Evan Fournier joined a French TV show to discuss his past season with the Orlando Magic. Like everyone else, he was frustrated with some team decisions.
Just about everyone associated with the Orlando Magic expressed some frustration with how the 2017 season went.
The team went into the year with high hopes of making the Playoffs, believing acquiring Serge Ibaka and another year of experience would help the team get over the hump and grow from the 35-win season in 2016.
That turned out not to be the case. The Magic’s decision to go big and to move Aaron Gordon to the small forward spot proved to be a disaster. Orlando never found much traction, losing its defensive intensity by the quarter pole of the season, and quickly slid down the standings.
Orlando’s 29-53 season was a bitter disappointment for everyone involved. There was plenty of frustration involved for all.
Evan Fournier shouldered a lot of the blame and responsibility for the team’s struggling offense.
Fournier inked a five-year, $85-million in the summer as the Magic shed Victor Oladipo to free up room for him. Fournier got more playing time and responsibility. While his scoring average rose to a career-high 17.2 points per game on a career-high 13.7 field goal attempts per game, his efficiency dropped dramatically.
Fournier shot just 43.9 percent from the floor and a career-worst 35.6 percent from beyond the arc. It was not the season Fournier or the Magic wanted. His struggles were as emblematic of the team’s poor fit as anyone else.
It was a disappointing season.
Fournier appeared to vent some of this frustration on the French basketball show NBA First Day Show as he spoke about the season that just past and what he expects from the team moving forward.
Granted, my French is not good (read: nonexistent) and YouTube’s translations were a bit off too. But enough broke through the translation to see Fournier had some frustration with how last year went.
Specifically, he was frustrated with the lack of stability from the Magic’s front office and coaching situation. He noted that had a negative effect on the team. And it has had a negative effect on him.
The Magic have had four coaches the last three seasons after Frank Vogel took over for Scott Skiles last summer. If Fournier remains on the Magic, it will be the first time in his five-year career he will have the same coach for consecutive seasons (even with the Denver Nuggets, Fournier had a different coach each season).
Fournier said that stability will help the team grow because the players will enter camp knowing the system and knowing what the coach expects of them. Fournier said the constant coaching changes may have set the team’s development back, possibly by years.
It was the situation the Magic had to deal with, but it did not help the team at all.
Neither did the way Orlando built the roster in its wake.
Fournier said the team’s defense failed to adapt as it struggled to regain its footing after the early season surge. The way the team tried to play defense may have worked in the past. But in a league with teams like the Golden State Warriors who engage in constant pick and rolls, motion and 3-point shooting, those schemes may not work as much.
Fournier spoke specifically about the failed experiment involving Aaron Gordon playing the small forward. As everyone seemed to admit, Gordon played significantly better after the All-Star Break when he moved back to power forward.
Shortly after the trade, Serge Ibaka told the Orlando Sentinel he had asked Vogel specifically if he could play center with Gordon at the 4 next to him. Vogel never really tried that as Gordon played only a few minutes at power forward before the All-Star Break.
It would seem now even Vogel would admit the experiment was a failure and Gordon is better at power forward.
The frustration it seems from Fournier is that it was clear this experiment was failing and thus wasted time for the Magic’s season. Before it ultimately ended in failure.
Fans have reacted to these comments fairly negatively as if Fournier is attacking Vogel or criticizing the Magic in some way.
But, it is clear from the video Fournier is answering questions about last season honestly. Perhaps it is not something that should get out to the public so bluntly. But it is also no state secret either. These are all fair and obvious assessments of the Magic season.
Fournier tweeted a response to some of the reactions from Magic fans following the video’s release and its translations — or mistranslations.
The question is: How will the Magic respond and grow next year?
While Fournier does not expect the team to make any major changes, he said the team can pull together like the Miami Heat did last year and make a run toward the Playoffs. The Magic, remember, beat the Heat three out of four times last season. The potential to catch some lightning in a bottle is certainly present.
And Fournier seems optimistic about the Magic being able to pull things together. As the Orlando Magic Reddit community points out, Fournier seemed optimistic about Terrence Ross‘ contributions to the team and generally the direction of the team with the group they have.
Especially as they modernize their offensive style.
Fournier has kept very busy this summer as he returned home to train and prepare for the season after spending the early summer in Orlando (including trying out bleaching his hair).
Fournier recently completed a trip to Algeria to host a basketball camp. It was a trip that had a lot of meaning for him. It was the first time he traveled to the homeland of his mother’s family.
Fournier returned to France to prepare for his basketball camp in Paris. Former teammate Victor Oladipo even joined Fournier in France for an event in Paris.
The Magic obviously have a lot of work to do. Fournier chief among them. He has to regain his consistency and improve his defense to help the Magic take the next step.
Considering Orlando’s general inactivity and inability to make a splashy move, the team will rely heavily on Fournier and his scoring ability once again. The Magic are hoping for big things from him next season.
That is the best way to erase last season’s frustration.