Grading Every Key Orlando Magic Player Heading into All-Star Break
The Orlando Magic are building for the future, leaning on a core of young players who are working on developing their respective games to maximize their talent.
Which is the polite way of saying the Magic have been pretty bad this season.
Heading into the All-Star break, a few of Orlando's key players have not achieved fantastic grades for their performances during the 2013-14 campaign.
The Magic are still a couple pieces away from being a playoff contender, and the opening portion of the season has made that fact rather evident.
Kyle O'Quinn, Power Forward
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 4.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.9 blocks, 14.2 PER
Kyle O'Quinn sat through a 27-game stretch where he logged just 94 total minutes, which included a brief stretch where he was sidelined due to an injury.
But the second-year pro has emerged as a stable reserve, consistently providing a couple buckets off the bench. Of course, his biggest contributions are seen in the rebounding department.
Since Jan. 11, O'Quinn has averaged 6.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18 appearances. During that time, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel noted O'Quinn was looking to provide a punch for the Magic.
And O'Quinn has done just that in his limited minutes.
Andrew Nicholson, Power Forward
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 6.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.4 blocks, 11.6 PER
Andrew Nicholson is a long way removed from scoring eight-plus points in 10 of 11 games.
According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Nicholson is "struggling to earn playing time," and his production—or lack thereof—shows why that is the case. Nicholson has scored just 78 points and grabbed 65 boards in 27 games since a 12-point, 10-rebound performance on Dec. 13.
Per Robbins, Nicholson is being passed over in favor of more physical forwards because he does not match up well defensively.
Ultimately, the mismatches Nicholson would face result in why O'Quinn is such an important part of the Orlando bench.
E'Twaun Moore, Shooting Guard
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 5.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 10.8 PER
E'Twaun Moore is a confusing player.
Orlando is a decent defensive team with Moore on the floor, but the backup point guard is far from a facilitator offensively.
While Moore occasionally reaches a double-digit scoring output, he is a frustrating non-factor more often than not. In fact, ESPN.com's Ethan Sherwood Strauss heavily considered calling him the NBA's Least Valuable Point Guard.
Though Moore rarely commits turnovers, losing possession just 0.7 times per game, he is not a great ball-handler. Plus, he does not shoot very well and isn't a noteworthy defender, so at this point in time, Moore is simply occupying a limited role until Orlando can replace him.
Maurice Harkless, Small Forward
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 6.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks, 12.3 PER
The majority of Maurice Harkless' offensive contributions are near the rim, attempting 60.4 percent of his field goals from within eight feet of the basket.
Harkless is not yet the multi-dimensional scorer he can potentially become, knocking down 36.7 percent of his three-point attempts. However, he has continued his evolution into a defensive threat.
Overall, Harkless is a most important perimeter defender, allowing Orlando to use him or Victor Oladipo on the opponent's best scorer. But offensively, he needs to find a hot spot and provide the Magic with a consistent outside jumper.
Victor Oladipo, Shooting Guard
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 13.6 PER
As expected, Victor Oladipo has undergone his fair share of growing pains.
The biggest knock on the Indiana product is how the rookie plays outside of his current capabilities, which is evident in his insistence to attempt three-pointers. Though he chips in 13.9 points per game, Oladipo is converting on only 30.3 percent of his trifecta attempts.
With that being said, Oladipo is definitely Orlando's lockdown defender, snatching a team-high 1.6 steals per game. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel quoted Oladipo as saying he wants to "be more aggressive on both ends of the floor" during the second half of the season.
Ultimately, Oladipo must find the perfect medium, balancing his aggressiveness with playing smart, under-control basketball.
Jameer Nelson, Point Guard
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 14.4 PER
Jameer Nelson may be aging, but he is still a key component to the Magic.
Orlando's offense suffers without Nelson on the floor, seeing its offensive rating tank from 101.5 to 94.2. Granted, its defense improves when he is on the bench, considering the team's defensive rating drops from 106.3 to 100.6.
But despite the nearly equal drop, the lack of scoring is a bigger issue because no bench player can replace Nelson's abilities at the point.
Consequent to his offensive prowess, Nelson is once again a focus in the trade market, and Bleacher Report's Justin Hussong believes the 10th-year pro should be traded because Orlando "is going nowhere."
No matter what happens in the future, though, as drastic as it sounds, Nelson is a major reason the Magic are not below the 10-win mark.
Tobias Harris, Small Forward
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 13.5 PER
Tobias Harris is a tender 21 years old, leaving ample years to adapt and focus on what makes him most successful.
Like Oladipo, Harris cannot overcome his desire to shoot three-pointers, despite converting a measly 19.0 percent on 2.5 attempts per game. Unlike the rookie Oladipo, Harris is playing in his fourth NBA season yet still has not eliminated the weakest part of his game.
He is making improvements in other facets of his game, though, and following a 10-game losing streak, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel covered how Harris was "being more vocal."
The Magic have plenty of reasons to be excited about Harris, including his budding on-court leadership skills, but the pre-All Star Break version left much to be desired.
Glen Davis, Power Forward
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 14.2 PER
Remarkably average seems like a fitting way to describe Glen Davis' performance to date.
Davis has neither dominated nor given ground during the 2013-14 campaign since his return from an early-season injury.
Compared to last season, Davis' production has dropped slightly in four of the five main statistical categories, but the decrease is simply marginal. Plus, his offensive and defensive ratings are 99.1 and 104.9, respectively, while his off-court ratings are 98.2 and 103.3.
Given his role on the team as the No. 2 rebounder and No. 4 scorer, he gets a small grade boost, but "Davis" and "average" are amazingly synonymous.
Nikola Vucevic, Center
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks, 17.9 PER
Nikola Vucevic is one of the more underrated centers in the league.
For example, Vucevic has missed one-third of the current season's games due to injury, and the Magic have lost a staggering 16 out of 18 when he is sidelined. In other words, the Magic are 14-22 with Vucevic compared to 2-16 without the center.
Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida says Orlando is "a different team" when Vucevic is active, and rightfully so.
The Magic have just one player who boasts both a higher on- and off-court offensive and defensive rating, and you guessed it, Vucevic is that man.
Arron Afflalo, Shooting Guard
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 19.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks, 17.3 PER
Arron Afflalo has undoubtedly been Orlando's biggest offensive weapon during the 2013-14 season.
The UCLA product is shooting a team-high 42.5 percent from behind the arc, including a 55.1 percent mark from the left corner. Overall, he is connecting on 46.3 of his field-goal attempts and is knocking down 82.0 percent from the free-throw line.
Bleacher Report's Jared Dubin discusses how Afflalo is breaking out for the Magic, focusing on his improved shot selection.
Afflalo is a valued trade target for a handful of teams, but Orlando will demand a hefty return in exchange for its best scorer.
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