TONIGHT: Magic vs. Pelicans, 7
WHERE: Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville
BROADCAST: TV — None. RADIO — 580 AM (WDBO). SPANISH BROADCAST — elorlandomagic.com.
WHAT TO WATCH: Tonight’s exhibition will be the Magic’s preseason opener, offering players their first chance to test what they worked on during the offseason and training camp. Specifically, I’m interested in seeing:
1. How rookie Victor Oladipo plays: Oladipo, as everyone knows, was a shooting guard in college, and the Magic want him to learn how to play point guard. Oladipo started the transition during the Orlando Pro Summer League; although he had some difficulties dealing with traps and pressure, he generated lots of free-throw opportunities, pushed the ball in transition and defended well. The tests will become even tougher this preseason, and it’s reasonable to expect some rough moments as he continues to learn.
2. New wrinkles: All of the Magic’s youngsters sought to add new elements to their respective games. Maurice Harkless honed his shooting stroke and worked on his ball-handling. Andrew Nicholson developed some 3-point range, especially from the corners. Nik Vucevic added some low-post moves. It’ll be interesting to see how these new wrinkles translate on the court.
3. More aggression: Coach Jacque Vaughn wants his team to play more aggressively on both ends of the floor. Vucevic, in particular, can improve as a rim protector — not necessarily as a shot-blocker, but by playing with more physicality close to the hoop. Can the Magic play with a bit more of a mean streak?
4. The vets: Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo restructured their offseason training regimens. Nelson wants to avoid nagging injuries to his legs in the season ahead. Afflalo wants to have better endurance. How is their conditioning?
5. Attendance: As I reported in early August, the Magic want to have a one-to-one relationship with an NBA Development League team in Florida. The problem is, there are no D-League teams in Florida or in the Southeast. Jacksonville is a potential candidate for D-League expansion. It would help Jacksonville’s case if a good crowd attends the game tonight, but a small crowd wouldn’t necessarily hinder the city’s chances, either. As of Tuesday afternoon, about 4,800 tickets had been sold, according to one of the game’s organizers.
THE BUZZ: The Pelicans have played two exhibitions already, winning both. . . . The Pelicans’ roster includes former Magic PF Ryan Anderson and Winter Park High alumnus Austin Rivers, a guard in his second NBA season. . . . The Magic have played two preseason exhibitions in Jacksonville before.
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