The Orlando Magic need to find a way to improve, and being able to bring in Chuma Okeke without using assets during the offseason would be the best way.
The Orlando Magic has a well-known weakness. And this season can be used as evidence the Magic’s offense needs improvement.
Before the All-Star break, the Magic had one of the worst offenses in the league scoring 103.9 points per game, the second-worst in the NBA. They had the 27th-best offense in the league by offensive rating, scoring only 105.5 points per 100 possessions.
The team had an uptick on that end after the break before the league went on hiatus — 117.8 points per 100 possessions and 119.8 points per game, both tops in the league. They certainly are capable of scoring a ton of points.
But looking at the larger trends from the season and where the team was last year, 22nd in the league in offensive rating despite a similarly strong finish to the season on that end, offense and shooting are major weaknesses for the team.
The need on offense is clear. The question is how the Magic should address the issue. The obvious answers would be through an offseason acquisition — in free agency, through a trade or in the draft.
However, the answer might already be on the roster. Well, sort of.
The Magic have an ace up their sleeve in rookie Chuma Okeke.
Orlando selected the forward with the 16th pick of last year’s draft. However, the team and Chuma Okeke opted to forego his true rookie year. He did not sign his standard rookie contract, opting to rehab his torn ACL with the Lakeland Magic this season.
The goal was for Okeke to join the main squad as a rookie for the 2021 season.
What the Magic are getting is uncertain because of his recovery from the injury. But Okeke can be a big help on the offensive end next season.
In his last season with the Auburn Tigers, he averaged 12.0 points per game on 38.7-percent shooting from three. During the SEC and NCAA Tournaments in 2019, Okeke averaged 12.7 points per game, raising that to 15.0 points per game in three NCAA Tournament games.
Okeke scored 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the Auburn Tigers’ Sweet 16 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. Of course, that was when he tore his ACL and missed out on the rest of the Tigers’ run.
Okeke projected to be a versatile forward who could hit the outside shot and run the floor to finish at the rim. He was a player a ton of statistical models loved for his steals and blocks rate. He was certainly a defender who fits the Magic’s eye.
But his shooting is still what is most promising as the Magic begin to think about how he integrates into the team.
He made 12 of his final 24 3-point attempts last season across those final four games. He may not be a knock-down shooter, but Okeke seems like he should be reliable from that range, provided he returns fully healthy.
The Magic can add shooting to a roster that needs help spreading the floor. That skill set is what Orlando needs this season. It would be a welcome sight to see to go along with whatever the Magic decide to do during the offseason.
Orlando needs to address their offense to balance out their team finally. Okeke would be an easy way to work towards that goal. He should be able to contribute quickly on that end. Again, that is if he recovers fully from his injury and can catch on quickly with what looks like a shortened offseason with the NBA currently on hiatus.
Of course, the Magic still needs to fix other issues. It will not be an overnight fix.
The Magic need to find a way to improve. Being able to bring in Okeke without using assets during the offseason is a huge bonus for a team still looking to improve. They have no reason not to think Okeke can contribute in some form and help boost their shooting in some way.
While there is no question that offense is the biggest area that the Magic need work on, the question is how the front office should address the problem in question. While the draft and free agency are options the Magic have to keep exploring, Okeke should be a key to the grand solution for this team.
He will be vital to the team continuing to step up next year.