Two days after playing probably their best game of the season in a win against the Golden State Warriors, the Charlotte Bobcats step back into Eastern Conference play and welcome in the Orlando Magic for a Wednesday night tilt.
The Magic are rebuilding this year around rookie Victor Oladipo and resurgent swingman Arron Afflalo. Oladipo is making an early push to capture Rookie of the Year honors, or at least challenge Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams. Each player notched a triple-double when they squared off earlier this month, but Oladipo has been pretty close to what people thought: somewhat up-and-down, as most rookies tend to be, but showing enough flashes to make Magic faithful very excited for the future. He's leading the team in steals with almost two a game, while chipping in almost 14 points per contest.
Afflalo has been somewhat of a revelation leading this team in scoring at just under 22 points per game. Always a gifted scorer, he hasn't really been the go-to guy on an NBA team save for maybe a period in Denver after Carmelo Anthony left town. But even then no one really knew who was the guy on that team. Afflalo is the unquestioned go-to guy for the Magic. According to NBA.com, he and Kyrie Irving have scored the most clutch points (points scored in the last five minutes of a game when the margin is within five points) in the league. His team has only won 27 percent of those contests, however.
Inside, Orlando is anchored by one of the best rebounders in the NBA, Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic is fifth in the league in rebounds per game pulling down 10.9 a night. He's just a notch below the first tier of elite rebounders (Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond) grabbing around 13 per game. He doesn't gobble up boards with the terrifying efficiency of Andre Drummond, but no one does. At 64.3 percent, his percentage of rebounds per chance isn't at the level of Drummond (72.9 percent) but it's about the same as Kevin Love's.
And if you really want to nitpick, he sees only 31 percent of his rebounds contested, the lowest of anyone in the top ten besides LaMarcus Aldridge. But that's picking a lot of nits. He's a very talented rebounder. Unfortunately for the Magic he's missed the last four games with an ankle injury, all Magic losses. His status for tonight will be announced sometime today
This team is nowhere near as talented at the Golden State Warriors (obviously) and the Bobcats could have some players back for tonight's game if Jeff Taylor and Bismack Biyombo are cleared to play. Even without those two returning the Bobcats still match up well against Orlando. It will be a good test to see if Charlotte can move on from that good win Monday and play well in a game it should probably win at home.