The Orlando Magic’s frontcourt rotation is one of the youngest in the league, and within the next few seasons it could potentially develop into one of the better frontcourt rotations in the NBA.
It seems like lofty praise for the team with the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. But there’s a lot of reasons to expect the 3, 4 and 5-spots to be significantly better than average as Orlando’s players continue to develop.
The success of the Magic frontcourt begins with center Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic is by all means the surprising centerpiece of the deal that sent Dwight Howard packing. For as good as Aaron Afflalo is, and as much promise as Maurice Harkless has exhibited, Vucevic’s work on the boards and soft touch around the basket have Rob Hennigan and Jacque Vaughn grinning widely.
Vaughn, in particular, said that Vucevic’s “ability to get rebounds, to provide touch around the basket with both hands, has been extremely impressive.”
Vucevic now holds the single-game record for rebounds, having amassed 29 in the loss to the Miami Heat on Dec. 31. In that game, Vuc also had 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting. On the season, Nik is averaging 12.1 points per game and 11.4 rebounds. That double-double production landed him a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he wasn’t the only Magic player selected for the game.
For all that three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard was in Orlando, it is Vucevic who holds the brighter future—at this point. Howard’s been on the decline all season, fighting a recovering back and an ailing shoulder. Meanwhile, Vucevic is just 22 years-of-age and only getting better. Hennigan likely isn’t surprised by Vucevic’s success; he averaged 12.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per-36 as a rookie for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Once the minutes increased, so came the production.