Denton: Afflalo More Efficient This Season
By John Denton
Nov. 11, 2013
BOSTON – Shooting guard Arron Afflalo entered this season thinking that if he became a much more efficient player that it would make the Orlando Magic a much better offensive team.
So far, both aspects have proved true for Afflalo and the Magic.
Afflalo entered Monday’s game in Boston as one of just eight players in the NBA averaging at least 19 points (19.7 ppg.), five rebounds (5.1 rpg.) and four assists (4.4 apg.). He’s in elite company, joining Miami’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Minnesota’s Kevin Love, Indiana’s Paul George, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Utah’s Gordon Hayward.
Afflalo’s numbers are significant because they represent career highs in scoring, rebounding and assists. Incredibly, Afflalo has boosted his scoring average in all of his previous six of his NBA seasons. He set career-bests (16.5 ppg., 3.7 rpg. and 3.2 apg.) last season in his first year with the Magic, and this season is a further advancement of those numbers.
``I think the improvement of my teammates has really helped me,’’ Afflalo said. ``I can find them and they can finish plays now. My assists are up, I’m making a conscious effort to be a better rebounder and my scoring is just about being confident with my skill set. My mindset is to be efficient with everything that I do and do it every single night.’’
Afflalo’s 4.4 assists a game are significant because they show off his growth as a playmaker for the Magic. He’s gotten better at driving into the heart of the defense and passing out to an open shooter. He had a career-best eight assists against Brooklyn, seven assists last week against Boston and two other games with at least four assists.
``That’s about me knowing where guys are going to be as I try to make plays,’’ he said. ``I’m just preparing myself every night for what I’m about to get into.’’
Another impressive facet of Afflalo’s game is that his numbers have gone up while his shooting percentages have greatly increased. Needed to create much of the Magic’s offense last season, Afflalo had to force shots and his shooting percentages (43.9 percent overall and 30 percent from 3-point range) dipped to career-low ranges. This season, he’s boosted those numbers (45 percent overall and 47.1 percent from 3-point range) back to acceptable areas.
RESERVE ROLE: Much has been made of Victor Oladipo’s transition from college shooting guard to NBA point guard. But little has been mentioned of his switch from full-time starter to one who now comes off the bench in the NBA.
Prior to this season, Oladipo said the last time he played in a reserve role it was early in his freshman season at Indiana University. He said it’s taken some getting used to not starting games, but he’s been able to watch from the bench and get a feel for the game before entering.
``It’s an adjustment, but once you get used to it you will be all right,’’ Oladipo said. ``You just have to stay focused on the game when you are on the bench. Then, when you go in there your body will kind of follow your mind.’’
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