When it comes to offense, the Orlando Magic get their due from inside the painted area and by getting to the free throw line. They rank fourth in the NBA in points in the paint per game and are third in the league in the percentage of their points coming from the line.
The team is constantly seeking ways to score and trying to make up ground on the scoreboard.
This was one of the big ways the team hoped Wendell Carter's return would boost the team. For as good as Goga Bitadze has played, he was always an extremely limited offensive player, relying solely on putbacks and dump downs.
Carter's return promised to keep the team's high defensive energy and add a potential scoring threat to change the team's offensive makeup. His ability to space the floor the 3-point line felt like a necessary addition.
But since returning against the Miami Heat a few weeks ago, Carter's offensive production has been mixed.
Although he is shooting the three-point shot well, other aspects on that end of the floor need to get back to full form. This includes things like 2-point attempts and just how much he gets to the free throw line.
First, Carter gets much-deserved credit for his three-point shooting since coming back. That has added a new dynamic to the Magic's offense.
In the eight games since his return, he has shot an overall 50 percent from beyond the arc on 16 total attempts. Granted, this is not a ton of attempts. But anything can help the Magic who currently sit 28th in the NBA in shooting threes at a team percentage of 34.4 percent.
This has been the strongest point in his game since recovering from his injury that has kept him sidelined.
Carter has also shot perfectly from three in two of the eight games since returning. He went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc against the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings on the Orlando Magic's current West Coast road trip. He scored a season-high 17 points against the Suns largely thanks to that performance from deep.
But Carter seems to have not found his footing when it comes to his offensive game on the inside. This is key for anybody playing the center spot.
He is averaging 6.7 field goal attempts per game the entire season which is the lowest mark during any year in his career. This is being reflected in his return to the floor in which he has shot six and seven field goal attempts in four games while shooting fewer than that in the remaining four games.
Carter averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 10.2 field goal attempts per game last year. Orlando was certainly relying on Carter to match these numbers this year. That has left a big hole in his game, even accounting for Carter's limited minutes while he returns from his injury.
Last year, Carter made 71.5 percent of his 3.8 attempts per game in the restricted area. This year in his limited sample, Carter is making just 63.2 percent of his 2.9 attempts per game in the restricted area.
A step up in these attempts may be needed for Carter as he is playing right around 24 minutes per game. Carter is not getting shots and he is also not making his shots right around the basket. This is a place where Carter needs a steadier and more consistent diet.
With 45 percent of his points coming from inside the paint, more attempts could help his scoring volume and be an answer as to how he improves his scoring from inside while also scoring well from three-point land.
This could also help the team as Orlando already is top 10 in the NBA in both average points from 2-point shots per game and percentage of points from 2-point shots.
Another part of his offensive game that has been pretty absent from Carter is his free-throw shooting. The shooting itself has not been bad in the past eight games at 83 percent (10 for 12). But, just like his 2-point field goals, he seems to be lacking the attempts needed to get himself to be more productive at the line.
Last year, Carter averaged 3.4 attempts per game. This year is averaging just 2.0 attempts per game. That is a shocking lack of aggression and ability to get to the line.
This is odd because the Orlando Magic are second in the NBA in free throw attempts per game just behind the Philadelphia 76ers. Yet, Carter has had multiple trips to the line just once these past eight games and that was four total attempts he had against the Golden State Warriors.
He has had three games where he flat out did not get to the line at all on one of the NBA's best teams at creating free throws.
Now when it is all said and done, Carter has been back for not even 10 games yet. So, it is reasonable to let him get more and more adjusted before his offense starts to totally kick back in.
It would be beneficial to see since Carter normally has been averaging 15 points and 11 field goal attempts per game the past two years he has been in Orlando. He also has shot better than 50 percent from the field during those seasons. It would be nice to see him get back up to that speed.
It could take a decent bit of time as now head coach Jamahl Mosley has put Goga Bitadze into the starting lineup even with Wendell Carter healthy. And Carter has been dealing with tendinitis in his right knee, forcing him to miss last Friday's game against the New York Knicks and leaving him QUESTIONABLE for Friday's road trip finale against the Denver Nuggets.
Carter is simply not all the way back from a health standpoint. And that is holding him back too.
Nonetheless, scoring volume from other places than beyond the arc are something to watch with Orlando's veteran center.