One thing I recently realized about this team, is that there are no lottery picks on it. This team SHOULD have finished with the worst record in the league. The Bobcats (2nd worst record) have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo (along with Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas, if we're being technical). All former lottery picks. The Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Our young talent (Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson) was all drafted outside of the lottery. Credit due to GM Rob Hennigan. If he can find talent like that outside of the lottery, I'd love to see what he can do with lottery picks and a little cap space.
I've waxed poetic about Nikola Vucevic in the past, but I feel every word of praise has been deserved. He was great this season. As of that post, he was sitting at 12 PPG/11 RPG on 52% FG. He finished the season at 13 PPG/12 RPG on 52% FG and became just the sixth person in the past 30 years to post those numbers. The other seven: Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard (3x), Shaquille O'Neal (2x) and Buck Williams. (To be honest, I was ready to throw that list out when I saw Buck Williams on it, until I did my research. he won a Rookie of the Year, an All NBA team, four All Defense teams and is the only member of the 16K points/13k rebounds club that isn't in the Hall of Fame. Not bad.) There were 18 20/20 games in the NBA this season. Vuc had four of them. In 25 games after the All Star break, Vuc threw up nearly 15 and 13 a game, on 51% FG shooting. The moral of this story is that Vucevic is good. And I think he can become really good. Guys that young don't put up numbers like that and just fade away. If he doesn't progress one bit past his current stage, he's still a solid NBA player. With that way he improved month by month, I have a hard time believing his progression stops there.
Tobias Harris was a very welcome surprise to Orlando. I was unimpressed with him at Tennessee and he mostly rode the bench in Milwaukee before coming to Orlando and throwing up numbers. In the 27 games he played with Orlando, he averaged at 17/8.5 on 45% FG shooting. Granted, 27 games is the equivalent to only a third of a season, but I have no reason to believe that Harris couldn't have sustained those numbers given a whole season of playing time in Orlando. The only players in NBA history to match Harris' numbers at age 20 are Shaq, Chris Webber and Elton Brand. Again, they did it over the course of an entire season, but Harris was impressive in his own right. He arrived in Orlando in late February, and didn't start until March. In 16 March games, he averaged 18 and 8 on 43/36/77 shooting. I would have been content with that. Then in eight April games, he averaged 20/10/3.5 APG, though his percentages took a hit, 44/21/64. As with Vucevic, guys that produce that young tend to find a way to have decent NBA careers at the worst. I look forward to a full season of him next year.
The jury is still out on Andrew Nicholson.
As you can see from his shot chart above, he is at or above league average from almost every spot within the three point line. And the spot where he is below league average, he has tended to not really shoot from. He knows where his bread is buttered, which is a good thing. However, he doesn't contribute much in terms of rebounding or defense, which is a bad thing. He's been pretty inconsistent, but so have his minutes so I can't really fault him there. Still, with his ability to score, I imagine he can be a productive big man off the bench.
Even rookie second rounder Kyle O'Quinn looks to be a viable third center at the worst. Hennigan knows his stuff on the draft. I recently read that he plans to work out as many as 80 players in the draft. Under previous GM Otis Smith, the Magic routinely worked out 8-10 players and drafted Daniel Orton without ever bringing him in for a workout. Amazing how that pick didn't pan out. I will probably jump into a little more NBA draft scouting to determine who I would like to see suited up in Orlando next year. I'm leaning toward Nerlens Noel, but there is still plenty of time left. It's playoff time, now.