Evan Fournier on Pace to Join Exclusive Company

By John Denton
Nov. 15, 2017

PORTLAND – Two seasons ago, Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier crafted his finest season as a professional, becoming one of just eight players in the NBA to shoot at least 45 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the 3-point line – a prestigious list that included Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.

Fournier’s efficiency fell back a bit last season as he struggled with the transition of being Orlando’s top offensive threat. This season, however, Fournier has rebounded with the kind of dazzling numbers that could once again result in him joining some elite company.

Fournier, Orlando’s leading scorer at 19.6 points per game, entered Wednesday’s game in Portland shooting 51.3 percent from the floor, 43.6 percent from 3-point range and 90.5 percent from the free throw line. According to NBAMath.com, just two other NBA players have those kinds of gaudy shooting numbers, but the difference is that Cleveland’s Channing Frye (3.4 ppg., 50 percent, 40 percent and 10 percent) and Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica (7.4 ppg., 57.6 percent, 53.1 percent and 91.7 percent) are hardly top scoring options on their teams like Fournier.

How rare is the feat? Since the advent of the 3-point line in the 1979-80 season, only seven players have accomplished the feat over a full season: Steve Nash (four times), Larry Bird (twice), Curry, Kevin Durant, Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitzki. Nash just missed doing it a fifth straight season when he shot 89.9 percent from the free throw line in 2006-07, while Curry is the only player to reach the 50/40/90 club while averaging at least 30 points a game.

Fournier went into this season looking to be a better passer and a more efficient shooter. He said that the lucrative contract that he signed prior to last season had nothing to do with him feeling more pressure and he added that he actually enjoyed the increased focus applied to him by opposing defenses.

``Pressure is nothing to me. To me, it should be just the opposite. If you are feeling pressure, it should be before you get a contract and not after it,’’ Fournier said. ``It was fun (being at the top of the opposing scouting reports) and something that I really enjoy. And, also, there’s something about that that makes me proud, too, considering how far I’ve come as a player.’’

FAST HEALER: Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac was in a great deal of pain when he sprained his ankle Saturday in Denver and he was troubled by having to miss games on Monday and Wednesday, but he is encouraged by the progress that he is making.

The 6-foot-10, 210-pound forward was able to shed the walking boot he’s worn since Saturday night and he hopes to resume some sort of basketball-related activities on Thursday or Friday. The hope, he said, is that he will be able to play by Saturday.

``I feel a lot better and I was telling the training staff that I’m the fastest healer in the world,’’ Isaac said prior to Wednesday’s game in Portland. ``Moving side to side and cutting a little bit still feels bad, but in a straight line I’m good. I think (Thursday) we’ll try to get on the court and do more exercises and stuff.’’

Isaac, the No. 6 pick in last June’s NBA Draft, has quickly made the transition to the NBA and he averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 19.9 minutes of his 12 games played. He said he tried to search the game film from last Saturday to see how he sprained his ankle – he swatted a shot and then landed on the foot of Denver guard Emmanuel Mudiay, causing his ankle to grotesquely buckle – but he was unsuccessful.

``I tried to find (footage of the play), but I couldn’t find it. Then, I was like, `Why am I trying to look at this anyway?’’’ Isaac said. ``I just gave up. Part of me wants to see (the injury) again and part of me doesn’t. I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it was when it first happened, but it’s ended up being kind of minor.’’

The injury caused Isaac another pain in the past two games that he’s been forced to miss. Because he didn’t bring a sports coat or suit with him on the road trip, he couldn’t sit on the bench during the games without being subject to a fine for a dress code violation by the NBA.

``I just want to be out there and it’s even harder staying back in the locker room because I forgot to bring a suit or a jacket this time,’’ he said. ``That’s harder than not even being on the floor. It’s just tough to watch and wanting to be out there and help them.’’

LONGER TRIP: Orlando played the final game of its four-stop road trip in Portland on Wednesday night, but the team decided to stay in the Pacific Northwest overnight rather than fly back to Central Florida immediately following the game. The Magic are scheduled to fly most of Thursday and arrive back in Orlando in the late afternoon.

The reason is that the team is looking to avoid as many early-morning arrivals as possible so that players can get a better night of rest in a bed.

Also, the Magic’s schedule factored into the decision to extend the road trip to an eighth day. Orlando doesn’t play again until Saturday when it faces the Utah Jazz at the Amway Center. The Magic are scheduled to practice on Friday.

In addition to flying a day later, Magic coach Frank Vogel gave his team Wednesday morning off from their usual routine of holding a shoot-around practice. Both the change in flying times and the practice schedule came from team personnel who have studied the benefits of getting rest throughout the NBA’s marathon-like 82-game regular season.

``Listening to the scientists,’’ Vogel said. ``I got a recommendation (to rest because) it’s our fifth game in eight days. I kind of told them in the beginning of the (season), `Just let me know when there are smart situations to keep (the players) off their feet and we’ll listen to that.’

``I think there are times when you can get a boost from that and they came to me and said this is one of the times that they would recommend,’’ Vogel added. ``I’ve been doing this for four or five years now. In Indiana, we had a sleep scientist who came in and strongly, strongly recommended that this is the way to do it (with added rest) and I’ve been doing it ever since.’’

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