Orlando Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson was chosen as a replacement for the Rising Stars Challenge. Detroit’s Andre Drummond was unable to play due an injured back.
This is huge for Nicholson, who came into the 2012 NBA Draft as an unheralded rookie from a mid-major school, St. Bonaventure. Even so, many NBA scouts were aware of what Nicholson could do at the next level. His skill set is old school. He’s more Willis Reed than Amar’e Stoudemire. More Carlos Boozer than Blake Griffin. You get the idea.
Nicholson is posting 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per-36, while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor. His foul rate is very high (4.4 fouls per-36), and he’s turning the ball over too much for a power forward (2.3 TOs per-36), but these are things that can be ironed out of rookies over time.
For now, the Magic count themselves fortunate to have a young prospect capable of drawing national attention. This year, the Magic have both Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic in the challenge, and they become the fifth and sixth Magic players to participate in the event.
Nicholson could potentially play alongside Vucevic for many years, depending on how Rob Hennigan chooses to construct the team via draft and free agency. For now, the tandem will function well on a team that can only get better. Congrats, Andrew.