Orlando Pintriped Post continues its series of player evaluations with a look at the Orlando Magic's wing players. Previously: point guards.
Heading into this season, the Magic looked like a promising, eclectic group of young talent that lacked a bona-fide All-Star. Victor Oladipo emerged as that potential star and the team's cornerstone player this season, honing his promising combination of elite athleticism and high basketball IQ while showcasing glimpses of the two-way beast he might become.
Oladipo posted strong numbers across the board (17.9 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.7 steals), and his offensive improvement, especially in the second half of the season, was noteworthy. Oladipo looked much more comfortable on offense in Year 2, cutting down his turnovers and bumping up his shooting percentages, and it's apparent that he's better off playing alongside Elfrid Payton as a two guard.
Despite Oladipo's improvements. there's still work to be done. A strong driver with explosive athleticism, Oladipo thrived around the rim, hitting 54 percent of his shots from within 5 feet of the basket. Everything further out was problematic: Oladipo shot less than 40 percent on his attempts from 15 feet and out, and he remains a below-average shooter. The fact that he plays next to Payton, who's an even worse shooter, compounds the problem; it hard to maintain a fluid, well-spaced offense with two subpar outside shooters at the guard positions. Oladipo is, by all accounts, a very hard worker, so expect him to put in the work with shooting coach Dave Love. If he can build on this season's subtle improvements and maybe push his three-point percentage close to 40, it will open up all sorts of driving lanes for himself and Payton and help bring the Magic's 25th ranked offense out if the gutter.
On the other end, Oladipo never truly evolved into the lockdown perimeter defender many observers envisioned he might, but he's still a plus player on D. He's a dynamic athlete with great lateral quickness, and he finished in the top 20 in steals yet again. He's typically tasked with defending the other team's best player, and while the Magic's overall team defense needs work, Oladipo and Payton still project as a pesky, hounding defensive duo.
Given Oladipo and Payton's shooting struggles, anyone who can make jumpers on a semi-consistent basis becomes invaluable to the Magic's offense. That's where Evan Fournier comes in. The third-year Frenchman hit 38 percent of his threes this season, the best of any of the team's perimeter players, and his presence helps the team's spacing immensely. Fournier's offensive on/off numbers were great, and they hint at what the Magic's offense could look like when players actually have room to operate. At 22, Fournier looks like he could be a solid part of the Magic's young core going forward. He's a good shooter and a solid, aggressive defender, he can play both the two and the three, and he provides a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.
Ben Gordon, the team's third best three point shooter (36 percent), looks like his time with the Magic is coming to an end. He rarely saw the court under coach James Borrego, logging 20 did not play-coach's decisions under the team's new coach. At this point, you know what you're getting from Gordon. He's a solid professional who still maintains a bit of his old shooting touch, and he can give you okay offensive production for a few minutes a night. It's unclear and probably unlikely that the Magic will pick up their option for the second year of his contract, but Gordon can possibly find a spot on another team in need of some veteran depth.
Like Gordon, 33-year old Willie Green is a other veteran guard with a fading shooting touch who looks like he may be nearing the end of his Magic tenure. Green appeared in 55 games for the Magic, starting nine, but like Gordon he's likely to get phased out with the emergence of Oladipo, Payton, and Fournier. Gordon and Green are two good locker-room guys who may be better served filling out the rotation for a contender, while the Magic should look to add some young shooters to bolster their offense.
Devyn Marble, the team's second-round draft pick, rarely saw the court this season after bouncing between the NBA and the Erie BayHawks of the NBA's D-League. He also suffered a detached retina that kept him out of action for several weeks. Marble didn't make much of an impact despite starting a handful of games, and it's doubtful that he'll have much of an impact going forward.
With Oladipo and Fournier on the wing, the Magic look pretty set at the shooting guard position. Oladipo is entrenched as the starter and looks like he may blossom into an All-Star, while Fournier looks like a nice piece who provides a much-needed dose of shooting and spacing. If the Magic can find some more shooters to complement Payton, they'll be in good shape going forward.