Opening Statements: Wizards at Magic, Game 1 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Magic, Game 1

Updated: October 28, 2015

Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic

Tonight officially kicks off this website’s ninth season of blogging/covering/pixel-ing the Washington Wizards professional basketball team. The franchise made the playoffs in three of the prior eight seasons and was damn-near-bottom disastrous for the other five. The team outlook now is brighter than ever (like, seriously, ever), but that doesn’t make a blogger hold his or her breath any less in weary, and wary, anticipation of another campaign. Eighty-two games, plus whatever a likely playoff appearance brings, stares icy, Steve Buckhantz-quality daggers in the face of game-by-game chronicling. But we are ready.

TAI has an unmatched staff of writers and contributors with a diverse array of voices focused on one single basketball team, the Wizards, and we do this, dear reader, for free. Not for the love of being read, although that’s nice, but for the passion of expression—and the ability to do so freely—for a game that we admire, for a team that we sometimes hate to love and sometimes love to hate and sometimes both, and for the satisfaction which arises from putting words which form sentences upon digital paper. Never could one have imagined the genuine relationships that would develop and the stories that would be experienced and shared from starting a simple log on the web of a basketball team over eight long-but-short years ago. Yet, here we are. Ready to do it again. Ready to try to do it better. Ready to have some fun watching a basketball team that is professing, for a change, to entertain in appropriate ways. So, buckle up, please. Take this ride with us. It might be unpredictably bumpy at times as baseline levels of satisfaction work to adjust themselves, but the ride is going somewhere nonetheless. Might as well enjoy it.

Per usual, thanks in the past, present, and future for stopping by these parts (and be sure and check out the TAI staff predictions).

For bite-sized insights on tonight’s season-opening opponent, the Orlando Magic, we turn to Eddy Rivera (@erivera7), man of the NBA Twittersphere and purveyor of various Magic blogs over the course of history. Let us go.

Teams: Wizards at Magic
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Amway Center – Orlando, FL
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 3.5 points.

Q #1: What does Scott Skiles need to do differently than Jacque Vaughn?

(And can someone of Skiles’ demeanor really be trusted with a young team like the Magic?)

@erivera7: Skiles needs to establish discipline and hold the team accountable. That’s something that Vaughn never did a good job of—he was too positive with the players. It’s no coincidence that the Magic hired a coach that is known for being a taskmaster, because that’s what the team needs, quite frankly. Skiles can be trusted with a young roster in that regard.

Q #2: In order for Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo to work better as a pair, what needs to happen?

(Note: the duo had a NetRtg of minus-3.7 over 1,680 minutes together last season, which was actually a team-best amongst two Orlando players who played 800 or more minutes together.)

@erivera7Defensively, they’ll be fine. On offense, it’s tricky. It’s no secret that Payton can’t shoot. And although Oladipo is improving as a shooter, he’s average at best. Aside from them both improving as shooters, they need to continue to learn how to play off of each other. Cutting to the basket when the other has the ball, wreaking havoc in transition, etc.

Q #3: Mario Hezonja has 14/1 odds to be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year (eighth-best), and is the pick of TAI’s Conor Dirks to win the award. What needs to happen for him to win?

@erivera7As with any player that wins Rookie of the Year, Hezonja needs playing time. And for that to happen, he needs to put it in the work defensively to earn Skiles’ trust. The immediate expectation with Hezonja is that he’s going to come off the bench and score. His defense will determine if he can usurp Tobias Harris as a starter.

Q #4: Nikola Vucevic: Too soft? Not recognized enough? Which is it more? Is he hands-down the best player on Orlando’s roster, and what does he need to do to be in the All-Star conversation?

@erivera7Recognized enough by the hardcore fan. Not recognized enough by the casual fan. For now, Vucevic is the Magic’s best player but Oladipo is on the verge of earning that distinction—assuming he takes a leap this season. Why? Because Oladipo is a two-way player. Vucevic isn’t. For as skilled as he is offensively, his defense has a ways to go. For Vucevic to be considered an All-Star, he needs to improve on that end of the floor.


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.