The Orlando Magic have trotted out a new line-up combination recently, one that’s not easy on the eyes. Victor Oladipo, Doron Lamb, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, and Kyle O’Quinn combine to form a back-up unit that plays hard, and plays ugly.
“It started as ‘Young Guys,'” O’Quinn explained to the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins. “And then we just went from ‘Young Guys’ to ‘Young Guns.’ It’s a fun group that shows the foundations of a strong chemistry among the Magic’s prospects. It’s also not their first nickname. Last season, it was “The Breakfast Club” after the team’s young players went to the gym early to work on drills, even on their off days. That might be be a more appropriate nickname than the “Young Guns” because watching them run their half-court offense is like sitting through Saturday detention.
Since the line-up debuted on January 22nd, the Young Guns have played 25 minutes, shooting a ghastly 35.7% from the field. When you look at the substitutions, the drop-off isn’t all that surprising. The line-up has a definite issue with floor spacing. With Jameer Nelsen and Arron Afflalo, the Magic’s two best shooters, on the bench, the only deep threat in that line-up is Doron Lamb. Yea Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Maurice Harkless has improved his shooting percentages as of late, but now he almost refuses to shoot at all. Teams crowd the paint, goading Tobias Harris into deep 2’s. With Victor Oladipo as the only “play maker” on the court, no amount of athleticism can overcome their shortcomings.
The most amazing thing is that the “Young Guns” have actually managed to outscore their opponents by 10 points on the back of their strong defensive effort. Harkless is the best defender on the team, even at the age of 20. Oladipo is a constant threat, and O’Quinn is long and strong. It’s a strong defensive nucleus for a team that lacks a tough identity. They can use their defensive stops to get out on the fast break, their only real chance of getting the ball in the bucket.
Unfortunately the good times can not last. With Nikola Vucevic coming back soon from his concussion, It will disrupt the rotations once again. If Glen Davis is going to continue to get 30 minutes a game, there won’t be time for this squad to grow. But for now it seems that Magic coach Jacque Vaughn likes the line-up.
“The good thing is they genuinely like each other,” Vaughn said. “They spend time with each other away from the floor, and I think it carries over [with] their ability to communicate and talk to each other, whether it’s two individuals getting on each other, where they should be and correcting each other, or whether it’s two individuals kind of encouraging each other.
What do you think? Should the Magic Stick with this line-up? Can they score enough to be effective? Let us know in the comments section below.