The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Andrew Nicholson is expecting to contribute in a hurry to the Orlando Magic even though he may not have taken the traditional path the NBA.
A baseball player who didn't take up basketball until his junior year of high school, the Magic saw enough in the four-year power forward from St. Bonaventure to take him with the 19th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
"They like my versatility, they like my length and my size," he said. "I'm just ready to come in and contribute to the team. I'm very excited right now."
A Canadian-native, the 6-foot-9 Nicholson finished as the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year as a senior. He averaged 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in his final college season.
"We feel he embodies the types of values that will put him in a position to achieve success here," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said in a statement. "He's a humble, high character player, who's committed to working hard and playing within a team concept. We're intrigued by his cerebral, instinctual approach to the game."
It was the first of two selections that the Magic entered the day with on Thursday. They also had the 49th pick in the second round. The Magic did not have a first round pick in 2011.
Thursday also marked the beginning of what is expected to be a busy offseason for Hennigan. Along with hiring a new head coach, there are unresolved contract situations around four key players.
The biggest surrounds All-Star center Dwight Howard, who opted into the final year of his deal for 2012-13, but has yet to agree to an extension beyond that.
The Magic extended a qualifying offer to third-year forward Ryan Anderson before the draft Thursday that allows them to retain the right to match any offer the reigning NBA most improved player receives on the open market this summer. He becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
In addition, a pair of career-long Magic players will also be in the spotlight.
Point guard Jameer Nelson holds a player option of around $8 million for next season that he must decide to exercise by Friday, and the team must also decide by July 7 whether to waive guard J.J. Redick or pay the final year of his deal. Redick is due around $6 million.
Hennigan said earlier this week that he has reached out to the agents of all four players.
He said he wants to keep talks with Howard and his camp private and that he hopes to see Nelson in a Magic jersey next year.
Nelson's decision could be pivotal, because if he opts to stay in Orlando next season his expiring contract would become very valuable in potential trade scenarios.
In regards to Redick, Hennigan said he'll make the best decision for the organization.
Nicholson worked in Orlando prior to the draft and his college coach said he has a maturity level that surely was attractive to Hennigan, who listed finding "a good human being" among the attributes he was looking for in a draft pick.
He also fits the mold of the Magic's outside shooting big men, having shot 43 percent from the 3-point line last season as well.
Nicholson said he was more than comfortable playing either in the paint or beyond the arc. He said the fact that he has only played six years of basketball wouldn't be an impediment to him being able to contribute right away.
"I feel as though I have that maturity on the court and a veteran feel," he said. "I'm ready to come in and contribute and play good minutes for the Magic."
"He's ceiling is so high," St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. "There's a lot of Americans that have been playing organized basketball for eight years. But he learns really quickly. He has a tremendous understanding of how to play. Very unselfish. And to me his basketball IQ will be better as he goes on."
Nicholson said while the fact that he got a physics' degree got a lot of attention during pre-draft activities, he is focused totally on basketball.
"I plan on planning in the league as long as I can. It's my main goal," he said. "Physics is something I picked up in school. But basketball is something I plan on playing for a very long time."