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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 21. Orlando Magic

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  12-19,  fourth place Southeast Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):  
  • Points Scored: 93.3 (25th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.2 (10th)
  • Team FG%: .462 (11th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .444 (15th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.3 (10th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.5 (11th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.3 (19th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 12.7 (30th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):  
  • Scoring (ppg): Arron Afflalo (17.0)
  • Rebounds per game:  Nicola Vucevic (10.5)
  • Minutes per game: Arron Afflalo (36.3)
  • Assists per game: Jameer Nelson (6.9)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Andrew Nicholson (.528)
  • Steals per game: Jameer Nelson (1.2)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Nicola Vucevic (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Josh McRoberts

While his teammates have stepped up their games going above and beyond since the departure of Dwight Howard, Josh McRoberts has been an absolute disappointment.  Two years ago, it seemed as if he would become one of the up and coming young big men in the NBA after he posted career numbers while playing for the Indiana Pacers.  Unfortunately, that optimism would be short lived as he simply floundered the following season when he played for the Lakers.  His play continues to spiral downward in Orlando as he has spent December playing rather lackadaisically with a rather pathetic output of just a little over three points per game while shooting .396 from the field in December.  The look on his face says it all--how disinterested he is and the rather blahzay attitude and pathetic effort he has given thus far.   
First Player of the Month:  Andrew Nicholson

Most players who get picked late in the first round do not have a chance to enter the rotation let alone make any impact; however, that is not the case with Andrew Nicholson.  So far, the Canadian born St. Bonaventure product has played quite impressively becoming one of the surprise rookies in the NBA.  In just over 15 minutes per game, Nicholson averaged around eight points and four rebounds per game while shooting .519 in the month of December.  Extending his production over 36 minutes, his 36mpg averages resemble that of an All Star--19.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game--thus showing that he has plenty of potential to bring good things for his team in the future.  He will certainly be a player to look out for in years to come.

Here is a perplexing and baffling mystery to try and wrap your heads around:  how can a team that is one of the best defensive in the league in terms of points and field goals allowed, rank among the top ten in the league in rebounding, and has one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA have a 12-19 record?  In addition, how can this same team who also out rebound their opponents by an average margin of +3 per game be among the bottom tier teams in the league?  Ask the Orlando Magic as this team has performed rather well statistically as a team ranking among the NBA's best in the most important categories yet find itself on the opposite end of the win column.  This is certainly a case that would even baffle the genius of the great Sherlock Holmes (provided that he actually existed in real life) as it does not make any sense for the casual observer on how a team can statistically outperform its opponents yet still be on the losing end.  Usually, it is the other way around--teams who routinely outperform their opponents on both ends of the floor are the most certain to win--it is just makes logical sense.

So how can a team such as the Orlando Magic whose performance should result in it being 19-12 be instead, the inverse opposite.  Looking in closer detail at their schedule in December can give more insight on such a strange phenomenon.  The Magic started rather well in December as the impressively won six of their first nine games holding their opponents to just 90.7 points over that nine game period and beating their opponents by an average margin of 7.2 points.  It all started to unravel, however, as the Magic would finish 2012 on a sour note losing six straight to finish the month of December.  What was even worse was the fact that all of those losses could have gone the completely opposite direction if things went Orlando's way in the end.

The Magic losing streak started with three straight defeats at the hands of the Toronto Raptors (12/21/2012), Utah Jazz (12/23/2012) and the New Orleans Hornets (12/26/2012) by a total of just ten points.  Afterwards, Orlando, would suffer their worst losses to the lowly Washington Wizards by eight points (12/28/2012) followed by a complete shellacking by the Toronto Raptors on the road (12/29/2012) by 35 points.  They then ended the year with a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Eastern Conference's best Miami Heat by just one basket (12/31/2012).  Thus one can chalk up Orlando's poor record to just simple bad luck as five or six of those games that the Magic had could have been won.  If the ball would have dropped their way in four of those six games, the Magic's situation would have been completely different--instead of wallowing at the bottom with a 12-19 record, they could have started the new year one game over .500 with a 16-15 record.

It must have been so arduous for a die-hard Magic fans to watch his or her team work so hard with near perfect execution only to have fate just sweep their hopes away.  At least they can hold solace to the fact that although their team suffered at the hands of fate losing games that should have been theirs to win, they are far better off than Dwight Howard and the Lakers.  The man who had given  Magic fans so much grief and sorrow by causing so much turmoil is taking a heavy dose of his own medicine as his Laker team has been struggling and performing well under expectations.  Sure, the Magic have not been doing better in terms of wins and losses and will certainly not make the playoffs, but at least fans in Orlando will have the satisfaction knowing that neither will Howard.  Add the fact that the team will look forward to plenty of cap space along with the guarantee  of attaining the number one pick in this summer's NBA draft, fans can certainly expect a bright future sooner than later.

For now, fans can still remain proud to the fact that despite all the past turmoil, their team still goes into every game playing hard and might surprise a few opponents here and there with an upset win or two.  They have already resigned to the fact that their home team will most likely not make the post season, but as long as the Magic continue to play hard and perform well beyond expectations, fans will be satisfied.   Things can always be worse--at least their team is still somewhat competitive and continues to play at a high level despite losing their All Star big man.  For example, they could be Lakers fans, right?  And that right now can be considered the worst fate than anyone could want or deserve.