By most indications, the Orlando Magic got great value out of Andrew Nicholson with the 19th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In his rookie season, the St. Bonaventure product led Orlando in field-goal shooting (52.7 percent) and displayed a nuanced, efficient offensive game which should help the scoring-starved team as it continued its rebuild.
But Nicholson's limitations are very real, and it's fair to wonder whether the 23-year-old will improve significantly in other areas to become anything more than a role-player.
|Points Per Game||Rebounds Per Game||Blocks Per Game|
|Points Per 36||Rebounds Per 36||Blocks Per 36|
|PER||Rebound Rate||Block Rate|
All statistics in this table from Nicholson's player page at basketball-reference. Career-best statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.
The good news is that teams drafting 19th overall aren't looking for superstars, or even stars: getting a rotation player in that range is a coup enough in and of itself. And make no mistake, Nicholson is a rotation-caliber NBA player on nearly any team. Players who can score with their backs to the basket are in short supply in this league, and while some folks would argue that back-to-basket scoring doesn't mean as much as it used to, I'd beg to differ: any player who can draw two defenders to the ball, as Nicholson can, has value because it opens the floor for shooters.
Nicholson is more than a low-post scorer: he's shown good touch on his jumper, shooting 45.3 percent on long two-point jumpers, which accuracy makes him a good safety valve for when plays break down in the waning seconds of the shot clock. Expanding his range to the NBA three-point line would only add to his lethality as an offensive player.
But we also must address Nicholson's limitations. Despite his size and reach, he's an average rebounder at best for his position, hauling in 11.7 percent of available rebounds. His lack of athleticism and explosiveness limits his second-jump ability; if he doesn't snare a rebound on his first try, he's probably not going to get it on his second.
And then there's the defense: Nicholson wears number 44 on his uniform, but he might as well be wearing a bullseye, given how vulnerable he is in the post. According to mysynergysports.com, Nicholson allowed 1.26 points per play in the post on 64.3 percent shooting. He lacks the strength and footwork to hold his own inside, and opponents are able to score nearly at will against him.
Unless Nicholson is able to improve his strength, or at the very least his positioning, then he will continue to be a serious defensive liability, which will in turn limit him to situational duty.
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