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5 Players with a Chance to Shine During Orlando Magic's Stretch Run

Zach GillilandFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

5 Players with a Chance to Shine During Orlando Magic's Stretch Run

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    Nikola Vucevic going up for a shot against Philadelphia.
    Nikola Vucevic going up for a shot against Philadelphia.Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    The Orlando Magic have five guys that will have a chance to shine during the season’s final months.

    While it hasn’t been pretty for Orlando this season, the team will have the chance to gain some momentum moving forward if these five guys can turn up the dial.

    It’s worth noting that Jameer Nelson was left off the list because he is only averaging 8.1 points per game in the month of February, and this list showcases some of the younger players on the Magic roster.

Maurice Harkless

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    Maurice Harkless has had double-digit point totals the last two games.
    Maurice Harkless has had double-digit point totals the last two games.Fernando Medina/Getty Images

    With Arron Afflalo out with an ankle injury, Maurice Harkless has seen his minutes increase. He recently played 38 minutes versus the Washington Wizards and 31 minutes versus Philadelphia, both his highest totals in the month of February.

    Harkless hasn’t disappointed Magic fans as of late either; he has scored 22 points and 13 points in the last two contests, respectively.

    Going forward, he has a chance to shine because of his recent success. In the last four games, he has scored 10 or more points in three of them. Harkless only averaged 4.6 points per game in the month of December and 6.6 points per game in January, but February has been a little bit different.

    This month he is averaging 7.8 points per game, and with increased minutes, that number should be higher in March.

Victor Oladipo

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    Victor Oladipo is enjoying a sucessful rookie campaign, averaging 14.0 points per game this season.
    Victor Oladipo is enjoying a sucessful rookie campaign, averaging 14.0 points per game this season.Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Victor Oladipo has given Orlando a solid scoring option as a rookie this season. He is averaging 14.0 points per game and has had two big scoring nights recently.

    He scored 35 points against the Chicago Bulls in January and also put up 30 points versus the New York Knicks last week. In Wednesday night’s win versus Philly, Oladipo totaled 17 points and 11 rebounds.

    He has a chance to shine down the stretch because of his upside. Oladipo is one of the best rookies in the league this season, so it only makes sense for his numbers to improve. In January, he averaged 15.6 points per game, and he's averaged 14.7 points per game in February. Those were higher than his points per game in November and December, so the improvement is becoming evident.

    In the game against the Knicks last Friday, the young star had 30 points, nine rebounds, and 14 assists, one of the best games so far in his career.

    With this season in the books, Orlando should give Oladipo as much playing time as possible and give him more experience going into next season.

Tobias Harris

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    I’m sure many Magic fans are still wearing a smile on their face after watching that incredible game-winning dunk from Tobias Harris.

    Harris is in the midst of a solid season for Orlando, averaging 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He has scored 20 or more points in a game twice this month.

    With Glen Davis being waived by the team, Harris should get a slight increase in minutes, likely meaning an increase in production.

    He will get his chance to shine down the stretch with Orlando out of the playoff picture. It’s time to start building for next year, and Harris is a good place to start.

Arron Afflalo

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    Afflalo has been Orlando's best player this season, with a career high in points per game.
    Afflalo has been Orlando's best player this season, with a career high in points per game.Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Arron Afflalo has easily been Orlando’s most dominant player this season, averaging 19.7 points per game. That is his highest points per game total of his career.

    An ankle injury has kept him on the sideline for the last two contests, but when he comes back well-rested from his minor injury, he should be in prime position to keep the numbers coming.

    He has been consistent all season long regardless of where he is playing. At home, Afflalo averages 20.0 points per game, and on the road his number is 19.4 points per game. This consistency will allow him to continue his success moving forward.

    Afflalo also seems to have the motivation to prove his doubters wrong. After not getting picked for the All-Star Game, there was a debate over whether he got snubbed or not. Per Josh Robbins of Orlando Sentinel, Afflalo said that the “next time around I intend for there to be no debate about where I belong at my position.”

    Afflalo will shine in the season’s final two months because of the added motivation from not getting selected and because of the consistency he has shown all season long.

     

Nikola Vucevic

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    Nikola Vucevic is a player to watch over the last couple months of the season.
    Nikola Vucevic is a player to watch over the last couple months of the season.Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Nikola Vucevic has been one of the more underrated players in the league this season. His play has been valuable to the Magic, averaging 13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

    Vucevic is in the midst of a hot streak right now; he has 14 straight games with 10 or more points. Wednesday night against Philadelphia, Vucevic scored 21 points and tallied 13 rebounds. That performance gives him nine double-doubles in February.

    His 15.8 points per game in February is his highest of any month this season, so he is saving his best basketball for the final stretch. He has been banged up this season, missing 18 games, but since coming back from injury he has been very consistent for Orlando.

    He will be one of the players to keep an eye on as the season comes to an end because of Davis being waived.  This gives Vucevic more minutes and more opportunities down low. If he can stay healthy, his numbers should only get better moving forward.

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