Denton: Afflalo's Rigorous Summer Workouts Helped Him Improve
By John Denton
Feb. 7, 2014
ORLANDO – Some players talk about getting better in the offseason, but Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo actually did something about it last summer. Now, Afflalo has the numbers to justify all of the hard work that he put in.
Looking to better himself prior to training camp with the Magic, Afflalo leased a house in Las Vegas last summer where the focus was entirely on improving his skills and bettering his body.
Afflalo worked out three times a day, swimming and doing basketball drills in the morning, playing pick-up games with other NBA players in the Las Vegas area in the afternoon and enduring MMA and weight-lifting sessions at night. He also had healthy food catered so that he could closely monitor his diet. And to show just how focused Afflalo was on basketball, he leased a house that had a full-length basketball gym in the basement.
``There’s no mystery about (his improvement). I just took a lot of (shots),’’ Afflalo said. ``I actually had a court inside my basement at my house in Las Vegas that I was staying in over the summer. I would just stay in there all night and shoot. I just think between getting up a lot of shots over the summer and taking better threes than I took last season – being more on balance and taking the shots that are there instead of forcing them up – all of that helped me.’’
Afflalo’s work over the summer has helped him average career highs in scoring (19.9 ppg.), rebounds (4.2 rpg.) and assists (3.7 apg.). Afflalo also made major jumps in his shooting efficiency, going from 43.9 percent to 46.8 percent from the floor and from 30 percent from 3-point range to 42.7 percent from beyond the stripe.
Afflalo’s accuracy from the 3-point line earned him entry into the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 15 in New Orleans. Afflalo will be competing against Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Joe Johnson, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love, Bradley Beal and Marco Belinelli in the contest. Afflalo worked on shooting threes off a rack on Thursday and said he will put in more practice time in hopes of winning the event.
``What is it – 25 or 30 points (for a round)? I’ll try to get 30,’’ Afflalo said with a laugh. ``In my opinion, you can’t really worry about the results of the shot. You just have to catch and fire to get a good rhythm. That’s similar to a game and hopefully I’m in a good rhythm.’’
T-MAC FLASHBACKS: When Thunder star forward Kevin Durant put together a string of 12 straight games with at least 30 points it reminded some in Orlando of the run that former Magic guard Tracy McGrady put together in 2003.
From late March into early April of 2003, McGrady scored at least 30 points in 14 straight games. During that stretch, McGrady incredibly averaged 37.3 points and he had four efforts of at least 40 points (48, 43, 43 and 41).
Durant averaged 35.9 points during January, the highest-scoring month of his career. He became just the third player in the past 30 years with at least 12 straight games of 30 or more points. Kobe Bryant and McGrady went back and forth in 2003 with dueling 30-point games, with Bryant posting a streak of 16 straight and T-Mac doing it 14 times in a row. McGrady led the NBA in scoring that season, averaging 31.1 points per game.
During McGrady’s scoring binge he was nicknamed ``The Big Sleep’’ because of his penchant for arriving at the arena, putting on his uniform and then sleeping on the training table for an hour. McGrady would then hoist up a couple of shots during warm-ups and then pump in 30 points.
Told of that story on Friday, Durant was amazed and said: ``Man, that crazy. That’s not me at all. I have to get up lots of shots before a game. I’m not that good like that.’’
LEGENDS NIGHT: As part of the ongoing celebration of the 25th anniversary season, the Magic honored former GM John Gabriel and former players Jeff Turner and Sam Vincent.
Gabriel was the Magic’s GM from 1996 through 2003 and won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award in 1999 for the job he did in building the famed ``Heart and Hustle’’ team and then signing Grant Hill and McGrady the following summer. Gabriel did something no one else had done in the history of the game by pulling off 57 transactions in 18 months to create the salary cap space with which to sign Hill and McGrady.
Gabriel, an assistant coach on the original Magic team in 1989, said he was tremendously honored to be recognized by the Magic.
``Working with the Magic was a major part of my adult life. I got married the day before I came in and took the job and my wife and I have made our life here and some of my best friends are still here,’’ said Gabriel, who works for the New York Knicks. ``It’s always special to walk in this building and I still have the utmost respect for the organization and Mr. (Rich) DeVos, who provided us the opportunity to do what we did over those years.’’
Gabriel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago and he initially kept it to himself before alerting the Knicks. Gabriel has continued to work and said the Knicks have been extremely supportive of him as he battles the illness. ``I’m to the point where I’m still working, still trying to be useful, but I’m also turning my attention to the National Parkinson’s Foundation and trying to help others by raising money and raising awareness,’’ Gabriel said.
Turner, now an analyst for Fox Sports Florida, played for the Magic from 1989 through 1996. He called the Game 7 victory in the Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana his favorite moment of his time in Orlando. Vincent was also on the first Magic team and he spent three seasons with the team as a point guard.