Orlando Magic must learn lessons from the past to build a modern team

Mar 27, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) talks to center Bismack Biyombo (11) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Magic 131-112. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) talks to center Bismack Biyombo (11) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Magic 131-112. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Elfrid Payton, orlando magic
Mar 6, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (left) brings the ball down court being chased by New York Knicks guard Chasson Randle (right) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The shooting problem

The Magic absolutely need to get better at shooting the basketball from the outside to succeed.

The Magic were 29th in the NBA in 3-point percentage, and received a ton of open looks as teams would dare them to shoot — 21.8 of the team’s 26.0 3-point attempts per game were categorized as open or wide open by NBA.com’s player tracking statistics. It is so hard to build a successful offense without strong outside shooters.

This season, four of the top five teams in 3-point attempts are serious contenders in the NBA playoffs. The Houston Rockets are first, Cleveland Cavaliers are second, Boston Celtics are third, and the Golden State Warriors are fifth.

Nine of the top 10 teams in 3-point percentage made the playoffs this season, and the top 3 teams in order were the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

Strong 3-point shooting has led to a top-tier offense in each of the past three seasons, and that is why more and more teams are shifting towards a 3-point-heavy offense. It works.

In order to field a solid offense, the Magic will have to acquire shooters and commit to that style. They have already started that, moving poor shooter Aaron Gordon to a more inside/big man position and starting Terrence Ross at the perimeter.

There is one massive roadblock to the Magic becoming a strong shooting team, and that has been an elephant in the room for the past two years: the lack of shooting out of the starting point guard position.

Elfrid Payton is a career 28.9 percent 3-point shooter. And that just will not cut it in the league today. Not unless he is an elite playmaker, which after three years is hard to say with a straight face.

Of all the teams in the top 15 in net rating, only two had a starting point guard with a 3-point percentage worse than 37 percent.

One was the Spurs, who start a 33-percent shooter in Tony Parker, but split the point guard minutes almost in half between him and 41-percent shooter Patty Mills.

The other was the Washington Wizards, who have one of the best players in the NBA at point guard. Although John Wall is a 32.7 percent 3-point shooter, he is able to get good shots at other spots and still averages 23 points per game.

The Magic will struggle to build a sufficient offense around a lacking offensive player like Elfrid Payton. He may work better surrounded by 4 above-average shooters, but it will likely be easier for the team to move on from him as the starter.

The Magic badly need to improve their shooting in order to keep up with the rest of the league who got this memo three years ago.