2021 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: There is such thing as too much Dwayne Bacon

Dwayne Bacon has continued to put in points and do his work as the Orlando Magic try to finish the season. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Dwayne Bacon has continued to put in points and do his work as the Orlando Magic try to finish the season. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports /

Streaky, crazy finishes and erratic shooting have become the name of the game for Dwayne Bacon. So much so that Bally Sports Florida analyst Jeff Turner took to making puns for the wild finishes Bacon would try at the rim such as the “pancetta shredda” or “extra crispy.”

It is not all his fault. Just like bacon, you never have a breakfast of just bacon, it is more of a complement food, something you have with eggs and hash browns.

Ok, maybe some do have bacon as their main dish instead of a side, but the analogy fits well with how Bacon played this season.

After the Magic traded away Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, Dwayne Bacon became one of the primary scorers for the rebuilding Magic, overdriving his penchant for scoring and shooting and not much else.

It was clear from the start, Bacon was not brought in to be a starter. He was brought in as a role player who could if needed, slide in and out of the starting lineup. His ability to score at the rim and create off the dribble on occasion would give the Magic another option off the bench. Bacon did just that, at least up until the trade deadline.

But too much Bacon clogged the Magic’s basketball arteries.

After Vucevic, Fournier and Gordon were traded, Steve Clifford made the decision to bring him into the starting lineup. That is when Bacon’s weaknesses became apparent, very apparent.

Dwayne Bacon was a solid pick-up for the Orlando Magic as a minimum player. But the team relied on him too much and saw his flaws on display especially as they relied on him more.

For the season, Bacon averaged a career-high of 10.9 points per game while shooting a 44.9-percent effective field goal percentage. He was a sub-30-percent 3-point shooter. In a season where the Magic were hit hard with injuries, Bacon was the only player to appear in all 72 games.

A player’s best ability is availability, especially in this season. And Bacon was always available. That along with the trust Clifford had in him with veterans Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis constantly in and out of the lineup, was both a boon and a bust for the team.

In the 50 games Bacon started, he averaged 28.1 minutes per game, 12.1 points per game and had a plus-minus of -6.9 points per game. Compared to the 22 games that Bacon played off of the bench, the difference is obvious.

In those 22 games, Bacon averaged 20.3 minutes per game, 8.3 points per game and had a plus-minus of -4.4 points per game.

As a starter, he shot 40.3-percent from the field on 11 shots per game and off the bench, he shot 40.1-percent on seven shots per game. He also shot 33.3-percent from behind the arc off the bench as opposed to the 26.9-percent when he started.

The fewer minutes and shots Bacon took, the better. Unfortunately, that is about the only skill Bacon consistently brings to the table at the moment.

It was clear the Magic were asking too much of Bacon. The team asked him to be the team’s leading shot creator which led to questionable decisions and bad shots.

Bacon was also not much of a passer. He finished his season with 1.3 assists per game, a poor number considering 19.8-percent usage rate.

According to data from Second Spectrum, Bacon’s 3.0 potential assists per game were the eighth fewest among guards who played at least 25.0 minutes per game. His 3.5 points created by assists per game were the second-fewest in that group.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

He and Gary Harris had the fewest passes made by guards who played at least 25 minutes per game in the entire league.

Too much Bacon lays on the fat indeed.

Another telling piece of evidence that Bacon was much better in a limited role was how he performed in the Magic’s 21 wins.

In the 21 wins, Bacon averaged 23 minutes pergame and 9.9 points per game. Most importantly, he shot 49.7-percent from the field in those wins.

In the 51 losses, Bacon averaged 26.8 minutes per game and 11.4 points per game. But he only shot 37.5-percent from the field in those games. Bacon also had a plus-minus of -0.9 per game in the wins and a plus-minus of -8.3 per game in the losses.

While the Magic still had Vucevic, Fournier and Gordon for 15 of the 21 wins, that goes to show that Bacon was more impactful when he was not the number one option.

The chances the Magic keep the current roster, especially with Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac returning next season, is low.

With a young core and low expectations, Jeff Weltman has room to experiment and build a new foundation. They may look to sign better players in free agency or possibly trade players for more cap flexibility.

Even though Bacon had a rough season on one of the worst teams in the league, the Magic should still be inclined to keep the young forward because of his team-friendly contract — only $1.6 million is guaranteed for next year.

For the value he brings off the bench, the Magic should not have any incentive to trade him unless an offer is made, possibly for a second-round pick. Teams are most likely not calling for Dwayne Bacon, especially with Terrence Ross, a better shot-creating wing, on the roster.

The Magic are full-speed ahead to a rebuild. Believe it or not, Bacon is only 25 which aligns with the plethora of young players Orlando has.

The road ahead will be rocky and the Magic may need an older player to provide some stability. Keep in mind, Bacon played productive minutes off the bench. It was when he was asked to do more that his play fell off.

Assuming the Magic make future-oriented moves in the offseason and sign solid players to nurture and develop the young talent, Bacon should be playing in his best role. But the Magic’s roster is already quite full. Bacon is not likely a priority for the team and Bacon’s contract does not become guaranteed until just after the moratorium ends.

Expectations are low. It is as simple as that. For at least the next three years, the Magic will be building from the ground up and Bacon may well be a part of that at least for one more year.

In the best-case scenario, Bacon plays his role well enough to earn himself a new contract with the Magic or another interested team. Until then, he will have time to grow in his fourth year in the league.

In the worst-case scenario, the additions to the roster and the need for more solid veteran role players pushes him out the door despite a career statistical season.

DWAYNE BACON. C. . F. Orlando Magic

While there may be some hand wringing in the future when he makes a questionable drive to the rim, Bacon is still young and has room to grow into a solid rotation player.

Next. 5 biggest questions for the Orlando Magic. dark

He will need to learn to play in the flow of the game and play a winning style of basketball. But, don’t count him out from making an impact off the bench.