5 little improvements that will determine the Orlando Magic’s season
The 3-Point Math
The Orlando Magic had one of the best defenses in the league for most of the season. After Dec. 7, the team had the sixth best defense in the league. Despite scuttling with that 5-20 start, Orlando still finished 18th in the league in defensive rating.
That is what the Magic want to build their identity on. And this was a good start.
But they have a problem. It is a problem we have talked about plenty.
Despite being decently on defense for much of the season, the Magic have a fatal flaw that came back to haunt them on several occasions throughout the year. Orlando gave up the third-most 3-point attempts per game in the league 37.0 attempts per game. Opponents shot 35.1 percent against them, sixth in the league.
That is not the worst thing in the world. Orlando’s defensive strategy has been to lock down the paint — opponents scored only 47.6 points in the paint per game against the Magic, sixth-fewest in the league.
Still, the team got into trouble for giving up a ton of 3-pointers. Eventually teams are going to get hot and make more of them.
And considering Orlando was a low-volume 3-point shooting team (34.6 attempts per game, 27th in the league) and not a good 3-point shooting team either (34.6 percent, 24th in the league), that just makes the math really hard for the team to compete.
Orlando’s strategy last year was to make up for the team’s poor 3-point shooting through free throws — the team was fifth in the league with a 29.0 percent free throw rate. So the team does not need to take that many more threes or give up slightly fewer 3-pointers.
The Magic shooting and making more threes and giving up slightly fewer threes will go a long way to making the Magic a better offensive and defensive team. Orlando needs some better 3-point luck too.
But there is a path for the Magic to be better from beyond the arc. And it is not going to take much for the team to at least come out even and give themselves a chance.