ORLANDO, Fla. The Orlando Magic began practice Tuesday morning ready for the work that lies ahead.
The team returns just seven players from last years team and only two starters. Complicating matters is a new coaching staff and style, leaving even veterans Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, J.J. Redick and Glen Davis unsure of what to expect.
So everyone was on a steep learning curve for Orlandos opening practice.
Its the first day, Redick said when asked about the coaching style and way of doing things. Ill know more of that after this week.
Vaughn called the first session of the two-practice day a technical practice, where he introduced the new ideas and terminologies the Magic will use this season. The impending exhibition game against the New Orleans Hornets in Mexico on Sunday increased his urgency to get the team up to speed.
Mexico expedites things for us a little bit, said Vaughn, who started putting in some set plays Tuesday. I wish I could have a little more time to lay the ground work, but we needed to put in a little offense and defense just so our guys will be familiar come game time.
Vaughn made it clear that hes starting every player off with a clean slate to earn minutes. Now it is up to the players to keep up.
We have to be in tune, get it right the first time, because we are all trying to get familiar with a lot of stuff at once, Davis said.
After the drawn-out drama that was all of last season, the Magic organization decided to start anew from almost top to bottom. But they are refusing to call this a rebuilding season. Instead, Vaughn referred to it as a process he is looking forward to.
Vaughn spoke of how at ease he felt going into Day One of practice.
Its the same chair, Vaughn said, referring to the front seat he will be taking as head coach. The only difference is now I have to talk to the media.
Although Vaughn has never been a head coach, he has played for some of the best in basketball: Roy Williams at the University of Kansas, Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz, Doc Rivers with the Orlando Magic and Greg Popovich for the San Antonio Spurs.
Vaughn has gleaned specific characteristics from each coachs personal style. From Williams he was able to take his practice efficiency, an ability he feels will be vital this season in order to learn quickly without burning players out.
He knows he will have to be a great manager of the balance between practice and rest, feeling as though he cant afford to waste a second as the Magic are about to embark on a strenuous NBA season.
From all his former coaches, Vaughn said he learned one key thing: They all have an amazing ability to get the best out of their players. That is how we have to start, by putting players in a position for them to be the most successful.
Vaughn believes those opportunities to be successful would best come from spreading the floor.
I want our guys to be comfortable on the floor. That was my best atmosphere as a player. I want to play fast, get up and down, and have an open offense for many guys to score.
Shooting guard Arron Afflalo, acquired from Denver in the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers, is excited about the offensive style. Entering his sixth season in the league, Afflalo will be relied on as an experienced veteran on this young team. But he believes he has not yet peaked as far as his ability and potential are concerned.
That is why I enjoy practice so much," he said. "Its an opportunity for all of us to get better, each and every day. Especially as I get further along in my career, I appreciate it a little bit more.
Over his five years, Afflalo has increased in scoring and minutes played, becoming Denvers second leading scorer in the 2011-2012 season with 15.2 points per game.
Given Afflalos pedigree, general manager Rob Hennigan is excited to have him in the locker room with all of the young talent on the team, especially rookies Andrew Nicholson, Moe Harkless and Kyle OQuinn.
Andrew, Moe and Kyle each have a very high developmental curve, Hennigan said.
It will be good for them and other young players like ETwaun Moore, Christian Eyenga and Ish Smith, who havent had a considerable amount of playing time, to be around guys like Afflalo.
I can help the younger guys by leading by example, Afflalo said. I will compete very hard, listen and continue to try to get better as something they can model their approach to the game after.
Without question, Vaughn will rely on all of his veterans throughout the season. Still, he has admitted to being, point guard influenced, knowing personally how much leadership from the point guard position can benefit a team.
I am going to allow the point guard to run the show, Vaughn said.
That role will fall to Jameer Nelson. The seven-year starter is one of only 15 current NBA players with eight or more years of experience to have spent their entire career with the same team.
Im excited, Nelson said of Vaughns open style of play. As a point guard, you never want to be out there doing too much thinking. You just want to be able to play, let the game come to you.
Entering his ninth season with the Magic, Nelson brings a sense of confidence to this newly formed team. But he knows their goals wont come to fruition without hard work.
Were going to have to work, but I think we will be better than people think this year, Nelson said.
After all the plays are put in, the expectations set, and goals and roles are established, Nelson will remind the team of the basics need to go out and win games.