Who needs to step up for Orlando Magic after Gary Harris tears meniscus

Gary Harris is encouraged with some of the things the young Orlando Magic are learning. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Harris is encouraged with some of the things the young Orlando Magic are learning. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Gary Harris has suffered a torn meniscus and will most likely be sidelined for months. There is no official timetable for his return. It could be a few months and he is back fairly early in the season. Or it could last deep into the season, perhaps even the whole season.

Meniscus tears are notoriously tricky injuries and how long a player misses time is dependent on whether they need surgery, the kind of surgery is required if so and how quickly they can recover.

With a month before training camp, it is safe to assume Harris will miss all of camp and it would be impossible to think of him returning before the season begins. He certainly will miss the start of the year.

The only thing the Orlando Magic can do is have a next-man-up mentality since they have no roster spots to sign anyone.

This injury, as awful as it is, presents an opportunity for young Magic players who are fighting for more time and their place in the team’s future. There are players who need to step up in Harris’ absence. If they do, it could solidify them more time and trust from the organization.

The Orlando Magic are going to be without Gary Harris for the start of the season leaving the Magic to rely on several players who will get the opportunity to step up.

Players like R.J  Hampton, Terrence Ross, and Caleb Houstan will get the chance to earn more minutes and show the Magic what they got.

Harris played 28.4 minutes per game, so those minutes will be allocated to different players. But those three have the biggest opportunity and should have the biggest jump in minutes.

The injury will spread the minutes out through more than just those three but they have the most to benefit from their newfound opportunities. These players need to step up and not only earn their spot but help the team continue on the same track without Harris.

To do that they need to replicate what Harris would have done for them. That means making threes at a high rate and play great defense on opposing team’s best scorers.

Harris shot 38.4 percent from three, was a great catch and shoot scorer as he shot 41.0 percent, and shot 47.1 percent from the corners. On defense, he averages a steal and played phenomenal perimeter defense.

If this can be replaced the Magic will be in great shape and hopefully not even feel Harris’ loss. At the same time, they can see what their young players can do with more time and see if they should be excited about their future.

How Caleb Houstan can benefit

Caleb Houstan has the biggest opportunity for himself and to help the team.

His offensive game most similarly resembles Harris’ game. And the Orlando Magic essentially drafted him with this kind of role in mind.

He shot 35.5 percent from three in college and made just less than two threes per game. A vast majority of his threes were catch-and-shoot threes. He shot 38.7 percent on catch-and-shoot threes which is just a little less than what Harris shot. He could definitely fill the spot-up shooter role on offense that Harris has, while occasionally taking it to the basket.

Houstan may not be able to replicate Harris’ defensive ability immediately, but he will surely get the chance to improve and learn.

There is no better way for him to adjust and learn than by getting out there and figuring it out. That may not have been something he could have had before Harris’ injury. He might have spent a good chunk of the year in Lakeland developing in the G-League.

Although he is not an elite athlete and has trouble keeping up with who he is guarding, he does have tons of defensive potential. He is 6-foot-8, is lengthy and has a high defensive IQ. He averaged 0.7 steals per game last year showing his activity in passing lanes.

If he can show the team that he is a willing and improving defender he can really earn consistent minutes for this organization.

This is a perfect opportunity for the rookie to make a name early on.

Houstan, who had a great Summer League, made the Magic make a tough decision and with his play forced them to sign him and keep him on the team.

The rookie who was not expecting to see too much floor time so soon will have a big chance to show the Magic they did not make a mistake. Although Harris’ injury may not directly translate to his minutes, he will have to make up time for whoever is making up for Harris.

How Terrence Ross can benefit

Terrence Ross can benefit from this injury just as much as Caleb Houstan can. Coming off a career-worst season, this is his chance to bounce back and show the Magic he is still a great and contributing player, and that he has not lost a step.

He shot a career-worst 29 percent from three last season. That is atrocious for someone of his caliber who is known for being able to shoot the deep ball.

The Magic are going to need him to hit threes in Harris’ place, so if Ross can start the season hot and hit his shots then he can show he is still the player he once was. He shot 31.4 percent from the corners so maybe he can be the corner shooter that the Magic will be missing.

He is also normally a great defender. He averaged a career-low in steals and blocks, and a career-worst in defensive rating last season. That was certainly a product of playing with the Magic’s young bench group that often struggled to keep and maintain leads.

Last season will hopefully be an outlier in his career stats and will be just known as a down year.

Ross may not be able to take on all the defensive assignments the Magic had Harris defend, but Ross is a capable defender. Especially within the team concept. Orlando, at the least, needs Ross to have that bounceback season.

Ross needs these additional minutes to give him the best opportunity to bounce back and keep his career alive. If the Magic lost any faith in him this past season, then they are going to be forced to throw him out there just as much if not more in Harris’ absence.

This is his chance to show the Magic that last year was a fluke or at least create value for himself to make him an asset to go to a contender. He can save his career with this opportunity so you better believe he will be coming hard and strong to start this season.

How R.J Hampton can benefit

Believe it or not R.J. Hampton can benefit just as much as Terrence Ross and Caleb Houstan.

Hampton has raw talent but has had trouble finding his fit with the team.

Is he a point guard? Is he a shooting guard? Well, he will have more than enough time and opportunity to do it with this injury. He was already getting 21.9 minutes per game, he could now be seeing 25-plus minutes.

He is a great finisher and an explosive athlete which fits in perfectly with the young core and is great for his role. But to be able to fully help out the team in Harris’ absence then he must get a consistent three-point shot to fully help play Harris’ role and his own.

He has been working on that as he shot a career-high 35 percent last year and should see that number increase next season. He is also a career-best 43.1 percent on corner threes.

He is another player who cam fill that role.

He also has tremendous defensive upside. Although he has only shown flashes in his short career, he has all the tools to be a great defender. He is a standout athlete, he has the speed and he has the athleticism to play great defense and guard anybody on the perimeter.

If he can show the team his amazing athleticism and touch around the rim is accompanied by improving defense and a more reliable shot, then he can definitely secure his role and his fit on the team.

He could be one of the best bench players the Magic have if he gels a little more with the team. I am excited to see what kind of fire and excitement he comes with in this new role.

Harris’ new injury is devastating to hear about as he is a solid veteran who can shoot the ball and play great defense. His presence will be missed but it does give the Magic an opportunity to look at their young core.

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A lot of the Magic’s young players can benefit and step up. Let’s see how this young Magic core holds up and plays insight of this new injury.