The Magic did not go with a point guard like Marquis Teague with their first round pick. They did not go for an athletic wing like Perry Jones III. Nor did they go with a ball handler and penetrator like Tony Wroten.
Orlando fans likely are underwhelmed with St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson, Orlando’s first round pick. Rob Hennigan’s first official move with the Magic was an underwhelming one. But maybe that is what we should be getting used to. After all it was Otis Smith’s big dreams and risky moves that put the Magic in a hole.
Andrew Nicholson does not deserve this doubt. He was a four-year starter at St. Bonaventure and the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year last season. He averaged 17.1 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game in his career, including 18.5 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game last year on 57.1 percent shooting. He is strong and still improving.
“We are excited to have Andrew (Nicholson) join our Orlando Magic family,” general manager Rob Hennigan said in a press release. “We feel he embodies the types of values that will put him in a position to achieve success here. He’s a humble, high character player, who’s committed to working hard and playing within a team concept. We are intrigued by his cerebral, instinctual approach to the game.”
If we are going to learn anything about Hennigan’s philosophy it might be in Nicholson. He is ready to play immediately and is a low risk pick. He is now what we are going to have for a while (and for cheap too). This is what Hennigan is banking on. A guy that knows his skills, will know his role and fit in. Most importantly, it seems like he will contribute immediately.
This was likely also the thought behind drafting Kyle O’Quinn from Norfolk State in the second round with the 49th pick in the Draft. O’Quinn averaged 15.9 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game, marking his second consecutive season averaging a double double. He also averaged 2.7 blocks per game. His junior year was even better as he averaged 16.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. He was also the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational, the pre-draft camp reserved for college seniors.
If the Magic needed a backup center to replace Marcin Gortat, O’Quinn might be as close as he can get.
It will be interesting to see how these two players fit in. It will especially be interesting to see how Nicholson fits in.
He is not quite a three, but still has to develop some to become a four. Nicholson unequivocally said he is a power forward in his interview with the Orlando media after his selection. But his versatility is something the Magic liked and something Nicholson can add to the team.
“They like my versatility,” Nicholson said. “They like my length. They like my size. They think I’m a good character guy. I’m just ready to come in and contribute to the team, and I’m very excited. I’m beyond elated right now. It’s like a dream come true.”
Nicholson is already a pretty developed offensive player. His back-to-the-basket game is pretty solid already and he is improving as a defender. Nicholson should be able to come in immediately and play.
That may not be what Magic fans want to hear. Orlando is pretty desperate to improve immediately to keep Dwight Howard. And with a player like Perry Jones available, a lot of people wanted Orlando to pick him up.
Nicholson does not come with a lot of “ifs” though. Nicholson is who he is right now. And that certainty obviously attracted Hennigan and the Magic to him. It is hard to find impact players late in this draft. Nicholson could be a solid contributor in the immediate future.
This pick shows Orlando intends to keep Dwight Howard for the time being. So take that for whatever it means.
Nicholson will make his impact on the floor and is just the first step in an important summer for the Magic.