What to learn from Orlando Magic’s collapse
A tale of three pull-ups — ORL 104, OKC 96, 6:20 4th
The Orlando Magic’s offense is based on the ability to get into the paint and kick out to the perimeter. The Magic have made working the ball around the horn for three-pointers one of their bell plays.
Yet, the Magic are struggling at this very important facet. And the team sits near the bottom of the league in assists so far this season. Orlando is 28th in the league with a 51.5-percent assist rate and 28th in the league with 19.9 assists per game.
Going deeper, according to data from Second Spectrum, the Magic are 25th in the league with 42.6 potential assists per game. Overall, Orlando is 29th in the league with 257.8 passes per game.
In other words, as much as the Magic are saying they are trying to pass the ball and move inside out, that is not what is happening for this team.
After ranking 29th in the league in isolation possessions last year, Orlando is currently 14th in the league with 7.9 isolation possessions per game. Paolo Banchero’s presence is certainly part of this so too is having to run Franz Wagner at point guard and what he has to do to break the defense.
The Magic have jumped from the fourth-fewest pull-up jump shots in the league last year (19.2 attempts per game at 32.2-percent shooting) to the seventh-most pull-up jump shots with 23.1 per game at 35.7 percent. That percentage is the sixth-worst.
The Magic’s offensive struggles start with the team taking this highly inefficient shot and stopping the ball from moving.
The clip above shows Franz Wagner shooting a pull-up three as the defense ducks underneath the screen midway through the shot clock. It is not a bad shot. But considering Wagner’s struggles from deep to start the season, you would like to see the team get a paint touch.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City went to the other end and got a pull-up three from Luguentz Dort to cut the lead to eight. It was a tough shot the team can live with.
What it cannot live with is to get a second straight bad possession ending with Bol Bol settling for a jumper:
The Thunder are clearly still betting the Magic are not going to hit jumpers. They are struggling to shoot once again. Bol’s defender ducks under the screen and with eight seconds on the clock, Bol settles for the jumper.
These are the kinds of shots the Magic either need to make or pass on. The result matters here.
And after missing a jumper and seeing the lead begin to slip, Orlando has to do a better job forcing a paint touch and getting either a shot at the rim or a kick-out shot the team wants by playing inside-out.
So the Thunder’s run is building because the Magic are not touching the paint and taking the shots the Thunder want — duck-under pull-up jumpers. The ball is not moving particularly well.
It will only get worse.