Orlando Magic News & Notes: April 24
In addition to his cuts to the basket and his offensive put-back opportunities, Harkless started taking threes from the corners, albeit at a low percentage. And then he started making them, shooting 33.9 percent on corner triples after the All-Star Break. His growth as a three-point shooter opened driving lanes for him, particularly along the baseline. And almost overnight, Harkless became a solid, low-usage offensive player who tended to take only layups and corner threes, the two highest-value shots in the game.
Harris proved himself to be an elite scorer following the trade to Orlando. After playing just 11.6 minutes a night for the Bucks, Harris took advantage of the opportunity being presented in Orlando and ran with it. He scored in double figures in 24 of his 27 games with the Magic and led the team in scoring 10 times. He had nine 20-point games and twice hit 30 points against Washington and Milwaukee. And though he was undersized, Harris proved he could play the power forward position some with his hustle and mucle. Nine times he had at least 10 rebounds and six times he blocked at least three shots.
While Vucevic is getting noticed, he’s not considered totally untouchable to Magic. At least not if you’re offering a star in the exchange.
A scheduling conflict revealed in a preliminary draft of the league’s upcoming schedule will prevent the Magic from playing next season at The O2, the London venue that has hosted three NBA regular-season games this decade.
The Magic were scheduled to play two regular-season games in London against the then-New Jersey Nets in March 2012 — with each of those games coming out of Magic’s allotment of 41 road games.
All three need to add strength. Vucevic must become a better defender, must add a low-post game on offense and must play with more of a mean streak. Harkless must improve his one-on-one defense, his ball-handling and his outside shooting. Harris might be too small to be a power forward and not quick enough to be an everyday small forward.
Flip Saunders, a former NBA head coach and now an ESPN analyst, said recently that he likes Vucevic, Harkless and Harris.
Harris blew up when he escaped Skiles and Boylan: he averaged 17 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in Orlando. His per-minute and per-game numbers improved, and his advanced stats profile looks much better. He may never be more than a solid starter or sixth man, but Milwaukee is about two losses from having gotten nothing but Gustavo Ayon’s 13 ho-hum minutes per night for him.
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