Jett Howard will give a boost to Orlando Magic’s 3-point shooting

Michigan guard Jett Howard (13) attempts a 3-point basket against Michigan State during the first half at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.
Michigan guard Jett Howard (13) attempts a 3-point basket against Michigan State during the first half at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. /

Everyone knows what the Orlando Magic need most to complete their roster.

A little more than a decade ago, the Magic were changing the league with its emphasis on 3-point shooting. They showed the league that the 3-point shot could be a pathway to victory.

But while the 3-point revolution overtook the NBA, the Magic were left behind. Since trading Dwight Howard in 2012, the Magic have been one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league.

They were seemingly unable to gather enough shooting to be much of an offensive threat — they have been in the bottom 10 of the league in offensive rating in each of the past 10 years. And every time the Magic seemingly had an opportunity to draft shooting, they would pass it up or just be out of reach of the shooting the team needed.

Even as the Magic seemingly reset themselves again with the drafting of Paolo Banchero on this latest reset, the Magic seemed to be short on shooting. Their draft picks certainly have not developed into respected knock-down shooters with the kind of gravity defenses respect.

Shooting is the Magic’s biggest need.

Slowly that may be changing. It is not just the players on their roster like Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony who have improved as shooters, it was the players they have already started to add.

Jett Howard’s tendency to take a lot of three-pointers should do the Orlando Magic some good. His long-range jumper can help boost the Magic’s three-point shooting which was hit-or-miss last season and only supported by a few players on the roster.

Orlando shockingly took Jett Howard with the 11th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. It was shocking only compared to the mock drafts and big boards that had Howard going much later. But not shocking for the skill the Magic need.

The Michigan freshman wing is well-known for his potent offensive firepower. In particular, he is a volume 3-point shooter who is not afraid to fire a ton from deep.

Although this pick came with controversy, Howard’s shooting is a sneaky need that Orlando needed to address in the draft.

At Michigan, Howard was not shy about the three-point shot. He averaged a three-point percentage of 36.8 percent with the Wolverines and also averaged about 7.3 attempts per game from behind the arc.

In fact, looking at all 29 games Howard played while in college, he had six games with 10 or more attempts. In those six games, he had a three-point percentage of 40.0 percent.

Overall there were only three games in his season in Ann Arbor where Howard had fewer than five attempts from three-point land.

In a general sense, the Orlando Magic shot 34.6 percent from three-point range as a team. That ranked 25th among teams in the NBA.

Beyond that, they took some of the fewest 3-pointers in the league at 31.1 per game, 27th in the league.

The Magic’s best three-point scorer statistically is Gary Harris at 43.1 percent.

However, Harris was not a volume shooter, taking only 4.5 3-point attempts per game. Considering he played only 48 games, the Magic often found themselves giving up a lot of threes but unable to match the volume of their opponents.

That made sense because Orlando was not stacked with shooters. It just left the team dancing a tightrope to keep up if other teams got hot — especially since the Magic tended to give up a lot of 3-pointers themselves.

Beyond Harris, Orlando had just three high-minute volume players with a three-point percentage of 35 percent or more who did not get traded.

Jonathan Isaac shot 40.0 percent from deep, but played in only 11 games. Two-way guard Kevon Harris shot 37.2 percent but was limited because of the nature of his contract.

Cole Anthony hit a solid 36.4 percent of his 3-pointers on 3.6 attempts per game. Franz Wagner shot 36.1 percent on 4.5 attempts per game and Wendell Carter added 35.6 percent on 3.9 attempts per game.

The addition of Howard in the draft adds a player who can definitely up the numbers and production from beyond the arc for the Magic. And someone who is not afraid to shoot from deep either.

The averages among Magic players from last season versus Howard’s averages at Michigan also show how able he can be in bringing back some stable three-point shooting. Harris and Wagner led the Magic in three-point attempts per game with 4.5 each.

Howard takes way more three-pointers than the two leading Orlando shooters leading to possibly more productivity come next season.

The Denver Nuggets, of all teams, proved that teams do not have to take a ton of threes to be successful on offense in this league. Still, they were one of the most efficient offenses in NBA history to make up for that.

Most teams in the league are going to need a healthy diet of threes. Even a team that struggled like the Magic had games where they hit a ton of threes that defenses could not battle against.

That is the nature of the league. And the Magic are only jumping on board now.

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For whatever it was worth, Howard is a player the Magic certainly believe plugs in as a 3-point shooter immediately and he gives them a skill that should improve the team’s offense very quickly.