Arron Afflalo was somewhat reflective in his return to Denver on Wednesday. He told the reporters, including Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post, covering the game that playing for the Nuggets was his first opportunity to grow as a scorer and become a better player. In Detroit, he was a bit player on a good team relied on mostly for defense. In Denver, he needed to do more.
His scoring has increased each year of his career and his scoring per 36 minutes has increased each year too. Afflalo has grown and improved his offense each year. He is an emerging player in the league — maybe not an All Star caliber player or anything like that — but a reliable offensive player.
Except for his return to Denver though, Afflalo has been playing much better as he has gotten comfortable as the Magic's leading scorer this year.
Entering Wednesday's game, Afflalo was going through his best nine-game stretch of scoring for his career, averaging 22.0 points per game.
— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) January 8, 2013
Of course, it did not help that the Magic lost all nine of those games. And Afflalo is the kind of player who takes losses hard and is hungry to win as much as he is to score.
Considering though that the Magic are not one of the best offensive teams in the league, Orlando needs all the scoring it can get. Afflalo is now the team's leading scorer thanks to that stretch of games. He is averaging a career-best 17.5 points per game and is shooting 45.4 percent from the floor.
Afflalo has struggled from beyond the arc this year, as just about everyone in the Magic has so far this year.
The good news for Orlando though is Afflalo is becoming much more comfortable in his new role. Since his 30-point outburst against the Lakers in early December (his season high), Afflalo has not scored fewer than 10 points in any game. In that time, Afflalo has scored less than 15 points just six times in 20 games. Afflalo is becoming more consistent.
Of course, that is not raising his shooting percentage much. Afflalo still gives in to trying to take over games with isolation plays. And while he has that effective post game and can create his own shot it is not exactly the most efficient way to score.
Afflalo has done most of his work with mid-range jumpers, shooting 51.1 percent on 94 field goal attempts from 10-15 feet and 38.2 percent on field goals from 16-23 feet on 110 shots. After 3-point shots, the 16-23 foot shot is his most frequent shot selection. He makes more than two-thirds of his shots from 16-23 feet off of assists, suggesting that when he is isolating, he is most effective when he gets closer to the basket.
Watching Afflalo's efficiency will be key for the Magic. Unfortunately, they do not have really anyone else who can create his own shot in the way Afflalo can, and it is not exactly a role Afflalo is best suited for.
The good news — if there is any during a 10-game losing streak — is that Afflalo is getting more comfortable in the offense and is producing more raw numbers and helping the Magic fight to get out of this slump. Individually, that appears to be all anyone can ask for from him.