FOXSportsFlorida.com checks in with color analyst Jeff Turner to get the latest on the Orlando Magic.
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: While it has been only four games, how has Kyle O’Quinn looked to you as a starter at power forward and, conversely, how has Tobias Harris looked coming off the bench?
JEFF TURNER: For Kyle, obviously they threw him in there against San Antonio because that was a lineup/matchup issue, and I thought he did a good job. Tobias is such a competitor that he’s going to do his thing and compete whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. There are no Ws in there, but I think each of them has adapted pretty well.
For a young guy, I think all of this is good. Jacque (Vaughn) is trying to teach them and find where they can be successful. For Tobias, sometimes coming off the bench gives him a different matchup than being in the starting lineup. He can come in and be an energy guy and bring some offense. And Kyle, I don’t think he cares one way or another. That’s what it seems like. He just plays. But I don’t think it has really affected their minutes. They’re both playing about the same minutes.
It’s an interesting experiment. That’s what you do with a young team. Jacque is playing it the right way.
FSF: Speaking of experiments, what about Andrew Nicholson getting a look at the center spot when O’Quinn and Nikola Vucevic aren’t on the floor?
TURNER: It’s interesting when you change the lineup. You start bringing people off the bench, and there’s another thing â trying to play Andrew at a different position and trying to give him a different matchup against opposing centers. He’s in there sometimes with that young group trying to disrupt a team. It’s just giving him an opportunity to do something a little bit different and to make a statement like, ‘Hey, I can do this.’
As a former player, if I’m given an opportunity to step in and this is how you can get on the court, all those minutes are good minutes.
FSF: Didn’t you play some center yourself during the earliest years of the Magic?
TURNER: The first year, when Dave Corzine went out, I played a little center here and there. That’s the thing. Nowadays, the more versatile, the positions you can play, it creates value for yourself. So how (Nicholson) handles it is going to be important.
FSF: Victor Oladipo played in each of the Magic’s first 62 games before missing two contests with a sore left ankle. Do you see him beginning to hit that so-called rookie wall?
TURNER: I don’t know. Obviously he’s bothered a little bit by his ankle. When you take almost a week off, you get a little bit rusty. I think he’s shot the ball pretty well. It’s been an interesting year for him – coming off the bench, starting at times, then back off the bench.
He will deny it, I know, because he’s competitive and young. I don’t know if it’s a big wall that you hit. But it’s an obstacle sometimes, the length of the season. It wears on young guys. You’ve got to learn how to play 82 games. He might be learning that.
FSF: He admitted to being a step slow in the loss to Denver. Do you think both that and his brief absence accounts for part of the slippage on defense of late?
TURNER: In the Denver game, he’s matched up against some of the best guys at getting to the rim (Ty Lawson and Andre Miller). In the Milwaukee game, (Brandon) Knight and (Ramon) Sessions are two guys that are fantastic against anybody getting to the rim. That’s just him learning what he can and can’t do against some of the elite point guards.
FSF: When a team is struggling badly on the road like the Magic are, can players look at games like the ones coming up against Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers and think, ‘Hey, we can win those’?
TURNER: Maybe. Certainly the veterans – Arron Afflalo, Jameer (Nelson) — probably look at each game as a winnable game. If they go out and the team competes at a high level, they think they can win every night. But, yeah, you look at the teams that are sub-.500 and maybe mark those as two games you can get, especially when you’ve only won four on the road. The pride of the guys would want to get a few more wins.
FSF: You were teammates with Darrell Armstrong when he was just starting out with the Magic. What was your first impression of him?
TURNER: I think we all weren’t really sure. We all liked him; he was very personable and everything. And in practice, he was competing because we were getting ready for the playoffs (in 1995) by the time he was coming in.
I remember putting him in at the end of a game where we were playing the Pacers at home, and he gets in and he takes off and he goes up, under and reverse dunks. Everybody on the bench just erupted because I think it surprised all of us.