Jared Newman, CineSport—The Magic beat the Bobcats on Saturday night, dealing Charlotte their 11th straight loss, 107-98. Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo each scored 20 points. Jameer Nelson added 16 points and six assists.
Expectations were low for the Magic in 2012-13 after they sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers in the offseason. However, at 10-13, Orlando currently has the 10th best record in the East and has a realistic chance of making the playoffs in an Eastern Conference that is home to a lot of struggling teams.
It’s more likely that the Magic will end up with a lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft, but that should excite patient Orlando fans since Andrew Nicholson’s performance over the past few games has proven that the Magic front office knows how to properly evaluate talent.
Coach Jacque Vaughn gave the rookie from St. Bonaventure just 28 minutes of playing time in his first three games, but it didn’t take long for him to realize that he needed to play the rookie more. In the three games before the Magic played the Bobcats, Nicholson received 25 minutes or more and averaged 14 points and more than eight rebounds per contest.
He only played 16 minutes against Charlotte, but the 19th-overall pick in the 2012 draft should continue to see big minutes since Orlando is incredibly thin in the frontcourt.
Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic have been receiving the most significant playing time at the #4 and #5 positions, while the rest of the power forwards and centers on the roster have been spending the majority of their time warming the bench.
It’s likely that Nicholson will continue to improve as he accumulates game experience. He has already shown that he is a scoring threat from all over the court, so it probably won’t take long for him to be included in opposing teams’ game plans.
What they’ll see when they scout him is that his touch around the rim is exceptional, and that he also been impressive from mid-range, hitting 44 percent of his field-goal attempts from 16-23 feet away from the basket, per Hoopdata.com.
Perhaps that percentage will decrease over the season, but there’s a good chance the rookie will be able to maintain his hot shooting from distance. In college, he typically hit a couple of three-pointers a game, so it’s likely that the Magic have given him the green light from 20 feet out.
Nicholson was a star at St. Bonaventure and is probably still best known for his performance in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament. In that game, he led his team with 20 points and seven rebounds, and his Bonnies almost upset the third-seeded Florida State Seminoles.
But by the end of his rookie campaign, that game should be a distant memory for basketball fans when they think about Nicholson.
Look for Orlando’s rookie to continue to improve in the coming months, and don’t be surprised to see him playing in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend between the NBA’s top rookies and sophomores.Get More NBA Video