Quality Over Quantity Has Been Theme of Orlando Magic’s Scorching Hot 3-Point Shooting of Late

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - Several years ago, when the Golden State Warriors were in the middle of their storybook run of five straight NBA Finals appearances and three NBA championships (they later won a fourth in 2022), the thought was that the only way to win in modern-era basketball was to shoot 3-pointers in excess. 

The point that kept getting dismissed from the conversation in those years, though, was that personnel matters greatly. When you have Steph Curry, the greatest shooter in NBA history, and Klay Thompson, another top five all-time shooter, it’s totally logical to take every 3-point shot that becomes available.

But obviously, no other team, then and now, has that kind of personnel. Sure, there are other very good shooters out there, but none like Curry of the last decade and Thompson during his prime.  

With that said, when it comes to long-range shooting, it’s all about quality over quantity. 

Just think about this: Last season, the Denver Nuggets, who ultimately won the title, ranked fourth in the regular season in 3-point percentage, but were 25th in 3-point attempts. In the playoffs, specifically, the Miami Heat, Denver’s opponent in the Finals, ranked No. 1 in 3-point percentage, but were No. 10 out of the 16 teams in attempts.

Right now, the Orlando Magic seem to grasp this concept well. During this active eight-game winning streak, one off from matching the team record, the Magic rank No. 10 in 3-point percentage (38.4 percent), and yet they are next to last in 3-point attempts (28.0). In the last six games, they rank No. 2 in percentage and No. 30 (last) in attempts. 

For the season, several of the league’s best teams match those disparities. The Minnesota Timberwolves, currently 13-4, are No. 10 in percentage and No. 26 in attempts. The Philadelphia 76ers, sitting at 12-6, are No. 8 in percentage and No. 21 in attempts. 

On Wednesday, in a 139-120 victory over the Washington Wizards, Orlando made 17 of its 27 3-point attempts (63 percent). It was the first time in franchise history that the Magic shot at least 63 percent from downtown with 25-plus attempts. That’s only happened 27 times in NBA history. 

The key to the Magic’s improved 3-point shooting of late is that they are getting into the paint at will, which is creating open looks for shooters on the perimeter. They also are getting good looks in transition after forcing turnovers. 

For the season, Orlando ranks 12th in kickout-from-the-paint 3-point attempts with 121 of them. It’s been during this winning streak, though, that they’ve been truly capitalizing on these attempts. Since Nov. 19, when the streak began, the Magic have made 13 of their 31 attempts in these situations (42 percent), per Second Spectrum tracking data. Prior to Nov. 19, they shot 37 percent. 

The ball moving around the way it is lately is making the Magic a much more potent offensive team. In three of the last five games, they’ve dished out over 30 assists.

“I love it,” guard Jalen Suggs said. “When we play that style of basketball – moving the ball quick, forcing closeout situations, and then just finding the right basketball play – it leads to good things for us. It’s a fun style to play. Everyone’s touching it. Everyone’s cooking. It doesn’t matter who is having a hot night because it’s leading to wins. Really that’s all that matters. Everyone’s embracing that.”

Suddenly, the Magic have the league’s 13th best offensive rating, all while ranking third on defense. During this winning streak, specifically, they are seventh in offense and second in defense.

Wizards Postgame: Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner