This is the first in an occasional series focusing on the positional battles expected when the Magic open training camp Oct. 1:
TODAY: Power forward.
TOBIAS HARRIS vs. GLEN DAVIS OR JASON MAXIELL.
This competition obviously will turn on the health of Davis.
His availability at camp 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 surgically repaired in early February.
Davis played just 34 games last season, missing the last 37 games to open the door for Harris.
He averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds, including a 30-point effort against the Bucks. He scored in double figures in his last 14 games and in 24 of 27 contests.
Harris likely will be the starter at power forward until Davis is medically cleared. The Magic tell me they will be “overly cautious” with Davis, which likely means he will join the season in progress.
Big men with foot issues can't be taken lightly. The Magic want to make sure Davis emerges as healthy as possible, perhaps for trade bait one day.
The Magic signed Maxiell, an eight-year veteran, as insurance in case Davis’ recovery takes longer than expected – or he injures the foot again. And the signing of Maxiell has to make Andrew Nicholson – last year’s first-round pick – wonder about his playing time.
Orlando's power-forward depth chart reads like this: Harris, Davis, Nicholson and Maxiell.
Davis and Maxiell, along with Kyle O’Quinn, can spell Nik Vucevic at center.
A ‘tweener, Harris can also slide over and play some small forward, where Maurice Harkless is the likely starter. Harris could come off the bench at both forward spots when Davis becomes healthy. (Not sure Davis will be happy coming off the bench after a solid season and after being named a co-captain.)
Harris and Davis/Maxiell bring totally different styles to the Magic at the 4.
Harris, 6-8, 226 pounds, plays like a small forward who offers more versatility as a scorer. Having fallen out of the rotation with the Bucks, his numbers were impressive in Orlando. But you can temper them somewhat because injuries to Magic starters created opportunities on a bad team.
For example, Harris fancied himself as a three-point shooter, but shot 31 percent.
Davis, 6-9, 289, and Maxiell, 6-7, 260, are wide-bodies who have good hands and are aggressive in the paint.
Davis was enjoying a career season until he was injured, averaging 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He is the Magic’s best interior defender by far -- the main advantage he will hold over Harris.
Maxiell averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Nicholson. He played 75 games last season, averaging 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds as a rookie. He isn’t the most athletic guy, but has a knack for scoring. Defense and rebounding are weaknesses at this stage.
If Maxiell plays back-up center, Nicholson could get playing time behind Harris. Given their commitment to player development, it doesn’t appear the Magic would bury Nicholson on the bench behind Maxiell at power forward. But the looming return of Davis figures to change everything at the position.Brian Schmitz is the Magic Insider for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@magicinsider.