By Josh Cohen
Oct. 31, 2017
MEMPHIS – You probably know by now that the Orlando Magic are currently the league’s hottest 3-point shooting team. They knocked down another 16 triples during Monday’s win in New Orleans and have made 11 or more in five of the team’s first seven games.
What you may not already be aware of, though, is perhaps an even more important 3-point shooting stat. The Magic rank No. 1 in the NBA right now in opponent 3-pointers made (7.4 per game) and opponent 3-point percentage (27.8%).
This is significant for a collection of reasons. For one, it tells us the Magic are doing an excellent job running opponents off the 3-point line and/or contesting shots on the perimeter. Frank Vogel emphasized during training camp that he wanted this team to be more meticulous when it came to guarding the arc. They’ve clearly listened and complied to this point.
And every player is doing their part. Take a look at opponent 3-point shooting percentages when these Magic players are the closest defender:
Teams that excel at defending the 3-point line usually make the playoffs. Over the last three seasons, 14 of the 15 teams that ranked in the top five in opponent 3-point percentage advanced to the postseason.
The Magic’s defense hasn’t been perfect. They rank last in protecting the paint. Opponents are averaging 53.4 points inside against Orlando, which comes as somewhat of a surprise with how long and athletic they are up front. They are also struggling to limit opponent second chance points (rank 29th).
With the offense cooking the way it has and with the team making strides on the defensive end, though, there’s reason to believe the Magic can correct those deficiencies.
Here’s a look at a couple of defensive possessions from Monday’s win in New Orleans that highlight the Magic closing out and contesting 3-point shots.