Injuries have hit the Orlando Magic hard in the early part of the season. Really a good portion of those impactful injuries occurred in the first game.
Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson both have not played since that first game on November 2. Turkoglu broke his hand in the second half and Nelson strained his groin and his hamstring in the second half too (he played the rest of the game but has not been back in since).
Turkoglu was expected back in about a month. Orlando received some bad news and could be without one of its big offensive weapons. Wednesday, Turkoglu vented his frustration that he would be out a little while longer.
John Denton of Orlando Magic.com reports the Magic took an X-ray of Turkoglu's hand and discovered a loose screw that would require doctors to re-cast Turkoglu's hand and push back his timetable for return. Turkoglu could be out an additional month, meaning the Magic likely will not see him until January.
Jameer Nelson said he could have played in Tuesday's game against the Knicks but the coaching staff elected to hold him out at least one more game. No word yet whether he will return for the first time in two weeks Friday in Detroit.
Orlando could really use both as the team's offense has lacked consistent punch this season and both are strong, veteran offensive players who could provide some stability and space for the Magic's scorers. It is no coincidence it would seem that Orlando has struggled to score with both of them out of the lineup and without their playmaking abilities. The Magic have failed to break 90 points in four of the six games they have missed and failed to break 80 in three of those games.
That certainly will not win you many games. There is no guarantee returning Nelson and Turkoglu will fix all of the offense's problems in the early part of the season. Adding one or both back in would give the Magic another playmaker and bring back one of the team's two best passers — although J.J. Redick and E'Twaun Moore have done an admirable job keeping the ball moving judging by their assists numbers.
Losing Turkoglu for another month is extremely frustrating though. As inefficient as Turkoglu can be sometimes, he is still a matchup every team has to account for.
Of course, one person's injury is another person's opportunity. While Orlando is waiting for Turkoglu and Al Harrington to return, it means Maurice Harkless will continue to get his chance to play and make an impact.
Harkless has shown modest improvements in each game so far this year, really breaking out in a 10-point, 4-block performance Tuesday against the Knicks. He showed great athleticism and hustle in attacking the offensive glass and defending Carmelo Anthony. He is still liable to make defensive mistakes and the game still seems a bit fast for him, but Magic fans were gushing about his play.
With the Magic's veteran small forwards out, Harkless should continue to push for early playing time over Josh McRoberts at small forward. And DeQuan Jones is still waiting in the wings to come back from his injury.
As good as those players can be, Turkoglu and Nelson are very good right now. And there is a confidence that comes from knowing what you will get from them. Vaughn can be pretty comfortable in the production from these veterans. And it is very clearly missing from this offense right now.
The Magic should get one of them back soon. Turkoglu though, he will have to wait.