League analysts love to cite the fact that Arron Afflalo has increased his scoring average every year he's been in the league, a trend which the veteran continued in his first year with the Orlando Magic in 2012/13. A late first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons in 2006, Afflalo has grown from a utility three-point specialist to a lockdown defender and, now, a go-to offensive option for the league's worst team.
|Points Per Game||Rebounds Per Game||Assists Per Game|
|Points Per 36||Rebounds Per 36||Assists Per 36|
|PER||Rebound Rate||Assist Rate|
All statistics in this table from Afflalo's player page at basketball-reference. Career-best statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.
Before a strained hamstring cut Afflalo's season short, he put up the best counting stats of his career: 16.5 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, and 3.2 assists per game. And yet one would be hard-pressed to argue that he had a career season. The Magic expected the UCLA product to produce for them, and he did, albeit inefficiently. 30 percent three-point shooting, from a guy who shot no worse than 39.8 percent in his four seasons as a role player for his previous club, is the opposite of impressive.
There ought not be any doubts that Afflalo can play, but it's not hard to imagine nearly any 6-foot-5 swingman putting up similar numbers if he got 36 minutes and 14.1 shots per game, as Afflalo did in his first year with Orlando.
The problem with Afflalo is one which affected many of Orlando's veterans as the team began its rebuilding effort: he's spread too thin. Too much is expected of him. Afflalo's game--spot-up shooting, the occasional drive to the rim, spirited if not terribly effective defense--is best suited for a reserve on a contending team. He lacks the one-on-one creativity to be a featured offensive player, and yet that role is precisely the one the Magic asked him to fill.
Afflalo is 27, so he's at or near his peak as a player. Orlando can afford to give him such offensive freedom because of the rebuild in which it finds itself. But we must judge Afflalo on what he did in 2012/13, not what he'd do in an ideal world in the best situation for him.
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