Projecting Orlando Magic Players' Minutes Per Game in the 2012-13 NBA Season
In a long line of superstars who have left Orlando for greener pastures (or maybe just less rainy ones), "Superman's" (or rather, "Ironman's") departure, will create a gaping hole in the team's rotation that will be nearly impossible to fill.
The Orlando Magic have a few new additions, either through the draft or the blockbuster deal, that will hopefully make the pain of losing arguably the greatest center of this decade a little less miserable for the fans. But where will new head coach Jacque Vaughn find the minutes to adequately play each of these recently obtained players?
After all, the Magic rotation has looked very similar for the last five years, and only two significant players (Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard) have left the squad. While this will make life difficult for the rookie coach as the roster is surprisingly deep, this job isn't impossible.
In the end, the Magic, including their fans, are more worried about luck with pingpong balls, rather than the success of this year's squad.
*This slideshow will only go in-depth on the projected 12 players that will suit up every contest, barring injuries, suspension, etc.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 9.4
Moe Harkless, who was acquired in the blockbuster four-team deal, was drafted with the fifteenth overall pick in this year's draft. At only 19-years-old, this former St. John's star has a bright future in the Association.
His 6'9" lanky frame coupled with fantastic athleticism make him a perfect candidate to be a lockdown defender at the professional level. He is quite quick and possesses great leaping ability. While his offense is a work in progress, especially his shooting, he has the tools to develop into a player along the lines of Paul George or Trevor Ariza.
Harkless is certainly a project, and won't see many minutes early in his career, but Orlando would be wise to wait to see if this rookie flourishes in the league.
The young forward will probably miss the initial part of the season, though, as he recovers from hernia surgery.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 12.9
Fellow rookie Andrew Nicholson will also struggle to find himself a consistent rotation role, despite being a first-round pick back in the summer.
This bruising power forward is a little bit of a different type of prospect than Harkless, as Nicholson is already quite developed. The problem is that Nicholson, due to his lack of elite size and athleticism, doesn't have nearly as high of a ceiling.
At already 22-years-old, this former St. Bonaventure's star played college all four years, greatly helping his maturation process. Despite being a tad undersized for the NBA—as he is only 6'9" and 240 pounds—Nicholson was one of the most touted big men coming into the draft.
With a solid postgame featuring a nifty hook shot, Nicholson is already ready for a spot in a rotation. The duo of Al Harrington and Glen Davis will certainly make that a challenge at the power forward position, though.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 15.3
Orlando Magic fans can finally rejoice, as the team doesn't have to endure the horrible play of last year's backup point guard Chris Duhon any longer. Now, the fans can finally see what their energetic, young point guard can produce with the increase in minutes.
Ish Smith, who is incredibly athletic, may not be as skilled as his predecessor, but at least he won't be routinely beaten off the dribble on defense.
I expect Smith to create some major buzz in his first year in the rotation. After all, NBA sensation Jeremy Lin was once cut in favor of Smith by the Golden State Warriors.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 16.3
When the team added Quentin Richardson back in the summer of 2010, the franchise expected the swingman to contribute with physical defense and three-point shooting. This, simply, has just not been the case.
Richardson, who has been considered somewhat of a bust since being drafted with the 18th overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft, has traveled around the league. His glory days were back in the early 2000's, but his skills and athleticism have significantly declined over the past few years.
The 6'6" perimeter player is a liability on defense and only shot 38 percent from downtown last season, but he will probably receive the backup small forward position due to being a veteran. At 32-years-old, though, don't hold your breath on major production from this former Los Angeles Clipper.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 20.4
The only true seven-footer on the Orlando Magic roster, Nikola Vučević will be heavily utilized against larger centers in the NBA, especially against the likes of Eastern Conference big men Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler and Andrew Bynum.
Vučević, a former USC star, is a solid prospect for the rebuilding Orlando Magic. His elite size coupled with his offensive prowess make him an interesting candidate to fill Dwight Howard's shoes—or maybe more appropriately—his cape.
As of right now, though, the young center is too raw, and will need time to develop until he ultimately assumes the starting position.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 21.7
One of the more unheralded additions from the Dwight Howard trade is the acquisition of Al Harrington, which, in my opinion, is risky, but the possible reward definitely outweighs the negative.
Due to not being a prospect, Harrington is often overlooked in the deal, but his contributions could be significant this season. Sure, this wily veteran is far from the player that he was in his prime, consistently burning defenses to the tune of 20 points per night.
Now, Harrington, whose character and motor have been questioned in the past, will need to become one of the team's main leaders. A few years ago, many would scoff at this idea, but Harrington truly turned his career around in Denver, becoming one of the leaders on an extremely talented squad.
The only question is if he will cease to continue his good behavior on an inferior team.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 24.2
As the team's best option on offense, J.J. Redick will see a large amount of minutes off the bench, hopefully allowing him to be in contention for Sixth Man of the Year honors.
With few players who can create their own shot, Redick has a skill that Coach Vaughn will utilize early and often in games. Not only can the former Duke star take his man off the dribble, but the sharpshooter is, of course, deadly from behind the arch and is no longer a liability on defense.
Plus, Redick can facilitate the offense for short spurts at a time, which may become valuable if Ish Smith struggles in his new backup point guard role.
The 6'4" shooting guard will finally show the world why he was selected with the eleventh overall pick in 2006. Redick has improved in points per game average each of the past five seasons, culminating in a 12 points per contest effort last year.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 15.7
Gustavo Ayón should not be considered a long-term starter, as I expect Jacque Vaughn to bench the center once the Magic fall out of postseason contention.
Ayón doesn't possess the potential, athleticism or size to become a true franchise center in the NBA. Already 27-years-old, the third Mexico-born basketball player in league history won't develop quickly enough to become a major producer.
That doesn't mean he can't become a valuable player off the bench. His work ethic will certainly help his case.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 21.0
There is no denying that Hedo Türkoğlu's skills have drastically declined in the past few years, bu the fact remains that there are few players in the entire league that have a skill set similar to the Turkish forward.
When the Orlando Magic starting small forward is at the top of his game, he can consistently nail three-point attempts, facilitate the offense with pinpoint accuracy and create his own shot off the dribble. That's not even including the plethora of clutch players Mr. Fourth Quarter has provided in his career.
The only problem is that Hedo is rarely on the top of his game, as consistency was his main problem last season.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 25.3
Glen Davis is facing the tough task of not only staving off Al Harrington and rookie Andrew Nicholson from assuming his starting power forward slot, but also helping ease the pain of the absence of Ryan Anderson.
However, nobody should bet against this former LSU star who has been featured on a few solid squads throughout his brief NBA career.
Additionally, Davis exploded in last season's playoffs averaging nearly 19 points and nine boards per contest in the five-game series against the Indiana Pacers.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 26.3
Since Jameer Nelson's torn lumbar injury in 2009, which caused him to miss a significant portion of that season, the former St. Mary's star has just not been able to return to his All-Star form.
At his listed height of 6'0", which is quite generous, Nelson has had to rely heavily on whatever athleticism he could possibly muster. Now that he is 30-years-old, the little speed and hops the veteran once had are beginning to dwindle, causing opponents to repeatedly take advantage of him.
Now, the Orlando Magic hope that the point guard can provide a burst on offense. With few proven players on this rebuilding roster, Nelson arguably is the most important on the entire team.
Minutes Per Game (MPG): 31.5
There is one player that can prevent the Orlando Magic from entering the lottery next season.
That player is Arron Afflalo.
The former UCLA star is one of the more versatile shooting guards in the league. Afflalo can knockdown the open jumper, create his own shot and, most importantly, lockdown the opposing team's best scorer. Additionally, Afflalo is just entering his prime at 26-years-old and has shown great improvement in the last few seasons.
Orlando's slim playoff chances rely on this new addition.
The following players are hoping to be selected for the 15-man roster:
This second round pick out of this summer's draft will make the Orlando Magic roster. The former Norfolk State star has shined so far in the limited action he has played this offseason.
Moore is a solid guard prospect that Orlando will be wise to keep. He may be relegated to suits during his first year with the team, but the talent is definitely there.
The Harper project has been rather disappointing. Not only has he not seen many minutes during his professional career, but he also has been ineffective in that limited playing time.
McRoberts is a nice bruiser to have during practice, but that's about it. Nonetheless, he will find himself cut by the squad.
Too many small forwards on the roster will lead to Eyenga being released.
The Orlando Magic already possess one point guard project, and they will probably sign a veteran if they want another facilitator.
It would be a great addition to a team looking for prospects, but the Magic already have solid, young swingmen.