Orlando Magic Must Find Ways to Improve Andrew Nicholson’s Defense
The Orlando Magic are a team that is rebuilding in the wake of losing Dwight Howard via a trade that the center demanded following the 2011-2012 NBA season. Not only do they have the second overall pick from this year’s draft, Victor Oladipo, on their roster, but they also have a slew of talented young players that make up the bulk of their roster.
One of the most intriguing youngsters with the Magic is power forward Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson was selected by Orlando with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and was forced to play a decent amount of minutes in his rookie season for a depleted and putrid Magic team.
In 75 games last season, Nicholson actually put up pretty impressive numbers for a somewhat unheralded rookie. He averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in only 16.7 minutes per game while shooting a respectable 52.7 percent from the floor. Nicholson showed a solid and developing ability on the glass and a nice array of ways that he’s able to score at the power forward position.
Nicholson continued to looks solid in those two areas at the Orlando Summer League this year. In five games for the Magic, Nicholson averaged 10.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game while shooting a solid 46.3 percent from the floor, a number that’s not great in the regular season, but not bad in Summer League.
However, Nicholson’s potential in the NBA is limited as of right now because of his defense. To say that he’s a sub-par defender would be putting it kindly. He has bad timing on block attempts, steal attempts and rotations, has a tendency to find himself out of position, and has been known to get pushed around in the post.
Whether it is through getting him to bulk up or to work with him relentlessly on developing his defensive IQ, the Magic have to find ways to make Nicholson better defensively. This is a young player with a lot of talent that is limited because of his defensive shortcomings. If they can just get him to be an average defender, he could have a long career in this league. If that doesn’t happen, though, his NBA dream may end up being short-lived.