5 Orlando Magic lineups that are struggling and how to save them

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Nikola Vucevic, Gary Clark, Orlando Magic, Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls
The pairing of Gary Clark and Nikola Vucevic has come with marginal success and effect for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Cole Anthony-Dwayne Bacon-James Ennis-Gary Clark-Nikola Vucevic

28 minutes, 94.8 Off. Rtg., 133.3 Def. Rtg., -38.5 Net Rtg.

The Orlando Magic were undoubtedly put into a pickle when Aaron Gordon went down with his injury. They have been in one for the entire season with the injuries the team faced at power forward. Like last season, the team has essentially been down a position. The brief hope is that a young player like Chuma Okeke can provide some stability and dynamism to the role.

Because, frankly, Gary Clark is not doing the job in the starting lineup.

The Magic have a -7.6 net rating with Clark on the floor this year, which is actually one of the better marks on the team. But notably, it is worse than Chuma Okeke (-3.6 net rating) and Aaron Gordon (-4.6 net rating), the two players essentially ahead of him on the depth chart.

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Again that is nothing to write home about. It is not like the Magic have a lot of options. But it says something the team plays better with two other power forward options rather than Clark.

If there is an adjustment the Magic are probably aiming to make, it is with Clark. He is averaging 3.3 points per game and shooting 25.4-percent from beyond the arc. Clark was meant to be a true stretch-4 who plays solid defense. But the stretch-4 part is failing the team. He just is not shooting the ball well.

While Clark is the easy out for some of these lineups, he can be a player who fills in gaps and defends well. The shooting looks bad, but there are lineups that work with Clark in them.

The common thread in them is offensive balance.

For instance, replacing James Ennis with Terrence Ross in the above lineup has the Magic playing with a +20.0 net rating (granted in just 11 minutes). Playing this lineup with Terrence Ross and Khem Birch has the Magic with a +27.1 net rating.

Putting it another way, the Magic have a +18.8 net rating when Gary Clark shares the floor with both Cole Anthony and Terrence Ross and a +3.6 net rating when Evan Fournier is in for Terrence Ross.

Clark’s negative impact is probably overstated because of his poor individual stats. What really needs to happen for Clark to be successful is for him to be on the floor with other shooters (perimeter shooters rather than Nikola Vucevic as a big man).

Replacing Ennis especially for Ross is probably the best way to get more from this lineup. Especially as Anthony continues to get comfortable on a NBA floor and improve as a shooter.