Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier is putting the league on notice

Evan Fournier has continued to put up solid scoring numbers to lead the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Evan Fournier has continued to put up solid scoring numbers to lead the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier has started to put the league on notice as he has turned in an All-Star-level run to start the season.

Going into this season, Evan Fournier had to have a bounce-back year.

Last season, Evan Fournier averaged 15.1 points per game on a disappointing 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from three, both lows for his time with the Magic. His shooting never came around and it cost the Orlando Magic later in the playoffs.

Nobody really knew what to expect from Fournier this season. He had a strong run at the FIBA World Cup, leading France to the bronze medal and earning a spot on the All-Tournament team. For at least the context of that tournament, Fournier was one of the best players in the world.

The Magic did not really know what they would get when he returned to the NBA.

What Orlando has gotten is a player surpassing everything the team needed him to produce. And Fournier has quickly put the entire league on notice, putting up All-Star-level numbers and helping keep the Magic in the early playoff race.

Orlando is not where it is without Fournier and he is very clearly the player making the biggest impact through the first quarter of the season.

After Nikola Vucevic went down with his ankle injury against the Toronto Raptors, the Orlando Magic offense needed someone to step up in a big way. Fournier took on that responsibility.

Now, Fournier has put the Magic offense on his shoulders and is keeping them in games.   This season, Fournier is averaging a career-high 19.8 points per game on 49.2-percent shooting from the field, including a career-best 44.6 percent from three.

This level of shooting is something Orlando desperately needs. Fournier taking up a role that not many thought he would be able to take on has been critical to the team staying afloat and staying in the early playoff race.

In the last seven games, Fournier has averaged 25.1 points per game and shooting 50.0 percent from the floor, including 43.6 percent from beyond the arc.

The big part is he is scoring in different ways. He has shown growth as a scorer and is keeping defenses on their heels. He is scoring more off the dribble, weaving in and out of the lane and stepping back to create space.

Fournier ranks in the 80th percentile as the ball-handler in pick and rolls, scoring 0.99 points per possession on those plays. The Magic score on 45.1 percent of these plays and Fournier has a 51.9 percent effective field goal percentage in pick and rolls.

He is even better as a spot-up shooter. In those situations, Fournier ranks in the 82nd percentile, scoring 1.24 points per possession on spot-up jumpers with a 63.4 percent effective field goal percentage.

Offensively, Fournier is not among the elite. But he remains among the very good. And that has only gotten better lately.

Fournier has also taken some responsibility as a playmaker. Although he is only averaging 3.3 assists per game, he is doing well at driving into the lane and kicking the ball out to shooters.

Evan Fournier trails only point guards D.J. Augustin and Markelle Fultz with 7.3 potential assists per game, according to Second Spectrum. Fournier also has a team-leading 0.8 secondary assists per game, the so-called hockey assist where his pass leads to an assist.

Both of those numbers are up from last year — 6.9 potential assists per game, second on the team, and 0.5 secondary assists per game. Fournier’s raw passing numbers are down, but there is at least some indication, he is doing a better job making plays for others.

As a result, this has made other players better by creating space for them to work. That has been true for Aaron Gordon who finally broke out of his slump, scoring 18 and 32 points in his last two games.

Fournier is showing that last year’s shooting struggles were a mirage. He has bounced back in a major way, silencing doubters who were ready to move on from the longtime starting shooting guard.

There is still a lot of season left. But Fournier’s consistent play to start the season has defenses already shifting and changing how they defend him. Fournier will have to learn how to play with this added attention.

It will be interesting too how his production will change once Nikola Vucevic comes back but as of now, he has been playing near an all-star level and has kept the Magic above water.

Next. Markelle Fultz finds his home on the court again. dark

His play needs to continue to make sure the Magic stays connected to the playoff race.