E’Twaun Moore quietly provided boost off Magic bench
When E’Twaun Moore looks at the number on his Orlando Magic jersey before he slips it on, it’s a reminder of how far he has progressed in three years.
Moore was the 55th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. That’s why he wears a number which only two other Magic players — Andrew DeClercq (2000-05) and Keith Tower (1993-94) — have worn in the franchise’s 25-year history.
While the arrival of rookie Victor Oladipo led to a decrease of Moore’s overall playing time, the 6-foot-4 guard from Purdue still managed to be utilized in 79 of a possible 82 games. The only three games he missed came in December following a right thigh contusion.
His contributions to the Magic have tended to be as quiet and unassuming as his personality. But of all the players picked ahead of Moore in the second round three years ago, only Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets has appeared in more games over that time.
Moore, who played in 38 games for the Boston Celtics as a rookie and 154 in two years with the Magic, saw his scoring average drop from 7.8 points to 6.3. But his field-goal accuracy went up to 42.8 percent, due in part to his improvement from 3-point range.
More than a third of his field goals attempted were from beyond the arc. While he was relied upon to give a lift on defense as much as on offense, two games demonstrated his ability to fill up the basket when needed.
The first was in November at Miami as Moore went 4 of 4 from 3-point range to help stake the Magic to a 55-39 halftime lead over the Heat. Almost five months later, he buried all five of his shots from that distance as the Magic came away with a 115-111 victory over the playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets.
"I’m happy for him," Arron Afflalo said afterward. "And hopefully his confidence continues to build in these last few games and he goes into the summer knowing how he can perform."
Moore came out of Purdue as the school’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals, games started and minutes played. A few of those shots came against Indiana during his senior year while Oladipo was a freshman for a struggling Hoosiers team.
"I’ve been in a lot of tough situations in my basketball life, and I’ll take those chances to make big shots as a way to compete," Moore said during the preseason.
With Oladipo, Afflalo and Jameer Nelson all playing in at least 68 games, it was rare for Moore to log more than 25 minutes an outing. Unless the Magic get even younger by trading Afflalo or Nelson before next season, playing time will continue to be in limited supply for him.
But whatever coach Jacque Vaughn has in mind, Moore will be ready with his no-nonsense attitude and thorough professionalism.
WHAT HE DID RIGHT
For the first time in his career, Moore shot better than 40 percent from the floor for a season. He was 57 of 161 (35.4 percent) from 3-point range, and he maintained nearly a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Magic went 8-12 in games where he scored in double figures.
WHERE HE NEEDS TO IMPROVE
He went from averaging 22.4 minutes during the 2012-13 season to 19.1 minutes this past year. While Moore showed modest improvement in almost every statistical category, he needs to establish a particular skill which will keep him around for years to come or risk spending even more time on the bench.
April 9 vs. Brooklyn. After having gone only 4 of 18 from 3-point range since March 18, Moore drained all five of his attempts and finished with 17 points in 18 minutes to help guarantee the Magic no worse than a split of their season series with the Nets.
Moore has made the minimum salary of less than $1 million for each of the past two years. He and center Dewayne Dedmon are the only Magic players free to sign elsewhere over the summer. His future with the team could depend on what happens next month on draft night.