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Orlando Pinstriped Post Mailbag no. 16: Getting the most from Andrew Nicholson

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In this Mailbag feature, Orlando Pinstriped Post addresses how to make the Magic's second-year big man more efficient.

Andrew Nicholson
Andrew Nicholson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We're about to open another Orlando Pinstriped Post Mailbag, but before we do, a reminder that Tyler Lashbrook and I are always taking your Orlando Magic questions. You can submit yours to OPPMailbag@gmail.com or via the OPP Facebook page.

With the preamble out of the way, let's dig in to today's question.

Greg asks:

How is it that the coaching staff can't find a more effective way to use Andrew Nicholson? I get the value of a stretch 4, but aren't we diminishing that value a bit when we take one of our most efficient offensive weapons and have him camp out in the corner more than half the time?

I have to say, Greg, that I don't think the Magic's decision to extend Nicholson's offense is hurting his efficiency: in fact, his True Shooting mark of 56.5 percent narrowly tops his rookie showing of 55.7 percent. He's shooting 36 percent on three-pointers, with 46 of his 50 attempts coming from the corners. For a Nicholson two-pointer to be more efficient than a Nicholson triple, he'd have to be shooting it at 54 percent or better, to account for the extra point that a trey provides.

Nicholson's two-point percentage in 2013/14? 53 percent.

Nicholson has played efficiently no matter where Orlando has stationed him on the floor.

I don't lay these facts out to refute you, necessarily, but only to illustrate that Nicholson has played efficiently no matter where Orlando has stationed him on the floor. Given his improvements defensively and on the glass, it's no wonder that he's playing nearly five minutes more per game as a sophomore.

I do think you have a valid concern about how best to use Nicholson: he's such a clever offensive player with his back to the basket that it does seem wasteful to have him shoot threes. For coach Jacque Vaughn and his staff, striking a balance with Nicholson's touches is key.

Let me explain: when Nicholson shares the floor with mostly starters, and with Victor Oladipo in particular, then I think he should put a premium on shooting threes to keep the floor spread. Oladipo will dominate the ball in those sets anyway, and keeping Nicholson in the corners will give Oladipo space as well as a passing outlet for draw-and-kick action.

But if Nicholson is sharing the floor with other second-unit players, then letting him work in the post is a better idea. He can be the low man in high-low action with Kyle O'Quinn, a deft passer from the top of the key, and draw double-teams to open the floor up for Tobias Harris' drives from the perimeter.

The underlying point here is that Nicholson's newfound NBA three-point range gives Vaughn even more options and allows Nicholson himself to play different roles based on the team's specific needs in a given situation. That combination of versatility and potency--Arron Afflalo is the only Magic regular scoring more points per minute or more efficiently than the Ontario native--means Nicholson has a bright future in this league.