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Evan Fournier is killing the Magic and it needs to stop right now

This was supposed to be a Game 4 preview. But we need to talk about Evan Fournier instead

Orlando Magic v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Two Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Evan Fournier has made six three-pointers in this series so far.

From the outside looking in, over three games, that figure doesn’t appear incredibly terrible. So, let’s help those outsiders look deeper, shall we?

Evan Fournier has not hit a three in this series during the first half of a game.

Evan Fournier has not hit a three in this series with the Magic lead/deficit being less than 10 points.

Evan Fournier three #1: Game 1, fourth quarter, Magic up 12

Evan Fournier three #2: Game 1, fourth quarter, Magic up 10

Evan Fournier three #3: Game 1, fourth quarter, Magic up 13

Evan Fournier three #4: Game 2, third quarter, Magic down 21

Evan Fournier three #5: Game 3, third quarter, Magic down 18

Evan Fournier three #6: Game 3, third quarter, Magic down 30

Evan Fournier has made 31.6% of his threes in this series, down from 39.9% in the regular season during a career year.

Evan Fournier, arguably the second most integral player on an offensively-challenged Orlando Magic team starved for shooting and spacing, has been less than a non-factor in this series. He’s been a detriment.

That was capped by his team-worst minus-28 in Game 3, bringing his net rating for the Magic’s first round series against the Bucks to a minus-13 (second worst on team behind Gary Clark at minus-14.2).

Fournier, averaging 11.3 points on 35.5% shooting over the first three games of the series, has provided the Magic with little more than the occasional spacing, and that’s against a team that purposely allows shooters some daylight.

When Fournier has had the ball this series, more often than not the end result has been a bad decision or badly missed shot, many of the off-balance runner variety. And on the rare occasion his shots have fallen, more often than not the outcome of the game had long been decided.

Part of that is attributed to the Bucks and their league-best defense. Some of it could be the result of a lingering illness that caused Fournier to miss the final seeding games. But no excuse makes up for the fact that when the Magic have needed Fournier most, in this postseason and last, he has given them nothing.

Orlando Magic v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images

Despite the Magic being without half of their opening night roster in this series, Fournier has seen a drop in usage rate (from 23.9% in the regular season to 17.3% in the first round) and field goal attempts (14.1 per to 10.3 per).

Also decreasing (insert contractually obligated disclaimer regarding small sample size here) are his seconds per touch (from 3.1 in regular season to 2.7 in postseason) and dribbles per touch (2.24 to 1.83), indicating that he has been less aggressive with the ball and quick to get rid of it, combining with his shooting woes to cause a drop in his points per touch (0.420 to 0.238).

Part of that is due to Fournier’s inability to penetrate against the Bucks’ stifling defense that packs the paint. During the regular season, Fournier averaged 8.7 drives per game, during which he attempted 4.0 field goals attempts per and passed off 36.9% of the time.

Against the Bucks, he is averaging 7.0 drives per game, but has attempted just 1.7 field goal attempts per game on those drive attempts. He is driving less, giving the ball up more (passing off on 57.1% of his drive attempts), and scoring 3.6 points less per game on drives in this series compared to the regular season.

On shots less than five feet from the basket in this series, Fournier is averaging just 0.7 attempts per game (making 0.3 per), compared to 3.3 attempts in the regular season (making 2.2 per).

Making matters worse, his turnover rate on drive attempts has nearly doubled, from 7.7% in the regular season to 14.3% in the first round. Add it all up through three games, and there isn’t a great disparity between the number of Magic possessions that have ended in a Fournier turnover (7) and a Fournier made basket (11).

When he isn’t turning the ball over, he’s simply doing less with it.

He has cut back on pull-up jumpers, on which in the regular season he averaged 5.0 points per game and in the playoffs is down to 3.0 points on 4.0 attempts per, which includes making a dismal 0.3 of 1.7 pull-up threes per game. He’s seen an uptick in catch-and-shoot attempts and points, from 5.1 points on 4.0 attempts in the regular season to 5.7 points on 5.3 attempts in the postseason, but he is converting at a lower rate (dropping from 43.6% to 37.5%).

We now come full circle and go back to his three-point shooting. His percentage is down, as we know, but without any other way to overcome the Bucks’ defense, 61.3% of Fournier’s total field goal attempts have been threes, a drastic increase from the 46.7% he posted in the regular season.

And he has made just six of them, each more meaningless than the next.

If Fournier’s going to keep taking them, he needs to start making them...and do so when they’re needed most.

The Magic’s ability to win another game in this series depends on it.