As everyone knows by now, Dwight Howard is staying in Orlando for another year. During the whole trade debacle this year, Dwight made some interesting “suggestions” which included asking Otis Smith to trade for Nash and Monta. I decided to watch a few games to see if either of these players would make sense on the Magic and while I’m sure the offense could be changed to fit their skill sets, neither fit in perfectly. So why would Dwight ask for these two players, aside from their status as great offensive weapons? Was he just making random requests or does he have a better understanding of the Magic’s offensive woes (ranked 21st in the NBA this year at 94.3 ppg) than people think?
Whenever I watched an Orlando game, even those in previous seasons, I always had a weird nagging feeling that the offense just isn’t living up to its potential. Their offense [somewhat] works as Dwight’s dominance allows for all of the 3 point shooters to get open looks. Meanwhile, all of the 3 point threats should theoretically make it easier for Dwight to score. However, that rarely seems to be the case and I think I finally know why – they have no wing player that can create their own shot.
Right now the offense is designed so Dwight elevates the offensive abilities of all of his teammates. This is very evident when looking the ridiculous 3 point % of their entire team. Everyone is shooting lights out from behind the arc relative to other teams. So why has Dwight’s scoring output stayed the same for much of his career and why have his shot attempts stayed so low for someone so dominant? Most would point to his FT shooting woes or lack of variety in post moves as the main culprits and yes, this is part of the problem. But a bigger factor is that the Magic offensive sets are not designed to help get Dwight easy shots.
Both Nelson and Turkoglu are supposed to be the creators that help get Dwight easier shots either through pick and rolls or via their penetration & passing. Whenever either player is “on”, the Magic tend to win because they end up making the defense pay for focusing so much on Dwight. The problem – neither player is able to do this consistently. Jameer was close in his All-Star caliber year but after getting injured, he was never able to reach the same level of consistency. Dwight’s presence is the only reason either can even contribute well regularly. Heck, he is the only reason anyone on that team can contribute regularly. So the result is that the Magic end up being a very streaky team offensively that relies a LOT on 3 point shooting.
Once we understand the manner in which the Magic offense is designed, it becomes very clear why Dwight wants another star who can create their own shot (or in Nash’s case, create for everyone else on the team – create something other than 3s). If the Magic had one other consistent offensive threat that can create their own shot, Dwight’s offensive numbers and efficiency would shoot up. This would make the Magic a very dangerous team. Sadly, they have Otis Smith as their GM. A dude who doesn’t seem to understand how to put together a great team; right now, they are just a good team and will stay that way for the foreseeable future unless they make a change.