It’s fair to say the Orlando Magic haven’t enjoyed the prettiest of seasons thus far. After facing a plethora of difficulties regarding injuries to star players, rotation issues and much more, the franchise currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with a dismal 23-39 record.
Here’s how every NBA team stacks up on offense and defense as we head into February: pic.twitter.com/8cz9QoQVag
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) February 1, 2017
But Orlando’s fortunes may be soon to change. Of course, a playoff berth is completely out of the question, but since February 23rd the Magic look a far more assured side than the one pre-trade deadline.
— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) March 4, 2017
Along with DeMarcus Cousins‘ blockbuster trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, a few other trades occupied the headlines. One of the aforementioned moves was Serge Ibaka departing to the Toronto Raptors, with Terrence Ross and a first-round draft pick heading to Orlando.
This trade freed up minutes for Ross in Orlando, as it wasn’t expected that he would come in and produce immediately like Ibaka did during his tenure. It allowed rotation consistency, something that had been amiss prior to the trade. But there is one player that seems to be benefiting exponentially from this trade, and that is Aaron Gordon, who was being previously deployed out of position at the small forward spot.
Since Ibaka’s trade, Gordon has returned to his roots, now occupying the power forward position, and it’s beginning to yield some pretty decent results.
After the deadline, the Magic have gone 2-2. During this stretch, Gordon has been playing particularly well, averaging 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest, while shooting at a 48.9-percent clip. To add some perspective to these stats, the last 10 games prior to the deadline (where the Magic went 3-7), Gordon was substantially less productive, averaging 9.5 points a game and shooting a miserably inefficient 37% from the field, along with 4.1 rebounds.
As well as shooting and rebounding at a much higher and efficient rate, Gordon has also turned the ball over a lot less. Before he moved back to his preferred power forward spot, the All-Star Dunk Contest participant had just 18 games under his belt where he had zero turnovers out of 56 games played, meaning in about 68% of games played this season, Gordon turned the ball over more than once. Since the deadline, Gordon has only turned the ball over more than once, twice – a 50% rate. An 18% increase in ball security. In part, this has come down to the fact that Gordon spends a lot less time with the ball in his hands than he previously did.
The 4th pick in the 2014 draft has excelled since the 23rd, and his undeniable athleticism is shining through. With an abundance of highlight plays over the last four games added to his personal reel, this has helped propel the Magic to some fine wins, but none were more impressive than Friday night’s 110-109 win over the Miami Heat. Orlando won the season series against Miami for the first time since the 2008/09 season in the process.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) March 4, 2017
With a bit of momentum finally beginning to build, the Magic, behind a rejuvenated Aaron Gordon and co., can begin to slowly salvage their season from the depths of disappointment and begin to build towards a franchise capable of achieving a playoff berth next season.