The Orlando Magic released veteran forward Glen Davis on Feb. 21, and the move showed that GM Rob Henigan has the future of the Magic in mind. The player affectionately known as “Big Baby” was waived to make room for several young players expected to carry the Magic into the future. However, judging by the recent jump in production of these players, the move may have been addition by subtraction.
Before Davis was released, he was the starting power forward for Orlando. That spot now belongs to Tobias Harris. Since the change, Harris has scored 20 points or more six times, including a 31-point outburst against the Philadelphia 76ers. A young player with a bright future, Harris shows a solid inside-outside game and brings an athleticism to the position that Davis did not.
Backup center Kyle O’Quinn has been another beneficiary of Davis’ departure. The bruising big man has seen an uptick in his production, averaging eight rebounds per game since Davis was released. He also is proving to be an apt rim protector, averaging two blocks per game since the release. O’Quinn has also shown an adept passing ability, regularly finding cutters in the Magic offense.
Rookie Victor Oladipo is thought to be the cornerstone of the Magic’s future. The young guard had one of his best games of the season after Davis’ release, tallying 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in a double overtime victory against the New York Knicks. Oladipo has scored in double figures in all but one game since Davis’ release. On the court, you can see Oladipo begin to take on more of a leadership role with his teammates.
As welcome as those changes have been for the Magic, the biggest leap since the Davis release has been made by Maurice Harkless. The small forward has set new season highs for rebounds (10) and steals (five) in different games, as well as equaling a season-best effort of 22 points in another. Harkless has seen a dramatic increase in his minutes as well, averaging 32 minutes per game since then. The increase in production is a bright spot in an up and down season for the young forward
Right now, Orlando is a young team taking its lumps. Those changes won’t show up in the win/loss column right away. Rest assured that the Magic organization is angling for a chance to be counted among the elite in the near future. These players, along with center Nikola Vucevic, make up a core commonly referred to as the ‘Young Guns,’ and this group is expected to carry Orlando well into the future.