Wendell Carter's offense showing signs of major step forward

The offense is slowly coming back to form for Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter. It could be a big boost for the Orlando Magic after the All-Star break as they look to continue their playoff push.

Chicago Bulls v Orlando Magic
Chicago Bulls v Orlando Magic / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Wendell Carter is the Orlando Magic's Rorschach Test right now.

Some fans look at him and see a solid defensive presence and paint protector. He is a center who can defend the perimeter and the paint, just as he can step out and hit shots from the outside and work the interior.

Carter has done that well throughout the season.

Some fans look at him and see an inconsistent offensive player who can struggle against taller players and settle for jumpers. Despite his versatility, they see a big man who can struggle to defend the rim.

That too has been on display this season.

Carter is shooting about as well as he can since getting back from injury. But there are improvements he can make to his game when it comes to his scoring. The Magic need the scoring he gives them, and they will need a lot more.

This, with time, will come and make the Magic more dynamic on offense.

Carter has now been back from injury for 24 games since his return on Dec. 20 against the Miami Heat. The Magic missed his ability to stretch the floor with his long-range shooting for a player who runs the 5. But he has gone through his ups and downs -- including a bout with knee tendinitis that led him to miss five additional games.

Although it has been slow, he is progressing. This is vital for a Magic team looking to make a push to the playoffs once the second half of the season commences.

Carter is averaging 11.4 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game this season. He has shooting splits of 53.5/40.2/72.7 for the season. Since returning from injury in December, Carter is averaging 11.8 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game with shooting splits of 57.5/42.4/76.2.

It is important to remember that he did this while taking at least five field goal attempts in 20 out of the 24 games since he came back from injury. And, although it is not the first scoring option within his game, he has taken at least one three-pointer in each of those games.

Half of those games have seen him score in double figures. That shows there may be room to grow as Orlando's season progresses. All of these double-figure performances have been when he shoots the ball five or more times, as he has done for the majority of his games.

This shows that Carter is putting up shots and hitting them often enough to keep himself on a path to become another viable scoring option.

But an area for growth since getting back for Carter will be getting to the free throw line more often.

He has been making them frequently, with his season percentage being better than the league average for centers this season. But he has gotten four or fewer attempts at the line in 20 out of the 24 games this season.

Carter can tend to pop on pick and rolls rather than attack the basket. His lack of size may be the biggest thing working against him and his development.

In the four games he got more than four attempts at the stripe, Carter went a combined 21 for 26 (80.8 percent) at the line. That is very good for a center from the line.

If Carter can find ways to get to the line more often, he can add to his offensive arsenal and fit more within Orlando's high rate of getting to the line. The Magic are second in the NBA in free throw attempts per game.

The Magic, in general, are a team in need of offensive help to make themselves more competitive than they already are. They ranked 24th in the league in offensive efficiency, 26th in points per game, and 20th in the NBA in true shooting percentage.

Although Carter's tweaks he can make to his free throw frequency and scoring volume are not necessarily the fix that makes everything better for Orlando, it could be the start that certainly puts him on a path to being more of a weapon on that end of the floor.

What the Magic really need from Carter is more consistency in his production and his aggressiveness. That will make him a more consistent scorer for a team in need of support for Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.

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It would help the team be able to be a challenge for some of the top teams in the Eastern Conference they would face come playoff time.