Davis and Humphries
Despite a 2-5 record, many of the Orlando Magic rotation players have played exceptionally well, considering that this team was overwhelmingly labeled the worst team in the Association during the preseason.
While there is still a good chance that this franchise will ultimately be crossing their fingers come lottery time, this roster should be feared as a squad who could potentially steal a victory from any team, especially on their home floor in Orlando.
The absence of Dwight Howard coupled with the injuries to veteran starters Jameer Nelson and Hedo Türkoğlu have really forced the Magic to dig deep into their bench. Luckily for this team, though, there is an abundance of young talent that has shined during this early stint.
However, there are still a few players who will be need to pick up their game in the coming months if the Magic want to make a statement in the first year of this new era.
Due to Türkoğlu's broken hand, the Orlando Magic have yet to see if the 33-year-old small forward will recapture any of the magic (pun intended) that made him so lethal in his first stint with the organization. Hedo is expected to miss another month, as he just recently had a setback with his injury.
Nelson's injury is considered day-to-day, as the groin that has kept him sidelined since the first game of the season is nearly healed. In fact, Nelson was wanting to play last Tuesday against the New York Knicks, but coach Jacque Vaughn advised against his wishes.
Harrington recently had a checkup on his surgically repaired right knee, but has not been cleared to resume on-court activities. This isn't a major hit for the Magic, as the team already has a solid big man rotation.
Grades for these three veterans: N/A (too small a sample size)
Entering into the season, nobody would have thought that E'Twaun Moore, a former second round pick in the 2011 NBA draft, would be having this much of an impact in his first few regular season games for the Orlando Magic. That has been the case, however.
Due to Nelson's groin injury and Ish Smith's consistency issues, Moore was given the nod to start at point guard for the Orlando Magic these last five games. Simply put, the traditional shooting guard has thrived as a facilitator.
While he is still a score-first, pass-second guard, as he is averaging over 13 points per contest, the former Purdue star is dishing out four assists per game. That is not too shabby for a scorer.
Other than a huge night against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, November 6, where he recorded an efficient 28 points, five rebounds and five assists, Arron Afflalo has struggled so far as a member of the Orlando Magic.
That is a pretty tough pill to swallow for Magic fans, considering that he was the main asset that was swapped for Dwight Howard.
Afflalo is still scoring over 16 points per contest, even if he is only shooting 43 percent from the field, while playing tight defense on the opponent's best scorer, but there is no denying that Orlando was expecting more from its new star.
The small forward spot is up for grabs, as Jacque Vaughn is still searching for the best solution to fill Türkoğlu's role till he returns from injury. As of right now, McRoberts, for some reason that isn't particularly clear, is considered the favorite.
Not only has he received the nod as of late, but the former Duke star has been utilized heavily at the end of close games. However, McRoberts, who traditionally plays big man, has tried to play on the perimeter, but it has been a little rough.
In nearly 20 minutes of action per contest, McRoberts is only putting up four points and grabbing four boards per night.
Hopefully, Vaughn will come to his senses sooner or later.
After a postseason where we saw Glen Davis explode onto the scene, averaging around 19 points and nine rebounds per contest in the five games against the Indiana Pacers, the former LSU Tiger is back to putting up solid statistics every single night.
The problem this time around, though, is an inefficiency issue. Only shooting 41 percent from the field and 58 percent from the free-throw line, Davis needs to turn around these terrible shooting numbers.
Once Davis finds himself out of this slump, however, expect a huge increase in his scoring outputs.
Filling Dwight Howard's shoes is a pretty difficult job, but Nikola Vučević has been pretty darn good in making people forget about the last franchise center. The 22-year-old out of USC wasn't even supposed to start for the squad coming into the preseason, but this early action has showed that he is ready for the challenge.
The only true seven-footer on the roster has been able to score 11 points and bring down eight boards per game, which is nothing to scoff at.
Considering that the best two facilitators on the roster, Nelson and Türkoğlu, are injured means that Vučević's stats may rise over the course of the season, as both players are expected back within the month.
J.J. Redick has been stellar up to this point.
Any Magic fan that has watched the development of this former college superstar can appreciate the hard work and dedication Redick has put forth in honing his craft.
Redick has become a fantastic facilitator, specializing in making awe-inspiring passes, and is one of the few players on the roster that can be consistently counted on to score.
This season, the 28-year-old is making a strong case for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award. Obviously, the season is still young, but already averaging over 14 points, five assists and two rebounds per game isn't a bad start for a career year.
One word perfectly describes Ish Smith's play this season: spastic.
The backup point guard, who will lose this role once Jameer Nelson returns, always looks out of control while on the court and has struggled to hold on to the ball. In only 12 minutes of action, Smith is turning over a ball per game.
The 24-year-old from Wake Forest has played some solid defense, using his athleticism to tire out his opponent, but Smith has struggled with facilitating and controlling the offense.
Expect Smith to find a permanent spot on the bench once Nelson comes back, as Vaughn will most likely not employ a three point guard system.
It is hard to imagine that Gustavo Ayón was once considered a viable option to take over starting center duties. Oh, how opinions have changed in just seven games.
Nevertheless, Ayón has looked out of sync and lost in this Magic rotation. After a successful rookie campaign with the New Orleans Hornets, it doesn't seem likely that the 27-year-old sophomore repeats, let alone improves, on his first year numbers of six points and five rebounds per night.
So far, Ayón has been showed up by Vučević, as the Mexico-born big man only sees around 10 minutes per night. What's more shocking is that Ayón is only producing a point and two boards per contest.
Stan Van Gundy was always reluctant to hand over major minutes to rookies, and Jacque Vaughn seems to also believe in this section of the old Magic coach's philosophy.
Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless, Kyle O'Quinn and DeQuan Jones have all been used sparingly, only really seeing time once the game's outcome is determined.
Nonetheless, let's take a look at how these players have performed thus far.
Out of all four rookies, Nicholson has received the most most minutes in the regular rotation. Due to the absence of Al Harrington and the struggles of Glen Davis, Vaughn has inconsistently decided to play their 19th overall pick.
While he is only seeing about 10 minutes of playing time per night, he has been effective with the limited court action. Six points and two boards per game in that same time is not bad for a first year player.
Harkless, who was drafted by the 76ers with the 15th overall selection, is only 19 yearsold and quite raw, but he has played exceptional despite missing all of preseason with a sports hernia injury.
The 6'8" athletic small forward plays smooth and loose on the court, already making his presence known by swatting two shots and pickpocketing one player per contest. This is pretty impressive for a teenager.
The reason DeQuan Jones even made the roster was how he produced so well during the preseason games. Well, that trend has failed to carry over so far.
It's a shame the Orlando Magic already have a solid big man rotation, as O'Quinn has the ability to make a solid impact for an organization right now. His large frame coupled with his fantastic work ethic will allow him to succeed in this league in the present and the future.
O'Quinn, in limited minutes, has proved he belongs in the league, but it is too soon to tell if he will fade out like Daniel Orton due to lack of minutes.