By Josh Cohen Jan. 19, 2018
BOSTON – One thing that has been generally consistent throughout this season has been the Magic’s willingness to play through the pass. Head coach Frank Vogel and his staff have done a terrific job preaching the importance of unselfishness and solidarity, which is often a challenge when you have mostly young players trying to prove themselves.
Over the last six games, the Magic rank second in the NBA in assists (27.2). For the season, they are tied for seventh in this category, averaging just over 23 per game.
What’s also impressive about this is that it’s not just one player racking up all the assists. Like in Cleveland where LeBron James is a chief distributor or in Oklahoma City where Russell Westbrook stacks up on dimes because he has the ball in his hands so often, some teams rely on one, or maybe two players, to facilitate.
With the Magic, it’s usually by committee. We’ve seen Nikola Vucevic dish out 10 assists in one game, which was part of his first career triple-double, and we’ve seen as many as seven players record at least two assists in the same game.
By sharing the ball as much as they do, the Magic create a lot of open looks on the perimeter. They are hot and cold with those attempts, as evidenced by their roller coaster shooting the last several games. But, all you can ask for is to generate good scoring chances and hope enough guys can get into a rhythm.
Orlando is a very good drive-and-kick team. It ranks sixth in the league in most made drive-and-kick 3-pointers and is shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc on these plays. Elfrid Payton, D.J. Augustin and Jonathon Simmons, specifically, are each very effective at collapsing a defense and finding open teammates on the perimeter.
Check out a pair of plays that illustrate this:
While they only have one win to show for it, the Magic have actually been outstanding on the offensive end of the floor during these last six games. They rank second in points in the paint, sixth in points off turnovers, eighth in second chance points, and ninth in fast break points.