One of the most encouraging parts of this season for the Orlando Magic has been the play of two young big men — namely Andrew Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic. Despite being so inexperienced, both have shown nuanced offensive games that give hope for the future. Each has their own specialty on this side of the ball that we’ll take a closer look at.
Veteran in the post
Nicholson is only a rookie, but you wouldn’t think that if you just watched him go to work in the post. His game on the block is versatile, effective, and, mostly importantly, promising.
Nicholson is averaging 0.86 points per possession in the post while shooting 46.9 percent, per Synergy. Pretty impressive for a rookie. Nicholson’s go-to move is probably his reliable hook shot. He can shoot it with either hand, spinning baseline, or towards the middle.
Here are some examples of his steady hook:
Will he roll, pop, or pass?
As only a second-year player, Vucevic has shown a versatile and savvy pick-and-roll game. He can read the floor well and use his physical gifts to execute the right play at the right time.
He can roll, and use his size to seal off weak-side defenders and utilize his soft touch to finish. He averages 1.07 points per possession, per Synergy. He can pop — he’s one of the better midrange shooters in the NBA, shooting 42 percent from 16-23 feet, per Hoopdata. Lastly, his ability to see rotations on the fly and hit the open man has improved as the season has gone on.
The first two clips are fairly self-explanatory: Vucevic scoring in different ways out of the pick-and-roll. The third clip is probably the most impressive. He gets the ball out of the pick-and-roll and is swarmed by Miami Heat defenders. He calmly sees how Tobias Harris has cut (side note: very intuitive cut by Harris), pulling Jameer Nelson’s defender away. Vucevic then hits Nelson for the open three.
As the season, and for that matter, rebuilding process as a whole go on, the offensive development of these two players is something to keep an eye on. There’s no debate that these two players will play a prominent role in the future of Orlando.