Young Magic Tracker: Borrego wants Oladipo to be aggressive

Victor Oladipo scored a career-high 38 points -- 28 in the second half -- in Orlando's 105-100 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.

Reinhold Matay/Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With close to half of their roster born in 1992 or later, the Orlando Magic began the season as the NBA’s fourth-youngest team and therefore need to figure out which players have a future with them. Every Thursday for the rest of the season, FOX Sports Florida’s Ken Hornack takes a closer look at those players, measuring, highlighting and evaluating their progress.

EVAN FOURNIER (age 22, third NBA season, first with Magic)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 0.0 minutes (28.8), 0.0 points (11.9), 0.0 rebounds (2.6), 0.0 assists (2.1), 0.0 blocks (0.0), 0.0 steals (0.7), 0.0 FG% (43.7), 0.0 3PT% (37.4).

Advanced stats, season: 12.3 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 53.9 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 19.8 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: Fournier missed all three games with a sore right hip after playing in 56 of the Magic’s previous 59 contests. The injury took place Feb. 20 against the New Orleans Pelicans, although Fournier tried to play through it for close to a week. He has made only four starts since Dec. 19 and is averaging 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 24 games off the bench compared to 14.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a starter. As much as the Magic have been struggling, it must have come to him as a relief to no longer be in Denver when the Nuggets fired Brian Shaw as their coach earlier this week. The Magic will host Fournier’s former team on March 22.

AARON GORDON (age 19, first season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 11.4 minutes (15.4), 0.0 points (5.4), 4.0 rebounds (3.1), 1.0 assists (0.7), 0.0 blocks (0.4), 1.0 steals (0.3), 0.0 FG% (52.9), 0.0 3PT% (45.0).

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Advanced stats, season: 13.1 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 59.6 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 16.3 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: After a sprained right ankle landed him on the inactive list for the losses to Atlanta and Charlotte, the first-round pick was the first man off the Magic’s bench Wednesday night against Phoenix. Gordon had three rebounds in seven minutes after replacing Dewayne Dedmon, who got into early foul trouble in his first start all season. He was not as effective in the third quarter as the Suns outscored the Magic 15-7 with him on the floor in going ahead for good. If he can stay healthy –€“ and that’s a big if, considering he has missed 34 games due to injury –€“ Gordon could move into the starting lineup over the final 20 games should coach James Borrego move Dedmon back to the bench and still be wary of Channing Frye’s defensive shortcomings as a power forward.

MAURICE HARKLESS (age 21, third season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 14.0 minutes (13.9), 1.0 points (3.1), 3.0 rebounds (2.0), 0.3 assists (0.6), 0.7 blocks (0.2), 0.7 steals (0.6), 12.5 FG% (39.6), 0.0 3PT% (13.9).

Advanced stats, season: 8.2 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 46.3 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 12.9 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: While his statistics were not too impressive, this marked the first time since mid-January that Harkless played in so much as three consecutive games. His plus-12 rating against the Hornets was the best for any Magic player in the 98-83 loss as he had five rebounds and one blocked shot in 16 minutes. Harkless had gotten in for a total of only 31 minutes in February before Borrego inserted him against the Hawks. That lack of playing time has severely impacted his 3-point shooting. After raising his accuracy from 27.4 percent as a rookie to 38.3 percent last season, Harkless is only 5 of 36 from long range in 30 games. But with the Magic still last in the NBA in blocked shots, his length ought to keep him in the rotation over the next six weeks. "For the most part, I’ve just been keeping my head OK and working hard every day, sticking with the process," he said.

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TOBIAS HARRIS (age 22, second full season with Magic)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 35.7 minutes (34.5), 13.0 points (16.8), 5.7 rebounds (6.4), 1.7 assists (2.0), 0.7 blocks (0.5), 1.3 steals (1.0), 46.7 FG% (46.2), 44.4 3PT% (37.0).

Advanced stats, season: 16.5 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 54.5 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 22.8 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: Harris has been the Magic’s second-leading scorer, trailing only center Nikola Vucevic, for almost the entire season. But his last game with more than 15 points was nearly a month ago, his career-high 34-point outing against the Los Angeles Lakers. Even more alarming is that Harris went without a field goal in the second half against both the Hornets and the Suns. The eight shots he took in 36 minutes in Wednesday night’s 105-100 loss were an uncharacteristically low number, and he gave the Magic nothing in any other category in eight fourth-quarter minutes. When asked what they needed to do better in a third quarter where they were outscored 34-17, part of Harris’ reply was, "Get the ball to the scorers. That’s what you do." His current scoring average is the lowest it has been since eight games into the season, not a good sign for someone who will become a restricted free agent in July.

DEVYN MARBLE (age 22, first season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 0.0 minutes (13.0), 0.0 points (2.3), 0.0 rebounds (1.9), 0.0 assists (1.1), 0.0 blocks (0.1), 0.0 steals (0.6), 0.0 FG% (31.8), 0.0 3PT% (18.2).

Advanced stats, season: 5.9 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 36.2 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 13.2 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: Marble could miss the rest of the season because of a detached retina in his left eye. When and how the injury happened is not entirely clear. Borrego said Wednesday that Marble returned from his latest stint with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League noticing blurred vision he thought was related to his contact lenses. The projected recovery time is from four to six weeks, meaning that even in a best-case scenario, Marble will be available for the Magic’s eight games in April after not having played for them in more than two months.

VICTOR OLADIPO (age 22, second season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 38.5 minutes (34.6), 26.0 points (17.2), 3.0 rebounds (4.2), 4.7 assists (3.8), 0.0 blocks (0.2), 1.3 steals (1.5), 52.6 FG% (45.0), 50.0 3PT% (33.8).

Advanced stats, season: 15.9 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 54.0 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 24.8 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: Tracy McGrady holds the Magic franchise record for most points in a single half with 37 against the Nuggets in 2003. Oladipo didn’t quite make a run at that against the Suns, but his 28 points following halftime propelled him to a single-game career high of 38. The biggest surprise in his outburst was that he went 4 of 7 from 3-point range over the final two quarters. Up to that point, Oladipo had hit only four 3-pointers in 26 attempts since Feb. 8. "We want his aggressiveness," Borrego said. "We want him to be our playmaker. We’re going to put the ball in his hands at the end of the game and throughout the game." The one downside to Oladipo’s big night was that he set a single-season high in turnovers with seven.

ELFRID PAYTON (age 21, first season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 23.5 minutes (28.2), 4.3 points (7.7), 3.3 rebounds (3.8), 5.3 assists (5.8), 0.0 blocks (0.2), 2.3 steals (1.5), 26.1 FG% (41.3), 0.0 3PT% (18.2).

Advanced stats, season: 12.2 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 43.9 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 18.2 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes).

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Noted: Out of 387 NBA players this season, Payton ranks 369th in true shooting percentage. It would probably be of no consolation to him that such notables as Vince Carter, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson are among the handful of those with an even lower rating. But his putback dunk with 4:16 remaining against the Suns demonstrated there are ways he can score without trying to depend on a jump shot which has been successful only 32.8 percent of the time. The first half of that game provided a nice recovery from the loss to the Hornets in which Payton did not play at all over the final 20 minutes. He had six assists and four steals in helping the Magic build as much as a 15-point lead. And in a severe change from Borrego’s point guard rotation of late, Payton played almost the entire fourth quarter while Willie Green was used sparingly.

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.