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The Orlando Magic acquired Evan Fournier from the Denver Nuggets for Arron Afflalo (and the 56th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which turned out to be Devyn Marble) in a draft day trade in June. The trade confused many people because it was basically a swap of two players and most considered Afflalo to be a superior player to Fournier.
Don’t tell that to Fournier, though. With a more expanded role than in his first two years in Denver, Fournier is having a career year so far with the Magic. He’s averaging career-highs in points (16.1), assists (2.4), and steals (0.6) per game.
Of course, Fournier’s per game averages have increased across the board because of his role with the Magic. Last season with the Nuggets, Fournier only averaged 19.8 minutes per game. Through 16 games this season, the third-year guard out of France is averaging 33.9 minutes per game.
With that said, it must be noted that Fournier is shooting the hell out of the ball. Although he’s cooled off noticeably in recent games, Fournier is making a career-best 44.9 percent of his 3-pointers (his career average is 39.4 percent). That is what has fueled his fast start.
Currently, Fournier is sporting a .575 True Shooting percentage. Considering the minutes he has played (543), he is off to one of the most efficient shooting seasons for any guard this season. He is one of only 14 guards in the NBA that have played more than 400 minutes and have a True Shooting percentage greater than .575 percent, per Basketball-Reference.
In addition, Fournier along with Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard are the only guards who have played more than 400 minutes and are shooting greater than 44.0 percent on 3-point attempts while taking at least four 3s a game, per Basketball-Reference. I’m not saying this is sustainable, but it is obvious Fournier looks more comfortable in shooting the deep ball than he did in Denver.
A lot of that has to do with coach Jacque Vaughn implementing Spurs-y type of offensive principles (drive-and-kicks, off-ball cutting, etc.) and the attention that Nikola Vucevic is drawing from defenders in the low post — allowing shooters like Fournier to spot up on the wing for open 3s.
Fournier is also getting to the free-throw line at a higher rate compared to his previous numbers. He currently has a .349 free-throw rate — meaning he gets to the foul line nearly 35.0 percent of the time he attempts a field goal. Last year, Fournier only had a .226 free-throw rate. The reason being? He’s attacking the rim and drawing fouls.
What’s interesting about Fournier is that, aside from his 3-point percentage and free-throw rate, he’s very much the same player he was in Denver — his per 36 numbers this season are nearly identical to his previous two seasons. Fournier is still shooting 3s, not taking many midrange jumpers, driving to the basket, and getting to the foul line at a reasonable rate. The only real change has been playing time and his samurai hair.
Magic officials were high on Fournier and knew he had room to grow. He’s an instinctive player who strives in a system where ball movement and cutting is a staple. Fournier just needed to find a team that would allow him to showcase his talents and he’s gotten that chance in Orlando.