3 numbers to get excited about, 3 numbers to worry about from the Orlando Magic’s preseason
Get Excited: 26.8 Assists Per Game
The Orlando Magic were not a good offensive team last year. They have not been a good offensive team for the last decade since Dwight Howard’s departure. You expect a team that is poor offensively and poor from beyond the arc to be low on assists.
Yet, the Magic have always claimed to be a pass-first team. They always want to play with the pass.
So, maybe this time things will be different?
There is reason to believe this though. The Magic averaged 26.8 assists per game in the preseason and had at least 27 in their first three preseason games. That was a feat the team only accomplished 16 times all of last season.
You would expect the Magic’s assist number to come down some. Then again, they averaged 23.8 assists per game in the preseason last year and ended at 23.2 per game. Maybe this pass-happy Orlando team is something a bit more permanent.
It is worth noting too that Orlando averaged a league-high 16.3 assists per game in the first half of their preseason games. That is when the team had its starters in and that feels a bit more realistic.
Orlando was in the bottom five in the league in passes per game last year. That is certainly not correlative to a strong offense — the Atlanta Hawks were also in the bottom five — but for a Magic team, it was certainly a sign of how much the ball stuck.
The assists are a positive sign, but so are the results of those assists.
Orlando struggled to generate 3-point shots last year. The Magic averaged 31.1 3-point attempts per game, 27th in the league. In the preseason, the Magic averaged 40.0 attempts per game and 18.0 attempts per game in the first half. That is not setting the pace for the league by any means. But it is progress.
So too was the fact the Magic averaged 12.0 corner 3-point attempts per game in the preseason — the most in the league! Orlando took 6.5 corner 3-point attempts per game in the first half of their preseason games. They averaged only 6.8 total corner 3-point attempts per game last year, the second-fewest in the league.
These are high-value 3-pointers that can only be created by assists. If this is something that continues, then the Magic should be in good shape. It is a reason to believe in this offense at long last.