Wade, Bosh Say Magic Are Team on Rise
By John Denton
Oct. 7, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky – Miami Heat franchise fixtures Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been around South Florida long enough now to remember a time when the Orlando Magic were perennial championship contenders and both all-stars have looked on of late as the Magic have re-tooled their roster with young talent.
Now, both are expecting to see a vastly improved Magic squad when they face Orlando four times during the regular season. Bosh feels that the addition of head coach Scott Skiles will make the Magic much tougher defensively, while Wade thinks that close friend, Victor Oladipo, is ready to make a major leap as an elite player this season.
``He’s capable and everyone knows he’s capable talent-wise. And his work ethic shows it as well, but he has to believe it himself,’’ said Wade, who has been somewhat of a mentor to Oladipo since the Magic guard was in high school and college. ``He has to go get it. No one in this league is going to give it to him. Victor is obviously someone I have been knowing for a long while and I believe that he can take that next step kind of similar to what I did when I came in this league. I see the talent in him, but he has to believe and he has to do it.’’
Swarmed by reporters from Indiana and Kentucky – close to where Oladipo starred for Indiana University from 2010-2013 – the Magic standout said on Wednesday that he has done everything possible to put himself in a position to have a breakout season. Oladipo boosted his scoring average from 13.8 points per game to 17.9 last season, but he said the numbers he’s most concerned with are in the Magic’s win total.
``I’m just expecting to win and it’s time to win,’’ Oladipo said. ``I’m going into my third year and we just expect to win now. Before we’d just kind of go out there and compete and play hard, but now we expect to win. We can’t just wait around because no one is going to let us win. The hardest thing to do in this league is to win and we’ve just got to figure out a way to do that.’’
Bosh, who is back this season from a blood clot scare and heading into his 13th NBA season, feels that the Magic are poised to make a major jump because of the bevy of talent that the team has assembled over the last three years.
``I mean, the talent is there, but it’s on them if they want to make the next step now or a couple of years down the line,’’ Bosh said. ``That core of Oladipo, (Nikola) Vucevic and Tobias Harris, that’s about as young and talented as it gets. You’ve got everything there with playmaking, outside shooting, rebounding and athleticism. And with Scott Skiles and the new regime in there I’m sure they are trying to pump those guys up and tell them, `We may not be expected to win every night, but we can play hard and win games.’ I’ve been there in that spot before, but I think they will give themselves a chance to be really good this season.’’
BACK-TO-BACK PLANS: With the NBA Fever of the WNBA in The Finals and playing at home on Friday, Orlando’s preseason game against the Indiana Pacers was moved to Thursday. That means the Magic will be playing their first back-to-back set of games during the preseason – something that should help the Magic in the preparation for 17 back-to-backs during the regular season.
Skiles said the schedule change would lead to him making some adjustments in the way he uses some of his veteran players in Thursday’s second game in 48 hours.
``I talked to Channing (Frye) and I may sit him out (Thursday) night and I’m going to talk to C.J. (Watson) a little bit too to see where he is. The Pacers play predominantly small too, so we’ll se how it goes (Wednesday) and see how many minutes guys get and go from there.’’
Skiles will target those two players for rest because of their experience in the NBA. Frye is 32 and headed into his 10th NBA season, while Watson is 31 and entering his ninth year.
``They’ve been going every bit as hard as all of the young guys in practice too,’’ Skiles said. ``We’ll see how it goes. If something happens with foul trouble and the minutes are limited, we’ll make another decision.’’
MIXED REACTIONS: In just about every visiting arena that Oladipo has played in over the past two years in the NBA there has been an alumni group from Indiana University there to cheer him on. Oladipo fully expected to see fans of the Hoosiers on Wednesday night when the Magic played in Louisville – roughly a three-hour drive from the IU campus in Bloomington, Ind. However, Oladipo wasn’t quite sure what reaction might come from the University of Louisville fans in attendance at the game.
``I don’t think Louisville fans will boo me because we never played them because they were too scared to play us. I’m just joking,’’ Oladipo said with a chuckle. ``I imagine there will be some Indiana fans here. They’re everywhere because we’re like the fifth-largest alumni base in the country. Once you’re a Hoosier, you’re always a Hoosier. And they’re going to come up to you wherever you are, it doesn’t matter. I see an IU person everywhere. I was in the Bahamas (over the summer) and I saw someone. It’s crazy how crazy the tradition is and I’m glad that I’m a part of it.’’