How well will Nicholson be able to overcome the inherent small school stigma that becomes so pervasive around this type of year?
Quite well, but only if the versatile big man pans out as many expect.
What Nicholson Brings to the Team
As I mentioned above, versatility is a key part of Nicholson's game.
Although he turns the ball over too often, which may be the result of a ridiculously large role within the Bonnies' offensive system, Nicholson has a post game ahead of his years and couples that with an improving game from outside the paint. With great footwork, he routinely baffles defenders as he spins, ducks under and goes around them to put the ball in the hoop.
Nicholson showed a lot of development from the outside as he extended his range to beyond the college three-point line during the end of his career, drilling 19 of the last 30 triples he attempted during his senior season.
While he may only stand 6'9", Nicholson is a long player with big, soft hands that should allow him to play bigger than his frame would indicate. He's been pushed around a bit too often in the past, so bulking up with a few extra pounds would do him wonders at the NBA level.
The question at hand, however, is what exactly does Nicholson bring to his team? The answer is "a lot."
The power forward isn't exceptional in any one facet of the game on either end of the court, but he's so good at a number of them that the overall body of work should bring a lot to his team.
What Experts are Saying
Way back in May, ESPN's Chad Ford was hearing glowing things about the senior from St. Bonaventure:
Nicholson played four years of college ball. Is there anything left for teams to learn about him? "I don't think people realize how skilled he really is," one GM said. "I keep hearing my scouts say he's kind of like David West. Well, if he is David West, he should be 15 spots higher on our board. The more I've watched him on film, the more I think we may be missing on him. Skilled power forwards like West are hard to come by."
This unnamed general manager really hit the nail on the head with his assessment of Nicholson. Whether it's his smooth stroke from the outside or his nifty footwork that leads to the inevitable throw-down, Nicholson is a skilled player.
Nicholson's ability to contribute inside and outside might give him the ability to become a valuable 4 down the road for his new team.
What is Nicholson's ceiling at the next level?
That said, he's going to struggle initially as he attempts to make the sizable leap from the Atlantic 10 to the NBA. Keep in mind that I say this as a major advocate of small-school players.
Nicholson improved constantly during his four years of college basketball as he transitioned from a player stuck in the paint to one who could score from anywhere on the floor. His three-point shot is a true testament to just how hard he can work and how much he can improve.
Until he adds the upper body strength he'll need to hang around with the more physical power forwards, Nicholson is only going to be effective from the perimeter, and that won't be enough to earn him consistent playing time.
As his career progresses, this pick will seem a worthwhile investment, but just don't expect too much out of Nicholson during the 2012-2013 season.
Nicholson certainly won't make Magic fans forget about Dwight Howard, and that's probably a good thing. The new-look Orlando front office looks to be starting the rebuild a bit early with a player whose "size" is of a variety wholly different than that with which D12 ruled the realm.
His shooting touch will provide an interesting complement to Ryan Anderson and allow Orlando to display a wider variety of looks on offense. Nicholson needs a bit more finesse to reach his full potential, but the mere possibility of stardom gives fans something to look forward to.