The Andrew Nicholson struggle

Much of the frustration the last two games — losses to Milwaukee and Denver — has centered around the biggest frustration for the entire season — the regression of Andrew Nicholson.

Nicholson, a first round pick from last year, showed a lot of promise with his refined and efficient low-post game. He shot 52.7 percent from the floor, all on 2-pointers, with 167 of his 486 field goal attempts coming within 10 feet. Nicholson still took his share of 16-23 foot shots, but made 45.3 percent of them.

This season has been a complete turnaround for Nicholson in the wrong direction for his sophomore year.

Nicholson added a 3-point shot and seemed to fall in love with it too much — or at least the coaching staff did as he has spent most of his time around the perimeter despite that success in the post.

Nicholson is shooting 41.8 percent from the floor and 29.5 percent on 3-pointers on 78 attempts. Nicholson has made just 119 field goal attempts within 10 feet of the 340 he has taken this year.

The ratio of shots he has taken within 10 feet has not changed, but certainly the quantity and quality of those shots have changed. And he is missing a whole lot more of them now too.

Nicholson spoke with Rich Rovito of the Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald on Monday in Milwaukee:

“I’m in a tough stretch right now and I’m just trying to get it back offensively. It’s not really falling right now but I’ve got to stay positive."

Any way you look at Nicholson's numbers, it is pretty discouraging to see how his shooting has fallen off. Take a look at the side by side shot charts for Nicholson:

Andrew Nicholson, 2013-14

Andrew Nicholson, 2012-13

Clearly, Nicholson was a much more efficient player in 2013. It seemed like he was playing within himself more and taking the majority of his shots in areas where he could at least score at the league average (yellow and green is good).

Nicholson needed to expand his game some. And he needed to improve on defense — something one can argue he has done as he gives up a respectable 44.4 percent shooting at the rim this year according to statistics and he is posting a 33.6 percent contested rebound percentage.

His offense though is what he was drafted on and where he was going to earn his playing time. Nicholson though has a 44.1 percent effective field goal percentage in catch and shoot situations and a dreadful 30.1 percent on catch and shoot 3-pointers. The worst part is Nicholson is using possessions on catch-and-shoot opportunities 30.6 percent of the time, according to Synergy, and scoring 0.84 points per possession.

And while that is more efficient than his post ups this year — 0.72 points per possession on post ups — it is clear his struggles from beyond the arc have affected his ability to score near the rim and his timing and rhythm on those shots.

Decidedly, he is not providing efficient offense this year. Nicholson will have to rediscover his offense to stick around as he enters that critical third year for first round draft picks.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily