Magic Continue to be One of NBA's Best Passing Teams

by Josh Cohen

ATLANTA - The kickout pass is arguably the single most important pass type in the NBA, as noted in this piece from earlier this season.

So, you may be encouraged to find out that since Christmas Day, the Orlando Magic have created more shots through kickout passes than any other team, per Second Spectrum tracking data. The teams just behind the Magic in this category during this time are the Raptors, Pelicans, Bucks, Mavericks and Spurs – four of whom rank in the top 10 in offensive rating for the season.

It’s hard to find another team over the last several weeks playing with better purpose on the offensive end than the Magic, who have won five of their last six games.

The improved playmaking of D.J. Augustin, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic is making a big difference. So often, they have been able to find wide open shooters on the perimeter after forcing defenses to collapse on them in the paint. Isaiah Briscoe’s playmaking has made an impact, too.

It’s not just the quantity of kickout passes, though. It’s the Magic’s execution and precision that has been most impressive.

The passes have been on target, and the shooters are taking advantage of their opportunities. Jonathan Isaac is starting to get into a good rhythm, Wes Iwundu is a greatly improved outside shooter and Jarell Martin, although he hasn’t gotten much playing time this season, is quietly one of the league’s best spot-up shooting power forwards.

Not all of Orlando’s kickout passes are leading to threes, however. Sometimes, they just lead to good shots, regardless of where the shooter is on the floor.

For the season, the Magic are shooting 39 percent from 3-point range when the shot is preceded by a kickout pass, four percent higher than their general 3-point percentage.

Watch a pair of Orlando’s 3-point makes from the past two games:

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