The Dunkyard has a look at what lies in store for the Orlando Magic this season.
Last season by the numbers
- Record: 35-47 (11th East)
- Offensive rating: 102.6 (21st)
- Defensive rating: 104.6 (17th)
- Pace: 98.2 (13th)
- True shooting: 53.3% (20th)
- Turnover rate: 12.8% (14th)
- Offensive rebounding: 23.1% (21st)
- Defensive rebounding: 76.5% (12th)
- Giveashitameter: 17th
- Highest PER*: 21.1 (Vucevic)
(*) – minimum 1,000 minutes.
At a glance
Simply put, Orlando lacked an identity last season. They were pretty much average at most things and slightly below average at others. In fact, when you look across the board at Orlando’s stats, there was nothing whatsoever which you could say this team excelled at.
None of this was altogether too surprising when you consider the Magic’s youth. In this context, 35 wins was a pretty solid achievement – particularly when considering the last two seasons netted win totals of 25 and 23.
What killed the Magic on offense was their over-reliance on mid-range jump shots – the least efficient shot in basketball (after the Hail Mary heave and anything put up by Rashad Vaughn). The Magic were 22nd and 23rd on three point makes and attempts respectively and 29th on free throw attempts (dead last in FTA/FGA).
Digging deeper, it’s easy to see why this was the case. On the outside, Payton and Oladipo vacillated from putrid to mediocre on three point shooting – with Fournier being the only credible threat (156 threes at 40.0%). Meanwhile, on the inside, nobody was earning any trips to the line. Incredibly, Oladipo (247) and Fournier (238) led the Magic in free throw attempts, with the likes of Vucevic, Gordon and Harris unable to crack the 200 mark. To put this into a little perspective, James Harden had 837 free throw attempts last season – and Isiah Thomas had 544.
The Magic managed to fare a little better defensively – hanging around the average mark on most major metrics. About the most interesting thing you could say is that they ranked 1st in fouling, which accounted for their 21st ranking on free throw attempts allowed. In related news, the Magic ranked 17th overall on defense.
Reasons to be optimistic
With the acquisitions of Ibaka and Biyombo, the Magic have made a clear statement on their intended identity. Along with Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, the Magic’s defense should terrify opponents. This alone should improve the Magic by 5-10 wins.
While Oladipo was solid, the Magic have more then enough young talent left over to fill the void in Fournier and Hezonja. Jodie Meeks was also an underrated pickup for the Magic and should help with his outside shooting.
Payton, Hezonja, Fournier and Gordon are all still 23 or younger. They should all improve further this season and add more wins to the team’s total. Biyombo is also apparently only 24 years old and put together a handy PER of 14.9 for Toronto last season.
Jeff Green’s $15 million contract is only for one season.
Reasons not to be
The Magic appear to have gone all-in on defense at the expense of their offense. Vucevic aside, the rest of the Magic’s primary players aren’t great at creating their own shot. This team will struggle to score.
Adding to the problem is Elfrid Payton. The jury’s still out on whether he can efficiently run an offense or hit anything beyond an uncontested layup. Beyond him, the Magic only have CJ Watson and DJ Augustin. The Magic’s offensive limitations will be bad enough as it is and a below-par floor general will only make things worse.
Henzonja had a horrible rookie season and qualified for the Adam Morrison rule. The Magic will be hoping that last year’s no. 5 pick bucks the trend.
Where are the threes going to come from?
Who is going to get to the line?
Serge Ibaka, Biyombo, Jeff Green, Meeks.
Victor Oladipo, Brandon Jennings.
The Dunkyard’s recommended ‘death’ lineup
The Ibaka-Oladipo trade was a gamble as Ibaka’s production has declined over the last 2 seasons as he’s shown signs of oppression under the Durant/Westbrook tyranny in Oklahoma. Personally, I think we’ll see an 18-10 career year from Serge as he relishes the change of scenery in Orlando.
I’m not so keen on giving a career backup center a 4-year $72m contract because he played a handful of impressive playoff games. Congratulations to Bismack Biyombo on a lifetime of financial security, but have Orlando never heard of the ‘Contract Year Phenomenon’? Have they forgotten about Erick Dampier?
The addition of the inconsistent and underachieving Jeff Green serves only to take valuable minutes away from the development of Aaron Gordon. Green is like the wife who only agrees to sex on her husband’s birthday, one memorable performance can’t hide the frigid disappointment of the rest of the year.
Forecast record: 43-39
The time for patient rebuilding is now over. The Magic have brought in two of the league’s best big man defenders and hitched their sail to the defensive end of the court. Anything less than a comfortably earned playoff birth would be a huge failure.
The Dunkyard sees potential for the Magic on that front this season. However, unless and until they can find or unearth a genuine back court star on offense, there’s only so far they can go.
That being said, the future looks brighter in Orlando.