Davis' return should liven PF debate

Tobias Harris likely to begin season as starter

For the next five Saturdays, we will examine the Magic's position battles — or lack thereof — leading into training camp.

Today: Power forward.

Tobias Harris vs. Glen Davis.

This competition obviously will depend on the health of Davis.

Big Baby's availability for camp on Oct. 1 is in question. He underwent surgery July 8 to replace a screw in his left foot that he originally fractured in late January and had repaired in early February.

Davis played just 34 games last season, missing the last 37 games to open the door for Harris.

And Harris opened some eyes in the 27 games he played after arriving in the J.J. Redick trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds, including a 30-point effort against the Bucks.

Harris likely will be the starter at power forward until Davis is medically cleared and rounds into shape. The Magic tell me they will be "overly cautious" with Davis, which likely means he will join the season in progress after two procedures in a six-month span.

Big men with foot issues can be problematic. The Magic want to make sure Davis emerges healthy, protecting his future and trade value. Plus, there's no rush for a rebuilding team looking to pair a top lottery pick with perhaps the best draft class since 2003.

Let's be honest: The Magic were winning more games than expected early last season with Davis in the lineup and having a career year. Without him, they eventually skidded to the league's worst record and in position for the No. 2 pick.

The Magic signed Jason Maxiell, an eight-year veteran, as insurance in case Davis' recovery takes longer than expected. Maxiell's appearance has to make Andrew Nicholson — last year's first-round pick — wonder about his playing time.

Davis and Maxiell, along with Kyle O'Quinn, also can spell Nik Vucevic at center.

If Maxiell plays as an undersized center, Nicholson could get minutes behind Harris. Given their commitment to player development, it doesn't appear the Magic would bury Nicholson, 23, behind Maxiell, 30.

Nicholson isn't as athletic as Harris, but has a knack for scoring, too. Defense and rebounding are weaknesses at this stage.

But the return of Davis at some point figures to change the dynamics — and produces an intriguing quandary for the club.

Does Big Baby get his starting job back that he lost because of injury? While Davis is a wide-load power forward at 6 feet-9, 289 pounds, Harris is a 'tweener at 6-8, 225.

Davis won't be happy coming off the bench after a solid season and after being named a co-captain.

Would Harris come off the bench behind Baby to work both forward spots or primarily back up/challenge starting small forward Maurice Harkless?

With Harris at the 4, the Magic are a little thin behind Harkless (Hedo Turkoglu will be gone and second-round pick Romero Osby's fate is undecided). Starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo could play some small forward, allowing rookie Victor Oladipo to play the 2 — a likely scenario, anyway.

The Magic will play different styles depending on whether Davis or Harris is at power forward. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but for the sake of continuity and chemistry they would need to settle on Harris' versatility or Davis' power game.

 

BLOGS

Jump to a blog