Last season, St. Bonaventure product Andrew Nicholson struggled with a lot of things that rookies ordinarily do, namely turnovers and being foul prone. In year two, Nicholson came fresh off a national stint with Canada where he showed off an improved jumper and range stretching out to the three-point line.
In the first half of Tuesday night’s opener against the Indiana Pacers, Nicholson showed more of that, with 18 first half points as the Magic led by four going into the half.
But Nicholson sat the entire third quarter and when he returned he struggled to get back into the motion. He played a few minutes in the fourth but did all his 18 points damage in that competitive first half. He’s still not hitting the boards that hard for a power forward, but he did collect four rebounds and a steal to add to his four personal fouls (in 19 minutes of play).
Nicholson still needs to learn when to keep his feet on the ground and take a charge, and when to make a play at the ball. Moreover, he reaches a lot and gambles, which usually hurts the Magic defensively.
Shooting 8-of-10 from the floor though has to stand out as a positive and he was the most effective player on the team with a plus/minus of 0. That’s impressive in a game the Magic lost by double digits. It remains to be seen how long it will take before Nicholson takes over the starting role from Jason Maxiell, who missed all five of his field goal attempts and failed to score.
With the Magic mostly in need of offense, it seems that the defensive downgrade that would be incurred by starting Nicholson may be worth it until Tobias Harris is back and fully healthy, at least. Harris is day-to-day with an ankle injury, but Nicholson’s three point range (2-of-2 in Monday night’s contest) and improved offensive game must be featured on a team searching for an identity in year two of this rebuild.