Kia Season Preview 2017-18
One Team, One Stat -- Poor shooting makes Orlando Magic take step backward offensively
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Orlando Magic, who couldn’t shoot inside or out.
The Orlando Magic were the only team that ranked in the bottom five in field goal percentage on shots in the paint (53.6%, 26th) and effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint (45.0%, 27th) last season.
Shooting is the most important skill in basketball and the Magic were a bad shooting team, both inside and out. The even shot a brutal (and league-worst) 30.2 percent on corner 3-pointers.
They made things worse by taking 41 percent of their shots, the seventh highest rate in the league, from between the restricted area and 3-point range. Trading some of those in-the-middle shots for either layups or 3-pointers would make for more effective shooting and a more efficient offense.
With league-average efficiency jumping 2.3 points per 100 possessions, the Magic were one of only four teams who scored fewer points per 100 possessions last season than they did the season before. The only team that saw a bigger drop in efficiency was the one that lost Kevin Durant.
The only player with an effective field goal percentage above the league average (51.4 percent) on at least 500 shots for Orlando last season was Serge Ibaka, who was traded in February.
It was the fourth time in the five years since they traded Dwight Howard in which the Magic ranked in the bottom five in offensive efficiency. In addition to ranking 29th in effective field goal percentage, they were a bottom-10 team in offensive rebounding percentage (21st) and free throw rate (27th).
But there was some promise in the Magic starting lineup after they traded Ibaka. With Terrence Ross providing better floor spacing, Aaron Gordon moving to power forward, and Elfrid Payton playing the best basketball of his career, the new Magic starters scored 112 points per 100 possessions in its 410 minutes together. Only five lineups (all belonging to 50-win teams) scored more efficiently in as many minutes last season.
The Magic picked up the pace after the trade. Their increase from 98.4 possessions per 48 minutes before the All-Star break to 100.8 after the break was the league’s third biggest.
The faster pace seemed to agree with Payton, who had five triple-doubles after the All-Star break. Only Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and James Harden had more.
Late-season success, with some other teams are in cruise control, should be taken with a grain of salt and doesn’t necessarily portend anything similar in the coming season. But the Magic are bringing back the starting lineup that found something that works (at least offensively).
With Payton in the final year of his rookie contract and the Magic holding the league’s second worst record over the last five years, there’s pressure for both to finally take a step forward … for more than just two months.
MAGIC NOTES – GENERAL
- One of two teams that has been both a below-average offensive team and a below-average defensive team in each of the last five seasons. The other is the Sacramento Kings, who have been worse-than-average on both ends of the floor for 11 straight seasons.
- Over those five years, they rank 29th in offensive efficiency and 22nd in defensive efficiency. Only two other teams (the Lakers and Suns) rank in the bottom 10 on both ends of the floor over that time.
- Last season, the Magic were eight games better than their point differential said they should have been. That was the league’s biggest discrepancy between actual wins and “expected” wins. Orlando was 29-53 with the point differential of a team that was 21-61, having lost a league-high eight games by 30 or more points. Only the Lakers spent more minutes down by 20 or more points.
- Were outscored by 6.8 points per 100 possessions, a drop from minus-2.0 the season before. Only Oklahoma City (-7.0) and Atlanta (-4.9) saw bigger NetRtg drop-offs from 2015-16 to ’16-17.
- Had the league’s worst NetRtg (point differential per 100 possessions) in both the second quarter (minus-8.9) and the fourth quarter (minus-8.5).
MAGIC NOTES – OFFENSE
- In the five seasons since they traded Howard, they’ve attempted just 23 free throws for every 100 shots from the field. That is the league’s lowest free throw rate over that time.
- As noted above, they ranked 29th in effective field goal percentage, 21st in offensive rebounding percentage, and 27th in free throw rate last season. The only other teams to rank in the bottom 10 in three of the four factors on offense were the Lakers and Sixers.
- Had the league’s worst second-half offense, scoring just 100.0 points per 100 possessions over the third and fourth quarters.
- According to SportVU, they shot 33.3 percent on uncontested 3-pointers, the worst mark in the league.
- Had an effective field goal percentage of 53.3 percent in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock and 43.8 percent in the last 12 seconds of the shot clock. That was the biggest drop-off in the league from the first 12 to the last 12. They shot a league-worst 30.3 percent in the last four seconds of the shot clock.
- Set just 49.2 ball screens per game, second fewest in the league. Only Golden State (40.5) set fewer. The 1.01 points per possession the Magic scored after setting a ball screen ranked 28th.
- Isolated on just 5.1 percent of their possessions, the second lowest rate in the league.
MAGIC NOTES – DEFENSE
- Had the worst defense (108.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) in games played between Eastern Conference teams.
- Ranked in the bottom 10 in opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area (21st), on other paint shots (25th), on corner 3-pointers (22nd), and on above-the-break 3-pointers (21st).
- Forced just 13.1 turnovers per 100 possessions (24th in the league), down from 15.3 (11th) in 2015-16. That was the second biggest drop-off in opponent turnover rate.
- According to SportVU, they allowed 30.4 drives per game, most in the league.
- Only team that allowed 70 or more points in the paint three different times last season.
MAGIC NOTES – LINEUPS
- Their post-trade starting lineup — Payton, Evan Fournier, Ross, Gordon and Nikola Vucevic — played 21.6 minutes per game together, more than any other lineup in the league last season.
- That lineup was a plus-15 in 410 total minutes, playing at a fast pace (103.8 possessions per 48 minutes). All other post-break lineups were a minus-172 (minus-11.9 NetRtg) in 751 minutes.
- Had the league’s worst aggregate bench NetRtg at minus-11.1, almost twice as bad as that of any other team.
- Were outscored by 354 points with D.J. Augustin and Bismack Biyombo on the floor together. That was the worst raw plus-minus among two-man combinations. Augustin (minus-397), Mario Hezonja (minus-276), Biyombo (minus-272) had the three worst raw plus-minus marks off the bench last season. Jeff Green (minus-212) and C.J. Watson (minus-167) had the sixth and 12th worst marks, respectively.
- After the All-Star break, they were 12.5 points per 100 possessions better offensively with Ross on the floor (scoring 107.2) than they were with him on the bench (scoring 94.7).
MAGIC NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- Evan Fournier had an effective field goal percentage of 56.3 percent in the clutch (game within five in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or OT), the third highest mark among 40 players who attempted at least 50 clutch shots. Vucevic ranked last at 33.3 percent.
- Aaron Gordon grabbed just 9.6 percent of available rebounds last season, down from 14.9 percent the season before. That was the biggest decrease in rebounding percentage among 244 players who played at least 500 minutes in 2015-16 and 1,000 minutes in ’16-17.
- Mario Hezonja and Jonathon Simmons had effective field goal percentages from outside the paint of 39.5 percent and 37.4 percent, respectively. Those marks ranked 207th and 211th among 215 players who attempted at least 200 shots from outside the paint last season.
- Elfrid Payton was one of four players who took at least 100 pull-up jumpers and 100 catch-and-shoot jumpers and had a higher effective field goal percentage on the pull-ups (40.7 percent) than on the catch-and-shoot attempts (38.2 percent).
- In both his second and third years in the league, Payton has seen an increase in usage rate, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, while also seeing a dip in turnover rate.
- According to SportVU, Terrence Ross had an effective field goal percentage of 61.3 percent on 111 shots after using a ball screen. That was the best mark among 115 players who took at least 100 shots after a ball screen last season.
- Among 156 players who took at least 250 shots in 2015-16 and 500 shots last season, Marreese Speights had the biggest increase in the percentage of his shots that came from 3-point range, from 13.6 percent in ’15-16 to 50.5 percent in ’16-17.
- Speights ranked second in the league with 34 drawn charges, two fewer than Ersan Ilyasova, who played 856 more minutes. He was also the only player who played at least 1,000 minutes and averaged more than six fouls per 36.
- Nikola Vucevic (31 percent) was one of three players (among the 174 with at least 500 field goal attempts) who took less than a third of his shots from the restricted area or 3-point range. The others were DeMar DeRozan (27 percent) and LaMarcus Aldridge (30 percent).
- Vucevic had the lowest true shooting percentage among 38 players who attempted at least 1,000 shots from the field. His effective field goal percentage of 43.2 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers was the second worst mark among 122 players who attempted at least 200.
- Vucevic grabbed 30.6 percent of available defensive rebounds while he was on the floor. That ranked sixth among players who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 or more games.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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NBA TV’s Magic preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 12. See the full preview schedule and archived clips from previous previews here.