Orlando Magic built defensive foundation, but saw concerning slips

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Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets
Evan Fournier and the Orlando Magic moved the ball exceptionally well to defeat the Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Offensive Rebound Rate

2020 NBA Median 2019 NBA Median
Full Season 26.7 26.7 25.9 26.9
Pre-All-Star Break 26.5 26.5 25.1 27.3
Post-All-Star Break 27.3 27.2 28.1 26.6
NBA Campus 25.8 26.4
Playoffs 17.2 25.3 26.0 26.4

Defensive Rebound Rate

2020 NBA Median 2019 NBA Median
Full Season 75.7 73.2 75.4 72.8
Pre-All-Star Break 74.5 73.0 74.6 72.9
Post-All-Star Break 75.9 73.4 77.6 73.1
NBA Campus 75.7 74.5
Playoffs 78.0 75.2 79.6 72.3

Similar to turnover rate, offensive rebounds are often associated with fast-break opportunities. The Van Gundy school of coaches often tell their teams to abandon offensive rebounds (except for easy opportunities) and get back in transition.

However, even Steve Clifford has started to admit that with offenses running so efficiently, that committing at least a few players to the offensive glass to try to steal easy points is becoming more important. The trade-off or risk of going after the glass versus giving up transition points is starting to change.

This year was certainly proof of that.

The Magic were tied for 18th with 12.7 second-chance points per game. And for an offensive-starved team, trying to get easier points and second bites at the apple might be worth the risk.

The team was at the league median for offensive rebound rate this season. The Magic were attacking the offensive glass more. But this will be something they continue to examine and debate throughout the years.

Where Clifford is uncompromising is on the defensive glass. This is something that is non-negotiable in his defense and a key to the defense’s success. The Magic hold their opponents to one shot, collect the ball and either try to get out in transition or set up the offense. But not giving away second-chance points is vital to the Magic’s defensive success.

This season, the Magic gave up only 11.2 second-chance points, the fewest in the league.

That is a positive sign. But the Magic certainly need to be better on the glass too even if they are very good on the glass overall.

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Orlando finished seventh this year in defensive-rebound rate and are actually third in defensive-rebound rate in the Playoffs this year. The Magic are largely a good defensive rebounding team.

At least statistically.

The team was third in defensive rebound rate last year and tops after the All-Star Break (the team jumped to second in the league after this year’s All-Star Break). But Clifford complained a lot about the team’s poor physicality on the glass throughout the season.

When presented with the statistics that his team was rebounding at a higher rater than last year, he dismissed it pretty summarily. There is definitely something extra that goes into rebounding.

The team had several moments where it gave up rebounds at crucial times — the loss to the Boston Celtics inside the campus stands out most immediately.

This should continue to be an area of strength for the Magic. It will help them build a strong defensive base. But Orlando could stand to be better rebounders. Especially digging out critical rebounds late in games and rebounding outside of their area.

Like their rebounding, the Magic’s defense statistically still looks fairly strong. It still seems to get the job done and has solid fundamentals.

But Orlando still has work to do. Something was very clearly off about the team defensively. It might end up going down to personnel and the kind of players the Magic trust. They very well might have maxed themselves out defensively.

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But the foundation is clearly there to be a decent enough team to compete for a playoff spot as is.