Complimentary Pieces Can Help Nikola Vucevic


With the addition of two Arizona Wildcats this offseason, rookie Aaron Gordon and veteran Channing Frye, the Magic have added more promising pieces as they continue to move forward in their rebuild.

For starters, bringing Channing Frye onto the roster will prove to help the team excel in a number of ways. Not only will he provide help in much needed areas – he gives the team a much needed boost from the perimeter thanks to his sharpshooting ability and another player who can bang around in the paint from time-to-time – but he will prove to play a key part in Nikola Vucevic’s continued growth in the post by forcing his defender to follow him around the three-point line. 

December 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns power forward Channing Frye (8) shoots against Golden State Warriors power forward

David Lee

(10) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When teams are forced to guard a player like Frye they are left with two options: A) Let him roam and continue to focus on guarding the paint or B) Leave just one defender in the paint and maintain the man on man defense, forcing the defense to potentially send help, causing someone to end up open. Both of these options can help the Magic’s offense in a few different ways by either opening driving lanes, giving Vucevic an easy post up opportunity, or even getting a wide open look from beyond the arc.

Frye’s impact won’t just be found on the offensive side of the ball, however. In his last four seasons — sans 2012-13 when he was sidelined with an enlarged heart — Frye averaged around one block per game. While he’s not known for his rebounding ability, his size will give the Magic another true big man out there to help Vucevic on the boards, potentially allowing the guards to leak out more for fast break opportunities.

Frye’s addition will prove huge thanks to the challenges other teams will face when game planning for the Magic. Should they choose to focus too much on Frye, Orlando’s dynamic guards and Vucevic will be able to make them pay. His versatility and ability to guard both centers and power forwards will also add to the confusion by letting the Magic get the matchups they may prefer on that end of the floor.

Along with the Frye signing, the Magic are also adding the young and exciting Aaron Gordon to the fray. Gordon, who enjoyed one solid year at Arizona, is a ball of energy waiting to be unleashed. He’s shown he has a fantastic motor to go along with freakish athleticism, and could already be considered the Magic’s best defender before playing a second in the league. 

Currently, it’s unclear where Gordon will see the bulk of his minutes this season, but he’s said previously he feels much more comfortable on the perimeter at this time, despite his shooting struggles. His tenacity and willingness to work on the defensive end are impressive for a player who just turned 19, and is someone who could be a great compliment to Vucevic due to his advanced levels on the defensive side of the ball. 

Gordon’s want to play on the outside will also have an impact on the offensive end when he’s playing with Vucevic. It gives the Montenegrin more room to operate, while also giving him a good target when he cuts off the ball. 

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Aaron Gordon (Arizona) poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number four overall pick to the Orlando Magic in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Now, for reasons that should be clear, lets imagine a lineup where Frye is playing power forward, with Gordon at small forward. Gordon’s explosiveness and defensive prowess, combined with Frye’s deadeye shooing can make the game much easier on Vucevic. They bring forth a balance of shooting and floor spacing, along with improvements on the defensive end. 

All things considered, the additions of both Frye and Gordon, could prove to be extremely advantageous for the Magic, both in the short and long-terms. They give them an added level of versatility on both ends of the floor, and are guys who can be great complimentary players for the man in the middle. Head coach Jacque Vaughn is going to be in a unique place with all the versatility the roster holds, but if he’s able to utilize it to it’s full potential, the Magic could make some noise sooner, rather than later.