Player Capsules: Maurice Harkless

By John Denton
April 26, 2013

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic’s run of six straight seasons in the playoffs is over, ending the Eastern Conference’s longest such streak. But not all is lost for a Magic franchise with a bright future.

The Magic have a history of success that says that the franchise will soon be back in the NBA’s postseason. In the past 20 years, the Magic have made the playoffs 14 times – the fifth most times of any NBA franchise. And since the 1992-93 season, Orlando has had a .500-or-better record 16 times – also the fourth-best mark in the NBA over that time frame.

There are plenty of positives to come out of the 2012-13 season as the Magic have established a core of promising young players and they have a base of veterans expected to return next season.

Orlando also has secured the best odds at getting the top overall pick in the June 27 NBA Draft. The draft order will be determined in the May 21 NBA lottery, a process in which the Magic have a 25 percent chance of winning. The Magic have won the NBA’s top overall pick three times, and the last time they were in this situation they won the top pick and used it to select Dwight Howard in 2004.

Looking back on the 2012-13 season, we here at are going to spend the next three weeks breaking down each of the players currently on the Magic roster. We’ll look at their stats, highs and lows from the season, a favorite moment and analyze their role for the future.

So without further ado, here is today’s Magic player capsule:

NAME: Maurice Harkless
HEIGHT, WEIGHT: 6-9, 210
POSITION: Small forward
AGE: 19

2012-13 SEASON STATS: 76 games, 8.2 ppg., 4.4 rpg., 1.16 spg., 46.1 percent FG, 27.4 percent 3-pt FG, 57 percent FT.

2012-13 SEASON HIGHS: 28 points (April 1 vs. Rockets); 14 rebounds (Feb. 2 vs. Bucks); 3 assists (two times – March 1 vs. Rockets); 6 steals (March 15 vs. Thunder); 4 blocks (four times – latest March 22 vs. Thunder); 51 minutes (April 10 vs. Bucks).

BEST MOMENT: Though he had much bigger statistical nights later on in the season, Harkless said his favorite moment came on Nov. 7 in Minnesota when he made his NBA debut against the Timberwolves. Head coach Jacque Vaughn surprised Harkless early in the game when he walked down the bench and asked if Harkless had his uniform on under his warm-ups. He then went into a NBA game for the first time, something that was especially significant to him because he had missed the summer league, training camp and the start of the season because of the recovery from surgery to repair a sports hernia. Harkless played just 22 minutes in that first game, but he showed off some of his vast potential by stuffing the stat sheet with seven points, five rebounds, three steals, two blocked shots and two assists. A week later, he was blocking three of Carmelo Anthony’s shots, and three months later he progressed to the point where he scored in double figures in 25 of the final 30 games of the season.

OF NOTE: On April 1 versus the Rockets in Houston, Harkless scored a career-best 28 points, coming within two points of becoming the youngest player in franchise history to hit the 30-point plateau. This season, he led the team in scoring four times and in rebounding four times. He had a steal in 50 games and a blocked shot in 38 games. In fact, he had two-or-more blocks in 16 games and blocked four shots four times. Among NBA rookies, Harkless ranked 11th in scoring, ninth in rebounding, eighth in field goal percentage, second in steals and eighth in blocked shots and seventh in minutes played.

FUTURE ROLE WITH THE MAGIC: Harkless showed over the final three months of the season why the Magic consider him to be a building-block piece for the future. After looking somewhat lost and hesitant to engage early in the season, Harkless started to blossom following the New Year. Over the final four months of the season – January (4.75 ppg.), February (11.4 ppg.), March (13 ppg.) and April (13.1 ppg.) – his scoring average rose dramatically. He did all of that while also being assigned to guard the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Paul Pierce, Luol Deng and Anthony down the stretch of the season – a jaw-dropping feat for a player who doesn’t even turn 20 years old until next month. But while Harkless is loaded with potential he still as a lot of work to do on his game. First, he needs to add weight and strength this offseason while working with Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Rogowski. He also needs to continue to work on his jump shot and ball-handling so that he can better create shots and scoring opportunities. And in his exit interview last week, Harkless vowed he would return a much better free throw shooter than the 57 percent he made as a rookie. His ceiling as a player is especially high because he can do so many things, but it will ultimately come down to how much improvement he makes this offseason while working on his game.

MORE STORIES: Tobias Harris | Jameer Nelson | Nikola Vucevic

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