For all the talk about how different the Orlando Magic will look this season, there’s at least one area that the current team will have in common with its recent predecessors.
When asked Friday to distill his defensive philosophy into its basic tenets, coach Jacque Vaughn said he wants his players to protect the paint.
“We really want to restrict guys getting into the paint,” he said. “If there was one thing, that’s for us. There are going to be some nights where guys hit 3-point shots on us. High-quadrant 3s and long 2s are the worst shots in basketball [for an offense to take], and so we’re geared to give up those shots. Sometimes, I’m going to have to shake the other coach’s hand and say, ‘Good job.’
“But, for the most part, we want to keep guys out of the paint, and that’s going to be the base of our defense.”
Vaughn and Stan Van Gundy share that in common.
Van Gundy typically set three major goals for his defense: getting back quickly after made baskets or missed baskets, shrinking the floor and protecting the paint and closing hard/contesting shots.
Three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard provided a safety net for the Magic. His shot-blocking ability deterred drives to the hoop, and his presence covered up for many of his teammates’ defensive shortcomings.
This year’s Magic won’t have that luxury.
Nik Vucevic and Gustavo Ayón each averaged 2.0 blocks per 48 minutes last season, which would’ve placed them in the bottom third of NBA centers in that statistical category. Meanwhile, point guard Jameer Nelson and small forward Hedo Turkoglu never have been regarded as particularly adept at preventing dribble drives.
“The way we’re playing defensively is definitely geared toward the personnel that we have right now, for sure,” Vaughn said. “It is a team defense based around five guys being in the right position at the right time. It’s help-oriented. But, at the same time, there’s a responsibility one-on-one.”
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun