At the start of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Orlando Magic made it pretty clear that they were going to attempt to make it a smooth transition to the Association for rookie guard Victor Oladipo. One of the big things that meant is Oladipo started the season coming off of the bench as a reserve, though he still played big minutes.
However, with a recent injury to Jameer Nelson and the Magic looking to switch up their rotation a bit, Oladipo is now in the starting lineup. Also in that shuffling of their rotation and starters, though, second-year forward Maurice Harkless has also seen his role change, starting to come off of the bench.
Though it’s a small sample size and his workload has decreased since becoming a reserve, Harkless has been more productive and efficient coming off of the bench. He continued that on Monday night against the Washington Wizards. Even in a losing effort, Harkless was one of the most impressive Magic performers as he put up 16 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 29 minutes while shooting 7-13 from the floor and 1-4 from three.
In his other three games off of the bench this year, Harkless has played 14 minutes per game, but has still managed a solid 6.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, one assist and 0.7 steals per game on 53.8 percent shooting and 60 percent three-point shooting. In comparison, he’s averaging just 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game as a starter while shooting only 42.7 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three.
For this Magic team and possibly for his future in the league, Harkless coming off of the bench as a normal occurrence is intriguing. He’s not the type of player that you necessarily want carrying your starters consistently, but he is the kind of guy that can be a spark off of the bench and help carry your reserves for chunks of time and catch fire on occasion. We’ll need to see more of the second-year forward as a reserve, but it’s certainly been a nice start for him as a bench player this season.