The late surge last season by the Boston Celtics following the injury to Rajon Rondo indicated the importance of having a flexible backcourt rotation. The Celtics moved Avery Bradley to point guard, started former Magician Courtney Lee at the 2-guard, and improved defensively without their floor general. The Magic have a chance to be much like last season’s Celtics in the backcourt, this season.
With Victor Oladipo learning the point and Maurice Harkless indicating he is willing to switch positions, the Magic could potentially start a defensive backcourt as strong, or stronger, than Boston’s last season.
Oladipo and Harkless are both being billed as potential lockdown defenders, and for notice that Harkless can defend point guards, reference Damian Lillard’s struggles while facing the defensive ace last season. Harkless did not allow a field goal by Lillard, who managed just 1-of-16 from the floor en route to four points. Oladipo and Harkless could tandem cover the league’s best points, and wear them down over the course of a game.
These prospects are further enhanced by the fact the Magic have Arron Afflalo, who at one point was a very good defender, and he still is above average. Tobias Harris would occupy the 3-spot eventually, most likely, though the frontcourt rotation must be settled. Harris thrived at the 4 last season, but the team may seek to develop Andrew Nicholson still.
Either way, the 1-2-3 rotation is underrated due to its defensive prowess. It isn’t the kind of advantage that could make the Magic a surprise playoff team, but finishing in the lower half of the lottery due to an overachieving young group is conceivable. 30 wins is not out of the question, on any given team, due to the fact that teams take nights off during the regular season and a young team seeking to establish itself may take fewer off.
Long-term, the hope is that Harkless and Oladipo develop into a defensive tandem that plays off one another and offers more than enough offense. With the NBA seeming to develop into a perimeter player’s game in today’s era, it makes sense to stack the wing positions with strong, capable defenders, and Rob Hennigan is doing just that.
While the Heat may be fully dismantled by the time the Magic peak, other super teams with strong guard rotations are possible, not to mention the Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. The Magic are several seasons away from contending, but perimeter defense is one thing to watch this year as the team develops.