As a St. Bonaventure student, I have always been eager to see a player from my alma mater play in the NBA. Andrew Nicholson was drafted 19th overall in 2012 and many expected him to make an immediate impact on the offensive end. Coaches and scouts alike saw that he was slow defensively, but felt that could improve sooner than later.
Offensively, Nicholson’s game has always been there. But his speed on defense really showed throughout his second NBA season which caused Nicholson to lose mass amounts of playing time.
In ex-head coach Jacques Vaughn’s defense, Nicholson struggled as a one-on-one defender which caused him to lose his place in the lane and caused him to rack up more time on the bench.
Now with new head coach Scott Skiles, Nicholson has developed into that stretch four the Magic wanted. The speed of Nicholson is still a little behind, but the offensive production has drastically improved along with the defense.
Nicholson has been shooting 43% from three this season, something he needed to do to see more playing time. His defensive stats have been improving as well with opponents scoring only 91.0 points per 100 possessions. It’s a small sample size, but Nicholson just needs to pay attention to the little things.
“I’m just paying attention to details, just doing what I’m asked,” Nicholson said. “I’m just trying to keep the game simple on the defensive end.”
Head coach Scott Skiles said Andrew is improving in every asset, even his demeanor in practice.
“We just talked to him about kind of being more energetic all the time — at shootaround, at practice, with his pre- and post-practice work and when he gets into the game — and when he finally got an opportunity, he’s done exactly that,” Skiles said. “He’s been great in practice. He’s turned himself up. He’s a skilled offensive guy; anybody can see that. I don’t think anybody before this year would have said Andrew was a high-level defender, but he’s been very, very good.”
Most of us knew Andrew Nicholson had this type of play in him. Now we will see if Orlando keeps improving his playing time and if they might look to move him this offseason or before the trade deadline. Regardless of where Nicholson ends up, it is awesome to see him back to the way we know him playing basketball.