Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for Orlando Magic
The NBA draft allows teams to shape their rosters by bringing in young talent and possibly even acquiring players via trades.The Orlando Magic took both routes and added some pieces, which should make for an interesting cast of characters for head coach Jacque Vaughn.
We’ll discuss the draft choices when looking at the depth chart itself, but we probably should discuss the big trade.
Orlando sent Arron Afflalo to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Evan Fournier and the 56th pick (Devyn Marble) in this year’s draft. From a roster-makeup standpoint, Orlando swapped a 2-guard for another in what might seem like an odd transaction considering that Afflalo is clearly the better player.
Orlando likely jettisoned him because he could opt out of his deal at the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign. It made sense for the Magic to get assets for him now before having to trade him when his value was at his lowest (when teams are expecting him to get shopped).
Now that we got that out of the way, onto the show.
Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Ronnie Price
Orlando has a good problem at point guard. Jameer Nelson started 68 games last season and will probably be the starter again next season by virtue of quality play and experience.
Nelson shot 39.3 percent from the field the last two years, but he plays with an edge that seems contagious. He’s also a solid playmaker, averaging 7.2 assists per game the last two years, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Nelson is a proven player, but he has a young man breathing down in his neck in Victor Oladipo. He’s not a prototypical point guard, but Oladipo is an intriguing prospect (played 59 percent of the time at point guard last year).
He spent some time at the 2-guard in his rookie season (where he looked more at ease) and played alongside Nelson for 15.5 minutes per game last year, per NBA.com. Oladipo played well as a combo guard because it allowed him to focus on creating scoring opportunities, which he enjoyed doing via drives.
Also, Oladipo has demonstrated he can be a good setup man when defenders converge on him, which makes for a solid point guard tandem. Nelson and Oladipo are No. 1 and 2 in the depth chart, but one can only wonder for how long.
The Magic traded for the rights of Elfrid Payton, who’s earned comparisons to Devin Harris and Rajon Rondo from NBAdraft.net. His playmaking ability suggests he’ll probably play at times with Oladipo, which means Nelson might get shipped.
In the event the Orlando brass prefers to keep Nelson as a mentor, he could remain the starter, but that seems unlikely.
And if Nelson's not the odd man out, Ronnie Price clearly is.
He’s more of an emergency player that can come in and give the Magic a bit of energy and athleticism in a pinch. He struggles to make shots (career 37.8 percent shooter) and only averages 1.2 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes. He’s more a depth player than a game-changer, but keeping a fourth point guard on the roster seems unnecessary.
Evan Fournier, E’Twaun Moore, Doron Lamb and Devyn Marble
There is some serious youth at this position, which could be a good thing for Orlando. Every player listed here will be 25 or younger when next season starts, which means the Magic should have young legs at their disposal for the 82-game grind.
Fournier came over from the Nuggets in the Afflalo trade and will probably start at 2-guard because of his long-range proficiency (38.1 percent from downtown over his career) and competitive spirit on defense. In addition, he’s averaged 15.7 points per 36 minutes during his time in the league.
E’Twaun Moore will probably be the second 2-guard on the team because he’s “just” a point producer and a bad one at that. Per 36 minutes, he’s scoring 12.2 points on 40.7 percent shooting.
In three seasons, he’s converted 35 percent of his treys, but defenses ignore him to load up on the more lethal Magic players. Until Moore becomes a deadlier three-point shooter, he likely won’t be getting a large amount of minutes.
Doron Lamb and second-round choice Devyn Marble will likely battle for the third 2-guard spot on the roster, a role that comes with very few minutes. Oladipo and Payton will probably end up sharing the floor together at times, and that might diminish the amount of time the reserve 2-guards get on the court.
Maurice Harkless and Aaron Gordon
This might be the most underrated position for the Magic, which is saying something considering that Orlando finished with 23 wins last season.
The issue at small forward isn’t necessarily about talent—it’s a matter of potential. Maurice Harkless appeared in 80 games last season and looked a bit unremarkable.
He had a tendency to force the issue and attack the paint with defenders waiting for him at the basket. It resulted in some bad misses and made him look unpolished. In related news, he will only be 21 years old when training camp opens.
Harkless is a good finisher when he’s not attacking an entirely set defense, and he converted a sizzling 38.3 percent of his treys last year. Defenses mostly ignored him from long range, and he made them pay with his confident stroke.
He will likely be the starter in this spot, but the newly drafted Aaron Gordon might make him work for it. Gordon is a sensational athlete who looks like he should be a good defender in his rookie season.
To be fair, he projects as a power forward, but he only weighs 220 pounds. Consequently, he might see the court in his first year as a backup small forward.
Jason Maxiell, Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson
When you have more than one, sometimes you have none. The Magic have a bunch of power forwards with potential, and that’s not entirely a good thing in this case.
Jason Maxiell is the one known commodity in this spot. He’s a rugged interior player that can masquerade at power forward or center despite being listed as only 6’7’’. His 260-pound frame allows him to body players and get into rebounding position.
He’s nimble enough to switch onto perimeter players provided they aren’t too explosive off the bounce. Maxiell could be the starter, but because Orlando is trying to develop players, it’s quite likely Tobias Harris will be on the opening five-man unit.
He started 36 games last season and averaged 14.6 points and seven rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game. Harris looks like someone who should dominate at his position because of his frame. Although he’s only 6’8’’ and 226 pounds, he can effortlessly back down his defender and create a high-percentage look.
Although he’s undersized, he still played 74 percent of the time as a power forward. He’s a decent ball-handler, but he is a bit too trigger-happy from the perimeter. Still, he’s a better option than Andrew Nicholson.
Nicholson took a step back last season, especially considering his strong rookie campaign. He had solid rebounding numbers in both years (career 7.6 rebounds per 36 minutes), but his field-goal shooting plummeted from 52.7 percent to 42.9 percent. Nicholson tried to stretch the floor by adding a three-pointer to his arsenal, which resulted in the drop in accuracy.
Despite playing in nearly the same amount of games with a roughly similar minute count, Nicholson’s free-throw attempts dropped from 94 in his rookie year to 57.
Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O’Quinn and Dewayne Dedmon
An argument could be made that Afflalo was the best player on the Magic last season. His departure now removes all doubt that Nikola Vucevic is “the guy” in Orlando.
He scores with his back to the basket and relentlessly attacks the offensive glass. Vucevic averaged 3.2 offensive rebounds last season and managed double-digit figures in points and rebounds for the season. At 6’10’’ and 240 pounds, he’s a big and strong player that consistently gets his numbers.
Opponents had a hard time keeping him off the glass and away from the rim, and it stands to reason that trend will maintain itself as he gets better with age. Vucevic will be 24 by the time the season begins, meaning he has room to grow.
His backup will be Kyle O’Quinn. He posted strong rebounding figures (11 rebounds per 36 minutes) during the 2013-14 season, but his individual defense needs work. Opposing big men easily backed him down in the low post and got to whatever shot they wanted.
In addition, O’Quinn isn’t much of a scorer. NBA.com tells us he made 41.8 percent of his mid-range shots last season, but 67.7 percent of his field goals were assisted. O’Quinn is a pick-and-roll player more than anything, which isn’t necessarily damning.
He’s limited but effective in the things he actually does well.
On the flip side, Dewayne Dedmon is merely roster filler. He played for three different teams (Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando) last year, averaged 6.1 fouls per 36 minutes and did very little in terms of contributing to his teams.
He did average 11.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, but several of his caroms came against second-unit players in limited minutes. Perhaps those numbers translate against starters, but O’Quinn already produces a similar output on this front and brings offense to the table.
Thus, Dedmon is the clear No. 3.