The Orlando Magic were supposed to form a defensive identity over the summer. But their offensive play is the reason to be optimistic about their future.
Sure it’s only been three games, but the Orlando Magic have changed their identity overnight. All summer long, the team focused on defensive improvement. Year two of a Frank Vogel led team would surely show a better defensive effort.
Seven new players later and it’s the offense that is shaping up to be the driving — and winning — force for the Orlando Magic.
As week one of the NBA season came to an end, the Orlando Magic find themselves in unfamiliar territory. They look legit offensively and on the rise. Statistically they are the fifth highest scoring team in the league at 117.0 points per game with an impressive 2-1 record. The Magic are shooting 47.6 percent (6th) from the field as a team while converting on 48.3 percent (2nd) from deep. While they still remain near the bottom in free throw attempts with 21 per game, suddenly they are converting over 81 percent (10th). The sudden change in their offense is dedicated to efficiency and the team versatility.
The word versatility has been thrown around in Orlando this summer. The Magic have a team so versatile that they can lose two starters and still be up by 37 against the defending Eastern Conference Champions. The Magic played without young guns Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton in that contest due to injury.
It’s been five years since Orlando and efficient could be used in the same breath, but believe in it. The team is second in the league in sharing the ball with an eye-popping 26.7 assist per game. They trail only the Golden State Warriors. And as unbelievable as it may be, they are playing defense as well. They are tied eighth in the league in blocks per game at 6.3 and 14th in steals at 8. Simply stated, the Magic are learning to become efficient.
The Orlando Magic seemed to have turned the corner this year in player scoring as well. They have two top 35 NBA scorers ending week one in Nikola Vucevic (27.7, 7th) and Evan Fournier (19.3, 35th). While most Magic fans expected Fournier to continue to increase his scoring average, very few expected Nikola Vucevic to increase his scoring by over 13 points per game over last season. Vucevic has surprised a lot of the NBA world with his efficiency. Vucevic is averaging 50 percent from deep and 68 percent overall which has helped boost his scoring average.
Many people outside of Orlando aren’t willing to show much faith in Orlando continuing this surge in offense. But as long as the players continue to buy in what Frank Vogel is asking of them as a team, don’t be surprised to see Orlando’s up-tempo offense in the win column.