Film Room: Magic Hope to Become Elite 3-Point Shooting Team

By Josh Cohen
March 14, 2017

The NBA has evolved into a 3-point shooting league. There are more threes going up than ever before. Teams with championship aspirations – like the Warriors, Cavaliers, Rockets, Celtics and Wizards – all take a ton of 3-pointers and/or shoot a very high percentage from beyond the arc.

The Magic are trying to adapt to this movement. While they haven’t shot an ideal percentage this season (currently around 33 percent), the Magic are making a more concerted effort to take more shots from deep.

Monday’s game in Sacramento was a great example of this. Orlando shot 13-of-34 from 3-point distance. The Magic are averaging nearly 26 3-point attempts per game. That’s four more than they averaged last season and almost seven more than they averaged the prior year.

You can be assured that Orlando will spend a lot of this upcoming offseason exploring ways to improve its overall 3-point shooting abilities. Acquiring Terrence Ross – though he hasn’t been consistent with his outside shot since the trade – will help considering his 3-point shooting history.

As a result of Elfrid Payton’s craftiness, instincts and vision and the team’s unselfishness (Orlando had 32 assists), the Magic had a lot of good looks from 3-ball land against the Kings.

The most opportunistic time to take a three is in transition after a good defensive play. Opponents generally aren’t able to stay locked on perimeter shooters down the floor when they can’t set their defense. In the play featured below, a terrific defensive stop by Nikola Vucevic allows the Magic to push the pace and Aaron Gordon’s explosiveness and selflessness leads to a wide open triple from Evan Fournier. WATCH:

Vucevic is becoming more comfortable with his outside shot. He’s now knocked down 19 threes this season (only made seven in his first five seasons combined). It’s becoming almost critical for offensive-minded centers to extend their range. DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Al Horford, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are all now quality 3-point shooters. In the play featured below, Vucevic shows and pops. His defender, Willie Cauley-Stein, expects him to roll. Cauley-Stein also has a watchful eye on Payton which allows Vucevic to be open at the top. WATCH:

Payton is one of the best in the league at finding teammates on the perimeter when he drives baseline. He has unpredictable and shifty movements that typically throw off defenders. In the play featured below, the Magic design an effective cross screen near the left elbow and that helps free Ross up for an open 3-pointer. WATCH:

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