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NBA Orlando Magic Andrew Nicholson

Should The Raptors Add Canadian UFA Andrew Nicholson?

So you’d like to add a stretch-four to your roster? Well, they’ve become a hot commodity in the NBA these days, however, the Orlando Magic has just passed on keeping Canadian power forward Andrew Nicholson and if Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri believes Nicholson’s improved three-point shooting and rebounding is part of a trend, he’s worth a hard look.

Nicholson has struggled to get minutes and more recently even just crack the rotation on a Magic team that has obviously been moving in another direction for some time now. However, the changes in Orlando have been coming just as Nicholson seems to finally be putting it all together.

The stretch-four only played in 56 games with the Magic last season, but he averaged 36 percent from three-point range on a 114 attempts and except for a brutal shooting month in January, he would have shot better than 39.5 percent.

His defensive rebounding was markedly better than in his first three seasons as well. The 6′ 9.5″ 250 lb forward pulled in a solid 22.8 percent of the available defensive boards.

For the first time in his NBA career, he didn’t get a single start with the Magic. He also played less than 15 minutes per game on average, but his per 36 minutes numbers illustrate significant improvement at 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5 three-point attempts and a block.

Nicholson will be an under the radar free agent this summer. He isn’t likely to be on any team’s priority list to contact on July 1st. However, that means teams with limited salary cap flexibility – like the Toronto Raptors – will have a legitimate shot at signing him to a deal that fits their situation.

Think of Nicholson like Bismack Biyombo last summer. A young big man with four years of NBA experience who isn’t given a qualifying offer by his team and needs to go somewhere he’ll be given a chance to show what he can do. The Raptors don’t have the flexibility to land a big name free agent (unless they are willing to sign at a huge discount), so it’s the lower profile players Ujiri will likely be forced to look at in order to bolster his roster for next season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.