One Team, One Stat: Orlando Magic offense falls apart after the break
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2018-19 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 were rather anemic offensively after the All-Star break.
The Magic scored just 98.6 points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break last season.
That ranked last in the league and was down from 104.6 points per 100 possessions (19th) before the break. That drop of six points per 100 possessions was the league’s biggest post-break drop in offensive efficiency and the fourth biggest drop in the 20 full (82-game) seasons since 1996-97.
The Magic didn’t get to the line as often or grab as many offensive rebounds after the break as they did before it. But they weren’t particularly good at those things in the first place.
Shooting is the most important thing in this league and the area in which the Magic fell off most last season. Before the All-Star break, they ranked 14th in effective field goal percentage at 52.0 percent (slightly below the league average of 52.1 percent). After the break, they ranked 29th in effective field goal percentage at 49.2 percent (with the league average climbing a tick to 52.2 percent).
The Magic rotation player with the best effective field goal percentage before the break (54.7 percent) was Elfrid Payton, who was sent to Phoenix at the deadline. But Payton’s minutes and shots were absorbed by D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack, who combined for an even better effective field goal percentage after the break (54.9 percent).
More of an issue was the absence of Evan Fournier for 17 of the Magic’s 25 post-break games. Fournier’s effective field goal percentage was a little lower than Payton’s, but still better than the league average. He offered both spacing and additional playmaking, and the Magic offense was at its best (106.2 points scored per 100 possessions) with Fournier on the floor last season.
The Magic’s most-used post-break lineup – D.J. Augustin, Jonathon Simmons, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic – scored 111.2 points per 100 possessions (a rate which would have ranked sixth after the break) in its 165 post-break minutes. But it was only available for eight of the team’s 25 games after the break, with continuity being an issue.
It was an issue for most of the season. The three Magic players who averaged the most minutes per game last season – Gordon, Fournier and Vucevic – each missed at least 25 games. Terrence Ross played just 24 and Jonathan Isaac (the No. 6 pick in the 2017 Draft) played just 27. The Magic’s opening-night starting lineup – Payton, Fournier, Ross, Gordon and Vucevic – played in just 11 games together.
Of course, lots of teams have to deal with injuries, but the Magic didn’t have the depth to absorb all those missed games. They Magic were the second most improved team in regard to aggregate bench NetRtg, but only because they ranked last by a huge margin in 2016-17. They still ranked 28th last season and were progressively worse with more of their original starters off the floor.
The drop-off was entirely on offense. The Magic didn’t add anybody who’s going to help them on that end of the floor this summer, they’re still without a starting-caliber point guard, and new head coach Steve Clifford is likely to make an bigger impact on defense (see below), but better health will help.
Note: The above table is based on true possession counts. Other efficiency stats here are based on possession estimates (typically higher than true possession counts).
MAGIC NOTES – GENERAL
- Playoff drought of six straight seasons is the third longest active streak and the longest in the Eastern Conference.
- Have been a worse-than-average offensive team and a worse-than-average defensive team in each of those six seasons. Only Sacramento (12 seasons) has a longer such streak.
- Were the league’s worst second-quarter team last season, getting outscored by 13.6 points per 100 possessions in the second period.
- Had a much better winning percentage in the second game of a back-to-back (7-8, 0.467) than in games when they didn’t play the day before (18-49, 0.269). That was the league’s biggest such differential.
- Tied (with Memphis) for the league’s worst record (1-38) in games they trailed by 15 points or more.
MAGIC NOTES – OFFENSE
- Only team that has ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency in each of the last six seasons. Have ranked in the bottom 10 in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in all six seasons and in the bottom 10 in offensive rebounding percentage in each of the last five.
- Scored 0.81 points per possession out of timeouts, the league’s worst mark last season, according to Synergy play-type tracking.
- Rank 29th in 3-point percentage (34.0 percent) over the last two seasons. Only Phoenix (33.3 percent) has been worse.
- Scored 105.2 points per 100 possessions in quarters 1, 3 and 4, but just 95.2 in the second.
- With the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, they took 48 percent of their shots from 3-point range. That was the league’s highest rate in the clutch.
- Were one of three teams that were better offensively on the road (scoring 102.8 points per 100 possessions) than they were at home (102.7).
MAGIC NOTES – DEFENSE
- In Clifford’s first season in Charlotte (2013-14), the (then) Bobcats improved from 30th to sixth in defensive efficiency. It was the ninth biggest improvement (7.8 fewer points allowed per 100 possessions) of the last 40 years on that end of the floor.
- Ranked last in defensive rebounding percentage last season, grabbing just 75.6 percent of available defensive boards. That was a drop from 77.4 percent (ninth) in 2016-17.
- Ranked fourth in opponent above-the-break 3-point percentage (34.4 percent), but 29th in opponent corner 3-point percentage (43.1 percent) and 25th in the percentage of their opponents of their opponents 3-point attempts that came from the corners.
MAGIC NOTES – LINEUPS
- Ranked last in aggregate bench OffRtg (100.2 points scored per 100 possessions).
- Pre-trade lineup of Payton, Simmons, Fournier, Gordon and Biyombo was outscored by 8.6 points per 100 possessions, the third worst mark among 48 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.
- Were 13.2 points per 100 possessions worse with Bismack Biyombo on the floor (minus-13.2) than they were with him off the floor (minus-0.0). That was the worst on-off NetRtg differential among 266 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team last season.
- Were 8.7 points per 100 possessions worse defensively with Elfrid Payton on the floor (allowing 113.6) than they were with him off the floor (allowing 104.9). That was the worst on-off DefRtg differential among 266 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team last season.
- One of two teams (Cleveland was the other) that didn’t get any minutes from second-year players last season.
MAGIC NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- D.J. Augustin had an effective field goal percentage of 55.7 percent, up from 46.9 percent in 2016-17. That was the biggest jump among 126 players with at least 500 field goal attempts both seasons.
- Augustin had an effective field goal percentage of 56.4 percent as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, according to Synergy tracking. That was the fourth best mark (behind those of Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James) among 104 players with at least 100 pick-and-roll-ball-handler field goal attempts.
- Khem Birch grabbed 17.4 percent of available rebounds while he was on the floor, the best rebounding percentage among rookies who averaged at least 10 minutes per game in 40 or more games.
- Through Dec. 31, Evan Fournier (46.6 percent) and Aaron Gordon (46.8 percent) ranked third and second, respectively, in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage among 82 players with at least 100 attempts at that point in the season. After Jan. 1, Fournier (33.3 percent) and Gordon (32.0 percent) ranked 104th and 109th, respectively, among 114 players with at least 100 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts from that point on.
- Fournier took a greater percentage of his shots from 3-point range with each ensuing quarter, from 34 percent in the first to 56 percent in the fourth. He shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range in the first and third quarters, but just 32.9 percent in the second and fourth.
- For the season, Gordon shot 21.7 percent on pull-up 3-pointers, the worst mark among 56 players who attempted at least 100. He shot 14-for-64 (22 percent) from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, the worst mark among players with at least 50 fourth-quarter 3-point attempts.
- Jerian Grant had an assist-turnover ratio of 3.84, the fourth best mark among 326 players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game in 40 or more games.
- Grant saw a increase in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) from 24 attempts per 100 shots from the field in 2016-17 to 37 per 100 last season. That was the third biggest increase among 206 players with at least 300 field goal attempts both seasons.
- Jonathon Simmons averaged 13.9 points per game last season, up from 6.2 in 2016-17. That was the fifth biggest increase among 260 players who played in at least 40 games both seasons.
- Simmons attempted 48 free throws per 100 field goal attempts after the All-Star break, up from 28 per 100 before the break. That was the biggest jump in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) among 203 players with at least 250 field goal attempts before the break and 100 after it.
- Nikola Vucevic took 24 percent of his shots from 3-point range, up from seven percent in 2016-17. That was the third biggest jump among 126 players with at least 500 field goal attempts in both seasons. Just two (one percent) of his 204 3-point attempts came from the corners, the lowest rate among 150 players with at least 200 total 3-point attempts.
- Vucevic passed 40 percent of the time out of post-ups. That was the highest rate among 16 players who averaged at least five post-ups per game, according to Second Spectrum tracking.
- Opponents shot 65.9 percent at the rim when Vucevic was there to protect it. That was the second worst rim protection mark among 41 players who defended at least four shots at the rim per game in 40 games or more.
NBA TV’s Magic preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 1.
* * *
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.