5 Things We Learned from Orlando Magic Preseason
Preseason has been completed, the roster has been finalized and the Orlando Magic are on their way to the regular season.
Although the team has struggled to find victories in the preseason, we have learned a significant amount about the identity of Jacque Vaughn's new-look team.
Without Dwight Howard in Florida, Vaughn has set about putting his own stamp on the franchise and initiating the rebuilding process.
Roles have been adjusted and minutes have been shared around in an attempt to find a rotation that will see the Magic be competitive this year.
While many outsiders have predicted only doom and gloom for Orlando, there is a sense from inside the organization that the team is headed in the right direction.
So what have we learned from the Magic's preseason?
Here are five things that have become clear over the past three weeks.
5. DeQuan Jones Can Seriously Dunk
DeQuan Jones has come from nowhere to land a permanent spot on the Magic's roster. After eight games it's very clear why Vaughn wants Jones on his team. He's one explosive athlete.
A vicious dunker, Jones has impressed the coaching staff with his ability to defend and get out in transition, as well as his insane explosions to the rim.
Considering the Magic will be without Al Harrington and Maurice Harkless in the early part of the season, Jones will likely see some considerable court time.
Consequently, there may be some rim-rattling in Orlando this season even in Dwight Howard's absence.
4. J.J. Redick Is Set for a Career Season
Since entering the league in 2006, J.J. Redick has improved every season.
Initially nothing more than a perimeter shooter, Redick has developed his ball-handling, driving ability and decision making to a point where he can become a legitimate sixth-man in the NBA.
With Howard now gone, Redick will be relied upon to contribute more than he ever has. The good news for Magic fans is that he looks ready for the challenge.
Second in scoring for the team during preseason, Redick has impressed with his play-making that has seen him average five assists in that time as well. His work with Glen Davis in the pick-and-roll has been particularly impressive.
Even more positively, he's shooting over 52 percent from deep as well.
With his skill-set expanding and his role increasing, Redick looks set for a career season in 2012-13.
3. Glen Davis Will Be the Team's Focal Point on Offense
Glen Davis excelled during Howard's absence in last season's playoffs. With the star center now gone for good, Davis will look to carry that form into this season.
In just 26 minutes, Davis has scored 16.9 points per-game during the Magic's preseason to lead the team in scoring. Looking increasingly more comfortable as the focal point of the team's offense, Davis has excelled in the pick-and-roll with Jameer Nelson, E'Twaun Moore and Redick.
Given that he'll be able to spend more time down low in Howard's absence, Davis could potentially score more efficiently this year, as he won't be forced to find a lot of his shots from mid-range, reflected by his field-goal percentage so far.
Although his play is rarely easy on the eyes, it's certainly effective. As a result, he'll lead the team in scoring as the focal point of Vaughn's offense this season.
2. Hedo Turkoglu's Decline Continues
Unquestionably the player with the most pressure on him to perform this season in Orlando is Hedo Turkoglu. An enormous disappointment since his return to the Magic in 2010, Turkoglu desperately needs to arrest the decline of his game.
Unfortunately, it appears that isn't going to happen in 2012-13.
Over the course of the preseason, the Turk has averaged just 8.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Although those numbers are somewhat a result of limited playing time, Turkoglu's role in the Magic offense is being reduced.
With the Magic keen to develop the playmaking skills of Moore, Redick and Ishmael Smith this season, Turkoglu's ball-handling point-forward role appears to be headed toward an eventual end.
No longer a reliable shooter and creative distributor, Turkoglu's decline looks set to continue this season.
1. Andrew Nicholson Can Have an Immediate Impact in the NBA
It was expected that Andrew Nicholson would arrive in the NBA as one of the most mature rookies this season. However, it wasn't clear if he'd be capable of making a significant impact straight away.
That question has been definitively answered.
Nicholson looks set to be a great acquisition for Orlando. Although not a great athlete, the young power forward has a great post-game to go along with his shooting ability.
Averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in just 20.3 minutes this preseason, Nicholson has shown he's ready to be a consistent contributor in his first NBA season.
Vaughn will be keen to maximize the potential of his young star, so expect the 22-year-old to see significant playing time as the team aims to refine his already impressive skill-set.
In what will be a difficult year for the Magic, Nicholson will likely be one the bright spots in Orlando this season.