The Orlando Magic riding high once again this season, having ending winning streaks of 10 and 14 games in consecutive victories over the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, respectively. They accomplished the first feat with brilliant offense and the second with lock-down defense in the second half, which has coach Stan Van Gundy talking optimistically about the "potential" for the new-look crew going forward. But despite the wins, newcomers Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu have yet to really hit their strides offensively. Arenas, for all his brilliance in leading a second-quarter run against the Spurs, has taken 40 shots in 98 minutes, but at just a 27.5 percent clip. Richardson's at 37.2 percent form the floor, and Turkoglu is at 40 percent.
Going forward, though, Arenas figures to be the biggest concern for this team. Richardson's demonstrated over his career he's rather unlikely to continue shooting this poorly, and as Van Gundy finds ways to work him into the offense, he should be back to normal in no time; the same holds true for Turkoglu, who's at least managed to hit 38.9 percent of his three-pointers and dish 5.3 assists per game, looking like a natural fit as a playmaker in Van Gundy's system.
But Arenas? He can't continue to shoot so often at such a low percentage, even if his playmaking--he has 18 assists in 4 games--impresses. His overall track record indicates his percentages should improve slightly, but even before the trade, he shot 39.4 percent on the season. Last year, that figure was 38.1 percent. It's fair to wonder if he'll ever get back into the "acceptable" range for a volume-shooting guard. Former Sixth-Men of the Year Leandro Barbosa, Jamal Crawford, Manu Ginobili, and Jason Terry have demonstrated how valuable scoring guards can be off goods teams' benches, but neither shot as poorly as Arenas has for the last several seasons.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Orlando's new backup point guard is just 9-of-30 on jumpers (7-of-22 off the dribble) with Orlando, and 1-of-6 in the immediate basket area, for example. His tendency to pop early 18-footers from near the top of the key is hurting Orlando's offense.
I see two potential solutions. The first is to stop shooting at such a high volume, and the second is to try passing more often. But given that the Magic made those trades to aid their offensive firepower, it would appear as though Arenas' directive is to shoot. Among the reasons Chris Duhon fell out of the rotation, for example, is he simply didn't shoot enough. The Magic need a more aggressive backup point guard than Duhon, and a scoring threat. Though Arenas thrice averaged better than 25 points per game in his career, his days as a top-shelf scorer are squarely behind him. It's time he adjusts his game to compensate.