Arron Afflalo Is Breaking Out for Orlando Magic at Shooting Guard

Jared DubinFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 31:  Arron Afflalo #4 of the Orlando Magic putting up a layup during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on January 31, 2014 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE  (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Fernando Medina/Getty Images

A complementary player for his entire career, Arron Afflalo initially struggled with the transition to being something of a primary option in his first season with the Orlando Magic.

Using more than his share of allotted possessions for the first time, Afflalo's efficiency nosedived during the 2012-13 season, during which he posted his lowest true shooting percentage since his rookie year. 

This season, however, Afflalo has bounced back in a big way. He's raised his shooting efficiency back up to its previous levels while increasing his usage rate yet again, an unusual and impressive feat. 

via Basketball-Reference

That Afflalo has done this despite his shot distribution trending even more toward what one might consider an inefficient bent is all the more impressive.

Afflalo has once again increased the percentage of his shots that have come from the mid-range area since last season, while also decreasing the amount of his shots that come from the restricted area and from the short-corner three-point range, according to

Over 40 percent of his attempts now originate from the mid-range dead zone. Much like last year, Afflalo is still connecting on a good percentage of those mid-range attempts, as well as those originating from the back half of the paint.

While his conversion rate in the restricted area has gone down slightly, it is still above the league-wide average, and he is still proficient at making the shots he does attempt from the three-point corners—particularly on the left side of the court, where Afflalo is often stashed when either Jameer Nelson or Victor Oladipo is running a high screen-and-roll with one of the Magic bigs.

He's made 55.1 percent of his attempts from that spot, per

The major improvement this year has come on above-the-break three-point shots. Whereas Afflalo hit only on 23.9 percent of his 167 above-the-break attempts last season, he's connected at a 39.3 percent clip this year, already on 150 attempts

One way the Magic like to free Afflalo for those type of attempts is by running him off a few misdirection screens. 

As you can see here, Afflalo gets lost in all the chaos and moving bodies, eventually popping open on the left wing for a three. The Magic have a few different variations of this play, depending on whether or not Afflalo actually stops in his tracks to set a decoy screen for the ball-handler, as well as on the positioning of the other wing not directly involved in the action. 

According to the video-tracking service mySynergySports (subscription required), the Magic have been running Afflalo off screens more often this season, and he's also made a greater percentage of those shot attempts. 

via mySynergySports

He's also traded in some spot-up shots for a few more post-up possessions, and has increased his shooting efficiency in each role.

Much of those spot-up attempts have been corner threes from the left side, where he's often stationed while the Magic run a pick-and-roll for the primary ball-handler.

It's also a good spot to wait for the ball to just swing around the court after any initial action fails, and Afflalo is deadly when he has time to catch and load up from that spot. 

As far as post-ups go, Afflalo gets them in a few different ways. Look at the route Afflalo takes to the post in the following video:

Looks familiar, right? It's the exact same route he takes in the off-screen play the Magic designed for him to get a three-pointer from the wing, only this time he stops halfway through and posts his man on the block.

It's a cheeky bit of design that allows him to come freely open very quickly no matter which variation of the set Orlando runs. 

Aside from that, the Magic will get the ball to Afflalo on the block in delayed transition when he pins his man there after running the wing on the break, or when he has a mismatch against a smaller defender.

He loves to go to the jumper from the block, and because of his size and strength he's often able to create separation to get it off no matter who is guarding him down there. 

Afflalo is 28 years old and not yet a household name–despite his excellent season, he was not selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

But he's become one of the best wings in the league this season simply by making his shots and working to his strengths on the floor.