Orlando Magic Daily Mailbag: Waiting on shooting development
Can the Orlando Magic wait on Caleb Houstan and Jett Howard's development for shooting?
The short answer here is actually both.
The Orlando Magic need shooters, badly. And they are going to need it from everyone.
It has to start with internal development. The growth from Jalen Suggs to shoot 39.6 percent from three is incredible. As is Paolo Banchero to shoot 35.2 percent from deep. Everyone expects Franz Wagner to improve from shooting 28.8 percent as he is this year (probably after this extended break recovering from his ankle injury).
Yet, the Magic are still last in the league in 3-point field goal percentage. They just go through long stretches where they cannot hit -- even open shots. And the team shoots at such a low volume that defenses are generally not worried about the magic shooting the ball well.
Caleb Houstan has been solid as a shooter at 35.3 percent for the season entering Friday's game. But he hit only 11 of 45 3-pointers (24.4 percent) in the five games after his 25-point breakthrough against the Atlanta Hawks a few weeks ago.
Jett Howard has struggled to find the NBA court because of the Magic's overall depth and concerns about his defense. But Howard has been killing it in the G-League, averaging 24.5 points per game and shooting 42.9 percent in six games during the G-League's regular season.
The Magic still want foster their development.
But they also desperately need shooting externally. And every move they make from here on out should be about making Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner's life as easy as possible. And the best way to make their lives easy is to give them space to drive, score and create. That means adding reliable shooting -- shooting the defense respects.
There are just too many games this year where Orlando gets plenty of open shots and just cannot hit them consistently. That is the part that has to change immediately for this team.
Can the Magic afford to wait on Houstan and Howard? Yes and no. They need both internal improvement and to seek external help from beyond the arc.
Failing to address the shooting need meaningfully before next season would be a huge failure from Jeff Weltman.