One Team, One Stat: Few free throws to be found in Orlando

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2016-17 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 didn’t make many trips to the line.


Last season, the Orlando Magic attempted only 23 free throws per 100 shots from the field, the lowest rate in the league.


Over the last four seasons, the Magic have actually registered three of the eight lowest free throw rates of the last 30 years.

How well you shoot from the field and how well you take care of the ball are more important factors in regard to offensive efficiency. But the most efficient way to score is with a trip to the free throw line. And the Magic haven’t given themselves enough opportunities at the stripe since Dwight Howard’s departure four years ago.

Howard has attempted more free throws in two of the last four seasons (721 in 2012-13 and 638 in ’13-14) than his successor, Nikola Vucevic, has attempted in all four combined (631). Among 26 centers who took at least 500 shots from the field last season, Vucevic ranked 25th in free throw rate (ahead of only Al Horford), attempting just 14 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts. That mark would have ranked 75th among 84 guards that took at least 500 shots last year.

Nobody on the Magic ranked in the top 60 in total free throw attempts. Victor Oladipo ranked 61st, but was traded for a 6-foot-10 big man, Serge Ibaka, who has averaged less than two free throws per game over his career.

You can have a good offense without a ton of free throws. Golden State had one of the best offenses in NBA history with the sixth lowest free throw rate last season. San Antonio (third, 26th) and Cleveland (fourth, 23rd) also ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency while ranking in the bottom 10 in free throw rate.

But the Magic aren’t going to shoot nearly as well from the field as those other teams. They need to find other ways to score more efficiently, and getting to the line more often is one of them.


The Magic were both an above-average offensive team and an above-average defensive team in each of Howard’s last five seasons in Orlando and have been below-average on both ends of the floor in each of the four seasons since they traded him.

The Indiana Pacers ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in each of Frank Vogel’s five full seasons as head coach. They led the league in both 2012-13 and ’13-14.

The Magic got worse as the game went on last season. Had a NetRtg of minus-0.1 in the first quarter, minus-1.6 in the second, minus-2.8 in the third and minus-3.4 in the fourth. They were one of two teams that scored less than a point per possession in the fourth quarter.

Orlando averaged 96.6 possessions per 48 minutes (21st in the league) before the All-Star break and 101.0 per 48 (fifth) after it last season. That was the league’s biggest post-break increase in pace.

According to SportVU, 79.6% of Magic opponent 3-point attempts were catch-and-shoot, the highest rate in the league. Their opponents shot 37.0 percent on catch-and-shoot threes and 32.2 percent on pull-up threes.

Vucevic ranked third in the league with 7.0 points per game from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), behind only Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki. He was also one of three players – Paul Millsap and Brook Lopez were the others – with an effective field goal percentage over 50 percent on at least 150 post-up shots, according to Synergy.

Evan Fournier had an effective field goal percentage of 72.9 percent in transition, the second best mark among 93 players with at least 100 transition field goal attempts.

Fournier had 14 clutch 3-pointers, tied for third most in the league. His 37.8 percent on clutch 3-point attempts tied for sixth best among players with at least 25 attempts.

Among 213 players who took at least 200 shots from outside the paint last season, Aaron Gordon (39.1 percent) and Elfrid Payton (37.6 percent) ranked 196th and 204th in effective field goal percentage on those shots.

Ibaka had an effective field goal percentage of 61.7 percent in the playoffs, the best mark among players who took at least 100 shots.

NBA TV’s Magic preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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