Heading into the 2012-13 season, the Orlando Magic knew that finding offense would not come easy. To a large extent, they have been right. Orlando is just 28th in the NBA averaging 92.2 points-per-game which is ahead of just Washington and Indiana.
The Magic however, are coming off a 3-2 road trip to the west coast and one of the major factors for Orlando having a winning trip has been the play of rookie forward Andrew Nicholson.
Nicholson is coming off a career-high 19 points and 9 rebounds in Sunday’s 98-90 win over the Phoenix Suns. Nicholson finished 9-for-11 shooting and scored nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter which included a clutch jumper with the shot clock winding down late to halt a Phoenix run after the Suns had cut the Magic lead from 11 to five.
Nicholson is making a push for more minutes and more minutes is something that Nicholson has made the most of this season. Nicholson is averaging 7.7 points-per-game and has scored in double-figures in seven of the 19 games in which he has played. But when Nicholson gets at least 20 minutes, his average balloons to nearly 15 points-per-contest and his rebounding total goes from 2.7 per-game to nearly six.
Regarded as a marksman coming out of St. Bonaventure, Nicholson has yet to attempt a three-pointer this season. Instead, Nicholson has shown an ability to score around the basket and has proven to be more athletic that most anticipated coming out of college. During the Magic’s five-game-trip, Nicholson shot an outstanding 19-for-31 from the field and is second among rookies shooting better than 56 percent from the field on the season.
In fact, Nicholson has shot 50 percent or better from the field in eight of his last nine games. Over that span, Nicholson has shot 39-for-60 from the field, a remarkable 65 percent.
While Orlando in the opinion of many have overachieved this season despite an 8-12 start, the Magic will need contributions from the rookies if they are to continue to improve as the season progresses and Nicholson seems to be spearheading that charge.
If there is a place the Nicholson needs to improve, it’s on the boards. At 6’9″, Nicholson averages just 2.7 rebounds-per-game. The good news however, is that Nicholson seems to be working to improve on the glass. Nicholson has equaled or set a new career-high rebounding in each of his last two games. And working to improve doesn’t seem to be something that Nicholson is all that bothered by or objects to.
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