Studs and Duds from the Orlando Magic's First Slate of Games
Thanks to some fantastic performances over the first few games, the Orlando Magic have started the season with a surprising record of 2-3. However, these solid individual games were met with some pretty horrid ones, which is usually the case.
Nevertheless, the expected doormats of the league have already shown that not only are they capable of winning, but possess the ability to compete against any squad in the Association.
As of November 10, the Magic have staved off both the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns at home, in pretty convincing fashion, while being dominated by both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets.
The franchise was very close to securing a winning record to this point, but the team couldn't manage to capitalize on the Chicago Bulls' rough shooting night.
With Dwight Howard—the former franchise cornerstone—out of town and both veterans Jameer Nelson and Hedo Türkoğlu injured, the Magic have asked new faces to try to push this roster to victory.
Who has thrived in this opportunity, though? Similarly, who has struggled in the early part of the season?
Dud: DeQuan Jones
Despite a magical preseason, which essentially landed him a spot on the regular season roster, DeQuan Jones has yet to make a significant impact on either side of the court.
The small forward out of Miami has appeared in two games this season, starting in both contests, but is only averaging two points in 14 minutes of action.
Both games were quite strange in terms of playing time for the rookie, as coach Jacque Vaughn decided to only play him early. While we don't know if this benching was due to Jones' poor play, we do know that this young man may not be ready for major action in a NBA game.
Expect Jones to become less utilized in the games in the future, as Moe Harkless, the 15th overall pick in this year's draft, has recovered from injury and ready to start putting up some stats.
Stud: E'Twaun Moore
Many Orlando Magic fans entered the season without even acknowledging that E'Twaun Moore had been added to the roster. Signed back in the offseason, few expected this former Purdue guard to be one of the major contributors in the early part of the year, let alone make the team.
However, Moore has exceeded expectations, thanks to the opportunity to start due to Jameer Nelson's hamstring injury.
In the five regular season contests, Moore has averaged nearly 15 points, four boards and four dimes in 34 minutes per night.
Not bad for a natural shooting guard forced to facilitate the offense due to Nelson's absence.
Dud: Josh McRoberts
With Hedo Türkoğlu on the sidelines with a broken hand, the Orlando Magic are trotting out it seems like a different starting small forward every night. As of late, Josh McRoberts has received the nod.
However, McRoberts, who was acquired in the Dwight Howard blockbuster deal, has failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves, this forward looked lost on the court, only contributing seven points and four boards with a turnover.
Nevertheless, Jacque Vaughn saw something positive, or maybe just picked the lesser of two evils, as he decided to start McRoberts once again on November 9. The outcome was even worse, as the former Duke star failed to score in the first half and went on to add two points to his season total.
Hopefully, the McRoberts ride has come to a complete stop.
Stud: Nikola Vučević
When the Orlando Magic received Nikola Vučević last offseason in the Dwight Howard deal, many expected the young center to ride the bench, as he was still considered too raw to help the cause.
Simply put, that has not been the case. Vučević has looked confident, competent and energetic in his first few games in Magic blue, alleviating the pain felt by the massive void left by the former center.
In all five games this season, Vučević has started, seeing nearly 30 minutes of action per night. The former USC star possesses averages of 10 points and seven rebounds per game in the first five games of the season.
The future looks bright for this big man.
Dud: Gustavo Ayón
As for the man that was projected to start in place of the departed Dwight Howard, Gustavo Ayón has looked dismal in the early portion of the season, only seeing the court around 12 minutes per night in order to rest Vučević.
This second year big man his already 27-years-old and doesn't possess elite athleticism or skill. In other words, Ayón looks like a perennial benchwarmer.
His statistics this season are a testament to that assumption, as Ayón is only putting up on average one point and three boards per night.
Stud: J.J. Redick
The Orlando Magic are feeling the impact of a much improved of J.J. Redick. In his contract year, this former Duke star has blossomed into one of the top sixth man in the league.
This season, Redick is scoring 15 points and dishing out nearly four assists per game. While those stats are eye-popping, his total contributions are much more valuable than just those numbers.
If you want to see if the buzz around this veteran is warranted, the Orlando Magic face the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Sunday, November 11. I highly advise tuning in.