5 Reasons the Magic Should Start Andrew Nicholson Right Away
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With a completely revamped roster, head coach Jacque Vaughn and the Orlando Magic have many roster decisions to ponder, including the starter at the power forward slot.
Obviously, Glen Davis is the frontrunner for the role in the starting unit, but don't count out rookie Andrew Nicholson.
Despite being the 19th overall pick, this Canadian big man was largely considered the fourth best center prospect in a rather deep draft, behind the likes of Anthony Davis, Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard.
With a silky smooth jumper and a refined post-game, there is no denying that this 22-year-old will see major minutes in the rotation this upcoming season. The question is, however, will Nicholson be starting the game on the pine or on the floor.
The answer to the aforementioned question is simple: play the kid! He may not be the next Dwight Howard, but there are a multitude of quality reasons to showcase his talents.
Versatility and Athleticism
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In this year's Summer League in Orlando, there was one player that shined for the Magic squad, and that athlete was their first-round draft pick, Andrew Nicholson.
On both sides of the court, Nicholson proved to have real potential, as the 6'9" big man averaged nearly 13 points and seven boards per contest while swatting away numerous shots.
This production named him to the 2012 AirTran Airways All-Summer League first team, along with Utah’s Alec Burks, Detroit’s Austin Daye, and Miles Plumlee and Lance Stephenson from Indiana. Nicholson beat out fellow rookie power forward Jared Sullinger for the honor.
Nicholson's consistency on offense and all-around hustle allowed the big man to thrive in this summer's action. That was to be expected, though, as those said aspects had scouts drooling during his collegiate years at St.Bonaventure.
However, nobody expected the versatility and surprising athleticism present in his polished game. Not only can Nicholson move swiftly down the court, but his long 7'4" wingspan coupled with his superb jumping ability makes him a shot-blocking presence on the block.
With a starting lineup most likely composed of Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Türkoğlu and Nikola Vučević, it may not be a bad idea for Vaughn to decide to bench the veteran Glen Davis in favor of the spry Andrew Nicholson.
Additionally, Nicholson showed that he can penetrate the defense with ease off the dribble and knock down the open three-point jumper. These skills, along with his solid post-game, will allow him to develop into a go-to big man like he was in college.
St. Bonaventure assistant coach Dave Moore has high praise for the prospect:
"His outside game has come along. We tried to develop him in the lowepost his first year and then move him out to the mid post his second year and step him out to three his third year. He’s kinda of put everything together now, where he’s really impossible to guard one-on-one."
Glen Davis Thrives off the Bench
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Throughout his career, Glen Davis has been labeled anywhere from benchwarmer to sixth man, but never a starter barring injuries to teammates. Despite openly seeking a starting role, Davis has failed to acquire one.
This season, though, Davis will have a perfect opportunity to capture the starting power forward slot now that former starter Ryan Anderson is in New Orleans. However, Jacque Vaughn should send the "Big Baby" crying back to the bench.
Despite being probably one of the most talented players on the roster, Davis should still come off the pine.
Well, there are a few reasons, including the fact that the Magic bench does not possess many quality scorers. Across the league, many teams have decided to rest one of their stars at the beginning of the games.
Secondly, Davis has always come off the bench. If this 6'9" big man truly warranted starter minutes, he would have won them last year from Anderson.
Many Glen Davis fans will quickly point to his impressive production in last year's playoffs, where he averaged around 19 points and nine rebounds per night. Does one series, though, really prove that he is capable of taking on the task?
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Al Harrington should be considered the dark horse to take over starting duties at power forward. After having a successful tenure in the NBA, though, this journeyman's career is beginning to wind down.
While his 14 points and six boards per night last season paints a different story, his inability to play even sub-par defense and lack of explosiveness shows the true story.
Andrew Nicholson will undoubtedly be the more effective player than Harrington, even if we haven't seen the former in a regular season game yet.
In fact, the Magic may even look for possible suitors for the established veteran. The problem is that no teams are going to be that interested.
Sure, Harrington still holds some value, but his contract is quite cumbersome. Harrington has at least around $13 million in guaranteed money owed to him the next three years.
Spark Some Excitement
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The Orlando Magic haven't had a top-20 selection in six years.
In 2006, the organization drafted, with the eleventh overall pick, J.J. Redick, who would ride the bench his first few professional years. Despite the crowds pleads to play the Duke legend, Stan Van Gundy refused to play the prospect due to this personal vendetta about playing young talents.
The year before, the franchise selected Fran Vázquez with the same pick. The Spaniard big man, however, would elect to forgo an NBA career with hopes of establishing himself as a legendary international big man overseas, where he stills competes today.
The draft before that, of course, was when Dwight Howard became a part of the Orlando Magic family.
So, in four years this franchise has only had two top-20 draft picks, and one of those selections was wasted on a player who never came to the Association.
Simply put, the Orlando Magic fans are starving to see a rookie, who is filled with promise, suit up in White and Blue.
A Look into the Future
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In the end, the Orlando Magic are obviously not competing for the NBA championship, so the only thing on the franchise's mind should be next year's draft and the cohesion former between their young players.
Between Nicholson, Moe Harkless, Ish Smith and Nikola Vučević, this team has a solid nucleus to start a massive rebuilding process around.
By distributing major minutes to these four prospects, especially Nicholson, the Orlando Magic, including their fans, can finally see if the team is heading into the right direction.