How Each Orlando Magic Post Player Is Trying to Fill the Dwight Howard Void

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2012

How Each Orlando Magic Post Player Is Trying to Fill the Dwight Howard Void

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    Before anything more is said, let's make one thing extremely clear: No one in the NBA can replace Dwight Howard right now. In fact, there isn't a player that even comes close.

    With that said, there are a handful of players in Orlando who are attempting to fill the enormous chasm left by the league's most dominant center.

    While none are capable of playing game-changing defense or producing rim-rattling dunks like Howard, the Magic do have a nice blend of front-line pieces who are capable of developing into productive NBA players.

    However, that development and production does need to occur quickly if the Magic are to successfully rebuild in the post-Howard era. Encouragingly, there have been some positive signs in the early going of this season.

    So without further ado, here is a look at how each of the Magic's post players are attempting to fill the void left by D12.

    *Note - This article only includes players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. All stats accurate as of Nov. 11.

Gustavo Ayon

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    Currently used off the bench behind Nikola Vucevic, Ayon is trying to bring an abundance of energy to the Magic's second unit. While not great defensively, the Mexican native is an active off-the-ball screener, as well as a quick cutter to the basket from side pick-and-rolls.

    However, it's no secret that Ayon has struggled to make an impact in the early part of this season. Only playing 11.8 minutes per game, he's averaging just 1.5 points and 2.8 rebounds.

    Yet currently, the most concerning part of Ayon's game is his 23.7 percent turnover ratio, which places him as the 10th-worst player in the league for holding on to the ball among players averaging more than 10 minutes per game.

    Jameer Nelson's absence certainly isn't helping the the 27-year-old, as Nelson is a far more accomplished pick-and-roll point guard than E'Twaun Moore, who is currently starting for the Magic.

    Until Nelson returns, Ayon needs to concentrate on crashing the boards and improving his defensive rotations to better contribute to Orlando's efforts.

Andrew Nicholson

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    Andrew Nicholson certainly owns the skills to make an impact in the NBA straightaway.

    Already this season in limited minutes, we've seen very small glimpses of his skill set on the offensive end. He's shown he can hit his jump shot all the way out to 20 feet, as well as the footwork to successfully maneuver his way around the paint with his back to the basket.

    Averaging six points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game, the 22-year-old has played some very good stretches so far, most notably in the team's win at home to the Phoenix Suns.

    While he lacks the athleticism and quickness to make him an elite front-line defender, his basketball IQ and expansive skill set at the offensive end make him a promising prospect in Orlando.

    With an increase in minutes and the amount of plays called for him as the season continues, Nicholson's numbers and production should increase significantly.

Nikola Vucevic

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    Of the Magic's young and developing frontcourt players, Nikola Vucevic has easily been the most impressive in the early going of this season.

    Highlighted by his consecutive double-doubles against Phoenix and Chicago, Vucevic is using his high basketball IQ and appetite for rebounds to greatly contribute to the Magic's offensive production.

    Some well-executed off-the-ball screens have led to some nice cuts to the basket for easy points, while his follow-up work has seen him score consistently with put-backs and tip-ins.

    Surprisingly, however, Vucevic hasn't displayed his ability from mid-range or his back-to-the-basket skills to any great extent so far this season.

    The young Montenegrin does need to elevate his play at the defensive end, particularly his boxing out in rebounding situations, but the signs so far are very positive for Vucevic in Orlando.

Glen Davis

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    Predictably, Glen Davis is shouldering a heavy load in the post for the Orlando Magic, carrying his role from last season's playoffs into the early going of the new campaign.

    Finally a leader on an NBA team and fourth in the league in usage rate, the ever-improving Davis is showing how to score when you're an undersized frontcourt player.

    With his bulk and weight, "Big Baby" is continually driving the ball to the heart of the opposition's defense, forcing contact and regularly finishing. By staying low and initiating the contact early, Davis is stripping his opponent's ability to jump and block shots.

    This increasing attacking threat that Davis is beginning to own is also allowing him to find more space from mid-range. With defenders playing slightly off of him, Davis is knocking down his jump shot from 18 feet as well.

    However, the offensive burden on Davis is starting to show. While he's averaging 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, his efficiency is dropping. Through five games, Davis is shooting 38.5 percent from the floor, and just 60 percent from the foul line.

    If he can improve his overall efficiency, then he could be set for a big season in 2012-13.