Denton: Nicholson's Game Rapidly Growing (Part 2)

By John Denton
December 11, 2012

Nicholson, the 19th pick of the first round by the Magic last spring in the NBA Draft, showed off his expanding offensive arsenal on the recent road trip by averaging 10.8 points on 61.3 percent shooting over the past four games. Nicholson was so good on Sunday against Phoenix that the Magic were a plus-21 in points during his 25 minutes on the floor.

``When he shoots the basketball, his teammates think that the ball is going in,’’ Vaughn said. ``And the good thing is, he does, too.’’

The career night pushed Nicholson’s scoring average to 7.7 points per game and his rebounding total to 2.7 per game. He could see even more time on the court in the coming nights what with the Magic (8-12) facing Al Harford and the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and David Lee and the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

The next step for Nicholson, Vaughn said is to be more physical and translate the confidence that he plays with on the offensively to the defensive end of the floor.

Vaughn has been on Nicholson to get stronger and in better shape, while also wanting him to ``hit first’’ on defense when battling another power forward on the low block.

Vaughn said he came to the conclusion early in training camp that while Nicholson would never blow anyone away with his speed, athleticism or leaping ability he would still be a player the Magic could drop the ball to and get solid results. His dazzling 56.5 percent shooting percentage is proof positive of that so far.

``We talked about it early in the year that with him it wouldn’t look glamorous, but he would be efficient and effective,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’s proven that theory for sure. He’s not glamorous at all, but he gets it done.’’

Nicholson, who is still relatively new to game after picking up basketball after his junior year of high school, clearly feels uncomfortable discussing his own talents. Even though Nicholson is one of the most intelligent players in the Magic locker room – he received a physics degree from St. Bonaventure and was nicknamed ``The Professor’’ in high school because of his studious ways – he sometimes offers up ``yeah’’ and ``no’’ answers to questions that don’t necessarily require those kinds of answers. And he seems more comfortable scoring on the low block against veteran center Rasheed Wallace – as he did in November versus the New York Knicks – than he does fielding questions from media members following games or practices.

As for talking about the game slowing down for him where he can understand opposing defensive schemes, Nicholson said ``I know where to be on the floor, but it’s still early and I’m still learning.’’

As for becoming more proactive defensively, he said: ``Just learning the system and it will come gradual. I just have to be more physical.’’

And when he was quizzed about whether he believes that his role will expand now that he’s shown a consistent ability to score, Nicholson offered this up: ``I don’t know, you’ll have to ask coach.’’

Vaughn has no problem with Nicholson’s low-key persona off the floor as long as he keeps producing on it. The coach wants to expand the rookie’s role as his game continues to expand.

``The next phase for us is him having that same confidence that he has on the offensive end of the floor, it needs to be predicated on the defensive end also,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’s getting there. He would tell you that.’’

Not necessarily with his words, but with his play.


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