Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has kept repeating the same talking points when traditionalist dare to question his three-point-happy offense. It's happened a lot since he took over as Magic coach, mostly because people still see three-point shooting and toughness as antonyms. It happened again at a coaching seminar at Central Florida earlier this week.
Van Gundy's response was the same as always. Via the Orlando Sentinel:
"We think it helps our center and we think it helps our point guard in penetrating if we can spread the floor out," Van Gundy said at the Coaching U Live event at UCF on Thursday. "The numbers think that's a better shot than the mid-range. And the other reason is, that's who we have."
"We get it from our media all the time and our fans. We'll have those nights, 2-for-23 from three. They say you gotta drive the ball more. Who? Who? That's my question. Who? Who's going to drive the ball? That's not who we have. If I had a different team, there are a lot of guys in the league that I wouldn't shoot threes with. We have who we have and we're going to build our system around it."
Noam Schiller at Hardwood Paroxysm makes a pretty good counterpoint though: does the personnel actually fit the roster anymore? Let's take this a step further: does a limiting system make people worse shooters?
It's a tricky question to answer, because where's the chicken and where's the egg. At its most basic level, Van Gundy is right: a three is more efficient than a long two. He's also right that his personnel isn't great for driving and kicking, unless Gilbert Arenas goes back in a time machine to 2006.
But at the same time, Orlando's offense became very predictable last year. The way Dwight Howard was used, in particular, was predictable with him setting up shop on the block all the time. Gone were many of those creative pick and rolls that got Howard deep post position and set up wing three-pointers. Atlanta's success defending the Magic in the playoffs was a direct result of this staleness, something Van Gundy could have easily fixed.
Instead, he's giving the same answers defending his offense. It's not even a matter of three-pointers, really, because those happen anyway. It's more that Van Gundy does have to change some things up.