I'm really enjoying my experience here in Orlando so far. The fans have been absolutely amazing. They're transitioning just as I am and they've been great about it. I love the city, what I've seen of it so far. Obviously, being from California, I'm happy to be back in a place with warm weather. It's a great atmosphere and a fun environment to live in.
I haven't had much chance to explore the city as of yet. Obviously I have to get around the city just for basic needs of food and finding places to go and things to do. I'm figuring it out. It's a big city, but it's not that big. There are a few restaurants I've found that I enjoy as well.
The arena here is state of the art. From the floor to the locker rooms, the facilities to the fan seating areas, everything appears to be of high quality and indicative of a new era. It's a newer arena, it has a new feel to it and I enjoy playing there.
Off the court the transition has been very easy. It's just about finding that peace and happiness on the court.
For us right now it's about instilling the mindset that you have to try and compete to win every single game. Obviously, that's not going to happen, but, in theory, you can win every night. I just feel like we're growing to that point of expecting to win on a nightly basis.
We have a lot of capability as a team. But as a young group that's just learning how to win, you have to understand what it takes to be good defensively and make the right decisions offensively. These are things that we're just learning day-by-day and hopefully we can keep them in the back of our mind and not forget those lessons from game-to-game.
We're about two months into this new situation, so a lot of times practice is still a learning experience rather than a game plan session. Sometimes we'll just go over some basics. Other times, because it's still very early in the season, we're really trying to fully understand the offense and all the little intricacies of it to allow us to execute a little bit better in the half court.
Right now we're still learning. We're learning each other, but we're also learning our system. It takes some high IQ players. It takes a willingness to want to learn it and share the ball and screen for each other, among many different things.
Obviously playing basketball is still a very simple game, where just playing good defense in transition could be a key to success. But when it comes down to half court offense and half court defense, it's a system that we're working on and it has proven to be successful. I think as the season progresses we'll put the execution together with the basketball part to make us a better team.
TAKING THE LEAD
Being a leader on this team has been a fun experience for me. I'm excited for the opportunity to have such a large role and responsibility every night on both ends of the court. I lead more by action, but I definitely have the capability to be more vocal and be a constant communicator throughout the game. A part of that is just getting comfortable in my own role on the team. Once I feel like I've perfected that, it'll be easy for me to stay on guys in a positive way.
The young guys on the team are looking for influence and they work hard. The veterans are doing our best to enhance our games through this current situation that we're in, with the personnel that we have and the cards that we've been dealt.
Injuries have hit this team hard early, but sometimes you just have to go out there with what you've got. Obviously, Hedo is going to be down for a while and he's one of the longer tenured Magic players. Jameer has dealt with some injuries as well but has made his way back and he's one of the team's leaders for sure. There's always going to be a natural lead set by your point guard, that's just the way basketball works, but I'll continue to step forward as much as I can as well.
Our locker room has a nice blend of characters. Jameer and Glen Davis are very vocal and very emotional. They want to win and I definitely respect that. We need to continue to work together as we have. We'll kind of use each other in moments to elevate the team as a whole.
It's always good to have a player as a mentor, so for our head coach to have played in the NBA and played at a high level, it's definitely a benefit to us. He has an understanding of some of the struggles we go through on the court because he's actually been through them. He has a lot of respect for and understanding of what we do. It makes it easier for him to coach and for us to listen.
With Hedo out, we've gone to a smaller lineup that has me playing a lot at the three. It's put a little more focus on me defensively, in terms of guarding bigger guys and having more responsibility in rebounding. But the main idea at this point, with the personnel we have, was to get J.J. Redick out there in the starting five with me — instead of off the bench — to hopefully generate a little more early offense.
I was definitely more offensive-minded last year with Denver, and I wanted to get back to being that defensive player I know I can be. So far this year, I feel like it's more equal. Years prior, I was more defensive-minded as a whole. Then I went to offensive-minded. Now I'm starting to work toward 50-50 again. I want to be a good defensive player and a good offensive player at the same time. Hopefully that transition of trying to be a complete player, at an elite level, won't take too long.
I think that's just part of my evolution as a player. A lot of guys come into the league with defined roles and most guys are able to just stick, focus and put their full effort into one area, whether that's to score points or to be defensive-minded or rebound. But for me, when you try to do it all, it takes time. There are a lot of ups and downs with it, but I'm working on it and hopefully I can one day get it as close to perfection as possible.
Getting to where we want to be as players and as a team just takes time and experience. Defensively, we're starting to understand the importance of rebounding, the importance of helping each other out and following a game plan. Offensively we're still trying to figure it out a little bit more. The more experiences you have to draw off of, the more you figure it out.
Games like that Brooklyn game we had at home a couple weeks back happen because you're not playing defense at a high level, and you're not executing efficiently on offense. We were relying too much on jump shots and not transitioning enough or getting to the free throw line enough. Those are things that tend to generate points, even when your jump shot isn't falling. In the first few games of the year we were making a lot of jump shots, a lot of threes, but that's not going to happen every night so you have to find a way to manufacture points.
Coach is still trying to work that into our heads, to be aggressive, especially in transition. I think that's the best time to do it because the defense isn't set. If we're able to get stops and defensive rebounds, we want to push it in transition, create a little havoc there and hopefully put some energy into the building with some offense.
Being aggressive in those spots is a focus of mine individually. It doesn't always translate to success at this point, but I'm becoming more mindful of it and I'm seeing the opportunities out there on the court. It's just about relaxing and taking advantage of them. I'm working hard to get there.
After the loss to Brooklyn, I stayed for an extra hour and a half after the game to work. That's a habit of mine. If I feel like I haven't played well or if I'm a little frustrated with a loss, I'll stick around the gym after the game to get a good workout in. It's kind of been a theme throughout my life, not just in the pros. It's not necessarily meant as a way to blow off steam, but I want to leave the facility in a better place mentally then I was after a loss.
It's kind of hard for me to just go home and sit in that situation. Usually if I play a little bit more basketball, I feel it's some type of therapy. I go until I feel good about leaving. There's no set timeframe for those workouts. It's just whenever I feel I'm ready.
Thanksgiving is coming up and I have a lot to be thankful for.
We're about to start a nice homestand, so I have my mom and my sister coming out to visit for the holiday. I look forward to having their company.
For all the fans, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I appreciate your support and I want you to know that this team is working very hard for you. We're going to continue to improve and make you proud.
Thanks for reading.