Andrew Nicholson followed the same routine all offseason. He'd arrive early at Amway Center, lift weights for 90 minutes and then refine his game on the practice court.
Nicholson saved the last portion of his on-court workouts for 3-point shooting. He wanted to take those shots when he felt most exhausted, because it would simulate how he felt during games. The fatigue forced him to use his legs, concentrate on his shooting form and hone his mental focus.
The 6-foot-9 power forward's work seems to be paying off. After he didn't attempt a single 3-pointer last season as a rookie, he swished a corner 3 during the Orlando Magic's preseason opener Wednesday night.
"It felt really good," Nicholson said. "I've been working on it all summer after workouts. I'd get a ton of shots up from over there. Just adding it to my game makes me more dangerous on the offensive end."
Nicholson, the Magic's first-round draft pick last year, is entering an important season.
Of all the positions on the court, the Magic might have their most depth at power forward. Nicholson will compete for playing time with Tobias Harris, Jason Maxiell, Kyle O'Quinn and Glen Davis once Davis rehabilitates his left foot from an offseason surgery.
Nicholson's efficient offensive game should help him earn minutes, but he also needs to improve his rebounding and his play on the defensive end.
Experienced power forwards often overpowered him during his rookie season. When he joined the Magic, he weighed 234 pounds.
Now, after a year's worth of weightlifting, he weighs 248 pounds.
The next few preseason exhibitions should indicate how much he's improved and how much work he still might need to do.
He can add more strength and can improve his technique. On Wednesday, he scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds, but he also committed four personal fouls.
"I think he feels stronger," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That strength now has to translate. In certain possessions of the game, you need to be physical, maybe on a box out. But at certain times, maybe in a one-on-one situation defensively . . . you need to be more smart with your physicality. That's the stage we're at right now with him."
Nicholson received the nickname "YMCA" from Vaughn last season because Nicholson plays on offense at a deliberate, but effective, pace, kind of like older players you might see at a YMCA gym.
Nicholson hails from a Toronto suburb, and his first love in sports was baseball. But he eventually gave up baseball because he'd grown too tall.
He began playing organized basketball as a high-school junior.
He's part of a growing list of young Canadians in the NBA.
That group includes forwards Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson, who play for the Magic's opponent Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Next summer, they should be joined in the NBA by another Canadian, Andrew Wiggins, a freshman at the University of Kansas.
Nicholson spent part of his summer playing for Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship in Venezuela.
At that event, he unveiled his 3-pointer.
He hopes to play in the Olympics someday, perhaps as early as 2016.
"It's still something that can definitely happen," he said.
His newfound ability to hit 3s should help.
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