Nikola Vucevic, right, might fill the role Dwight Howard left behind for the Orlando Magic. He and Tobias Harris are enduring Magic fans that their team’s future is bright. Photo Credit: RMTip21, Flickr.com
No question the Orlando Magic (18-53) underperformed when Dwight Howard was still their center. No titles and much controversy marred the Howard era. Since then the Magic haven’t recovered. They will miss the playoffs and are fourth in the Eastern Conference’s Southeastern Division.
These two young players provide glimmers of hope and promise in the wake of Howard’s absence. Vucevic, the 23-year-old center from USC, is in his first season with the Magic and Harris, 21-year-old forward from Tennessee, was acquired by the Magic in the J.J. Redick deal. Both are performing well in their first season with the Magic.
Vucevic, who despite his skinny frame, records a double-double per game and stands at 7’0” and weighs in at 240 pounds. The young man from Morges, Switzerland, averages 12.4 points and 11.5 rebounds a game and is doing an admirable job filling in for Howard. The center shoots 52.2 percent from the field and plays on the perimeter as well as underneath the basket. He started every game this season until he suffered an illness and mild concussion. Vucevic has missed the last three games.
Harris can play both forward positions at 6’8” and 226 pounds. As a matter of fact, he started the last nine games for the Magic; averaging 13.5 points per game in that span, raising his total for the year with 8.5 points per game. Harris is shooting 46.7 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from the 3-point line.
If utilized correctly on offense, both Harris and Vucevic can become quite the pairing at frontcourt. Credit should be due for their defense. Harris averages 1.3 blocks per game, while Vucevic averages a block per game. Harris may not be a great defender, but his athletic build and long arms compensate for his lacking defensive game. The same goes for Vucevic. Both, however, have the potential to evolve immensely on their defensive play.
Their age pays a significant role in raising their potential to become great players for Orlando. Though not yet 25, they are putting up decent numbers–higher than their career totals. Vucevic’s 12.4 points and 11.5 rebounds dwarf his 9.5 points and 8.6 rebounds in his career. Harris already passed his total with 8.5, compared to 6.8 points in his career. In fact, Harris is averaging 14.9 points per game during his time with the Magic.
Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic are developing positively under coach Jacque Vaughn with the Orlando Magic, which could bring a new era for Orlando. And frankly, should this occur the NBA better take notice.