If nothing else, the injuries to Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis have opened the door for the rookies of the Orlando Magic to get more playing time. Despite a 14-33 record that puts them near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, extended playing time for their first-year players could mean good things for the Magic in the future.
Second-year player Nikola Vucevic has impressed all season and has earned a trip to Houston to play in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge thanks to his 12.1 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game, while rookies Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn and DeQuan Jones have received increased minutes as of late thanks to Orlando's dinged-up roster.
Harkless had the best game of his NBA career in Saturday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, tallying 19 points, 14 rebounds and four steals in 42 minutes, all career highs. Meanwhile, just one night prior, Nicholson, who has started the last two games, notched the first double-double of his career in a defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. O'Quinn and Jones have also provided solid contributions recently.
"You know, I’m still hanging in there," Nicholson said. "It’s still a learning process for me. I’m picking up things a lot quicker, you know the game is slowing down so it’s an opportunity for me to accelerate that."
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