And while losing typically perceived with a negative connotation, the Magic have a number of positives to take away from Tuesday night’s loss. Namely the play of Arron Afflalo.
Afflalo came to Orlando as the best, albeit relatively unknown, prospect in the deal that finally took Dwight Howard from the Magic.
A move which had basketball enthusiasts and analysts alike jawing at the Orlando organization for what appeared to be such an utterly disproportionate trade.
Fortunately, the NBA measures talent and not SportsCenter highlights or how often your name makes headlines.
Afflalo proved tonight that he undoubtedly a solid cornerstone for the Magic moving forward. Offering up a, as Clark Kellogg would call it, “stat sheet stuffer supreme!” kind of performance.
As tonight he boasted a top-tier stat line of 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on 10 of 17 shooting. Not to mention he spent much of the evening matched up with an elite on-ball defender like Luol Deng.
Over the last three games, Afflalo’s point totals now make for a solid 19 points, while converting at 48% a clip. Numbers we could continue to see climb as Afflalo’s confidence and comfort within coach Jacque Vaughn’s grows.
Although it’s worth noting that those averages are weathered by a poor 7 point, 3 for 13 shooting performance on opening night. Which clearly overshadow the tremendous upward trend we’ve seen in his production over the last three games.
So while it’s very unlikely Afflalo will ever equate to the game changer or franchise player Howard was, he’s proving night in and night out exactly why the Magic traded for him.