Point guard play
Going into the season, there was no secret that point guard would be a problem for the Orlando Magic.
D.J. Augustin, a career backup, was thrust into the starting role, and while he was coming off a very good season last year, he’s been slightly underwhelming to start this season. He’s still shooting the ball well from beyond the arc — he’s shooting 41.5 percent going into Friday nights game — but has been inefficient, and, quite frankly, an issue once he steps inside the arc. He doesn’t draw contact, and hasn’t finished well around the rim well at all, which has put even more stress on Orlando’s already struggling offense.
With an offense that already struggles to get to the free throw line, having a point guard who can go out, and create some opportunities at the line would go a long way to getting the Magic offense more balanced. Augustin simply is not that, and it’s showing in the Magic’s 17.9 attempts per game, the worst mark in the league.
Turn to Jerian Grant off the bench, and the results have been even more disappointing.
Going into a contract year, there was hope that Grant would be able to things around, and find some consistency that has plagued him in his first three years. That’s been far from the case, with the Notre Dame grad pounding the ball into the deck, struggling to get the offense into its sets consistently, and being a non-threat shooting the ball.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote about the Magic’s point guard situation in his 10 things he likes, and doesn’t like column on Friday morning.
As Lowe points out, Augustin is a fine backup, but when asked to be a heavy minutes starter, he’s less effective. He can only do so much, and that has been made clear through the inconsistencies that the offense has seen so far.
The Grant situation might be the bigger issue, however. With only first-year point guard Isaiah Briscoe, who has only logged garbage time minutes this season, behind him, it could be a while until there’s any improvement off the bench.
Following Wednesday night’s disaster off the bench against the Detroit Pistons, a change could be coming sooner, rather than later. With Briscoe still a bit of an unknown, it could come down to practice, and what he does against the likes of Augustin and Grant to push coach Steve Clifford to make a change.
Either way, the Magic have questions at the point guard position, and need to try and figure them out sooner, rather than later if they hope to get things going on the right track.
Jonathan Isaac’s absence
The Magic will once again be without starting forward Jonathan Isaac, who turned his ankle on the foot of Los Angeles Clippers big man Boban Marjanovic’s foot in last Friday nights ugly loss at home.
Isaac, who struggled with ankles injuries for the length of his rookie season last year, is listed as day-to-day. He was seen out putting up some shots, and running through some drills following the Magic’s shootaround on Friday morning.
“He’s getting to [the point] that he’s feeling a lot better,” said Steve Clifford before Friday night’s game. “It’s just a question of how he feels tomorrow as he does more things.”
Getting Isaac back could be a lift for the Magic. While he hasn’t made a huge impact in the early part of the season, his versatility is dearly missed.
With Isaac out, Wes Iwundu has stepped into his starting spot, and given the team good minutes, but his absence has also led to Aaron Gordon getting taken out of the second unit, being replaced by Jarell Martin, and the unit has struggled as a whole because of that.
With Isaac seemingly nearing his return, things could begin to return to normal for the Magic’s rotation, and hopefully spark the team as a whole.