Year-End Grades for Every Key Orlando Magic Player

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIDecember 25, 2013

Year-End Grades for Every Key Orlando Magic Player

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    2013 is coming to a close and the NBA is preparing to usher in a new calendar year of extraordinary basketball. While some may be anxious for a fresh start, what's transpired thus far in 2013-14 cannot be discredited for struggling squads.

    In the case of the Orlando Magic, there has been a mix of delayed progression for future stars and underwhelming play from veterans. In that same breath, certain players have emerged as genuine cornerstones for the franchise.

    The question is, how is every player performing as the year ends?

Arron Afflalo

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    Grade: A

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 28

    Experience: 7th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    19.80 PER, 37.9 MPG, 21.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.9 APG, .472/.437/.855

    A very strong case could be made that the primary candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year is Arron Afflalo. The 28-year-old has gone from one of the most balanced two-way players in the NBA to a genuine star at shooting guard.

    Just check the numbers and you'll see that he deserves to be an All-Star.

    Afflalo is currently averaging 21.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 37.9 minutes of action. Before you tell yourself that his strong numbers are a product of elevated playing time, note that Afflalo is posting a slash line of .472/.437/.855.

    You can't play much better than Afflalo is right now.

    Afflalo has a career slash line of .460/.389/.820, which is why his level of consistency is hardly surprising. What he's been doing especially well is working off of the basketball.

    The former UCLA star is fourth in the league with 206 catch-and-shoot points on an impressive mark of .470 in those situations. That includes a three-point field-goal percentage of .468 on catch-and-shoot attempts and 7.6 points scored per game on such tries, per

    Plain and simple, no one on the Magic's roster is playing as well as Afflalo.

Glen Davis

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    Grade: C+

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 27

    Experience: 7th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    14.40 PER, 31.4 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 SPG

    Glen Davis hasn't been consistent in his return from injury, but his ability has been on display. Whether he's scoring or rebounding, Davis has played quality basketball and deserves praise for it.

    Davis is currently averaging 13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He hasn't been playing at the level expected of him, but his numbers have improved as his playing time has increased.

    If nothing else, Davis is a reliable source of production when healthy.

    The intriguing aspect of Davis' game is that he's similar to Andrew Nicholson, albeit with a different build. His value as an offensive player can be found in his ability to score in a variety of manners and his leadership traits.

    Orlando knows what it's going to get from Davis: all-out effort and some quality numbers.

Maurice Harkless

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    Grade: C-

    Position: Guard/Forward

    Age: 20

    Experience: 2nd Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    10.77 PER, 21.6 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG

    Maurice Harkless' decrease in playing time is absolutely baffling. After performing well as a rookie, Harkless' playing time has progressively withered away during the 2013-14 regular season.

    At some point, the bleeding must stop and he should return to starter's minutes.

    Harkless averaged 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 35.7 minutes after the 2013 All-Star Break. He'd displayed flashes of being a starting-caliber player, and it seemed as if the his downside was that of a Sixth Man if his progression continued.

    After struggling early, it doesn't seem like Harkless has much momentum heading into future position battles.

    The Magic appear to be more comfortable utilizing Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic in the frontcourt and Tobias Harris at the 3. That often leaves Harkless as the odd man out, and that could be the narrative moving forward.

    Harkless possesses the raw ability to shine, but the 20-year-old won't do much of anything without a defined role and consistent playing time.

Tobias Harris

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    Grade: C+

    Position: Forward

    Age: 21

    Experience: 3rd Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    12.12 PER, 26.4 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.6 APG

    During the 2012-13 regular season, few players performed as well after the All-Star Break as Tobias Harris. The 21-year-old from the University of Tennessee went from a benchwarmer for the Milwaukee Bucks to a rising star with the Orlando Magic.

    In 2013-14, injuries have prevented him from rediscovering that form.

    Harris is currently posting quality averages of 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 26.4 minutes. He's also shooting a dreadful .143 from three-point range and .377 from the field, but he's come on strong with three consecutive double-digit scoring performances.

    Unfortunately, that isn't what Orlando expected out of a player who seemed to break out in 2013.

    After the 2012-13 All-Star Break, Harris posted shockingly strong averages of 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game. He played something of a hybrid forward spot, helping fill multiple roles within the Magic's rotation.

    Until he gets some more tread under his tires, Harris will continue performing inconsistently in 2013-14 as he comes off of an injury.

Jason Maxiell

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    Grade: D

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 30

    Experience: 9th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    9.36 PER, 16.5 MPG, 4.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.7 BPG

    For eight seasons, Jason Maxiell was a critical member of the Detroit Pistons. In 2013-14, Maxiell has been playing a similarly vital role for an Orlando Magic team that has been marred by injuries down low.

    As players have returned to full health, however, Maxiell has been relegated to the bench. That significantly alters his grade.

    Thus far, Maxiell is averaging 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 16.5 minutes of action. That playing time and production has taken a steep hit in recent games.

    Maxiell is a valuable player to have on a young roster due to his experience. He'll be a veteran voice in the locker room to help a team that has just four players above the age of 30.

    Maxiell may not see the court very often, but he's still a great locker-room guy.

E'Twaun Moore

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    Grade: C

    Position: Guard

    Age: 24

    Experience: 3rd Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    11.17 PER, 20.9 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG

    E'Twaun Moore has seen a healthy 20.9 minutes per game during the 2013-14 regular season. He hasn't been spectacular during that time, but it's hard to argue against consistent three-point shooting and a combo guard with 6'4" size and a tight handle.

    All in all, it's been what you'd expect from Moore: workhorse minutes with a nice jumper.

    Moore is currently averaging 6.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.8 steals on a mark of .379 from beyond the arc. He's battled injuries, but there's one thing that stands out above all else: Moore takes care of the basketball.

    In 20.9 minutes, Moore is averaging 0.7 turnovers per game. That's reason enough to keep him on the floor in this forward-heavy rotation.

Jameer Nelson

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    Grade: B-

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 31

    Experience: 10th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    13.93 PER, 33.4 MPG, 13.2 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG

    He may not get much attention, but Jameer Nelson is one of the most reliable point guards in the NBA. His numbers may not be flashy, but he's good for a quality stat line every time he hits the court.

    Despite playing in an Orlando backcourt that has numerous questions in terms of roles and true positions, Nelson is having another strong season.

    The 31-year-old is averaging 13.2 points, 6.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 33.4 minutes per contest. In his most recent outing, he put up 17 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and a steal to further establish his underrated value to the Magic organization.

    He may not have a big name, but Nelson is a veteran who can provide the type of leadership that every team needs.

    Like many veteran players on young teams, Nelson can be caught trying to do too much. His .399 field-goal percentage isn't appealing, but he is shooting .369 from beyond the arc.

    If he can remain healthy, Nelson will continue his strong play. As for Orlando, it may be 8-20, but it's hard to blame Nelson for those failures.

Andrew Nicholson

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    Grade: B-

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 24

    Experience: 2nd Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    13.92 PER, 20.4 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG

    Andrew Nicholson is a tough player to gauge. He already has more double-doubles through 28 games in 2013-14 than he did in all of 2012-13, but he's also been inconsistent.

    After posting four straight games with at least 10 points from Dec. 8 to Dec. 13, Nicholson has since posted five straight with seven points or less in the following outings.

    For the season, Nicholson is averaging 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game. He has three double-doubles and has developed a better jump shot from beyond the arc.

    Unfortunately, minutes are tough to come by on this young-but-deep roster. Nicholson could be a star, but he'll need to stay healthy and see consistent playing time to even approach that status.

    Until then, enjoy his progression.

Victor Oladipo

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    Grade: C+

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 21

    Experience: Rookie

    2013-14 Season Averages

    11.93 PER, 30.7 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG

    Through 28 games, Victor Oladipo is averaging 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks per game in 30.7 minutes. He's posting a slash line of .398/.280/.748, which embodies his struggles.

    Fortunately, Oladipo is playing on a team that's focused more on developing players than it is contending right now.

    The positive aspects are on defense, where Olaipo is already displaying his elite upside as a playmaker and lockdown perimeter player. The negative aspects are his lack of a consistent jump shot, which could trouble him throughout the early parts of his career.

    Fortunately, Oladipo is already proving the critics wrong by serving as a noteworthy slasher.

    Per, 4.8 of Oladipo's 12.9 points per game are coming off of drives. On those plays, he's shooting 45.7 percent, which is an encouraging enough number to believe in his future.

    It hasn't been clear skies, but Oladipo has flashed his upside in a number of different ways.

Nikola Vucevic

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    Grade: A-

    Position: Center

    Age: 23

    Experience: 3rd Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    17.88 PER, 33.6 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 SPG

    Nikola Vucevic's ascent up the ranks of the NBA's elite big men has continued in 2013-14. On top of maintaining his brilliant work on the offensive and defensive glass, Vucevic is posting career-best marks in assists, blocks and steals per game.

    Thus far, Vucevic is averaging 13.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals in 33.6 minutes. He's done this while shooting .509 from the floor and .803 from the charity stripe.

    All in all, Vucevic is rapidly developing into the complete package at center.

    The 23-year-old still has room to grow, but the fact that he's already posting nightly double-doubles is beyond promising. The progression he now needs to make is on defense, where he's allowing opponents to shoot .508 when they meet him at the rim, per

    Nonetheless, Vucevic is displaying legitimate star potential down low for Orlando. There's not much more the Magic could ask of him than that.