Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan has assembled a team that is full of young promising talent.The small forward position poses the most promise for the Orlando Magic. During the preseason, the Magic have typically used a four man tandem in Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Romero Osby and Kris Joseph. Let’s take a look at how the magical foursome have progressed over the course of the preseason.
No. 1 Maurice Harkless
The 2nd year small forward out of St. Johns has improved immensely since the end of last season. The most noticeable change for Harkless has come from his performance in the weight room. Over the summer, Harkless gained 10 pounds and the added weight has carried over to the basketball court, where Harkless has shown an improved ability to finish through contact when he attacks the basket. Harkless has also showcased an aggressive mindset by putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket. Last season, Harkless would rarely put the ball on the floor, with most of his offense coming off of second chance points and cuts to the basket.
The 6’9″ forward has continued to improve on the defensive end of the court. Harkless has been a nuisance for opposing teams all preseason and leads the Magic in steals with 2.17 steals per game.
The only aspect of his game that is still a work-in-progress, is his 3-point shooting. Despite Harkless changing the form of his jump shot, he is shooting a putrid 20 percent from the 3-point line.
No. 2 Tobias Harris
Last season, Harris played primarily at the power forward position. However, Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn has yet to play Harris at the power forward position during the preseason. Instead, Harris has played at the small forward position for the Magic so far this season.
Harris provided an offensive spark to the Magic team last season when he arrived in Orlando at the trade deadline in exchange for J.J. Redick. With the Milwaukee Bucks, Harris saw little playing time. However, coming to the Orlando Magic gave Harris a new lease on life, as he led the team in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game.
Harris has carried over his offensive performance from last season into the preseason. He is No. 2 on the Magic in scoring, averaging 12.3 points per game. The 240 pound small forward is a multifaceted offensive player, who can use his size and strength to finish at the rim or use his 3-point shooting ability to torch defenses. Harris leads the team in 3-point shooting hitting 53.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
The key concern for Harris coming into this season is his ability to guard the small forward and power forward positions. Another factor is Harris’s durability. Last season while with the Bucks, Harris missed 14 games due to an injury. This preseason Harris has already missed two games due to soreness in his left ankle.
Harris will start at power forward for the Magic. Though it is possible that the Magic could utilize Harris’ scoring off the bench and just play Harris starter’s minutes.
No. 3 Romero Osby
The rookie 2nd round pick has seen time at both small forward and power forward. The power forward position is his more natural position, but with the logjam at the power forward position, his best chance to make the roster will be at the small forward position.
One thing that stands out about Osby is his willingness to do the dirty things on the court such as diving for loose balls, grabbing offensive rebounds and setting screens. The rookie also has shown a smooth post game and a decent midrange jump shot.
Unfortunately, Osby lacks the lateral quickness to guard small forwards at the NBA level and does not have the size in the post to guard bigger power forwards in the post.
Osby will not make the final roster. He can probably carve out a pretty nice niche in Europe, if he chooses to go that route.
No. 4 Kris Joseph
Kris Joseph has not received much playing time from Jacque Vaughn during the preseason, which is never a good sign. The 2nd year pro is only averaging 11 minutes per game.
On the plus side, Joseph does seem to have potential as a scorer as he is averaging 7.3 points per game in his limited court time.
Joseph will not make the Magic roster, but his offensive skill set could be useful for another team.