How the Orlando Magic answered our questions throughout the year

The Orlando Magic have had their struggles throughout the season and have left plenty of our questions unanswered. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic have had their struggles throughout the season and have left plenty of our questions unanswered. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat
Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic laid a small claim to the state in a January win over the Miami Heat. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

Will the Orlando Magic’s shooting get back to normal?

The story of the first quarter of the season had little to do with the team’s record. It felt like the Magic were playing well. They had one of the best and most devastating defenses in the league. They were not getting blown out or beaten at any point. Each game was competitive.

It just felt like the Magic were getting held back by their own offense. And it was not anything other than the simple act of making shots.

Coach Steve Clifford has had to answer this question throughout the season, but none more so than in the first quarter of the season. He was happy with the team’s shot selection, the Magic just needed to make the ones they were getting.

In the first quarter of the season, the Magic shot 43.5 percent from the floor (fourth-worst in the league) and 33.0 percent from beyond the arc (also fourth-worst in the league). Their 104.9 offensive rating was the seventh-worst in the league.

It was made worse by the fact the Magic were shooting a 51.9-percent effective field goal percentage on shots where the closest defender was six or more feet away (third-worst in the league) on 18.9 such attempts per game (15th most in the league).

They were shooting a 45.4-percent effective field goal percentage (ninth-worst in the league) on 18.5 field goal attempts (sixth-worst) when the closest opponent was 4-6 feet away.

Nobody expected the Magic’s offense to outshoot anyone this year. But it was still clear to expect them to be better than this. It felt like the Magic were just stuck in an unprecedented shooting slump. Eventually, the numbers would even out.

It is hard to say that they did. For the season, the Magic are shooting 44.2 percent from the floor (27th in the league) and 34.1 percent from deep (25th in the league). The numbers never really corrected themselves to get back to close to what they were at last year.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

The whole season has been played waiting for these numbers to correct. There would be various times of the season when things would click and then they would dissipate.

Terrence Ross had struggled to shoot (40.7 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from deep). D.J. Augustin has really struggled from deep especially (34.5 percent from the floor). And the Magic saw regression from deep from Nikola Vucevic (32.9 percent on 4.6 attempts per game) and Aaron Gordon (30.1 percent).

It all added up to a team that was still struggling to find some offensive rhythm.

It is hard to know whether the Magic had truly turned a corner. As bad as all those stats were, the Magic had put together the best offense since the All-Star Break. Their 117.8 offensive rating leads the league and their 55.2-percent effective field goal percentage is ninth.

Players like Terrence Ross (50.6 percent), Michael Carter-Williams (36.4 percent) and D.J. Augustin (39.4 percent) finally found their rhythm from deep. And James Ennis and Wesley Iwundu were reliable 3-point shooters in the last 10 games. The Magic started attacking the paint more and playing at a faster, more determined pace.

Of course, it took all the way to the final quarter of the season to find this rhythm. And who knows what it will look like when they get back on the floor.

Have the Magic found their shooting touch? That is still too soon to say. Ten games is a significant sample, but not enough to make any conclusions. It felt like the Magic were shooting far below average, but that might have been closer to their normal than we want to admit.