More than likely, the Orlando Magic are going to be in the lottery of the 2014 NBA Draft. Coming off a 2012-2013 season when they had the worst record in the entire the league, the Magic added Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick in the draft to an already young roster with a ton of potential.
Orlando is actually one of the hardest teams to predict when it comes to how their 2013-2014 season is going to turn out. On one hand, they have a young and inexperienced team that will likely experience a ton of growing pains and have to get a year under their belt before they find success. On the other hand, this is a young and extremely talented team that has the potential to click immediately and catch the league off-guard.
If the latter scenario is going to happen for this Magic team, a lot of things have to happen. Oladipo has to immediately play like a top-15 point guard in the league for the Magic, despite that not being his natural position. Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic will also need to take the next step in their development as players. Maurice Harkless is the wildcard with this Magic team, though.
As a rookie with Orlando last season, Harkless played solid, but was inconsistent in his play as well. In 76 games last year, he averaged 8.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 26 minutes per game while shooting a respectable 46.1 percent from the floor. In his second season, though, the Magic will be asking a lot more from Harkless.
Thus far into the preseason, Harkless has been disappointing. Over the first two games of the preseason, he averaged only 10.5 points, three rebounds and 1.5 steals in 27 minutes per game. He also shot only 5-15 from the field and 1-5 from three in those two games. In their latest game on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks, Harkless looked better offensively as he put up 16 points on 5-8 shooting, but he grabbed only one rebound in the contest.
The biggest issue with Harkless continues to be his inconsistency. He can never seem to put it all together in one game and, through the first three preseason games at least, has also had issues with turnovers, coughing up the rock four times per game.
If the Magic are going to succeed, they have to find a way to have Harkless consistently contribute on both ends of the floor and on the glass. Whether that means him handling the ball less or coaching him in a different way, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that, if the Magic are going to shock everyone this season, Harkless can’t play at the level he has in the preseason.