Here’s What Dwayne Bacon Will Bring to the Orlando Magic

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - The talent gap between the NBA and G League is significant, but Dwayne Bacon averaging a G League 2019-20-best 31.8 points per game shouldn’t be ignored. In those nine contests with the Greensboro Swarm, the Charlotte Hornets’ G League affiliate, the 6-foot-6, 221-pounder shot 45.1 percent from the field on 224 attempts. Interestingly, Bacon, a 2017 second round draft pick, shot just 32.2 percent from 3-point range and 68.2 percent from the free throw line, so just imagine how remarkable his scoring output would have been if he wasn’t erratic in those areas.

The question now for Bacon, Jonathan Isaac’s college teammate at Florida State, is whether a portion of that offensive production in the G League will eventually translate in the NBA. He will have an opportunity to showcase his skills with the Orlando Magic after signing a contract with the club on Tuesday.

So, in case you haven’t watched much of Bacon the last few years, you are probably wondering what he does well and where he needs to improve.

His No. 1 strength is his offensive creativity. Although inefficient at the NBA level this past season, making just 34.8 percent of his shot attempts in 39 games with the Hornets, Bacon is very dangerous when he isolates defenders. He has outstanding footwork, which he utilizes to create space off the dribble.

Seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson is a player he was compared to coming out of college, and based on Bacon’s craftiness, shiftiness and strength, that remains a spot-on assessment, even though he doesn’t have Johnson’s incredible touch and range.

In a game against the Phoenix Suns last season, in which he finished with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, Bacon flaunted all of his moves.

SPIN MOVE, LEFT-HAND FINISH

EURO STEP SHIFTING TO HIS RIGHT

SPIN MOVE, HANGING IN AIR

Something surprisingly missing from Bacon’s stat line are more free throw attempts. He averaged only 4.9 foul shots in the G League last season, 1.4 in the NBA. But, with his willingness to initiate contact combined with his powerful frame, the 25-year-old has the tools to get to the stripe more frequently, which the Magic need considering they have ranked near the bottom in this category the last several years.

Backing down smaller defenders is something else he excels at when he posts up. When he recognizes a mismatch, which the Lakeland, Florida native did in the two clips below, he will quickly run to the low or mid-post, seal off his defender, and then muscle his way to the hoop after getting the ball.

Adding Bacon to the roster means the Magic will have another player they can run pick-and-roll with. While Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier and Cole Anthony, Orlando’s 15th overall pick in the 2020 draft, are expected to handle the ball the most in pick-and-roll action, head coach Steve Clifford will be able to utilize Bacon occasionally in these situations. It’s important, though, for Bacon, who played under Clifford in Charlotte during his rookie NBA season, to be more efficient. He made just 14 of his 48 shot attempts (29 percent) in the NBA last season in pick-and-roll, per Second Spectrum tracking data.

In the G League, Bacon’s mid-range shooting was on point. He drilled 53.8 percent of his attempts from 10 to 14 feet out and 54.5 percent of his tries from 15 to 19 feet away.

On the other end of the floor, Bacon still has much more room to grow. He is already a very good post defender, though, as his strength helps prevent opponents from backing him down. While these occurrences haven’t happened often through three NBA seasons, Bacon has had success forcing opponents into difficult shots when they’ve tried posting him up. In fact, opponents have made just eight of their 25 shot attempts (32 percent) when they have posted Bacon up in his career, per Second Spectrum.

One of his more underrated qualities is his kickout passing when he gets into the paint. He generally will make on-target passes to teammates on the perimeter, which helps explain why those teammates knocked down 52.6 percent of their 3-pointers when Bacon dished out a kickout pass to them, per Second Spectrum.

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