If you were to ask 100 different people what to make of this season's Orlando Magic team, you could easily end up with 100 different answers. They are that unpredictable.
We learned during media day that this is a hungry young team that has begun to develop a significant bond. Team chemistry already looks like it will be a fraction of the issue it was last season when no one knew how to coexist.
Training camp will present its share of uncertainties that will justify why this team is so polarizing. We know for the most part what we'll get from Jameer Nelson, but the rest of the team is one big crap-shoot.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing.
How Will Tobias Harris' Weight Gain Affect Him?
A big knock on Harris during his first half-season with Orlando was that he struggled defensively from the small forward slot.
This is the conundrum with "tweeners" in the NBA, in this case a combo forward. Combo forwards will be deemed too quick for opposing fours, yet too strong for opposing threes. They fail to bring up whether or not they will be too slow for opposing threes and too small for opposing fours. It is truly a double-edged sword.
Harris is a big kid at 6'9". Even at last season's weight of 223 pounds, he got beaten consistently off the dribble by threes. He thrived offensively as a three, but Harris showed much more ability guarding power forwards on the defensive end, even at a svelte 223. He is shaping out to be one of the breeds of combo forwards that truly is too strong for threes and too quick for fours.
Tobias Harris is at 240 pounds right now. He was 223 last season— NBA Center (@nbacenter_) September 26, 2013
Now at 240 pounds, Harris says he still has all of his explosiveness. If that is true, the added 17 pounds should only help him.
Harris was husky during high school and his early years in Tennessee. Prior to going pro, he tore the building down to the foundation, becoming almost too skinny. Now, he has the added weight to play a style more fitting to his skill set.
Orlando will struggle if Harris is forced to guard small forwards for 30 minutes a game. They are blessed with having guys like Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson who can guard multiple positions, as well as Glen Davis of course.
With this combination of young guys, Jacque Vaughn has the pieces in place to maximize the potential of Tobias Harris. He can hide his deficiencies until he improves at them, which in this case is defending threes.
If we take him at his word and assume that he has added strength without compromising explosiveness, he could be in for a monstrous breakout campaign. Only time will tell.
The Health of Glen Davis
Glen "Don't Call Me Big Baby" Davis' health is very much up in the air right now. If it is not figured out, his spot on this roster could be right up in the air along with it.
Recently, a very troubling bit of news came out of Magic camp saying that Davis is having serious doubt about the health of his ailing foot. He even went as far as to say that "it will never be the same."
Foot injuries are big man Kryptonite. Those words cannot be taken lightly whatsoever coming from Davis. Don't expect this to resolve itself anytime soon, as Davis and everyone involved all cannot pin an accurate timetable on his return to the court.
Magic GM says team cautious with Glen Davis’ return, could miss start of camp (NBC Sports) http://t.co/JDsEEt6CMn— Omagic Fans (@FansOmagic1) October 2, 2013
Even if he does come back, this news is neither reassuring that he will be able to play big minutes, nor that he will be as productive as he was last year.
Davis' health will play very much into the development of the aforementioned Harris. If Davis sees an extended absence, the opportunity will be right there for 21-year-old Tobias Harris to crush through that door with a battering ram. He could play Davis right out of town.
Obviously, this team is very short on veteran leadership. A healthy Glen Davis would go a very long way towards improving them as a ball club. After all, they did go 7-41 without him in the lineup last season as opposed to 13-21 with him. That is a substantial sample size proving that this team flat-out needs Glen Davis.
If he is not around anytime soon, younger guys like Harris, Harkless, Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn must elevate their games considerably. It is worth keeping an eye on in camp who establishes themselves in his absence.
What Sort of Impact Will Victor Oladipo Have?
Everyone is head over heels excited for what Victor Oladipo has in store for his rookie season. As a No.2 draft pick on a rebuilding team, it would behoove Jacque Vaughn to get this kid huge minutes right away.
Oladipo is the kind of infectious talent who forces tenacity and defensive marvels to rub off on his teammates. After last year's disastrous showing on that end of the floor, even the veterans will not be able to watch him without blushing a bit. He will make everyone better just by forcing them to look themselves in the mirror and give max effort on every possession.
Arron Afflalo is a solid defender. Not great, but solid. Jameer Nelson can also hold his own from time to time. However, both severely lack any defensive playmaking ability. Neither has the ability to ignite a defense the way Oladipo can.
One jumped passing lane turned thunderous dunk from Oladipo will have fans clamoring over his potential.
Going against Afflalo and Nelson in practice every day during training camp will also force him to get better. He has two great mentors at his disposal who can teach him some nuances on offense that he clearly doesn't have.
Oladipo was pegged as being very NBA-ready before the draft, perhaps more than any other prospect. Fans will be expecting a big impact from him early into his rookie season. If he can provide at least glimpses of that during training camp and the preseason, Vaughn will have no choice but to give him huge minutes from the get-go.