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Pregame Notebook: Orlando’s shooting woes and Simmons’ absence

The Magic have shot the ball poorly this season, and will be without a key bench player on Friday night.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Early season shooting woes

It’s no secret the Orlando Magic have struggled shooting the ball.

Going into their game with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, the Magic sit dead last in the league in field goal percentage, shooting just 41 percent from the field in their first seven games. The Golden State Warriors, who lead the league, are shooting almost 11.5 percent higher than the Magic, sitting at 52.4 percent on the season.

Moreover, the Magic have been struggling mightily from beyond the three-point line, making just 30.5 percent of their tries from downtown, placing them 28th in the league, with only Denver and Oklahoma City behind them.

As has been the case going into the past three seasons, shooting was a big question mark for the Magic. Of the players with 25 or more three-point attempts early on, only D.J. Augustin, who was one of the most efficient three-point shooters last season, sits above 31 percent. The likes of Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross have all attempted at least 33 three’s, and are shooting 30.3 percent, 27.7 percent and 31 percent respectively.

After Tuesday nights loss to the Sacramento Kings, our Aaron Goldstone wrote about how the Magic are attempting to shoot themselves out of their early season slump, but haven’t seen the results yet.

One thing that could help with their struggles is getting to the free throw line more. Through their first seven games, the Magic sit 29th in the league in free throw attempts per game, averaging just 19.4 on the season.

Another thing that could help is attacking the rim more. Earlier in this season, coach Steve Clifford talked about the importance of guys getting into the painted area, and being able to kick it out for higher quality looks from beyond the arc.

Overall, seeing shots start to go down could be big in kick starting the team. They’ve shown inconsistencies on the defensive end, and some of that has stemmed from their inability to consistently knock down shots. In two of their losses to the Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks, their inability to hit shots led to sluggish play on the defensive end, taking them out of any chance they may’ve had of winning either contest.

It’s still early, and there’s a lot of time for things to begin to normalize, which they will, but the shooting is a big issue for the Magic early on.

Jonathon Simmons absence

For the second time this season, the Magic will find themselves without one of their key bench members.

Jonathon Simmons, who missed time at the end of last season due to a wrist injury, will miss their game with the Clippers due to soreness in his surgically repaired wrist. Simmons aggravated the injury in a fall against the Kings on Tuesday night.

Coach Steve Clifford said the injury isn’t serious, and they’re hoping that, with the extended rest, Simmons can return to action on Sunday night against his former team, the San Antonio Spurs.

With Simmons out of the lineup, second-year swingman Wes Iwundu will step into minutes off the bench.

“We’ll play Wes,” said Clifford. “The only reason Wes isn’t playing is because he has those two veteran guys [Simmons and Terrence Ross] ahead of him. I have a lot of confidence in him. Every time he’s played he’s played well. [He] played well in Philadelphia when he got good minutes. He’s smart, he’s got length, he can defend.

“We function well when he’s out there. A lot of times everybody says ‘why don’t you play him?’ Wes is a guy that’s deserving of playing more.”

In limited action this season, Iwundu has given the Magic some solid minutes. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, he makes the right plays, and doesn’t try to force things when they aren’t there for him, or his teammates.

The second-year man is always ready incase his number is called, and he’ll get his chance to go out and earn more minutes on Friday night with Simmons out.