2018-19 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Evan Fournier

Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier's struggles in the playoffs highlights many of the Magic's biggest weaknesses. (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier's struggles in the playoffs highlights many of the Magic's biggest weaknesses. (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards
ORLANDO, FL – JANUARY 25: Evan Fournier #10 of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball against the Washington Wizards on January 25, 2019 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Good and the Bad

Per Game Table
2018-19 81 31.5 .438 .340 .509 .806 3.2 3.6 0.9 1.9 15.1
Career 457 28.0 .446 .371 .522 .805 2.8 2.5 0.8 1.6 13.5

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2019.

Evan Fournier statistically had perhaps his worst season in an Orlando Magic uniform.

For the first time in his career, he did not increase his scoring average from the previous year. He shot a career-worst 34.0 percent from beyond the arc. The one thing he was supposed to give the Magic was that outside shooting presence, and that is where he struggled most.

Fournier tried to explain it throughout the season, but could come up with little reason for why his shot just seemed to be off.

This was most present during the playoffs. Fournier’s struggles were one of the big reasons that series with the Toronto Raptors was so lopsided. He made only 8 of 34 3-pointers (23.5 percent), including just 1 for 8 performance in Game 3. It was hard to say many of those looks were bad looks too. Those are shots the team expects Fournier to make.

If Fournier makes one or two of those 3-pointers, the Magic almost certainly win that game and force a sixth game in the series (and take a 2-1 series lead). Orlando needed someone to hit some outside shots to loosen the defense and give Nikola Vucevic more room to operate. Everyone looked a bit hesitant and Fournier’s poor shooting only increased that hesitancy.

Everything with Fournier has to start with his shooting because that is his primary role. He had some good stretches throughout the season where he was able to hit shots and get himself going.

The season was not a complete loss for him though.

Related Story. 2019 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Evan Fournier. light

Evan Fournier was a better defender and someone Steve Clifford came to trust on that end. Maybe not as the primary defender on the best players in the league, but he held his own.

He did a good job defending James Harden — or at least containing his impact — in two close games against the Houston Rockets. The idea of Fournier guarding someone like Harden was probably a nightmare in previous years. But the Magic obviously benefited from the efforts.

According to Basketball-Reference, Fournier had a career-best 2.5 defensive win shares and -1.1 defensive box plus-minus. He may not have been a positive defensive player — and playing with the best defensive team of his career certainly helped boost his numbers — but he was clearly improving and able to contribute in spots.

The Magic had a 107.7 defensive rating with Fournier on the floor, slightly above their season average. So Fournier’s defensive impact is certainly only by comparison to the rest of his career.

The promising part of Fournier’s game was his playmaking and passing. Fournier developed a bit of a reputation of searching for his own shot too much. Indeed, there are still moments where it feels like Fournier takes a “my turn” approach to his shot selection.

But adding some passing and playmaking helped boost his value through his shooting struggles. He averaged a career-high 3.6 assists per game. And that helped get the team moving, especially as Fournier worked more off the ball. Orlando put the ball in his hands a lot in the half court especially with the second units he played with.

That all helped blunt the effects of his poor shooting. But clearly, it was not a good season for Fournier. Or not everything the Magic hoped it would be from Fournier.