Eurobasket preparation is starting to get underway with a month before the big international competition. Mario Hezonja is sitting out, as expected.
Mario Hezonja said after the season ended he did not think he would participate in this summer’s Eurobasket after playing for his national team in each of the past two summers. He said he wanted to stick around Orlando and focus on improving his game ahead of his third season in the NBA.
Judging by how poorly he played, focusing on himself seemed like the right idea. Only time will tell if that work will pay off.
Hezonja’s decision to skip Eurobasket for Croatia became official this week.
Croatia released its roster for Eurobasket this week and left Hezonja out of the player pool.
This is no surprise. Hezonja told reporters after the season he was going to skip Eurobasket. This just makes the decision official.
Hezonja averaged 4.9 points per game last year for the Orlando Magic, but he struggled to find a role with the team. He appeared in only 65 games, playing 14.8 minutes per game. Hezonja shot just 35.5 percent from the floor and 29.9 percent from beyond the arc. It was a disappointing season for the second-year player.
That poor play was not foreshadowed at all in his run with the Croatian National Team. After an up-and-down rookie year, Hezonja played for Croatia at the Olympics. He averaged 9.0 points per game and made 12 of his 24 3-pointers. Croatia largely used him as a spot-up shooter, but he picked his spots to attack and made open jumpers.
It looked like he was due for a good season after that.
Of course, things did not play that well. Hezonja’s strong summer run with the national team did not translate to the NBA. It left fans, the team and Hezonja all frustrated.
To his credit, he recognized all that frustration. He seemed eager to get his summer started. Hezonja never blamed his international play — he said he wanted to play for his national team — but admitted that playing for them may have hurt his individual growth. magic Orlando Magic Daily 16h Orlando Magic waive Marcus Georges-Hunt More headlines around FanSided: 2d – Mario Hezonja officially out for Eurobasket 2d – A BIG3 and NBA JAM duo for the Orlando Magic 3d – USA TODAY: Orlando Magic could really use Kyrie Irving 3d – The Orlando Magic are embracing positionless basketball 4d – Orlando Magic’s expectations, goals for 2018 become clear More News at Orlando Magic Daily
He said he believed staying in Orlando and working out with the Magic coaching staff will help him. Only time will tell if that works out for him.
Hezonja now faces a roster loaded with talented wings and a management group that did not draft him. He will have to earn every single one of his minutes this upcoming season.
Eurobasket will take place beginning August 31 in four different countries across Europe. The Magic will have two other players who are expected to play in the competition.
First, Evan Fournier is expected to play for France after getting left off last year’s Olympic roster. Fournier opted to sit out the Olympic Qualifying Tournament last summer as he worked out his contract with the Magic.
With that worked out, he was ready to play with the Olympics. cheap jerseys China But French coach Vincent Collet opted to maintain the same guard rotation, leaving Fournier off the roster.
Fournier was named to the initial 18-man roster for Eurobasket. France will open up play Aug. 31 against Finland.
Nikola Vucevic is also set to play.
Hehelped Montenegro qualify for the tournament last summer. It is Montenegro’s first Eurobasket since 2013. It is a big achievement for the tiny country to qualify for the European championship.
Vucevic is listed on the initial roster for Montenegro on their web site. They open up play at Eurobasket on Sept. 1 against tournament-favorite Spain.
It seems the Magic will still see Vucevic and Fournier play in the big international tournament in about a month. But Hezonja will be sitting this one out in hopes of building toward a strong third season.
Bismack Biyombo came to the Orlando Magic with a big contract and big expectations. Through half a season, he has disappointed and failed to live up to expectations.
As the Orlando Magic pass the midway point of the 2017 season, there have been some players who have not lived up to the offseason hype. Whether it be new free agent acquisitions or young players who have yet to take the next step in their development, some players have had a rough start to the year.
For a team full of expectations, to fall this far short inevitably is going to lead to disappointment and disappointing performances. And no one perhaps has disappointed more so far than the Magic’s biggest acquisition — Bismack Biyombo.
After signing a four-year, $72-million contract this past offseason, Biyombo has not been the difference maker that the Magic thought he would be.
As the season began, it was clear Biyombo was going to be an important player on this Magic team. Whether he was in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, head coach Frank Vogel needed Biyombo to be a true rim protector.
Up to this point, that has not been the case. Biyombo’s defense has been mediocre and there are many who feel that center Nikola Vucevic has been better defensively. This came as a surprise because cheap jerseys China Nikola Vucevic’s biggest weakness has been his defense.
Although Biyombo is still a pretty good defender, he is prone to making a lot of mistakes. He plays very aggressively and always goes for blocks. That rim protection, after all, is a big reason why the Magic signed him in the first place.
Overplaying for blocks often puts him in the wrong position and allows the other team to crash the offensive glass. This type of play has left Serge Ibaka and other forwards on an island with stronger players.
Biyombo’s defensive stats have taken a big hit so far this season. His numbers are down across several defensive metrics when compared to last year.
For one, Biyombo’s block numbers are down this season. He has a career-low 1.4 blocks per game. His block rate is down to 4.3 percent, the first time in his career it is worse than five percent.
Opponents shoot 50.4 percent at the rim against Biyombo, according to NBA.com. Last year, he gave up 45.2 percent last year and 49.1 percent the year before. Crossing the 50 percent threshhold was not what the Magic had in mind when they added a rim protector like Biyombo.
His 3.0 defensive box plus-minus is a career high. He is making a big defensive impact by that metric, at the very least. But several of his box score stats have continued to decrease.
Offensively, Biyombo has always struggled. There is no denying if Biyombo scores more than 10 points in a game it is a great performance. Biyombo is scoring the most points in his career (6.5 per game), but he is having his most inefficient season. Biyombo’s usage rate is up from
Biyombo is scoring the most points in his career (6.5 per game), but he is having his most inefficient season. Biyombo’s usage rate is up from 11.5 percent last season to 12.5 percent this season. At the same time, his true shooting percentage is down from 58 percent to 52 percent. Biyombo is doing less, with the ball in his hands more.
Biyombo is doing less, with the ball in his hands more.
Individually, Biyombo’s stats have taken a hit. His game has affected the Magic defense as a whole so far.
With his struggles, the Magic have yet to become that top-tier defensive team that many felt they could be this season. Their plans to pair him with another shot blocker in Serge Ibaka have fallen flat.
Obviously, the Magic’s struggles do not fall directly on Biyombo’s shoulders. It is clear he leaves his heart out on the floor every night. He plays with as much effort as any player.
The talent around Biyombo could explain the drop in numbers from the season prior. Last year, he was playing for a talented Toronto Raptors team. This season, the Magic are not even a playoff team, and he does not have any help on the perimeter. The Magic guards are still unable to help the big men out on the perimeter and it leaves Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic on an island often.
Along with Biyombo, some other players have had a rough go of things this season. He is not the only disappointment.
After a promising rookie season, Mario Hezonja barely saw the floor the first half of the year and has appeared to have made little to no development in the offseason. Things are starting to turn around for Mario Hezonja. At such a young age, it is hard to label him as the biggest disappointment.
Jeff Green has also played poorly for the Magic this season. Jeff Green has not done much positive for the Magic on either side of the ball. At least not consistently.
Many people who follow the team scratch their head as to why Vogel trusts him so much. He has been frustrating to watch so far this season. He definitely cracks the list for disappointing performances.
With a big contract in tow and a team that was supposed to be elite defensively, Biyombo is the biggest disappointment for the Magic through 41 games.
Orlando still has time to turn the season around. But players who have failed to live up to preseason expectations will have to step up.