Orlando Magic should target a scorer at trade deadline

Kyle Kuzma has struggled with the Los Angeles Lakers this year but could be the kind of scorer the Orlando Magic are looking for. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kyle Kuzma has struggled with the Los Angeles Lakers this year but could be the kind of scorer the Orlando Magic are looking for. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic may need to make a move before the trade deadline to solidify its offense and ensure stability for their Playoff run.

The Orlando Magic are struggling through an inconsistent season.

The team is now at its lowest point of the year at 21-27. They sit relatively comfortably in the playoff race, a half-game ahead fo the Brooklyn Nets for seventh and 2.5 games up on the Chicago Bulls for eighth.

Things in the league can change very quickly. Orlando has ridden high one moment only to come crashing quickly.

After a shocking victory against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers a few weeks ago, the Orlando Magic lost two straight before beating the Charlotte Hornets. The loss to the LA Clippers was expected but the loss to the Golden State Warriors is glaring.

Then the team returned home and lost three straight games — all against quality opponents — to put themselves at a seeming crossroads as they get a mini-break to finish January.

The series of games on that West Coast road trip show the Magic still have the problem they had last year playing up or down to their competition. Such is the lot of a .500 team.

Even with a favorable remaining schedule, the Orlando Magic are not likely to catch the Philadelphia 76ers for sixth in the East. Orlando is looking to hold onto the same spot the team earned last year.

It may take a massive change in the roster to cure this issue and get the team into the next tier of Eastern Conference contenders.

How the Magic cure that issue is one of the biggest and most difficult questions to answer moving forward.

There are still no superstar players on this roster. The team is not likely to have an All-Star representative this year. The Magic’s best players are bumping up against their potential and have not been able to deliver so far this season. Not at the highest levels consistently, at least.

With the trade deadline approaching quickly, it may be time for the Magic organization to make a move for a player who can change this sort of mentality and provide consistent offense.

Orlando ranks 26th in the league in offensive rating (105.1 points per 100 possessions), 29th in effective field goal percentage (48.9 percent) and 28th in 3-point field goal percentage (33.4 percent).

The Magic’s defense has had bouts of inconsistency, but it is still among the top-10 in the league for the entire season. Very clearly, the team’s offense is the thing holding this Magic team back.

One player who may fit that mold is the 24-year-old Lakers small forward Kyle Kuzma.

Although Kuzma is only averaging 12.9 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game for a championship-contending team right now, he has more offensive upside than any player currently on the Magic roster. Even Aaron Gordon, who would probably be a trade piece if a deal would go down.

Kuzma has shown plenty of offensive burst too. His season-high this year was a 36-point performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in January.

Kuzma has not flourished as much as the Lakers have expected him to in his third year as a pro. He has taken on a smaller role after averaging 16.5 points per game for his career, largely with a rebuilding Lakers team.

As Los Angeles looks to add the final piece to complete its championship picture, the organization may be looking to move the young forward. A player who would fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis better than what Kyle Kuzma has shown so far.

Kuzma has actually declined statistically after Davis arrived. Last year, before Davis showed up, Kuzma averaged 18.7 points per game on 45.6-percent shooting from the field and a 51.5-percent effective field goal percentage.

His decline this year could be contributed to the limited minutes and lack of shots he is putting up. Last year he averaged 15.5 field goal attempts per game as the second offensive option. Now, he is only averaging 11.3 as the third option. He has not figured out how to put up big numbers in less time yet.

If he was in Orlando, it would be hard for coach Steve Clifford to take him off of the floor considering how well he shoots the basketball. All he needs is a coach that allows him to be the first or second option offensively.

While the Magic are probably not going to trade Aaron Gordon, he is the trade piece that can get the job done. A player who is considered more seasoned than Kuzma and definitely more athletic. To get any kind of offensive player, it would probably cost Gordon. He is the player with the most potential left on the Magic roster.

But like Kuzma, Gordon is not having a great year either. His stats seem to continue to plummet but he is still only 24-years of age.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

This year he is averaging 13.3 points per game on 41.8-percent shooting from the field. Gordon is a considerably better rebounder than Kuzma in his sixth year. And Gordon is considered a much better defender too — Gordon has a +0.7 defensive box plus-minus as the primary defender for the Magic compared to Kuzma’s -2.1 defensive box plus-minus with the Lakers, according to Basketball-Reference.

We have already seen how Gordon has fared without another superstar on the roster, and we have evidence on how Kuzma plays with a superstar player like James calling the shots.

Kuzma seems to be the type of player who can create his own shot at will if given the opportunity. He can get hot and score a lot of points — as he did when he scored a career-high 41 points against the Detroit Pistons last year.

Another group that would be a nice fit would be players like CJ McCollum, Buddy Hield or Bogdan Bogdanovic.

These are players capable of hitting from the outside and scoring a bunch of points in a hurry. The Magic are missing that kind of offensive spurt. Orlando needs to find players who can space the floor for Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac in the long-term.

This year McCollum is averaging 21.6 points per game and shooting 38.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Hield is coming off an incredible 42-point performance Monday night coming off the bench for the Sacramento Kings in their come-from-behind win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is averaging 20.5 points per game and shooting 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.

His teammate in Bogdanovic has averaged 14.3 points per game and is shooting 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. He has a ton of promise and his restricted free agency this summer is going to be one of the most interesting stories this summer.

Next. Orlando Magic must be more diverse late in games. dark

It is not clear any of these four players are available. But the Magic have to put their focus on finding a scorer and shooting to boost this team moving forward.