Final Regular-Season Grades for Every Orlando Magic Player
The Orlando Magic are looking at another early vacation, while other teams are preparing for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it is time to look at the squad's performance and award final regular-season grades to every Orlando player.
The list will include all athletes who are currently on the roster. It will evaluate their performances while also keeping in mind individual expectations before the season. However, this will only be a minor factor for one simple reason: It would not be fair to punish a player because he was a promising contestant.
For example, should Victor Oladipo be rated lower than Dewayne Dedmon?
The former was a star player in waiting upon entering the league as the No. 2 pick, while the latter was not even drafted and only just made the team after his second 10-day contract with the Magic.
Dedmon already surpassed most people's expectations this season simply by making it to the NBA, but that doesn't make him an A-plus candidate.
All contestants will get a grade to rate their performance.
Additionally, each player will receive a "Magic Potential" value, reflecting both the chance of an improved production for Orlando in years to come as well as the amount of the expected development. Obviously, the probability of him being on the roster next year influences that grade considerably.
Let's take a look at the Orlando Magic roster in ascending order of minutes played during the 2013-14 campaign.
Honorable Mention: Glen Davis
Vital Stats: 45 G, 30.1 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 6.3 REB
While Glen Davis isn't on the team anymore—and thus not eligible for the list—it would feel wrong to leave him out.
He came back from his foot injury to play for 30.1 minutes per game, providing a big body and a big heart for this franchise. Not only did he put up some decent numbers (12.1 PPG, 6.3 REB), he was also one of the guys who always managed to put smiles on teammates' faces.
He may not have been the most skilled athlete on the squad, but he showed his enthusiasm for the game and brought some much-needed experience. His unselfish style helped the youngsters to grow, and he was a good locker-room presence.
Overall, "Big Baby" was a good fit for the Orlando Magic, bringing more to the table than just numbers.
No. 13: Dewayne Dedmon
Vital Stats: 16 G, 14.6 MPG, 4.9 REB, 3.7 PPG, 0.8 BLK, 76.5 FT%
If you never heard of Dewayne Dedmon before his two 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic, you are not alone.
The 24-year-old went undrafted and first tried his luck with the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers, playing a combined 15 games. Between these short stints, he spent some time with the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA Development League.
Eventually, he found a home in Florida.
Thanks to Nikola Vucevic's Achilles injury, Dedmon even got his first NBA start on April 5.
While he isn't an offensive threat and is still a raw player overall, his intensity and length make for a decent presence under the basket. Over the course of six starts, he averaged 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 22.3 minutes.
The 7-footer may not be starter material on a healthy squad, but he has proved his worth in strengthening an underperforming interior defense. Overall, he has made a solid impression for someone who wasn't expected to be in the league to begin with.
Magic Potential: C-
No. 12: Ronnie Price
Vital Stats: 31 G, 12.2 MPG, 2.1 AST, 2.4 PPG, 30.4 FG%, 20.9 3P%
Another undrafted player, Ronnie Price has less than thrilling numbers to show for his career.
During his nine years in the league, he averaged 1.5 assists and 3.4 points in 11.7 minutes per game. His main problems are a lack of both athleticism and a decent jump shot.
Even worse, the 30-year-old is inconsistent.
His shot falls at an unacceptable 30.4 percent, and his success rate from downtown drops to an abysmal 20.9 percent—yet he insists on hoisting up 4.1 attempts per 36 minutes. Arguably, the inconsistent playing time influenced his poor performance.
Nonetheless, the numbers are atrocious.
On July 25, he was signed for two years. However, if he is waived before July 10, the 2014-15 contract is not guaranteed.
Given how he has performed so far, it would be a surprise (and a mistake) to see the 6'2" guard with the Magic next season.
Magic Potential: F
No. 11: Jason Maxiell
Vital Stats: 34 G, 14.4 MPG, 3.2 PPG, 2.5 REB, 48.4 FT%
Jason Maxiell played in only three games since February.
That basically says it all.
Even with Nikola Vucevic's injury, the 31-year-old didn't manage to return to the lineup on a consistent basis. Instead, the Magic signed undrafted free agent Dewayne Dedmon.
The veteran had one appearance in February, March and April, respectively. The longest time on court in any of these contests was an astounding six minutes and nine seconds.
While he has an impressive frame, he is undersized as a power forward. Standing 6'7" may make Maxiell a giant in regular life, but on the court he consistently faces bigger opponents.
His age and waning athleticism don't help.
The Magic don't rely on him for scoring in heaps. Truth be told, they don't rely on him for scoring at all. They have other players for that.
Jacque Vaughn's appreciation of J-Max's intensity on defense kept him on the roster. However, his sporadic use in the past months is a clear message.
Like Ronnie Price, Maxiell's contract for 2014-15 is not guaranteed, and he will likely be waived.
Magic Potential: F
No. 10: Doron Lamb
Vital Stats: 53 G, 13.1 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 0.8 AST, 39.4 FG%
Looking at Doron Lamb's stats, one has to wonder whether he will stay in Orlando for much longer. He doesn't add anything to the team, and he isn't a solid role player to fill in for 10 or more minutes per game.
At 6'4", he often appears undersized at shooting guard when matched up with half-decent defenders.
He doesn't possess the ball-handling skills of a point guard, either. And he certainly isn't capable of scoring consistently, as he connected on slightly less than 40 percent of his shots from the field.
He doesn't bring anything to the table.
Obviously, it is hard to put up numbers when he isn't the first, second or even third option on offense when he is on the floor. Nonetheless, Lamb is likely going to face the waivers, depending on whom Orlando will pick in the draft or sign during the offseason.
A lot of players could easily replace the 22-year-old.
Magic Potential: D-
No. 9: Andrew Nicholson
Vital Stats: 76 G, 15.4 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 3.4 REB
This season should have been Andrew Nicholson's coming of age. Instead it turned out to be a step back in his development.
Part of the blame lies with Jacque Vaughn's ever-changing rotation. This is actually a recurring theme for many players on this list.
It is difficult for any athlete to perform consistently if major parameters keep being altered. In the 24-year-old's case, the main factor was playing time. Whenever he seemed to find his rhythm, his minutes decreased again for the next few games.
For example, his double-double on December 9 earned him 20 minutes less playing time the next outing; the one on December 13 led to 11 minutes less time two days later.
His underwhelming performance, compared to his perceived potential, is as much Vaughn's fault as it is Nicholson's.
At 6'9", the Canadian needs to beef up to be able to fight for rebounds. His decent shooting touch is a nice bonus and can be used to stretch defenses, but the Magic desperately need a stronger interior presence.
Magic Potential: B-
No. 8: Kyle O'Quinn
Vital Stats: 69 G, 17.2 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 5.3 REB, 1.3 BLK
One minute and 13 seconds...31 minutes and 37 seconds.
These are the two extremes between which the playing time of the 6'10" center shifted over the course of this campaign. He probably profited the most from Glen Davis' buyout.
In the 26 games since then, Kyle O'Quinn has started in 19, averaging 1.8 blocks in 22.5 minutes. That equals three blocked shots per 36 minutes. Most importantly for his improvement, he played at least 14 minutes in each outing.
His impressive physique and the ability to change shots make him valuable for an interior unit in dire need of a rim protector. In 36 minutes, he averaged 2.7 blocks for the season, leading the entire roster.
Not only does he not shy away from contact, he seems to thrive when the going gets rough, throwing his 240 pounds into the battle.
But O'Quinn isn't just a prime defender in the paint.
He also plays solid, if unspectacular, offense. His effective field-goal percentage was 50.1, ranking him fifth on the Magic squad. And he was second on the team in player efficiency rating at 16.5, tied with Tobias Harris.
The former No. 49 pick, who recently celebrated his 24th birthday, may turn out to have been a steal for Orlando. There is no sign that the second-year player will slow down in his development, so long as he's given enough consistent playing time.
He could become another beard to be feared.
Magic Potential: C+
No. 7: E'Twaun Moore
Vital Stats: 79 G, 19.1 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 1.4 AST
With players like Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo and Arron Afflalo ahead of him in the rotation, E'Twaun Moore saw a surprising amount of time on the court.
Yet, he managed to get five assists just once in 79 games.
To some extent, this was caused by his role. Whenever Nelson or Oladipo was on the court, Moore didn't handle the ball—he became a spot-up shooter.
However, when he did bring up the ball, he didn't seem in sync with Orlando's offensive system. In his second season with the team, he should have felt more comfortable running the point.
On a positive note, the 6'4" combo guard improved his defense, shooting and player efficiency rating—all by small increments, but still. He can become an important role player down the road, depending on what the Magic are planning.
If they bring in a player like Dante Exum or Marcus Smart, the 25-year-old would simply occupy a place on the roster—unless, of course, they decide to trade Nelson or Afflalo.
Magic Potential: C-
No. 6: Nikola Vucevic
Vital Stats: 57 G, 31.8 MPG, 14.2 PPG, 11 REB
The young center has been a positive surprise for the Orlando Magic ever since he arrived in the big trade surrounding Dwight Howard two years ago. Superman's departure left a gaping hole in the middle, which no one was supposed to be able to fill.
Enter Nikola Vucevic.
Not only can he score in a variety of ways, he is also relentless when chasing boards. "Vooch" is only in his third year in the league, and in both of his campaigns with Orlando, he averaged at least 13.1 points and 11 rebounds.
He is reliable and unselfish and has improved considerably since entering the league.
One example for emphasis: His free-throw percentage increased from 52.9 percent in 2011-12 to 76.6 percent this past season. Some former Orlando superstars could only dream of such a feat.
The one question remaining is whether he still has room to develop overall.
His defense could do with some more intensity, considering the 7'0" center only recorded 0.8 blocks per game this season. That is the one area he really needs to focus on during the offseason.
Another question is his durability.
In 2013-14, the 23-year-old missed a total of 25 games. The Magic may want to bolster their paint with a draft pick to relieve Vucevic and lower his minutes a bit, giving him more breathers in order to keep him healthy.
Preferably, someone who can change shots.
Despite slight health issues and less than stellar defense, he is one of the cornerstones for this franchise.
After all, he does average a double-double.
Magic Potential: B-
No. 5: Tobias Harris
Vital Stats: 61 G, 30.3 MPG, 14.6 PPG, 7 REB, 25.4 3P%
It is hard not to get excited when talking about Tobias Harris.
The versatile 6'8" forward was predominantly used at the 4, where he used his speed and quickness to blow by defenders or stretch the floor with his shooting.
While his mid-range jumper is efficient, his percentage from downtown still leaves room for improvement. From 10-16 feet, his success rate was 42 percent, while he only connected on 25.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
On an impressive turnaround, he found the touch after the All-Star break, more than doubling his three-point percentage from 19 to 38.1. If he can keep that up next season, he will force Jacque Vaughn's hand.
Where the steam roller from New York really excels is on his drives to the rim. He often finishes through contact, thanks to his strength. A success rate of 65.8 percent from within three feet speaks a clear language.
So does a team-leading 34.1 percent free-throw attempt rate.
And he is likely to become even better over the course of the following years. After all, at just 21 years old, he is the second-youngest player on the team.
Magic Potential: A-
No. 4: Maurice Harkless
Vital Stats: 80 G, 24.4 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 3.3 REB, 1.2 STL, 38.3 3P%, 59.4 FT%
The small forward seems to have taken a step backward compared to his rookie season. His production decreased slightly, and his free-throw troubles are still haunting him.
No, it isn't a mantra, but it keeps coming up nearly as often: Partly, this has to do with Jacque Vaughn's inconsistent rotations.
It is difficult for a player to get into a groove when his minutes keep changing. For a young player, it can become virtually impossible. And Maurice Harkless is, after all, the youngest player on the Orlando roster.
It is a testament to his skill set, but probably more so to his potential, that he played the fourth-most minutes for the team during the 2013-14 campaign. Plus, his three-point shooting increased considerably in his second year, now sitting at a comfortable 38.3 percent.
Nonetheless, the former No. 15 pick needs to show more courage when given the chance. A losing season like this is always a great opportunity for young players to try things, make mistakes and learn from them—basically, to improve.
He will kick himself for not having taken more risks.
Too often, he looked indecisive with the ball in his hands, letting the defender dictate what would happen next. The 6'8" forward has the size and ability to become a decent player, at the very least. It just seems he is still lacking something to get everything to click.
That would be confidence.
It will take some more time for him to mature and acquire that missing piece of the puzzle. Once he does, he will be a key player—hopefully still on the Magic roster.
Magic Potential: B+
No. 3: Jameer Nelson
Vital Stats: 68 G, 32 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 7 AST, 3.4 REB, 39.4 FG%
The veteran's shooting percentage has decreased over the years. The last two seasons saw him sink below the dreaded 40 percent mark.
Despite this, he has been one of the most consistent performers for this franchise in his 10-year tenure, mostly because of his ability to direct everyone on the court.
Plus, there is the team factor.
That (locker room leadership) makes you respect him even more. There are so many guys who do stuff to show, but Jameer has never been like that from Day 1. He’s on the same level as our coach to our young guys.
I know that’s the case in my eyes. What he says around here is law and you go by it.
The fact that Nelson loves it so much in Orlando that he doesn't want to leave—ever—makes him a beloved personality in the fan community. More importantly, he is a valuable role model on a team of young, talented players.
The Magic management prays his attitude will rub off on others.
Too painful are the memories of losing Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard, even if the loss of the latter probably was a blessing in disguise, given what the team got back in return.
Besides all these intangibles, Nelson also kept producing: In 32 minutes per game, he averaged 12.1 points and seven assists. In fact, he ended eighth in the league when it came to delivering the ball to the right man at the right time.
At just 6'0", which probably was measured with him on the tips of his toes, he grabbed 3.4 rebounds per game over the season. That is true determination.
Now the main question is when Father Time will catch up with the point guard.
Then again, even once age becomes a factor, Nelson will still be a great mentor. And it wouldn't surprise anyone to eventually see him on the Magic coaching staff once his active career comes to an end.
Magic Potential: C
No. 2: Victor Oladipo
Vital Stats: 80 G, 31.1 MPG, 13.8 PPG, 4.1 AST, 1.6 STL, 3.2 TOV
The Magic fans love their rookie. And what's not to love? His performance in 2013-14 was impressive; his tenacity on defense and athleticism were outstanding.
He seems to have endless energy and never gives up on a play. He is the exact prototype of a competitor that everyone hates to face, combining skill with pure determination.
Turnovers were the 6'5" guard's Achilles' heel in his first NBA campaign. Most of them came from youthful exuberance and bad decisions in the heat of the moment, paired with suspect ball-handling skills.
This will improve during the offseason. After all, the former Hoosier has shown a tremendous work ethic in the past.
As reported by Bob Kravitz of USA Today, Oladipo's former head coach at DeMatha High School, Mike Jones, remembers:
He was very raw. In the eighth grade, he couldn't do much of anything, but he played hard. And over four years, he learned how to play basketball. That's all about his work ethic and the coaches who worked with him.
He always wanted to work. He was a tremendous athlete, but at that point, obviously not a guy who was going to be able to score a lot of points.
With his sheer will to improve, the sky is the limit.
This season, he forced his way to becoming a Rookie of the Year candidate. As early as next season, he could become a perennial All-Star.
Magic Potential: A+
No. 1: Arron Afflalo
Vital Stats: 73 G, 35 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 3.4 AST, 42.7 3P%
In his seventh NBA season, the shooting guard got off to a flying start.
His production early on made him an All-Star candidate, but he was left off the team to the surprise of many fans. That is one side effect of playing on a losing team, as per Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
Unfortunately, his numbers decreased after the All-Star break, putting a slight damper on an otherwise great personal campaign.
The future of the veteran is still uncertain, ironically due to his good performance.
The former No. 27 pick can now be considered a trading chip for Orlando.
In a draft with many talented prospects, it depends on whom the Magic decide to go for and what their plan for next season is.
If they are fine with another year of building up this young roster, expect a replacement for Arron Afflalo either with a rookie or Victor Oladipo. The latter scenario would mean they pick Dante Exum or Marcus Smart, in which case Oladipo will rotate to the shooting guard position, where he is better-suited.
However, if the franchise feels the fans have suffered long enough, Afflalo can be an important factor on the way back to the NBA playoffs.
In any case, he will play a key part in Orlando's future—as a player or trade asset.
If he stays, the question remains whether he can improve further. The 6'5" guard will be 29 years old once the 2014-15 campaign arrives, and while his body should still be able to withstand his aggressive playing style, he is unlikely to develop considerably.
With his current level of play and experience, he can be an important factor for a title contender. For the Orlando Magic, he may help lead them to a lowly seeded playoff spot at best.
That alone may spark trade rumors.
Magic Potential: C-
You can follow @KurtJonke for more on the NBA in general and the Orlando Magic in particular.
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