This is the Evan Fournier that the Orlando Magic need.
The version that shined for the France national team in the FIBA World Cup over the last few weeks, showing a confidence, assertiveness and consistency that Fournier was lacking at times last season with the Magic. Fournier, who helped lead France to a third place finish, was honored on Sunday for his stellar play by being selected for the World Cup All-Tournament Team.
The @FIBAWC official All-Tournament Team: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Evan Fournier, Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol and Luis Scola ... with Rubio named tournament MVP— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 15, 2019
Fournier, in eight games during the World Cup, averaged 19.8 points, which was seventh best in the tournament. Fournier, who had a 31-point performance in a second round win over Australia, scored a team-high 22 points in France’s win over the United States in the quarterfinals, ending what had been the U.S. National Team’s 58-game winning streak in games with a roster comprised entirely of NBA players.
France’s run came to an end in the semifinals following an 80-66 loss to Argentina, during which Fournier struggling with his shot, going 6-for-17 for 16 points.
Overall though, it was a highly-encouraging performance for a 26-year-old who is often considered the odd man out in the Magic’s core, despite his prominent role and the two-years and $34 million remaining on his contract.
Evan Fournier has scored 156 points in this FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, the most by a French player in a single FIBA Basketball World Cup tournament (previous most was M. Dorigo with 153 points in 1963)— Sportando (@Sportando) September 15, 2019
Fournier was coming off what had been a disappointing season, during which he shot 43.8 percent from the field and 34 percent from three, both being the lowest of his five seasons in Orlando. It only got worse in the playoffs as Fournier averaged just 12.4 points while shooting 34.8 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from three in five games against the Raptors.
But then came the summer version of Fournier, who was aggressive in the pick-and-roll and showed little hesitation to shoot the ball and initiate while helping France establish its offensive rhythm. During France’s first six games, Fournier shot 45.2 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from three (13 of 29), and also got to the line regularly, which was encouraging for a high-usage player who drove often last season but rarely drew contact to get to the stripe (2.1 free throw attempts per game).
The hope is that Fournier’s FIBA performance will carry over to the upcoming season for a Magic team so desperately in need of a closer and a scorer who can initiate off the dribble and attack the basket.
Fournier took advantage of the World Cup opportunity, made the most of it and was properly recognized for his play. Many NBA players opted not to do so, turning down invitations or withdrawing from the World Cup, which Fournier admit bothered him.
“To be honest, when you look at [LeBron] James, KD, Kyrie Irving, and all these guys, they came here already and they won, so whatever, it’s fine,” Fournier told reporters after the tournament. “But for friends of mine like Tobias [Harris], I thought it was a great opportunity for him to just see something different and compete. I think they don’t realize how beneficial this is for their career. It’s a great tournament, great basketball, it’s super intense. I know you have to work on your game and stuff, but I think this is way better.”