The Orlando Magic must find more corner 3s to awaken offense

Steve Clifford is eager to see the Orlando Magic play in their first preseason game. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Steve Clifford is eager to see the Orlando Magic play in their first preseason game. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic offense has begun to crater as the scouting reports have caught up to their offense. What do the numbers say about Orlando’s shot distribution?

The Orlando Magic’s recent four-game losing streak, which included losses to the lowly Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns, sent chills down the spine of the Magic faithful.

The Magic only managed to score 80 points against one of the worst teams in the NBA just a week ago. On top of that, the Magic displayed consistently pathetic offensive performances, going seven games without reaching 100 points in a league that is increasingly focused on offense.

So what exactly is happening? It appears opposing teams scouting reports have caught up with them.

Gone are the days of D.J. Augustin running the pick and roll freely with Nikola Vucevic. Gone are the days of Nikola Vucevic being able to hit cutters with open lanes.

The Orlando Magic found some offensive rhythm in the loss to the Phoenix Suns and the win over the Toronto Raptors. But the team still needs to pivot on offense quickly before their season gets away from them.

What can they change? Where are they getting offense from right now?

Let us start with some basic outlier statistics that make they Magic unique on offense.

The first stat that comes up is that the Magic rank sixth in the league in assist percentage. This should not be a huge shock as the Magic do not really have a true one on one player who can isolate and effectively create shots for themselves.

The Magic rely on good ball movement to get open looks. Hence opponents try to disrupt the ball movement by blitzing pick and rolls and closing down passing lanes or outright switching every screen.

They also rank 26th in the NBA in the percentage of their point points scored on the fastbreak. This is not a huge surprise as coach Steve Clifford employs a conservative defensive approach. The Magic rarely attempt to jump passing lanes and mostly stay disciplined on defense.

This was one of the main principles for Stan Van Gundy’s defenses as well.

To nobody’s surprise the Magic rank dead last in percentage of their points from the free throw line. They have the worst free throw rate in the entire league by a wide margin.

The Magic rank in the middle of the league in drives to the basket but they also are also ranked second in terms of drives that end in passes. They simply do not draw fouls in traditional ways.

One huge stat to acknowledge is the Magic love mid-range jump shots. And statistically, they are pretty good at them.

The Magic rank fourth in the league in percentage of points coming from the mid-range. The Magic are also ninth in the NBA in post-ups per game but rank sixth worst in post-up field goal percentage.

This gives a better idea of how the Magic’s offense runs.

As one would have guessed, the Magic are a team that relies on passing, likes to post up a lot and shoot a lot of mid-range shots. They are about league average on 3-point attempts percentages.

The Magic’s shot chart on reveals a lot of where the Magic succeed and struggle.

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The Magic do not tend to find the right wing or corner very often. While I do not believe the right wing matters as much, Orlando’s inability to set guys up in the right corner (somehow only 70 attempts on the year) is a failure.

It is particularly egregious when you consider how many mid-range shots the Magic attempt at the top of the key and how poorly they shoot from that spot.

According to Basketball-Reference, Evan Fournier is shooting 50 percent from 3-pointers in the corner this season, yet it only comprises nine percent of his total 3-point attempts.

When you consider Evan Fournier is shooting a career-low 33.2 percent from three so far this year, the Magic may want to find him more in that right corner to add a new and effective dimension to the offense.

Here is the Magic shooting Heat Map:

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What we can take away from this is similar to what we saw in their shot zone chart.

The Magic seemingly take a bunch of mid-range shots, potentially at the cost of some threes on the right side of the court.

But what is very interesting is that overall, the Magic shoot better from the left corner than they do from the mid-range 40.8 percent vs 40.3 percent. But the Magic have accumulated nearly 400 more mid-range attempts than 3-point attempts.

While the construction of this Magic roster dictates the Magic shoot more mid-range shots than your standard NBA team, they can still do a better job of finding more corner 3-point looks.

One thing the Magic may want to try is using Vucevic as a decoy in the corner. I am not sure if Vucevic is not comfortable shooting corner threes but the distance in the corner is nearly the same as his favorite long mid-range jumpers.

Opposing teams may feel safe leaving Jonathon Simmons open in the corner but Vucevic might get better spacing. Granted, Vucevic is far more effective as a passer at the top of the key, so this would sacrifice that advantage for the team to use him as solely a floor spacer.

This gets to the heart of the Magic’s roster problems. There are simply not enough quality shooters to space the floor.

For example, using Nikola Vucevic to space the floor would finally allow Aaron Gordon to be used as roll man (which has been a rarity throughout his career).

The Magic are certainly limited because of their players’ skill sets. But their offense has been countered by scouting.  It is time for the Magic to counter back with some new offensive wrinkles and shot distribution.

Next. Nikola Vucevic's All-Star hopes tied to Orlando Magic's success. dark

Clearly, Orlando has to do a better job getting more quality 3-point attempts. And nothing is more quality than the corner 3-pointer. This is a weakness in the offense, and it is no wonder the Magic rank near the bottom in offensive rating.