Arron Afflalo hopeful to make preseason debut
We’ve witnessed Glen Davis’ dominance in the post, seen Jameer Nelson’s command at the point and watched J.J. Redick’s accurate shooting from behind the arc.
In the first five games of the preseason, the core players on the Orlando Magic have looked good, but not great. On Wednesday night, we may get our first glimpse of the player the Magic hope will make all the difference.
“I definitely want to play,” shooting guard Arron Afflalo said after practice Tuesday afternoon.
Afflalo, who is arguably the best player the Magic received in the Dwight Howard trade, sat out the past three weeks because of a left hamstring strain suffered a few days into training camp. Coach Jacque Vaughn opted to err on the side of caution when deciding to give the versatile guard his debut in a Magic uniform.
On Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, Vaughn is hoping to finally get a feel for how Afflalo will fit into the system.
“I’m going to stretch minutes out a little bit,” Vaughn said. "The objective is to see Arron get some minutes and to see some combinations with him on the floor.”
Afflalo on the floor benefits the Magic on both sides of the basketball.
On offense, he has the ability to score in multiple ways, averaging 15.2 points last year with the Denver Nuggets. He can spot up from behind the 3-point line. He’s got the touch to pull up for the mid-range jumper. He’s strong enough to get all the way to the basket and finish through contact.
In fact, Afflalo’s slashing ability should help improve the number of Magic free-throw attempts, an area which has solely been carried by Davis.
On the defensive side, the 6-foot-5 guard likely will land the role of defending the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Throughout his five years in the league, Afflalo has established himself as a committed perimeter defender, matching up against All-Star talents like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
“[Afflalo] is a guy that’s going to compete,” Vaughn said when asked what the sixth-year veteran can bring to the team defensively. “For me, that’s an important, important factor. We have to consistently give ourselves a chance to be in ball games. That starts with defense.”
Although Afflalo has fully participated in the past few practices, he’s missed the valuable preseason time that helps get players into game shape. Still, he’s confident it won’t be long before he’s comfortable on the floor with his new teammates.
“I’ll be fine," Afflalo said. "I still know the game. It won’t take long. I’m just going to do the best I can these two games to get ready for opening night.”
Opening night will be a big test for the Magic’s new defensive stopper. He will be facing his former team and perhaps matching up against Andre Iguodala, the high flying guard-forward acquired by the Nuggets in the same trade that brought Afflalo to Orlando.