2023 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Admiral Schofield made real growth

Mar 28, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama (7) and Orlando Magic forward Admiral Schofield (25) battle for position during the second half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama (7) and Orlando Magic forward Admiral Schofield (25) battle for position during the second half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Orlando Magic originally signed Admiral Schofield it was because the team was dealing with the fallout of a run of COVID on the team. They called him up from their G-League team because all but six players contracted COVID and the team needed bodies for its next set of games.

He quickly signed two 10-day contracts in December 2021. That represented something every young player grinding in the G-League wants: Opportunity.

Schofield took it and ran, establishing himself as one of the better players on the Lakeland Magic that year and graduating to a two-year deal as the Magic burned quickly through their original deals to start the season.

Admiral Schofield took the opportunity with the Orlando Magic and used it to show his defensive versatility and his growth offensively as he seeks a permanent place in the NBA.

That showing in 2021 led to a second year under a two-way contract in 2022. But that came with the warning that come for a player in the second year of a two-way deal: You better show that you can be an NBA player. Two-way contracts cannot last forever and players should not aspire to hold that spot on the roster for too long.

Certainly not for longer than two years.

While the Magic ultimately turned Schofield’s contract from a two-way deal to a full contract, that was both an accomplishment and a warning. He had proven himself as a potentially capable NBA player but also the Magic are likely to move on.

This is the contradiction of success for a two-way player. Schofield is good enough to earn the recognition of being an NBA player. But now he has to find his way to a permanent roster spot.

That is where Schofield still has work to do.

Getting to this point is a credit to the growth Schofield showed throughout the 2022 season. This was a great season for him, albeit recognizing the limited scope and impact a two-way player can make. Now the question is what future Schofield has carved with his play.

This past season, Schofield averaged a career-best 4.2 points per game on a career-best 54.9 percent effective field goal percentage. He played in 37 games, averaging 12.2 minutes per game. Obviously, not a lot of time to draw conclusions just based on his numbers.

He had eight games playing 18 or more minutes, averaging 8.0 points per game and shooting a 47.1 percent effective field goal percentage in just those games. He had three games scoring more than 10 points throughout the season.

In his lone game with the Lakeland Magic this season, Schofield scored 17 points hitting six of 12 shots and two of his five 3-pointers.

Schofield’s ability to stay in the league was ultimately going to depend on how his offensive game developed.

He was a second-round draft pick for the Washington Wizards and was selected because of his positional size and toughness coming out of Tennessee. But there were questions about what his position ultimately would be and whether his shot would develop enough to keep him a threat.

That was one of the big tasks and questions he faced entering the season. And it is the key to his ultimate NBA future.

Schofield certainly looked the part of a more confident shooter. Where he struggled with his 3-pointer and even taking attempts in previous seasons, he became a more reliable 3-point shooter and a more willing 3-point shooter this year.

That at least led to a perception that he could add more offensively. But make no mistake, his shooting still has a long way to go. Defenses are not worrying about his 32.4 percent shooting. Basketball-Index gave him an openness rating of +0.38, placing him in the 67th percentile. There is not any area where Schofield stands out from beyond the arc.

This will be the key to getting Schofield more consistent time on the court. He made real strides in this area. But it is an area that will need more work if he is going to stick in the NBA.

For now, Schofield’s value comes from his versatility. This is what he showed most in his limited time on the court. And right now it is his most translatable skill.

According to Basketball-Reference’s lineup data, Schofield played 65 percent of his minutes at power forward. Schofield hardly looks like the traditional power forward. But his size and strength allowed him to hold his own against bigger players.

And he may have been the power forward in name only. According to Basketball-Index, he had a +81.60 rating in D Position Versatility and a 68.1 rating in D Role Versatility, both in the 95th percentile or higher. What this says is that Schofield guarded everybody at some point — Basketball-Index confirms this as his defensive matchup was spread almost evenly between the two forward and center positions.

That versatility is what made him valuable to the team and where he carved his role and reliability.

That is the kind of defensive versatility the Magic are constantly looking for. Schofield came to embody that as he continued to play bigger than he was.

Perhaps his biggest value throughout the season was his offensive rebounding. That is something nobody expected from him, but he would constantly squeeze his way in for offensive rebounds and putbacks. That is how he built a lot of his big scoring games throughout the season.

When you are a player at the end of the bench, these kinds of effort plays always make you stand out. And Schofield certainly put in the effort throughout the season. He earned a lot of respect from Magic fans and became reliable for his limited role when the Magic called on him.

Orlando Magic. ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD. B. . F

Admiral Schofield certainly did enough for the Orlando Magic to upgrade his contract late in the season — although that was as much about securing and rewarding Jay Scrubb for his strong season in Lakeland. For that brief moment, Schofield was a full-fledged NBA player.

That is a sign of the progress he made and a clear sense of his path to the league. But getting that upgrade was also a bit of a curse. It likely marks the end of his time with the Magic. They are committing their two-way contract resources elsewhere.

Without significant improvements to his 3-point shot, it is hard to see Schofield fitting in with this specific Magic team. It is hard to see Schofield sticking around in the league.

That does not mean he does not have value or have the capability of contributing to a team. Just getting to that level is a success for a player like Schofield at this point. He has shown he does have a place in the NBA and can play at that level.

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Whether he can advance past being on the end of the bench or break into the rotation will depend on his further development, especially as a perimeter shooter.