Arron Afflalo surprisingly chose to join the Orlando Magic. The reason seemed to be more about returning to Orlando as he shows on Instagram every day.
Afflalo had a fairly productive year last year with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 8.4 points per game and shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. All this in his fewest minutes since his time with the Detroit Pistons. His numbers dropped per 36 minutes too. All suggesting he is beginning to slow down.
Afflalo still is a useful player, but it was surprising to see him go only for a minimum contract. And that it was a minimum contract with the Magic was more surprising.
He had his best years with the Magic. Some of that was him being on a rebuilding team. He got the chance to be the team’s star. Indeed, he nearly made the All-Star Game with the Magic.
Afflalo was the consummate professional when he was with the Magic. But there was no suggestion that he was all about the Orlando life.
From the moment it was reported Afflalo was joining the Magic, he shared his love for The City Beautiful on his newly created Instagram.
During his introductory media availability, Afflalo talked extensively about how it felt like he was coming home. How he was thankful to the Magic organization for giving him a chance and how much his time in Orlando meant to him. He hopes some familiarity can help him revitalize his career.
You could not wipe the smile off Afflalo’s face as he walked back into the Amway Center. And that has become more apparent as time has gone on. Afflalo’s Instagram account is almost all posts professing his love for the Magic and Orlando and his excitement for the upcoming season.
From before he met the media in Orlando and officially signed his contract:
And this one in response to ESPN’s statistical projection the Magic would win 32 games and finish 10th in the Eastern Conference:
Most Magic fans viewed the 32-win projection as fairly realistic. They saw the 10th place finish as fairly optimistic. But Afflalo obviously has big dreams.
This kind of bravado and confidence was not always something the team saw in his first stint in Orlando. He carried himself as the professional veteran. Afflalo just got his work done and did what he could for his team. He took losses hard, but it seemed like he understood the team’s situation and what he was there for.
This time it seems like he is defiantly confident. Almost like a fan. And that will surely endear him to Magic fans all over again.
It is truly rare that a player has this much of an affinity for the city he played in. Especially since Afflalo spent such a short time with the team. And that tenure was relatively nondescript. The team was bad when he played in Orlando the first time.
But something obviously connected with him — both personally and professionally.
Afflalo though is extremely excited to return to the Magic. And he is not afraid to let everyone know about it.
The Magic will likely use Afflalo off the bench this time. He will play a supporting role in the backcourt rotation with Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons and Terrence Ross. His shooting will be his most valuable tool this season.
What role he plays does not seem to matter as much to Afflalo as his ability to return to Orlando and give back to the city and team that gave him his biggest opportunity.
It seems Afflalo wants the world to know how happy he is with his free agent decision.