Magic Radio producer Jake Chapman spends hours on end alone in his studio. If that’s not depressing enough, he regularly talks to himself. Jake’s Take is an aggregate of his ramblings, musings, and occasionally coherent thoughts.

Posted by Jake Chapman, Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 10:45 AM

My 82

It’s time for the real thing. The 2012-13 NBA Regular Season begins on Tuesday, October 30th, and the league couldn’t be in a better place. The NBA is enjoying an unprecedented talent boon, rife with young, marketable superstars who play for a lot of different teams in a lot of different cities. Football is the only sport in America that people prefer to basketball. And futbol is the only sport in the world that people prefer to basketball.

Similarly, the Magic organization is in a healthy place too. The pressure, paranoia and pessimism of the last 2 years are gone. They’ve been replaced by process, passion and promise. Rob Hennigan and Jacque Vaughn co-head a new basketball operation that will emphasize system and sustainability above all else, and Magic fans are going to easily identify with the teams they see on the floor this season and in the coming years.

So, for my 12-13 Season Preview, I’ve decided to compile 41 “Home” storylines I’m looking forward to this year, along with 41 for the “Road” part of the schedule as well. The 12-13 NBA Regular Season will be like an adventure at sea, storms and squalls one day and sunny skies the next. Happy Sailing!

HOME

1.) Coach Jacque Vaughn – He is part Roy Williams, part Jerry Sloan, part Greg Popovich and part ex-player just three years removed from his playing days. His players love him.
2.) GM Rob Hennigan – He brings a passion for numbers, systems and process to the front office. He and his staff can boil a basketball game down to an algebraic equation.
3.) The 2-Guards - I’d put both JJ Redick and Arron Afflalo on a list of the Top 20 shooting guards in the NBA. They might not both start games for Coach Vaughn, but I bet they’ll both finish games, a lot.
4.) The FT% - For some reason, I feel like the team free throw percentage is going to be way, way, way, way, way, way, way better than the last oh, eight years or so. Just a hunch.
5.) Big Baby Gon’ Turn it Up – He even said so, in song.
6.) The Magic Dancers – As radio producer, I’m stuck in a studio during game nights and, more importantly, during timeouts when the ladies are performing. In a related story, I’m incredibly productive on game nights!
7.) Coach ‘Meer – Vaughn is letting Jameer Nelson nearly player-coach the team. Jameer is completely engaged and already talking about coaching when he finishes playing. These are good things.
8.) Stuff the Magic Dragon – Sick Trampoline Dunks and some fairly impressive dragon-dance maneuvers, Benny the Bull is lame by comparison.
9.) The Rookie Wing – Maurice Harkless is so young, so raw, and so talented. We’ve only seen flashes, but I’ve heard from a lot of NBA-types that the kid has a TON of talent.
10.) The Rookie Scoring Forward – Andrew Nicholson just puts the ball in the hoop. It might not look pretty, but it works.
11.) The Rookie Garbage Man – Kyle O’Quinn will do the dirty work, willingly.
12.) Downtown Orlando – There’s no denying the buzz on Church St. and Orange Ave. on a Friday night after a big Magic win. It’s just the way this town is wired.
13.) True Blue Nation – Any self-respecting Magic fan should be a member of True Blue Nation. Sign up on orlandomagic.com!
14.) Amway Center – Just because it’s a year older doesn’t make it any less impressive. It’s the best arena in North America.
15.) Magic Drive Time – For whatever reason, they let Dante Marchitelli and I back on the air this year! We have incredible guests every day like Jacque Vaughn and Rob Hennigan, and we have a ton of fun too. Weekdays at 5:30 on AM 740 The Game, or listen online at iheartradio.com.
16.) Turk – Hard to believe he’s embarking on his 15th NBA season. He’s also become one of the most beloved players in Magic history.
17.) New Center #1 – Nikola Vucevic turned 22 years old just last week. He’s a skilled big man, comfortable face-up and back-to-basket, and also a very capable passer. His preseason rebounding stats have been icing on the cake.
18.) New Center #2 – Gustavo Ayon is a 27-year old beast on the blocks who loves rebounding and setting hard screens. He and Vucevic will complement each other nicely.
19.) Ayon in the Hispanic Community – Having a Spanish-speaker is a great way to energize the Magic’s Hispanic fan base. Ayon is just the third Mexican-born player in NBA history, and Hispanics in Central Florida are falling en amor con Goose!
20.) Hometown Heroes presented by Harris Corporation – This year the Magic and Harris will honor first responders in the Central Florida community at every home game. That night’s Hometown Heroes will receive courtside seats and they will be featured in-game.
21.) E’Twaun and Ish – E’Twaun Moore and Ish Smith will pick up the backup minutes in the backcourt and both have shown they’re capable NBA guards. Suffice it to say the backup PG position will be solidified for the first time in a while (sorry, I had to.)
22.) This Video
23.) DeQuan Jones – The rookie from the U was the best story in training camp and the preseason. He uprooted veteran Quentin Richardson and young forward Justin Harper to make the team’s final roster spot, and he has hard work and dedication to thank for it.
24.) Redick as 6th Man of the Year? – Afflalo is going to be the starting 2-guard more than likely, but Redick is too good to simply back him up. JJ has improved every season and it seems like every shot he took in the preseason fell. Look for a huge year from JJ Redick.
25.) The Magic in the Community – With programs like Journey to the Arts, Baskets for Books and countless player and coach appearances, the Magic make Central Florida a better place, simply put.
26.) Al Harrington – The 14-year veteran will be sidelined for at least another couple weeks as he works back from surgery for a torn meniscus and a subsequent staph infection last summer. He played 64 games for the Nuggets last year and averaged about 14 points and 6 boards per game. When healthy, he’s still a very good player.
27.) David and Matty on Fox Sports Florida – This year Magic fans won’t need to check each night if the team is on Sun Sports or Fox Sports Florida, it’s FSFL all year baby! David Steele and Matt Guokas are one of the best tandems in the NBA, and as a young broadcaster I simply try to soak up as much as possible whenever I’m around them.
28.) Jacque’s Staff – Assistant Coaches James Borrego, Brett Gunning, Wes Unseld Jr., Laron Profit and Luke Stuckey bring fresh eyes and diverse experiences to Coach Vaughn’s staff. At least one of those guys is a future NBA head coach.
29.) Joey Colon y elorlandomagic.com – This year all Magic games will be broadcast en espanol on elorlandomagic.com. The ever-engaging and always energized Joey Colon stays on the call for his 15th season with the club.
30.) The Most Awesome Song that was ever a Song (sorry Big Baby)
31.) Guys Night Out and Family Fun Days – The organization is offering new group packages that are great buys and appeal to both the bro’s and the fam’s. Check orlandomagic.com for more info.
32.) Dennis and Richie – As Magic Radio Producer, I consider myself spoiled. Getting to work with Dennis and Richie for 90+ games a season is hardly work at all. The best way to describe Richie is a curveball waiting to be thrown, and the best way to describe Dennis is the best damn play by play announcer in the NBA.
33.) The Circus is gone – No matter what happens this year, it ain’t last year. And that’s a good thing.
34.) Savage, Cohen, Denton – Dan Savage and Josh Cohen do an outstanding job covering the team and designing and operating our web site. Throw John Denton in the mix, only the best Magic beat writer in the team’s history, and you have a winning combo.
35.) JJ and Josh McRoberts – The Duke version of the odd couple, McRoberts has been Redick’s houseguest since moving to Central Florida. JJ compared it to “You, Me and Dupree.” Ah, JJ. Always with the Rom-Com references.
36.) Peaceful Timeouts – This season, fans will not be able to hear players getting yelled at during a timeout!
37.) The All-Time Magic PG List – Where does Jameer rank? Talk amongst yourselves! 38.) Proving them all wrong – The NBA Media’s wizards of prognostication have all agreed that the Magic will finish somewhere between 15 and 30 wins this year. Talk to me in April.
39.) Paul Kennedy – Need I say more?
40.) Blogs on orlandomagic.com – Anez! Steele! Curtsinger! Leak! Glass!
41.) Team First – The last few years, everything about our team and even our city revolved around one player. Never again.

ROAD

1.) The Lakers – All I want is for them to go 9-73.
2.) The Heat – Not as bitter, 10-72 for them.
3.) The Thunder – You only get a few shots at an NBA title, and you chose Kevin Martin and picks over a $20-30 million luxury tax bill and James Harden? Good luck with all of that.
4.) D-Rose – Somewhere, in a quiet gym, Derrick Rose is working harder with a bum knee than able-legged folks worldwide.
5.) The Knicks – Poor Amare can’t get right, and poor ‘Melo thinks being in shape for once means you get to win a title.
6.) The Rookies – Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers will steal the spotlight in New Orleans, but I have my eyes on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He’s worth 10 wins for a mediocre Bobcats team.
7.) The Celtics and Spurs – All early-bird dinner jokes aside, these teams will combine for 120 wins again this year. But can they outlast the super-teams from their respective conferences?
8.) The Timberwolves – I have a weird soft spot for this team. I could watch Ricky Rubio play point guard for hours, and Rick Adelman has coached winners everywhere he’s been. Get Kevin Love and Rubio healthy and on the floor together and watch the sparks fly. Bonus points for them adding Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko in the offseason.
9.) Brooklyn – Barclays Center! Joe Johnson! D-Will! Public Urination!
10.) The King – All kidding aside, Lebron James took his game to the next level last year. He hushed his critics, stole the team from Dwyane Wade, and put on a basketball performance that rivals the greats. But how much of it was others burning out at the end of the lockout-paced season? Sounds strange, but I think this is the most important season of James’ career from a historical perspective.
11.) Kyrie Irving – From top-20 in the league to top-10 this year. Mark it down.
12.) The Clips – Chris Paul has some help. I say he’s the best PG in the league, but he’ll need to be even better to make a deep playoff run.
13.) The Western Conference – It’s brutal this year. Really good teams like Denver and Memphis have no margin of error, and pretty good teams like Minnesota and Utah might be on the outside looking in come May.
14.) Rondo – Did he privately seethe all summer while Paul, D-Will and Russell Westbrook took home gold medals from London? He’s perhaps the best creator in the league, and the time has come for him to take the Celtics’ reins. Let’s see if he’s ready.
15.) The Nugs – George Karl has perhaps the most entertaining roster in the league. They will force turnovers and they will run, and they will beat a lot of good teams. But they’ll lose to some bad ones too.
16.) Normalcy – After the craziness of the lockout-shortened season, getting back to 2-3 games a week will feel good for players, coaches, media and fans alike. NBA games should be an event, not an Outlook reminder.
17.) All-Star Weekend – Can Houston match Orlando’s 2012 output? Doubtful.
18.) This commercial
19.) The Grizz – They have the second-best big man combo in the league, but familiarity breeds contempt. Can Z-Bo, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay put it all together this year? And if not, will things sour quickly?
20.) Young guns – There are some really good second year guards floating around the league. Look for Klay Thompson, Brandon Knight and Kawhi Leonard to be big parts of their respective teams.
21.) Detroit’s Twin Towers – Perhaps the most intriguing big-man combo is in Detroit, where 3rd year center Greg Monroe is being paired with rookie Andre Drummond. Monroe is the most underrated big in the league, and Drummond has a world of upside. If they learn to play together, look out.
22.) New Head Coaches – Aside from Vaughn, just 2 new faces will man the sidelines of NBA teams this year. Mike Dunlap and Terry Stotts take over in Charlotte and Portland respectively. Both teams aren’t expected to do much, but neither owner is known for his patience either.
23.) Small Ball – Is the center really going the way of the dodo? The NBA recently announced its All-Star ballots would be limited to “Frontcourt” rather than the traditional Center and Forward positions. Will the league continue to be dominated by position-less athletes? Or is the next George Mikan right around the corner? Do any of you even know who George Mikan is?
24.) Ray-Ray and ‘Shard in Miami – I was waiting for Pat Riley to sign Danny Fortson so that the 2005 Seattle Supersonics would officially be reunited, but alas, Pat Riley is smarter than me. Still though, Rashard Lewis will chip in off the bench, and Ray Allen is simply timeless. Another “stroke of genius” offseason for Pat Riley.
25.) Dirk – Dirk Nowitzki had his right knee scoped on October 19th and he will miss significant time to start the Mavs’ season. It might be for the best though, because Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and OJ Mayo are his best teammates. Dallas may want to shoot for the lottery this year and go after another free agent next summer.
26.) Surprises? – There will almost certainly be a surprise cellar-dweller from each conference who makes a playoff push come April. On a hunch I’ll say Golden State out West, and Kyrie’s Cavs in the East. Mostly because I think Byron Scott and Marc Jackson will get the most from their young rosters.
27.) Aging Vets – Someone is going to fall off the cliff statistically from this group: Paul Pierce, Manu Ginobili, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. I’ll guess Pierce, mainly because Manu and Wade can be complementary scorers on their teams, and Kobe would find out I wrote this and kill me.
28.) Bynum and the Sixers – Can he get healthy? Is the team built to accentuate his skills? Why is his hair so weird?
29.) Skiles – Magic fans know how bad Scott wants to win, but it’s been a while since the Bucks have been relevant. Their backcourt right now is Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, and they both might literally fight each other over who takes more shots. Scotty’s clock is ticking I’m sorry to say.
30.) Greg Oden – He doesn’t have a team, and that might be a good thing. Oden has stated he wants to get healthy this year and sign with somebody next season, and we all wish him nothing but the best of luck.
31.) Chris Bosh – Maybe just a hunch, but I think the championship ring might have liberated Chris Bosh as well. He is one of the best and most versatile forwards in the league, and make no mistake about it, his return from injury during the Boston series last year swung the tide back in Miami’s favor (although Lebron put the team on his back.) I think he might have a big year for Erik Spoelstra.
32.) The Pacers are the best dunking team ever – Check out these videos of the Pacers dunking at their open practice and practicing the dunks before-hand. Look at Gerald Green! Holy cow!
33.) The Wiz – Sadly, we can’t laugh at the absent-mindedness of Andray Blatche and Javale McGee on the same team anymore. But can this team pull off 40 wins? I’m not convinced.
34.) Top Plays – ESPN’s Best Feature is waaaaay better during basketball season. When is a fan catching a foul ball ever better than Blake Griffin mashing it in someone’s face? The answer is NEVER!
35.) Toronto – There’s a lot of good vibes north of the border, but I need to see a healthy Andrea Bargnani for at least 70 games before I slide them into the East’s top-8. I am a huge Kyle Lowry fan though, so there’s that.
36.) Commissioner Stern’s Last Hurrah – After announcing he will retire in February of 2014, I’d love to see a goofy retirement party at the NBA Offices in Secaucus complete with cheap cake being served on copy machines. Sadly, there will probably be much nicer accommodations. Cheers Commish – You brought us global!
37.) Linsanity/Beard – Which corny marketing tool wins out? Learn to play together, then we’ll talk. Still though, it’s nice to see Clutch City back in the conversation.
38.) The Jazz – While the league goes small, the Jazz have gone big with Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Paul Milsap. Will they make a trade? Gordon Hayward is an underrated small forward and Alec Burks has shown flashes at the 2, but Mo Williams and Jamaal Tinsley at the point won’t cut it.
39.) Seattle – It’s coming back. Soon.
40.) Twitter – More-so than any other league, NBA-ers are on Twitter and quite active. Follow guys like Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) for pure entertainment.
41.) IT’S TIME FOR SOME BASKETBALL! – This league is so fun. It’s unpredictable, entertaining and amazing. It can be heart-wrenching and heart-warming, all in the same breath. Happy Sailing!