Before he was traded to Central Florida in 2012, Aaron Afflalo was a key member of a Denver Nuggets team that — at the time — was considered a team on the rise.
He was a remarkably accurate shooter and a tough one-on-one defender, so tough that he was often deemed one of the top defensive shooting guards in the NBA. On top of that, his offensive game improved every year. By the time of his final season in the Rocky Mountains, Affalo was averaging 15.2 points per game and was one of the top players on a Nuggets team that won 38 games in the lockout shortened season.
So it made perfect sense that if the Orlando Magic were going to unload the unhappy Dwight Howard, the team was going to demand a player who had a bargain contract and also had a tremendous upside to become an elite player in the league.
Enter Afflalo, and in his first two seasons in a Magic uniform he has lived up to the expectations set upon him by the Magic front office.
Very quietly, Afflalo has transformed himself from a great role player to a go-to scorer capable of putting up big numbers and hitting big shots. After spending his first year getting used to being “the man”, Afflalo has comfortably settleed into that role, averaging a career high in points (18.2) and assists (3.4).
Now the question is can Afflalo take his game to the next level in 2014-15? He certainly has the tools to do it. If the Magic expect to get out of the doldrums and into the warm glow of the playoffs, Afflalo will need to take the next leap in his game and become a top tier shooting guard. That means averaging over 20 points a game, grabbing four to five rebounds and dishing out nearly five assists, all the while retaining his status as a lock-down defender.
If he can do that, there is no doubt in my mind that the Magic will be a team to look out for next season. If not, can you say lottery?