Orlando Magic’s offense still the team’s biggest problem

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Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic were able to get to the foul line more in the 2020 season. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Free Throw Rate

2020 NBA Median 2019 NBA Median
Full Season 25.6 26.3 21.6 25.7
Pre-All-Star Break 24.9 25.7 21.5 26.1
Post-All-Star Break 27.7 27.3 21.7 25.2
NBA Campus 31.9 30.3
Playoffs 23.7 28.2 26.7 28.5

Secretly, one area that has held the Orlando Magic’s offense back since Dwight Howard’s departure has been the team’s unable to get to the foul line. The Magic have had some of the worst free-throw rates in the league since that time.

Free throw rate — free throw attempts divided by field goal attempts — is not necessarily correlated with winning or even good offense. The San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics have long been low on the free-throw rate lists but still post strong offenses. But without great outside shooting, the Magic are playing with another hand behind their back when they cannot get easy baskets at the rim.

Last year, it was just generally a problem. Even when the Magic offense zoomed ahead after the All-Star Break, they were not getting to the foul line.

The good news this year was that the Magic, while still ranking in the bottom-10 of the league, started to get to the foul line more. This could be an area within the offense the Magic try to develop more.

Markelle Fultz forced more action and was able to get to the foul line a bit more and Aaron Gordon was more aggressive getting to the foul line. Terrence Ross was good at drawing fouls on his 3-point attempts.

This was an area the Magic showed some improvement in. Still, Orlando does not have many players forcing drives and forcing the kind of rotations that will create free throw opportunities. Nikola Vucevic has an appallingly low free throw rate for a center. It is probably the biggest criticism of his offense.

Finding a way to get easy shots from the foul line and forcing some action to get to the foul line would be a big piece of the team’s increased pace and offensive improvement. This is a part of the game the Magic need to attack more and grow as they try to grow their offense.

That much was proven this year when the team’s offensive rating rose with the team’s free throw rate.

There are a lot of elements that will be needed to improve the Magic’s offense. Shooting is certainly at the heart of a lot of it.

But the Magic knew the offense would be a problem. They never imagined it would be better than the top half of the league. So perhaps Orlando found something it can grow and build around entering next season.

Next. Evaluations: Wesley Iwundu there in emergencies. dark

The quieter but more troubling concern might be on defense. And that is what we will analyze in our next post.