Denton: McRoberts is Mr. Versatile


By John Denton
November 26, 2012

ORLANDO –If Josh McRoberts were in baseball, his role would be defined as a utility player. If he were in football, he’d likely double as both a defender and a special team contributor. But in basketball with the Orlando Magic, McRoberts is sort of a catch-all forward capable of filling in wherever the team needs him.

That’s why at various points during Sunday’s 110-106 overtime loss to the Celtics McRoberts was guarding small forward Paul Pierce, power forward Kevin Garnett and combo forward Jeff Green. While some players might balk at being moved around the lineup so much, position doesn’t matter as much as playing time for the 6-foot-10, 240-pound McRoberts.

``I try to do what I can to help,’’ McRoberts said. ``I’m just trying to fill in where they need me. I don’t care who I have to guard as long as I get a chance to play.’’

McRoberts has gotten more chances to play of late because of injuries and his own ability to fill several different roles. Because of his rare blend of height (6-foot-10) and athleticism (a 36-inch vertical leap), McRoberts is capable of playing both forward slots on offense and he can guard all three frontline spots on defense if needed.

He’s started at small forward after Hedo Turkoglu went down in the opener with a broken hand, he’s filled in off the bench when bigger forwards such as Tayshaun Prince, Michael Beasley and Pierce gave the Magic fits and he’s held his own at the power forward slot at times. That’s the kind of versatility that coaches love, especially ones like Orlando’s Jacque Vaughn, who has had to be creative with rotations because of injuries.

``His versatility has been well-needed for us. (The season) started out with injuries and he’s stepped in and done a good job for us,’’ said Vaughn, whose Magic (5-8) host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. ``It’s hard because sometimes Josh is playing a different position offensively and defensively. He can be a four-man (power forward) one play and a three-man (small forward) the next play. I give him a lot of credit for trying and giving us a lot of positive results.’’

Orlando saw its two-game winning streak come to an end Sunday night when it went cold offensively late in the fourth quarter and late in overtime against the veteran-laden Celtics. Orlando had just one field goal over the final 2:22 of regulation and only one basket over the final 3:30 of overtime.

On Monday, Vaughn conducted an extensive film session to show his team what went right and what went wrong down the stretch so that it will be better prepared in the future. Vaughn feels the Magic will be better for having gone through Sunday’s overtime experience.

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