Orlando Magic Daily Roundtable: Surprises, what lasts and what’s next

The Orlando Magic's Evan Fournier (10) yells as he is fouled by the New York Knicks' Doug McDermott, left, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic's Evan Fournier (10) yells as he is fouled by the New York Knicks' Doug McDermott, left, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) /
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Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 21: Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 21, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

What has been the biggest surprise of the season so far? Can the Orlando Magic sustain this?

Ricky Scricca (@scricca1): I was not expecting Aaron Gordon to come out shooting like he is right now. He will not shoot 50 percent-plus forever, but I think the shot is here to stay. Overall the Orlando Magic’s offense is genuinely improved and generating better looks from three, which is partially why they have shot so well. Those numbers will eventually regress, so the .600 winning percentage will taper off, but this is an improved team on both ends of the floor.

Ian Holmes (@ianholmes83): I think the biggest surprise has to be the offensive fluency the team has shown. I think we were all hanging on to the hope of how they played after the All-Star Break last season. But we knew that results did not really support the new up-tempo way they played. But the combination of pushing the pace and the vastly improved shooting from 3-point range really has set the Magic up well through the first 10 games.

Jonathan Treadway (@JTMagic1989): To me the biggest surprise has been the improved shooting from the team as a whole.

I believed going into the season Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic would have improved shots, but their consistency and mechanics from long mid-range and mostly behind the 3-point line this year have been impressive. Couple that with improved shooting from Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton and bench players and the offense is helping drive this team to wins. A big portion of that is shot selection and easy transition baskets.

Yes, overall shooting percentage will go down throughout the year. But as long as the shot selection stays good, the transition stays a big factor and the whole team does not go cold during a stretch together, the offense can stay pretty potent.

Dar-Wei Chen (@chendw): It has to be the outside shooting, right? Nothing has been as surprising as how downright competent the Orlando Magic have looked shooting from the outside (the games against the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics notwithstanding), which has also loosened up other elements of the offense.

There was a point about five games into the season when the Magic were leading the league in 3-point percentage at something like 44 percent and the second-place Golden State Warriors were about 4-5 percentage points behind. That was never going to last, but the fact the team even has the capability of putting up those types of numbers for a stretch shows you just how much things have come along.

Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic have obviously put in lots of work over several summers now. And while there were always hints there would be an improvement (Gordon at Summer League, Vucevic gradually shooting more 3s over the years), there is no way anyone expected improvement of this magnitude.

As of now, the Magic are still second in 3-point field goal percentage at 40.6 percent (just behind the Warriors), and I probably do not expect that to last either, but a finish in the top 5-10 would already be a great surprise, given the Magic are taking a league-average number of threes (29.4 per game) and not being excessively cautious about the threes they take.

Philip Rossman-Reich (@philiprr_OMD): I did not expect the Orlando Magic to be relying so heavily on a killer offense to win this year. I thought, like pretty much everyone else, the team would have its moments offensively but largely struggle. This was going to be a middle-of-the-road team on that end at best. That has not been the case.

The Magic are shooting the lights out and earning the accolades. With each passing game, it is becoming clearer this team’s offense is very very good. And it is not going away anytime soon.

Credit should go to Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic here. Going from 30-percent 3-point shooters to nearly 40-percent 3-point shooters have changed the Magic’s offense. The amount of space everyone has to operate is clear. You can literally see their gravity as they work beyond the 3-point line. Defenses are respecting them and so this trend is more than established at this point.