Andrew Nicholson drawing praise from NBA experts

Glen Davis, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Andrew Nicholson, and Jeff Teague - USA TODAY Sports

The rookie from St. Bonaventure could be "the Magic's new franchise center," says ESPN analyst David Thorpe.

Andrew Nicholson is averaging just 14.6 minutes per game for an Orlando Magic team that isn't likely to make the playoffs, but he hasn't escaped the notice of several prominent NBA scribes who've praised his play.

Most notably is David Thorpe of ESPN, who ranks the St. Bonaventure product as the NBA's fourth-best rookie, trailing only lottery selections Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Thorpe lists the several different post moves Nicholson used in Sunday's victory against the Phoenix Suns, and then says, "That's an impressive array of scoring moves for any player in a week, but for a rookie in one game it's awfully impressive." Nicholson set career-highs in scoring (19), rebounding (nine), assists (three), and steals (four) against Phoenix.

John Hollinger, the ESPN analyst who recently joined the Memphis Grizzlies' front office, also singled out Nicholson's play. In running down several surprises of the NBA season, Hollinger wrote the following under the subheading "Orlando doesn't stink."

[R]ookie first-round pick Andrew Nicholson (22.1 points per 40 minutes, 18.71 PER) looks like a nice find as a pick-and-pop threat in the David West mold.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus praises Nicholson as "one of the most polished players taken in the second half of the first round," noting that he owes much of his success to his 44 percent mark on mid-range jumpers. Pelton says Nicholson could further improve his game by extending his shooting range beyond the three-point line. In his senior season at St. Bonaventure, Nicholson shot 43.4 percent on threes, albeit on just 1.6 attempts per game.

Orlando selected Nicholson, now 23, with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He joins Maurice Harkless, Kyle O'Quinn, and DeQuan Jones as the Magic's rookies.

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