When general manager Otis Smith signed Chris Duhon as a free agent in the offseason, the expectation was that the Orlando Magic would seal up the back-up point guard role for the next few years. Previous back-ups like Anthony Johnson and Jason Williams served their roles effectively for the Magic, but each of them were in the twilight of their careers and couldn’t be counted on long-term playing behind Jameer Nelson on the depth chart.
Hence the addition of Duhon, who is 28 and in the prime of his career. One problem.
Duhon hasn’t been playing very well for Orlando since the start of the regular season.
To be frank, Duhon’s numbers are atrocious and it remains to be seen whether or not head coach Stan Van Gundy sticks with him in the rotation. It’s tricky because the Magic signed Duhon as a free agent, hence there is an investment in him that needs to be seen all the way through. But at the same time, Van Gundy has to do what’s best for the team. If a player isn’t producing, a change must be made at some point in time.
So what’s wrong with Duhon? Well, almost everything.
First, Duhon isn’t shooting the basketball enough. Duhon’s usage rate is the lowest of his career and that’s a problem. Because Duhon hasn’t been much of a threat offensively, that’s allowed opposing defenses to cheat off of him and help on other players when necessary. In fact, there’s been instances where someone will leave Duhon wide-open and dare him to shoot the ball.
Exacerbating the issue is that when Duhon does put up a shot, he’s not converting efficiently enough. It should be noted that Duhon is nothing more than average when it comes to shooting the basketball when he’s playing at his best, but his stats this year have been far worse than that. What’s the issue? Duhon isn’t converting at the rim — his percentage is the worst of his career.
Second, Duhon is turning it over way too much. Turnovers have been a bugaboo for Duhon in the past, but it’s out of control right now. Part of it is that Duhon is still familiarizing himself with Van Gundy’s system, but part of it is also his own fault. Too many times, Duhon will try to thread the needle with a pass in traffic or try to get too cute with the ball instead of making a simpler play.
As such, it should come as no surprise that Orlando is 10.58 points per 100 possessions worse on offense when Duhon is on the floor.
Via Synergy Sports Technology:
|2010-2011 regular season||Time||Poss.||PPP*||Rank||Rating|
|P&R Ball Handler||42.1%||53||1.06||10%||Poor|
|net def. +/-||dMULT||opp. PER||TRB%||STL%||BLK%|
|-0.48||N/A||11.9 (vs. PG’s)||3.7||0.9||0.2|
Duhon’s defense has been good and is not an issue, but he’s been hurting the Magic offensively. It’s still early and it’s clear that Duhon is still getting acclimated to playing with his new teammates, but there may be a time when Van Gundy needs to make a temporary change and give Williams a chance at some minutes to see what he is capable of.
Or Van Gundy might continue to exhibit patience with Duhon, knowing that he is more apt to making an impact in the playoffs when the time comes. At the end of the day, the postseason is the only thing that matters to Orlando and for all the thrills and excitement Williams brought to the table last season, he ran out of gas as the year progressed and disappeared in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. That’s precisely why Smith signed Duhon.
Despite Duhon’s many faults, his defense has been as advertised.
But Duhon has some catching up to do offensively.
*points per possession