Orlando Magic have big shoes to fill without D.J. Augustin

D.J. Augustin has had a frustrating season statistically. But he still proves to be vitally important for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
D.J. Augustin has had a frustrating season statistically. But he still proves to be vitally important for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic seemed destined to let D.J. Augustin leave in free agency. But his absence will be a difficult one for the team to fill.

As expected, D.J. Augustin left the Orlando Magic after four successful seasons in pinstripes. He decided to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks on a three-year deal for $21 million.

The Magic have clearly moved on despite all that Augustin gave them the last four years. The team handed the reigns over to Markelle Fultz last year as the starting point guard. They still have high hopes for him. And then Orlando drafted another ball handler in Cole Anthony.

The writing was on the wall there. As it was with the direction the Magic want to take their offense — going more up-tempo, which does not fit Augustin’s style of play.

The decision to move on seemed inevitable. But the Magic are indeed losing something in letting Augustin go. He was a veteran player who did a good job staying on young players and managing games when he was in. He was well-liked in the locker room and a player that many players wanted to be on the floor with.

Replacing Augustin will not be easy.

It is imperative to look at his recent track record. D.J. Augustin proved to be a very impressive jump shooter and highly efficient in the pick and roll, particularly with center Nikola Vucevic.

He also provided good veteran leadership by becoming a good guy to mentor younger players and the consummate professional as a teammate on and off the court.

That is likely what the Bucks were thinking in signing him, using him to spread the floor around Giannis Antetokounmpo or as a pick-and-roll option with Brook Lopez.

Augustin is also super crafty with his dribbling on the court. Think of the old man at your local gym. Specifically, he is able to change directions and know when to accelerate or slow down. Using shoulder bumps or pump fakes to catch his defender off balance so they can’t prognosticate his next move.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

While not the most physically imposing player, he actually proved to be a very competent defender last season and overall improved a ton under coach Steve Clifford. Team defense is his strength, but he needs to work on his isolation defense. His defensive rating was a very respectable 104.6. But given his size, he can get overpowered by bigger guards.

One attribute that is both Orlando’s loss and Milwaukee’s gain is his ability to protect the basketball.

He might not be James Harden or LeBron James when it comes to assists, but he averaged more four assists per game coming off the bench and his assists-turnover ratio was a quite impressive 3.05 last season.

It helped that his decision making and basketball IQ have improved with age. But I would be surprised if that ratio stabilized or even improved because the Bucks played at the fastest pace last season, which is not an innate fit for the 33-year-old backup.

Still, he can be a productive backup point guard and Orlando will need more out of either Michael Carter-Williams or Cole Anthony to fill that void.

Neither of those two players are as adroit at shooting or protecting the ball as Augustin is.

Orlando will likely need both Carter-Williams and Anthony to become at least respectable in catch and shoot situations. They will have to do this in particular because with Markelle Fultz running the point, they will not get to have the ball as much in his hands.

All things considered, Orlando needs some solid production off the bench from the point guard spot. Somebody who can end up averaging close to 10 points, two rebounds, five assists, half a steal per game and shoots in the low-40s from the field, 37-percent from behind the arc, and in the low-80s from the charity stripe off the bench.

That is a doable task, especially now that Anthony and Carter-Williams are both healthy. But neither have done that to this point in their career — pro or college.

Anthony now feels refreshed and recharged after coming back from a torn meniscus for the good of his team with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Meanwhile, Carter-Williams should be fine after injuring his foot in the bubble, which precluded him from playing in the playoffs.

Next. Three Magic players set to make a major impact. dark

Still, they have relatively big shoes to fill. Augustin did a lot for this Magic team and he will be missed.