Nucleus of young players strive for the Magic’s future success

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic came into the 2012-2013 season with a mindset of rebuilding a team which had lost its biggest star in years. Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and Jacque Vaughn was hired to replace Stan Van Gundy. After losing to the Boston Celtics the Magic fell to 20-60, but even though they’ve had a rough year, the organization can look forward to building the team around young talented players.

Players like Nikola Vucevic who has been a double-double machine all year, former Big East Freshman of the year Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris who was acquired via trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Hopefully each guy comes back next year a better player,” said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. “That starts at a day to day process, there’s no skipping steps and you put in the time, work and you let the results show as they may.”

Each player has been steadily improving as the year has gone on. Vucevic has been consistent all year with his high volume rebounding and Harkless has seen his playing time increase and his potential is starting to show. He has led the team in scoring four times this year and he has scored in double figures in 26 games entering the game against Boston.

“Each of those guys I could go down the list and how they’ve helped us this year and we will count on them going forward, so it’s a work in progress and they will put in the work.”

Harris has been especially good since being acquired from Milwaukee on Feb. 21. He has averaged 16.9 points per game since he’s been on the Magic. Harris has gone from being a player with limited minutes on the Bucks, to becoming an integral piece for Orlando. “I think overall you look at what type of person he is and he’s a high character individual who will fit into our locker room,” said Vaughn.

“He has the ability to do multiple things, whether it’s playing multiple positions, guarding multiple positions and he also has the ability to score the basketball, so there were various attributes that we liked.”

Harris seems to have taken the transition from being a role player to a future building block in stride. “It’s been great and you just take it by storm and continue to work on my game,” said Harris. “Coming out of Tennessee and seeing a limited role in Milwaukee, but at the same time just continuing to work and get better and focusing on the things that I can control.”

The pieces are there for the Orlando Magic to build a team that can compete in the years to come. They have a young talented core of players which is going to get even more talent since they will have a high draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Jacque Vaughn is a young coach who comes from a winning pedigree after working under San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

As long as their young players can continue to improve over the next couple of years and buy into the system that coach Vaughn is trying to teach, then the Orlando Magic have a chance to make some noise and bring back the excitement to the city that was there in the previous seasons.