2013-14 Season Review: Maurice Harkless

By John Denton
May 5, 2014

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic made great strides during the 2013-14 season, notching several wins against some of the best teams in the NBA and witnessing major improvements by many of their players.

Orlando had a seven-win improvement at the Amway Center this past season while beating Oklahoma City, Indiana, Brooklyn (twice), the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland.

Undoubtedly, the high point in the season came in mid-February when Orlando beat OKC at the buzzer and outlasted Indiana in the fourth quarter within a three-day span. At the time, the Thunder and the Pacers were the leaders in the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively.

Moments like those showed that the future is bright for a Magic squad loaded with promising young players such as Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless and steadied by the veteran leadership of Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson.

Orlando is also expected to add to his talent base in the June 26 NBA Draft. Orlando has secured the third-best odds at getting the top overall pick. The draft order will be determined in the May 20 NBA lottery, a process in which the Magic have a 16.6 percent chance of winning. The team with the third-best odds has won the NBA Draft Lottery each of the past two seasons (New Orleans with Anthony Davis and Cleveland with Anthony Bennett) and teams have won the lottery from the third spot eight times in the past 17 years.

The Magic have won the NBA’s top overall pick three times in their 25-year history, ending up with franchise fixtures Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Dwight Howard.

Looking back on the 2013-14 season, we here at OrlandoMagic.com 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, 220
POSITION: Small forward
AGE: 20

2013-14 SEASON STATS: 80 games, 7.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 1.0 apg., 1.2 spg., 0.6 bpg., 46.4 percent FG, 38.3 percent 3FG, 59.4 percent FT.

2013-14 SEASON HIGHS: 22 points (two times – most recent Feb. 25 at Wizards); 10 rebounds (March 8 at Spurs); 4 assists (three times – most recent April 14 at Bulls); 5 steals (March 5 vs. Rockets); 3 blocks (four times – most recent April 4 at Bobcats); 46 minutes (Jan. 15 vs. Bulls).

BEST MOMENT: On a February night in Washington when offense was difficult to come by for the Magic, Harkless carried the team for long stretches. Reinserted into the starting lineup two nights earlier, Harkless responded with 22 points by making nine of 13 shots, two 3-pointers and two free throws. He also had five rebounds and led the Magic on a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. HONORABLE MENTION: In Orlando’s first home game of the season Harkless was all over the floor. He battered New Orleans for 20 points, eight rebounds, four steals (and six turnovers).

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Because of his relative youth, Harkless relates well to children and he said that he wants to be a role model for youngsters because not so long ago he was the one idolizing NBA players. Harkless took time out this season to visit with three special needs children before games. He also took part in a movie premier for underprivileged children before the season.

FUTURE ROLE WITH THE MAGIC: Harkless has two years of NBA experience, but he’s still the Magic’s youngest player at 20 years old. He doesn’t turn 21 until May 11. For that reason, the Magic feel there is still plenty of promise left in the long-armed small forward, who is still growing. Harkless made big strides this season on his 3-point shooting and his overall comfort in the offense, but he still has miles to go. Handling the ball better, learning how to score off the dribble and playing out of the post are areas when Harkless still needs a lot of work. The good news is that he is a dedicated worker in the offseason and the Magic expect he will take another leap forward with his strength and overall skill this summer. One of the knocks on Harkless is that he sometimes coasts through games and doesn’t contribute in other ways if he’s not getting the ball on offense. He needs to become a more aggressive and assertive player who uses his raw speed and incredible athleticism to outrun foes down the court for easy buckets. That mindset should come for Harkless, in time, as his body and his persona mature. After all, he’s just 20 years old and the Magic are eager to see him develop into the player the team thinks he can someday become.