Rashard Lewis’ Trials and Tribulations on Offense | Magic Basketball



Nov 15

Rashard Lewis’ Trials and Tribulations on Offense

Photo by Fernando Medina

It’s early in the regular season, but there’s a few players for the Orlando Magic that have been struggling on offense — Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick (more on him later), and Quentin Richardson to name a few. But there’s one player, in particular, that looks out-of-sync right now offensively and that’s Rashard Lewis.

To be frank, Lewis has been horrawful. Horrible and awful.

Lewis has had his moments of brilliance, particularly in the first half of the Magic’s home opener against the Washington Wizards and against the Charlotte Bobcats on the road a little over a week ago, but that’s about it. Coincidentally (or not), in those games, Lewis played primarily at power forward.

It’s no secret that head coach Stan Van Gundy has made a more concerted effort to find minutes for Lewis at the small forward position, mainly with an eye towards the playoffs when Orlando’s ability to mix-and-match their lineups based on their opponents will matter a great deal. However, it seems like it’s thrown Lewis off-kilter a bit on offense and it’s reflected in his numbers. Granted, that excuse can only go so far before a finger needs to be pointed at Lewis for his inability to produce.

Lewis’ primary objective for the Magic is to stretch the floor offensively and, on occasion, post up on the low block whenever the opportunity presents itself. The problem is that Lewis has been unable to do almost anything on offense for Orlando, whether he’s at small forward or power forward. Heck, in the Magic’s loss against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Lewis didn’t attempt a three-pointer for the first time since 2006. That’s not a good sign.

What gives?

When comparing Lewis’ shot attempts from 2010 to 2011, the irony is that he’s getting more scoring chances on a per minute basis this year. Even more ironic is that, on a per minute basis, Lewis is getting the amount of looks he got in his first two seasons with the Magic before Vince Carter‘s arrival last season altered the pecking order on offense at “Sweet Lew’s” expense.

Per 36 Minutes FGM-A TS% eFG%
2007-2008 6.0 – 13.3 .591 .554
2008-2009 6.0 – 13.7 .580 .540
2009-2010 5.3 – 12.2 .573 .539
2010-2011 4.8 – 13.0 .464 .443

The problem is that Lewis isn’t making any shots right now.

The sample size is small, but the stats speak for themselves.

Catch and Shoot %Time Shots PPS* Rank Rating
2009-2010 47.2 378 1.183 88% Excellent
2010-2011 38.5 37 1.027 55% Good

In spot-up and transition situations, Lewis isn’t capitalizing on the attempts he’s getting. This could merely be a slump and Lewis eventually breaks out of it, or it might be something more than that. It’s too early to tell.

Magic fans have been accustomed to seeing Lewis spot-up in transition and make backbreaking threes that ignite or spur a scoring run, but those occurrences have been far and few between this year. For now.

This isn’t to say that Lewis can’t perform in crunch-time because he still can. Many people have been jaded by Lewis’ performance in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals that they forget this is the same player that made life extremely difficult for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. Also, Lewis proved in the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers that he can be cold as ice when the job needs to be done. Lewis pulled the same ‘clutchy’ shenanigans against the Bobcats just recently, so he still has it in him to perform under duress when Orlando needs him to.

Right now, the best thing to do is wait and see what happens with Lewis.

Carter dealt with similar issues in January last season and he snapped out of it, so it’s only fair to let things ride out to the end for Lewis.

*points per shot


Why don't we ever discuss the whole performance-enhancing drugs thing? Isn't it possible that Lewis' steady decline over the years has resulted from no longer having his "performance enhanced"? I'm a forgiving person, but the contract amount should really be renegotiated at that point...