Over the next few weeks Orlando Magic Daily will be taking a look at the things that went right and wrong this season as Orlando ended its season with its first Lottery season in six years.
When looking at the Magic roster at the beginning of the season, you could assume offense was going to be a problem. The roster did not have a single player who had been a first option offensively before this season. The key players were all nice role players, but hardly anyone you wanted to give the ball to and create offense.
There was no consistent low post threat, no consistent and proven dribble penetrator. There were certainly guys who could do it for short stretches, but no one who had sustained carrying a team for an 82-game season. Asking Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu to carry the load was going to be asking a lot.
Still, someone was going to step up and into that role. Someone was going to have to drive this team's offense and help the team push forward, creating for himself and others. Even if it was a different person each game, someone was going to be the lead guy.
The problem of scoring was made more difficult though because the Magic simply could not get to the free throw line. The Magic finished last in the league with 1,359 free throw attempts this season. That turned out to be the fewest free throw attempts in an 82-game season. The team's 16.6 free throw attempts per game were the fewest in league history.
It was not that the Magic did not shoot the ball well from the line. When they got to the line, they made them at 75.5 percent (15th in the league). Orlando even finished 29th in the league in free throws made, impressive considering how few free throws the team shot.
Orlando's free throw rate of 14.9 percent was not the worst in the league this season (Philadelphia was equally bad at drawing fouls) but Orlando is still one of four teams in league history to have a free throw rate worse than 15 percent — aside from Philadelphia this season, the other two occurred in the league's first season in 1947.
The Magic posted a 101.6 offensive rating this year, 27th in the league, and averaged 94.1 points per game, 24th in the league. If the Magic could have gotten to the free throw line more — say, at a league average of 20.4 percent — they would have had 1,408 free throw attempts this season. If Orlando made free throws at the same 75.5 percent rate, they would have made 1,063 free throws. That would be at least 17 more points scored this year.
It may not have been a huge difference, but there would also be more possessions and fewer difficult shots. The Magic's offense would undoubtedly be better if the team could get to the foul line.
And without doubt, setting an NBA record for fewest free throw attempts in an 82-game season and ranking among teams with the lowest free throw rate in NBA history is not a good thing.
Certainly as the Magic collect more talented players and players that fit the primary role better, this number will go up. For this year though, it was historically bad.