The Orlando Magic's hot start has been assisted by many tweaks in the players' arsenals of skillsets. One of these changes that has been highly noticable is Paolo Banchero's three-point shooting. This has made him more dynamic on offense.
Paolo Banchero's rookie of the year campaign was something pretty special. Averaging 20 points per game average, he showed the prowess of being a player the Orlando Magic could steadily rely on to score.
It was a historic rookie season that had him compared to several key players and he was the near-unanimous Rookie of the Year winner. The only real argument against his Rookie of the Year candidacy was his efficiency.
Specifically his three-point shooting woes were a drain on his overall shooting percentages and a lot of pundits wondered if Banchero would be able to piece together a passable 3-point shot.
That has been something he has shown significant improvement on so far this year. He is shooting confidently and stepping into his shots well. Orlando has benefited from this and it has expanded Banchero's game in a significant way -- helping him win his first Eastern Conference Player of the Week award this week.
During the 2023 season, Banchero shot less than 30 percent from beyond the arc at 29.8 percent. That number was weighed down heavily by a 1-for-33 showing from deep in February as he dealt with a nerve issue. He shot 33.3 percent from deep outside of that poor month.
Banchero was poor in a lot of important 3-point shooting metrics, including spot-up and catch-and-shoot shooting. He made only 33.8 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers on 2.1 attempts per game according to data from Second Spectrum.
This combined with the heavy reliance on him from Orlando to score the ball led to the Magic being ranked 25th in the league last season in three-point shooting percentage as a team. In a league where three-point shooting is very important, this was something that killed them down the stretch and held them back.
But, fast forward to the first 17 games of this season and Banchero's three-point shot has improved dramatically.
The percentage increased from less than 30 percent to a phenomenal 43.6 percent. He is hitting 46.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (13 for 28).
This has led him to become the Magic's sole leader in three-point shooting. This percentage is also in the top 25 among all NBA players leaguewide.
His total shooting percentage was also helped by the three-point shots falling this season. As it stands right now, Banchero's overall shooting mark sits at 48.8 percent, up from 42.7 percent last year. His effective field goal percentage sits at 53.6 percent (up from 46.5 percent). And despite his free throw attempts dropping from 7.4 per game to 6.2 per game, his true shooting percentage has jumped from 52.9 percent to 56.8 percent this year.
Whatever criticisms there were about Banchero's efficiency, he has solved a lot of them this year so far.
If we go game by game to look at Banchero's shooting from deep, we see that he has taken four or more attempts from three in eight of Orlando's 17 games thus far. In seven of those eight games, he has made at least two three-pointers.
The crazy part is: He is only fifth on Orlando in average three-point attempts per game meaning this production has come from a sample size that is not seen as the most among Orlando's players.
So how has this three-point spree Banchero has put on helped Orlando?
Well, this season, the Magic are still toward the bottom of the league in three-point shooting and this is due to the players around him and their shooting. Jalen Suggs is the next best starter at three-point shooting among the routine starters at 36.2 percent. And Franz Wagner, who has been viable at beyond-the-arc shooting in the past has gotten off to a slow start at 29.2 percent.
Orlando has shot better since coming back to the Amway Center for this homestand. But nobody will confuse the Magic as a strong 3-point shooting team. Banchero hitting shots is a big boost nonetheless.
The team has benefited from that clearly. Orlando has a 111.1 offensive rating with Banchero on the floor, one of the better marks among starters and only slightly worse than the team's 112.6 offensive rating. The Magic have a 118.6 offensive rating with Banchero on the floor during the team's current seven-game win streak -- the team is at 116.5 overall.
Banchero has hit 12 of 24 3-pointers during this seven-game win streak.
Regardless of the overall numbers, this is the step Orlando wants Banchero to take as player. Precisely because it helps the scoring in general and it helps the Magic find a player to get them a lot of points every time.
He sits with nearly the same average of 20 points per game that he had last season yet the Magic have played just 17 games. This also includes a "slow" start for his standards as Banchero did not see a 20-point game until Orlando's third win of the year against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
Since that game, he has had eight 20-plus point performances and has averaged 22.1 points per game in November.
To make it brief, Banchero is starting to find his groove again with overall scoring as December creeps into the picture and the three-point shot has helped him stabilize himself.