ESPN statistical analyst John Hollinger revealed his Player Efficiency Rating projections for the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, and the numbers don't look good for Orlando, which is squarely in a rebuild after trading Dwight Howard in August. In fact, among the Magic's 17 players--Hollinger does not account for training-camp invitees Armon Johnson and DeQuan Jones, whose contracts are not yet official--only Gustavo Ayón projects to post a PER above the league-average of 15, Hollinger says.
Ayón, whom Hollinger expects to earn the starting power forward job, is a "fundamentally sound big man who excels moving without the ball." Orlando acquired the Mexico native from the New Orleans Hornets in a sign-and-trade transaction involving Ryan Anderson, the league's Most Improved Player, in July. Though Ayón is unrefined offensively and lacks strength defensively, he nonetheless projects to lead Orlando with a 15.6 PER.
Some players may come close to matching Ayón, however: Hollinger's projections peg point guard Jameer Nelson (14.4), big man Al Harrington (14.1), reserve two-guard J.J. Redick (14.3), and center Nikola Vučević (14.8) to finish 2012/13 with PERs in the neighborhood of the league average. However, Harrington is a candidate to drop off into the 11 range, as he is a Fluke Rule candidate; for more on Hollinger's Fluke Rule, I direct you to the article.
Hollinger isn't bullish on Arron Afflalo, the ostensible marquee player Orlando obtained in the Howard trade. "Afflalo changed his game dramatically last season, and I'm not sure all of it was for the good," Hollinger says. "First, the positive: He's really developed his offensive game. Two years ago Afflalo was strictly a catch-and-shoot guy, but now he can put it on the floor and create [....] Defensively, however, he regressed. Badly. Afflalo had a rep as a defensive stopper that helped him get a big contract the previous summer, but all his metrics last season were poor." All told, Hollinger projects the UCLA product to put up a 13.5 PER in the 2012/13 season.
It's difficult to tell whether Orlando will be weaker on the wings or at the point. Hollinger doesn't seem optimistic about either Ish Smith or E'Twaun Moore as Nelson's backup, but he's down on Hedo Türkoğlu, Quentin Richardson, Christian Eyenga, and Maurice Harkless at small forward as well.
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