Denton's Notebook: Monday, April 15

By John Denton
April 15, 2013

ORLANDO – Second-year forward Tobias Harris sees such a bright future for the Orlando Magic’s gaggle of young players that he feels they should compete for a playoff slot next season.

Because of the dramatic growth of young players Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, Harris and others, the high-scoring Harris feels that Orlando will be in position to compete for a playoff spot next spring. It’s a big summer for the Magic’s core of young players, but Harris feels that the team will take the lessons learned this season and he a solid squad next season capable of reaching the postseason.

``We’re definitely a young unit coming together out there on the floor,’’ Harris said. ``We’ve been making great strides out there, so I definitely think about what the future can be for us as players on this team, and I think we’ll be a really good team in the future and coming up. This season is winding down, but going into next year, our goal should be nothing less than the playoffs, and that’s got to be our mindset also.’’

While that pursuit of the playoffs is admirable and very much within reach if Orlando’s young players continue to improve it could fly in the face of the rebuilding project underway. The Magic are guaranteed to get a top-four draft pick this season, and another top pick next season when the draft is thought to be deeper could greatly benefit Orlando’s rebuilding efforts.

After mentioning that the playoffs should be a goal next season, Harris was asked how strongly he thought Orlando could make a postseason push a year from now. He didn’t back down, proving that he is confident in the abilities of himself and his teammates. Harris has averaged 17.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in 25 games with the Magic since being traded from Milwaukee.

``We’re making the right strides. Going into next year, (making the playoffs) has to be our mindset,’’ Harris said. ``We can’t settle for (anything) less than that. I believe as a team if we want to be the best type of team, you have to set your goals really high. So that’s my goal as a player and that’s my goal this summer going into the offseason: getting myself ready and getting my game to be the best that it can be.’’

ROOKIE RIGORS: Magic rookie guard DeQuan Jones said the most alarming part of his first NBA season is the length of the marathon, 82-game season.

Jones said after having been through 80 games – triple the length of most collegiate seasons – he better understands the need to take care of his body, eat the proper foods and get a maximum amount of rest. He said his excitement to make a great impression early in the season was dulled somewhat by the sheer length of the season and the frequency of games.

``The rigors of the season are tough as you and your body try to withstand playing 82 games,’’ Jones said. ``As a rookie you want to come in with a full head of steam and be perfect in every aspect. Now, looking back, I realize how I would have paced myself as far as working out and playing in games. The rigors of it have been the most disappointing aspect of the season.’’

Jones has marveled at how Magic fans have continued to support the team despite it being filled with mostly first- and second-year players and not having much success at home. Jones said the fans that he has interacted with at the arena and in the community are encouraged about the Magic’s bright future.

``I’ve seen an unbelievable support from the fan base and the community,’’ Jones said. ``No matter the circumstances, and some games the score hasn’t even been close, but the fans are still here helping our morale and cheering us on. That’s made for an unbelievable experience for me as a rookie.’’

ETC: Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached in Boston with the Celtics from 2007-2010, reacted with sadness at Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings that killed at least two people and injured dozens of others. Said Thibodeau: ``It’s just terrible. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, the first responders – everybody there. It's just terrible. Very, very sad.’’ Asked about the significance of Patriot’s Day in Boston, Thibodeau said: ``It’s huge. There’s so much going on and the entire meaning of that day. It’s so festive. It’s unfathomable just to think about something like that happening there. Again, it’s just a terrible day. Terrible.’’ … In celebration of its silver season next year, the Magic have unveiled a commemorative 25th anniversary logo. The logo meshes the original pinstripe jersey design with the current iconic star ball secondary logo. In its 24 years of existence, the Magic have won two Eastern Conference championships (1995 and 2009), five division titles (1995, 1996, 2008, 2009 and 2010) and seven 50-win seasons. … The Magic close the regular season in Miami on Wednesday night against the Heat. Miami held stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh out of action on Monday and their availability for the regular-season finale is unknown.

MORE STORIES: Big Responsibility for Harkless | Jones Progressing at Fast Rate | Hennigan Made Right Decision on Bynum | Nelson Appreciated by Fans

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.




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