Quote & Analysis: Isaac and Fultz’s Potential, Magic’s Ball Movement & More

by Josh Cohen

QUOTE: “It all depends on how everything goes day to day. I don’t want to read super into tonight. I want to continue to work day by day with the training staff and everybody and figure out what it’s going to look like moving forward in terms of minutes. I guess with seven minutes I can make a pretty good impact. Just continue to do what I am doing and take it one day at a time.” – Jonathan Isaac on his expectations moving forward after Monday’s return

ANALYSIS: Isaac’s performance in his first game back since injuring his left knee on New Year’s Day was far better than what anyone anticipated. While it remains to be seen how he will be utilized in the seeding games, just him being healthy and vibrant is extremely encouraging. Even though his aggressiveness on the offensive end is what really stood out in Monday’s scrimmage game, it’s his talent on defense that will probably make the biggest difference should he see increased playing time moving forward. Isaac and Anthony Davis were the only two players before the hiatus to average at least two blocks and one steal.

QUOTE: “He brings a lot of energy. It’s hard not to play hard when he’s on the floor. Because on both ends he’s running the floor, he’s playing defense. He kind of helped me a lot, just being out there with him and just seeing his energy. It pushed me to go harder.” - Markelle Fultz on playing first game at Disney alongside Isaac

ANALYSIS: The future is really bright with these two. Both are only 22 years old, and they both have the potential to blossom into one of the best at their respective positions. Fultz certainly deserves consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award after averaging 12.1 points and 5.2 assists before the hiatus. Even more significant, though, was his durability. After appearing in only 33 games in his first two NBA seasons combined, the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder missed just one game this year – and that was simply due to a stomach virus back in December.

QUOTE: “I thought good ball movement. Obviously, we made a bunch of threes. I thought we moved the ball. I thought we were inside out. I think the last two games our ball movement’s been pretty good. The ball hit the paint a lot more before we shot against the Lakers than it did the Clippers. And I thought we were pretty inside out tonight.” – Steve Clifford on his team’s offense after Monday’s win over the Nuggets

ANALYSIS: An underrated strength of the Magic prior to the hiatus was their frequency getting the ball into the paint, which forces defenses to collapse and creates more space for shooters on the perimeter. Orlando averaged 25.1 paint touches per game, fifth most in the NBA. From Feb. 10 until the league’s stoppage, when they won eight of 12, that average rose slightly to 26.8. Ball movement during that span was also sharp, as the Magic averaged 29.1 assists, second most behind the Pelicans’ 32.1. Orlando dished out 30 dimes against Denver in Monday’s scrimmage.

QUOTE: “That’s an important thing moving forward as a team, keeping our turnovers down, not giving up easy points in transition. That’s stuff that we are working on in practice. Things that we are talking about every day. Those are going to be things that are going to help us win meaningful games coming forward.” – D.J. Augustin on the importance of reducing turnovers

ANALYSIS: It’s truly amazing how disciplined Clifford-coached teams are. In Clifford’s first four seasons at the helm in Charlotte, the Hornets ranked No. 1 in fewest turnovers. They were third in this area his final season there. Last season, Clifford’s first as the head coach in Orlando, the Magic committed the fifth fewest turnovers. Before the hiatus this year, they were second in this category.

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