that Magic game on Wednesday.

    Matt, I appreciate you soliciting my comments, but I'm not sure what you're expecting. This team is 15-7 at this writing, with the biggest division lead in the NBA. As far as the "law of averages" goes, it applies to every team in the league, not just Orlando, but I don't see any team getting markedly better anytime soon (and on that note, the Atlantic Division champ will have a losing record this year. Write it down).

    I've written this here before -- being in the starting lineup is overrated. What matters is who finishes, and as I see it, Milicic is frequently on the floor at the end of games, when it matters. One of the greatest strengths of this team is depth, and all head coaches love to have firepower on the bench. Starting Darko may indeed boost his confidence, but then you're bringing Battie off the bench -- is that a "jolt?" Same thing for Arroyo. They like his energy off the bench.

    I'm cool with the notion that waiting for a losing streak is the wrong angle when it comes to tweaking lineups, and I'm just as curious as all of you to see if JJ Redick can play (and I think you'll see much more of him from now on, Hedo or no Hedo). One thing to keep in mind when analyzing lineups - Brian is a defense-first coach. Right now, the Magic are 5th in the league in scoring defense and 4th in the league in opponents' FG percentage. Last year, they were 13th and 14th, respectively, in those categories. I'm not at every practice, but I'll bet the mortgage that Brian's rotations are based on who defends (and that's why Bogans and Dooling are out there instead of Diener and Redick).

    Look, I don't work for the Magic, and I'm not required to defend them against criticism. I just believe, as an NBA guy, that the foundation is a little more solid than many here seem to think.

    See you on TV Wednesday.


  • At 5:51 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 5:54 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Thank you for stopping by, Whit. Here are the points that I have to clarify:

    1. There is a lower probability for young and inexperienced teams to win close games. Our record of 8-2 should have in fact been something like 4-6, and that is what I am referring to when mentioned the law of averages.
    2. I am not arguing the merits of “It doesn’t matter who starts but rather who finishes”, provided the appropriate minutes and player combinations are observed. However, if the starters could push the game out of reach, especially when playing against inferior teams, why worry about who comes off the bench? Magic has been involved in too many close games, and as we all know, in close games even an inferior team can steal a win at the end with a little bit of luck. Darko’s numbers are better than Tony, and he is even a better defender and shot blocker, if that matters to Hill.
    3. The problem with not having a reliable long-range shooter is that teams collapse on Dwight in the paint and/or go to zone defense until somebody makes a shot from the parameter. Garrity cannot throw in the ocean, and by now opposing teams know all about it too, thus his only purpose of being out there, namely to spread the floor, is eliminated. However, Hill is foolishly giving him the minutes that could be given to J.J. or Travis if we play small ball. After all Garrity is not a true PF and is a bad defender to start with, if that is Hill’s approach.
    4. I am surprised that you doubt J.J. can play. How would we know if he is not given a chance? He is known as a pure shooter in college, and until it is proven otherwise, he remains one but now in NBA. If Magic is seeking a shooter desperately, why not him and why not now? Remember the old say that in a city of blinds, a one-eyed man will be the king.
    5. You think that the system is a little more solid that we all think in here, and I agree as it relates to the talent and depth of the team. The problem is a below the average coach who is too stubborn and too slow to adjust, and I don't expect you to admit to that, Whit.

    We will see you on Wednesday.

  • At 2:19 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Always interesting to see what Whit Watson has to say, and nice of him to take time out from his busy schedule to comment (good job Matt asking Whit for his input).

    I don't think anyone here is questioning the foundation of the Magic, as there is without question outstanding, solid young talent, and a defensive-minded coach. However, BHill needs to realize that some changes are going to have to be made in the player rotation sooner or later to better help this team realize its full potential.

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Yes, of course we all appreciate Whit's kind act of taking the time out of his busy schedule to comment on this blog. I, truly think that Whit is one of the most insightful commentators out there. Above all, he is an excellent writer that makes his writings interesting regardless of the content.

    It is true that we do not discount the foundation of the team, although that may seem to be a misconception taken from the postings. We are all Magic's well-wishers, and are concerned that the team may not realize its full potentials in a crucial junction of its development.


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