Orlando Magic Small Forward review
Why Houstan and Ross need to produce off the bench
Franz Wagner is not perfect and will be nowhere near perfect in his second year. He showed tremendous upside and potential on both sides of the floor but he still has areas of his game he needs to work on.
He needs to improve his mid-range game a lot. Since Wagner is in a lot of ball handling and pick-and-roll situations he must improve from the midrange.
He shot 20 percent on catch and shoot midranges and 37.5 percent on pull up mid-range shots. This has to improve if he wants to continue being one of the primary ball handlers when he is on the floor.
This season he made 12 of his 40 mid-range attempts and he was 15th worst in the league for players who shot at least 150 pull-up mid-range shots.
He also needs to get to the free throw line more.
For someone who had more than 400 driving shot attempts and shot 86.3 percent from the line, he has to be taking more than 2.8 free throws per game. He has to learn how to draw contact and be more aggressive when he takes it to the hoop.
He shot the second-best free throw percentage for rotational players on the Magic, so he has to figure out how he can get to the line more.
These are just a few flaws to his game, and he is just in his second year, when he is struggling the bench has to come in and be able to somewhat make up for his production.
His shot-making, passing, defense and perimeter shooting at the small forward position are key, so when he is not in or struggling he needs help.
Terrence Ross had an unacceptable career-worst season and needs to bounce back in order for the Magic to have any chance at success. He is supposed to be the veteran presence that shows and teaches the youth, but if anything he played the most like a rookie out of the small forwards.
He needs to start hitting his threes again, keep attacking the basket, and pick it up on the defensive end in order to be successful in his role coming off the bench for the Magic. If his numbers continue to drop he will see a drop in his minutes as well.
A young Franz Wagner and a struggling Terrence Ross makes all the opportunity for Caleb Houstan. Although he is only coming off his freshamn year in college, his game is NBA-ready and he should flourish in a backup role.
His elite three-point shooting, especially off the catch and shoot, and his potential on the defensive end and playmaking gives him all the opportunity to earn minutes and his role this season. He fits in with the young core, loves to get out in transition, and excels in all the areas the Magic struggle in.
If Houstan can be a spark and make an impact off the bench, and Ross can have a bounce-back season and be the player he normally is, then Franz will not have to worry about carrying the small forwards of the Magic. He can get rest and make mistakes as a young player should, and he can develop without having the weight of being the only productive small forward.
Magic fans should be excited to see Wagner continue to take steps to stardom, to see Ross come back with a vengeance and to see what Houstan can bring to the table in his rookie year.