Dec 21, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic small forward Maurice Harkless (21) dunks against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Harkless' Sneaky Great Shooting January

The Orlando Magic’s Maurice Harkless just had one of the best shooting months of his career, and it wouldn’t be that surprising if you didn’t even notice.

Throughout January Harkless shot 50% from the field and 36% from three-point range. While the raw numbers may not seem all that impressive, it’s their improvement over previous months that should have Magic fans excited. His FG% in November was 44.1%, and in December, only improved to 44.3%. Equally encouraging are his January free throw numbers. He hit 66.7% in January, a steady improvement from November (51.2%) and December (58.3%).

Where is  this improvement coming from? Harkless is being more patient on the offensive end. He’s only attempting 4.6 shots per game, markedly lower than his 2012-2013 splits (7.4 attempts per contest). He started 2013 gunning, with 6.6 attempts through November, but has settled into his role as a slasher and occasional three-point threat. If he can become a reliable 3-and-D player, he could be a valuable contributor on a playoff team. Impressive for a second year player who is still only 20 years old.

Sometimes his new-found patience has can reach comedic levels. During Orlando’s epic January 15th OT loss to the Chicago Bulls, Harkless played 46 minutes with only a single shot attempt. ONE field goal in 46 minutes! The next step in his development is to blend his improved shot selection with an aggressive mindset. Moving without the ball is key for him, and staying engaged without specific play calls is a must.

For a raw, athletic player like Harkless, defense is the key to playing time right now. It can also be the key to his offense. Creating turnovers and getting out on the fast break are great ways to get easy buckets and build up some momentum. The mental game is so important for a young player, and getting comfortable in the offense is a great first step.

What you think? Does Maurice Harkless deserved more playing time based on his productive January? Should he be more aggressive on the offense event? Let us know in the comment section below. Want more analysis of your Orlando Magic? Sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media.

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