Young Magic tracker: Second edition

BY foxsports • February 26, 2015

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, FOXSportsFlorida.com'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): 26.3 minutes (28.8), 8.7 points (11.9), 2.3 rebounds (2.6), 2.7 assists (2.1), 0.0 blocks (0.0), 0.0 steals (0.7), 45.8 FG percentage (43.7), 30.0 3PT percentage (37.4).

Advanced stats, season: 12.2 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 (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Down

Noted: After a 16-point game in the win over New Orleans where he started in place of the injured Tobias Harris, Fournier was held scoreless Sunday night against Philadelphia for the first time since coming to the Magic. Coach James Borrego likes having the native of France on the floor in the fourth quarter because of his versatility. He's a 71.6 percent free throw shooter but has gotten to the line only 10 times since Jan. 21. He already has more assists this season (118) than in either of his two years with the Denver Nuggets and, like a number of players on the Magic, has cut down on his turnovers since Borrego took over.

AARON GORDON (age 19, first season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 8.7 minutes (15.5), 3.7 points (5.6), 2.0 rebounds (3.0), 0.7 assists (0.7), 0.3 blocks (0.4), 0.7 steals (0.3), 50.0 FG percentage (53.4), 0.0 3PT percentage (45.0).

Advanced stats, season: 13.1 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 60.1 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 16.6 usage rate (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Down

Noted: The first-round pick barely got off the bench in three consecutive games but started off well Wednesday night off the bench against Miami, scoring on three layups in the first half. But Gordon left with 1:40 to go in the second quarter because of what was diagnosed as a sprained right ankle, and he is listed as questionable for Friday night's game at Atlanta. Despite being the fourth player chosen overall last June, Gordon went into the overtime loss to the Heat tied for 13th in scoring and 11th in rebounding among all rookies. He has played more than 20 minutes in just one game since his brief stint in the starting lineup ended earlier this month. Even Andrew Nicholson, who had gone more than a month without playing for no health-related reasons, played 21 minutes -- including the entire fourth quarter -- when the Magic defeated the Pelicans 95-84.

MAURICE HARKLESS (age 21, third season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 0.0 minutes (13.8), 0.0 points (3.4), 0.0 rebounds (1.9), 0.0 assists (0.7), 0.0 blocks (0.2), 0.0 steals (0.6), 0.0 FG percentage (42.2), 0.0 3PT percentage (15.6).

Advanced stats, season: 8.5 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 49.1 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 13.4 usage rate (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Down

Noted: There was some talk at this time a week ago that Harkless could be traded by the NBA's deadline. That never materialized, and the forward who started in half of the Magic's games last season was put on the inactive list against both Philadelphia and Miami. Like Fournier and Nicholson, the fourth-year option on Harkless was picked up by the Magic before the season began, meaning he'll be owed close to $3 million for 2015-16. For someone who had one of the best steals-to-turnovers ratios in the NBA a year ago, it's hard to fathom how Harkless doesn't fit in with a team which has now held seven consecutive opponents under 100 points. He has sat out 10 of the Magic's last 15 games after playing in 76 games as a rookie and 80 last season.

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

Statistical averages, last week (season): 32.0 minutes (34.5), 8.0 points (17.0), 4.5 rebounds (6.5), 1.0 assists (2.0), 0.5 blocks (0.5), 0.5 steals (1.0), 35.3 FG percentage (46.2), 22.2 3PT percentage (36.6).

Advanced stats, season: 16.5 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 54.4 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 23.3 usage rate (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Down

Noted: The sore right knee that forced him to miss the last two games before the All-Star break and the first one coming out of it was still bothering Harris against the 76ers. His contributions to the 103-98 were minimal by his standards as he finished with only four points and one rebound in 25 minutes. He came out more assertive against the Heat, scoring in the opening four minutes on a 3-point shot and a dunk where he barely broke stride after catching a pass thrown slightly behind him. But Harris didn't have a field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime and was as frustrated as anyone in the locker room by the outcome. Facing the Hawks could be just what Harris needs to get fully back to normal. His 20-point showing against them the last time the two teams met including a shot at the buzzer which gave the Magic a 100-99 victory.

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 percentage (31.8), 0.0 3PT percentage (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 (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Down

Noted: Marble joined Harkless on the inactive list the past two games after returning from his third stint with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League. After playing well in his previous trips to Erie, Marble made only five of his 19 shots in two games before returning to the Magic. With so few injuries on the current roster, and with playing time for Harkless being non-existent, it's difficult to see when Marble might play for the first time in more than a month.

VICTOR OLADIPO (age 22, second season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 37.0 minutes (34.3), 17.3 points (16.6), 6.7 rebounds (4.3), 3.0 assists (3.8), 0.3 blocks (0.2), 0.7 steals (1.5), 45.2 FG percentage (44.3), 0.9 3PT percentage (32.2).

Advanced stats, season: 15.4 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 53.3 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 24.6 usage rate (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Up

Noted: Though his offensive statistics were better than average, it was on defense where Oladipo made his greatest impact. This blocked shot against the Pelicans triggered a fast break, and he was primarily responsible for Dwyane Wade going 5 of 16 from the floor through regulation. Oladipo was down on himself for missing the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Magic clinging to an 84-82 lead. What made the miss all the more noteworthy was that Oladipo had connected on 35 of his previous 36 attempts from the line this month. While he has been money from there for the most part, he has missed 18 of his last 19 3-pointers, including a pull-up attempt before the buzzer after the Heat got two free throws from Goran Dragic with 7.4 seconds remaining and the Magic out of timeouts.

ELFRID PAYTON (age 21, first season)

Statistical averages, last week (season): 35.7 minutes (28.4), 7.7 points (7.9), 6.7 rebounds (3.9), 9.0 assists (5.8), 0.0 blocks (0.2), 0.7 steals (1.5), 36.4 FG percentage (42.0), 0.0 3PT percentage (19.0).

Advanced stats, season: 12.4 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 44.7 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 18.1 usage rate (percentage of team plays used).

Trending: Up

Noted: For his 21st birthday Sunday, Payton got to experience for the first time what it's like to be intentionally sent to the free-throw line. Sixers coach Brett Brown twice told Isaiah Canaan to foul Payton within a 14-second stretch of the fourth quarter, and the strategy worked as the rookie point guard missed three of his four tries. But after Canaan fouled him while diving for a loose ball a minute later, Payton converted both attempts. Except for his deficiencies at the line, where he's down to 53.4 percent for the season, the news of late has been decidedly encouraging. Payton has an assists-to-turnovers ratio of 27-4 in the last three games, and the 3-of-10 game turned in by Dragic against the Magic was due in primary measure to the effort of the player often described by Borrego as "the face of our defense."

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



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