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Channing Frye and the Magical Buffet of Goodness

Mar 24, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) reacts in front of Atlanta Hawks center Pero Antic (6) after hitting a three point shot during the second half at Philips Arena. The Suns defeated the Hawks 102-95. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In a world where seemingly every free agent not named Jodie Meeks is waiting until a certain franchise player who shall not be named makes a decision, Channing Frye has punched his ticket and agreed to a 4-year, $32 million contract with the Orlando Magic.

In other words, “All aboard the Oladipo Express!”

The signing is a great move for the young Magic squad, for so many reasons.

  1. Channing Frye is a great person.
  2. Channing Frye is a great fit in the lineup.
  3. Channing Frye gets a 4-year contract.
  4. Channing Frye is a career 38.5 percent shooter on 3-point attempts.
  5. Channing Frye and Tobias Harris are cousins.
  6. Channing Frye-Nikola Vucevic-Aaron Gordon-Victor-Oladipo-Elfrid Payton starting lineup? (Don’t look at the bench guards)
  7. Channing Frye is a great fit in the lineup (yes, that’s a repeat).

Now, if you’re an average person reading this on your computer screen or mobile device, you might think, “$32 million? That’s a bit much,” but it’s not actually that much money (That’s how much Kobe is making per year give or take). Did the Magic overpay for a player that is a bit of a health risk coming off a strong season? Sure, but the Magic have cap space, and aren’t in a position to offer players jewelry discounts. No, the Magic decided to spend extra on a player that is a great fit in their lineup (third time) and can actually play. Instead of paying someone to take up cap space to reach the salary floor while never stepping foot on the court, the Magic made a competitive offer to a player that fills a need.

How does Frye fill a need? The Magic have two guards who aren’t known for perimeter shooting that are projected as starters over the length of that four-year contract in Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. Oladipo and Payton are both skilled at getting to the free throw line, with Oladipo registering a 34.0 percent free throw rate last season and Payton averaging 8.8 free throw attempts per game in his last season at the collegiate level. With two guards who want to drive to the rim, having a 6’11” teammate who can set screens near the top of the key, then float out to the perimeter for a shot attempt can be a huge asset. It certainly helped one of Frye’s teammates, Goran Dragic, post some of the best stats in the league at his position.

From the fingers of Dave King at Bright Side of the Sun:

The greatest recipient of Frye’s influence on the game has been his connection with Goran Dragic. Together, they lead the league in points per pick-and-roll possession (1.3). Even more than actual scoring, the threat of the score is what makes the Suns offense run.

 

Frye forces the defense to hug up on him at the three-point line, which opens the lane for drivers like Dragic and Eric Bledsoe to pick apart the defense.

Dragic explained it to Zach Lowe of Grantland.com back in March:

Q: How much easier is your life when you can run a pick-and-roll with Channing Frye – a screener who can kill teams with outside shots?

 

A: Oh, man, a lot easier. It’s a huge difference from this year to last year, when Channing was out. Everybody was so much inside the paint, that you could not create. You could not get to the inside. And right now, it’s so much easier. They’re so afraid he’s going to knock down shots.

 

Q: Defenders just have to stick to him, instead of helping against you as you go around the pick.

 

A: They have to be close to him. And that’s one man less in the paint. It’s so much easier.

 

Q: There’s one kind of drive you get – when your defender gets between you and Channing’s pick, like he wants to send you away from the pick, but Channing’s defender is sticking right to Channing. You can just drive into open space away from the pick, right?

 

A: Exactly. My guy is already on the side of me, and it’s just much easier to penetrate. And if they help, of course, I’m going to find Channing.

So with a big who can rebound and defend in Vucevic, two super-athletes in Gordon and Oladipo who can pass, rebound, block shots, force turnovers and finish in transition, and a point guard that can penetrate, get to the free throw line, and wants to find open teammates, the Magic are becoming a fun little team to watch, something that couldn’t be said last season.

As for Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, and Andrew Nicholson, they seem destined to a bench role in the upcoming season, but that’s not the end of the world. The Magic still have need of backcourt help, because Ben Gordon and Evan Fournier probably aren’t going to get it done at a playoff level, but at least there is a chance for hope for this Magic squad.

So, with apologies to Andrew Nicholson, welcome Channing Frye to the Orlando Magic. I’m looking forward to tuning in to the all-you-can-eat athleticism of a young team who just added a dependable veteran to their lineup. Transition dunks and trailing 3-pointers for everyone! Their dunk highlight reel is going to be so great.

Final thought: Do the Magic have contracts delivered by owl? Is that just reserved for players Washington recruits? That would be so cool.

Daniel Lewis