Friday's analysis of the Orlando Magic's potential offense offered very little optimism. The team's top scorers are terribly inconsistent, and thus Orlando can't rely on any one player to carry it on that end of the floor nightly.
But some other data support the idea that the Magic could be decent offensively. Specifically I refer to Arron Afflalo's splits with and without Al Harrington on the floor. The pair played together for the Denver Nuggets in 2010/11 and 2011/12, and did so to great effect. More specifically, Harrington's presence spiked Afflalo's efficiency in both seasons, suggesting that Afflalo, arguably the Magic's best overall player, could put together another solid year despite moving from the competitive Nuggets to the rebuilding Magic.
In 1734 regular-season minutes alongside Harrington over the last two seasons, Afflalo has posted a sizzling effective (61.7 percent) and true (65.5 percent) shooting percentages, and his per-36-minute scoring mark of 15.7 is a boost over his overall 14.8 rate. In other words, Afflalo scores slightly more often and with dramatically increased efficiency when paired with Harrington.
It's not terribly difficult to discern why. Harrington's scoring prowess and shooting range commands defensive attention no matter where on the floor he's stationed. His ability to stretch the floor opens driving lanes for Afflalo, who's improved his off-the-bounce game since entering the league as a standstill shooting specialist. With Harrington on the floor, 36.5 percent of Afflalo's shot attempts come from inside the restricted circle, according to NBA.com/stats, while he averages 0.345 free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt. Without Harrington, however, those numbers dip to 24.2 percent and 0.287, respectively.
Afflalo figures to start, while it's likely that Orlando will keep Harrington with the second unit; the New Jersey native has come off the bench in 133 of his 137 appearances over the last two seasons. However, playing the two together as often as is reasonable will keep the floor spread for Afflalo and open up the Magic's offense in general.
What complicates playing Afflalo and Harrington, however, is that Harrington's numbers suffer while Afflalo's thrive. It comes down to three-point shooting: when the offense runs through Afflalo, Harrington becomes a glorified shooting specialist, taking 45.1 percent of his shots from three-point range but converting only 33 percent.
If Magic coach Jacque Vaughn and his staff can devise a system that manages to use Harrington more dynamically with Afflalo, then he can improve Harrington's productivity at no cost to Afflalo's efficiency, making the duo even more potent together.
Orlando's offense in 2012/13 won't strike fear into the hearts of many opponents, but it's a good bet that Afflalo will play his best when he shares the floor with Harrington. That's something to which to look forward, at least, and in a season wherein victories will be few and far between, Orlando will take the bright spots where it can get 'em.