Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
Few teams come to Summer League with more than one or two rotation players. Fewer still come with multiple players that are expected to be focal points for the team in the upcoming season. Few teams are the Orlando Magic.
What we’ve seen from the Magic so far this week is likely two-fifths of Orlando’s starting lineup for the 2013-14 season (it would have been three-fifths if Tobias Harris didn’t bang his knee during practice last week).
There are two ways to look at this situation.
First, Orlando is doomed. A roster of mostly rookies and sophomores can’t possibly compete for a playoff spot — not that they were supposed to in the first place — even in the weaker Eastern Conference. It’ll be another year of shameless tanking for the franchise in hopes of landing Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, or any of the other supposed stars in next year’s draft.
The second, however, is much more uplifting. It still carries the truths of the first point of view (though, without the “shameless” part), but it also adds the following caveat: the Magic, just a year removed from the Dwight Howard trade, have accelerated the rebuilding process to the point where they have as few as five and as many as seven foundational pieces.
Their frontcourt rotation alone, comprised of Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O’Quinn and now Romero Osby is enough to make other teams envious, if not downright jealous.
It gives Jacque Vaughn a myriad of flexibility when it comes to lineups: he can go small with Harris and Nicholson, big with Nicholson and Vucevic while moving Harris to the three and Maurice Harkless to the two, enormous with O’Quinn and Vucevic, a mixture of small and big with Harris and Vucevic, and so forth.
Meanwhile, in the backcourt and on the wing, Orlando features two players that, like Tony Allen and Andre Iguodala, make individual defense legitimately exciting to watch.
- Victor Oladipo has turned heads not only with his ability to get to the rim, but with his jump shooting as well.
- Oladipo has been better than expected in the Orlando Pro Summer League so far.
- Is unrestricted free agent Josh Selby worth taking a flyer on if you’re general manager Rob Hennigan? Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped Post investigates.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel provides five impressions of Oladipo. Here’s one of them: “Oladipo, the No. 2 pick in the draft, is Red Bull in sneakers. He is a live wire on both ends of the floor, playing at a breakneck pace. He’ll learn he can’t go 100 mph all the time during the NBA’s marathon season, but the former Indiana shooting guard will inject some infectious energy into a team during stretches when it is tired — and tired of losing. Fans will love watching him play.”
- Kyle O’Quinn reflects on his rookie season with the Orlando Magic and talks about what he’s been doing to prep himself for his sophomore year.
- “Andrew Nicholson’s post moves make my heart sing. That is all.”
- The Magic will not re-sign unrestricted free agent point guard Beno Udrih.
Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
4-7 FG | 12-14 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 22 PTS | -11
Oladipo continues to prove wrong the skeptics that thought his improved shooting percentages at Indiana were outliers. He showed little hesitation in taking a jumper when the defense gave it to him. In fact, Oladipo was downright aggressive with his jump shot, pulling up off the dribble and in transition. His only blemish were his five turnovers, due in large part to the pesky defensive nature of Miami’s guards.
4-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 STL | 3 REB | 11 PTS | -1
The only other Magic player to score in double figures, Osby again looked to fit in seamlessly within the Magic’s schemes. There were a few times, however, when he forced the issue to detrimental results, somewhat explaining his three turnovers. Still, Osby looks to be another late second-round steal for the Magic, who had similar luck with Kyle O’Quinn last year.
2-6 FG | 0-2 3P | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +2
An added benefit provided by good shooters is the threat of their shot. McGruder could be a 3-and-D guy, but his shot has yet to fall here in Orlando. He moves well without the ball, and shows good cutting instincts, but he has yet to connect on some shots to show value. It’d be nice if, you know, he could knock down a jumper every once in a while.
1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -20
This was easily Nicholson’s worst showing so far this week. He struggled against the Heat’s athleticism (he was particularly bothered by Jarvis Varnado), as evidenced by his team-high six turnovers. Recognizing when to pass, and whom to pass to, will be vital to Nicholson’s development. He’s shown good instincts at times, but sometimes he seems to develop tunnel vision and refuses to pass, no matter how suffocating the pressure.
Miami has filled this team with the types of players they love: fast, athletic wings who can shoot and quick point guards who can defend. That combination was deadly today, as the Heat’s guards pressured the Magic on the perimeter, and their wings and forwards swarmed the interior. Ian Clark and James Ennis were particularly impressive and are likely earning themselves at least an invitation to Miami’s training camp.
- Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson stood out in Day 2 at the Orlando Pro Summer League.
- Nicholson gets additional Summer League kudos from Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “If you watched him at all last season you knew this guy was good. In Summer League what he has shown is a lot of polish and a plethora of moves. Near the basket he has shown a drop step and a nice jump hook, the athleticism to get the rim, plus he has a solid jump shot as well. He’s still a work in progress but there is a lot to like.”
- The Orlando Magic are working towards a buyout with Hedo Turkoglu. Only half of Turkoglu’s $12 million contract is guaranteed for the 2013-14 season.
- Fran Blinebury of NBA.com: “Oladipo’s high energy made him a star last season at Indiana and that’s the attribute the Magic want most as a leader to ignite this young team. What he doesn’t lack is confidence and what he won’t do is back down from a challenge. He’s ready to push at his limits and try to measure up against the established scoring point guards in the league such as Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.”
- Turnovers and sloppy play proved to be the Magic’s undoing in their 94-80 loss against the Miami Heat.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Still making the adjustment from superstar college shooting guard to emerging NBA point guard, the Miami Heat pressured Oladipo all over the floor and often trapped him with two players once he got into the frontcourt. Because the rookie is playing in just his third Summer League game, the results were somewhat predictable and downright ugly for Oladipo and the Magic: Five turnovers for the point guard and a 94-80 Orlando loss to the more aggressive Heat on Tuesday at the Amway Center.”
- Victor Oladipo is finding out that the transition to becoming an NBA point guard is going to be a difficult one — a challenge he relishes.
- Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk: “The Magic are clearly negotiating with Turkoglu, because they don’t want to pay the full $6 million. In exchange for accepting less money, Turkoglu would get the freedom to join the team of his choosing. But if I were Turkoglu, I wouldn’t give up a single penny.”
- Zach Harper of CBSSports.com agrees, saying “it would be shocking to see Turkoglu take less than the guaranteed $6 million.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic have hired Bill Burgos as their new strength and conditioning coach, the Orlando Sentinel has learned. Burgos spent the last two seasons as the New York Knicks’ strength and conditioning coach. He was the Magic’s strength and conditioning intern during the 2009-10 season, and he was promoted to strength and conditioning coordinator for the next season. Burgos will replace Joe Rogowski, who is leaving the Magic to join the Houston Rockets.”
- Orlando was thoroughly outplayed against Miami.
Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Kyle O’Quinn just doesn’t stop talking.
He’s hollering at Doron Lamb, telling him to watch out for the pick on his right. A shooter camps in the corner, and he shouts at Moe Harkless to stop cheating off of him. He yells “BLUE, BLUE, BLUE” when the Magic “blue” or “ice” a pick-and-roll on defense. The chatter is constant and never-ending. But O’Quinn’s basso bellow serves more than just a directorial purpose.
“It makes us run around like wild men,” says O’Quinn, with feral tones and an equally feral grin.
A bruising forward/center out of Norfolk State, O’Quinn compensates with his less-than-ideal height of 6-foot-8 with a condor-like 7-foot-5 wingspan and a frame to rival that of Colossus. His massive frame belies the agility and quickness with which he moves on court. His feet, like his mouth, never stop moving, shuffling and scuffing up and down, side-to-side, stepping out on pick-and-rolls before sprinting back to his man.
And O’Quinn’s motor, to borrow a phrase from ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, never stops running, and never falls below its highest gear. The only time he stops moving is either in the post, his body like a hundred-year-old oak tree that refuses to budge an inch, or when he sets his feet to take a charge.
In this, his second year in the NBA, O’Quinn has assumed the mantle of defensive lynchpin for this young Magic team, a role and responsibility he relishes.
“I let Victor [Oladipo] call the plays on offense. On defense, I’m the quarterback and point guard. I’m in the back line, so if anything breaks down, I have to be the last guy to tag a cutter or take that charge.”
O’Quinn’s perpetual dialogue is crucial to his directing of the defense. His teammates respond in kind to his yelling, acknowledging his directions and spouting some of their own.
“The coaches say that’s what defense is: just talking it out,” says O’Quinn. “[Summer League head coach James Borrego] will draw up schemes for us, but sometimes we might have a breakdown, and we have to talk it out on the court. You can’t play defense silently.”
- Via the Orlando Magic: “Glen Davis underwent a surgical procedure today to replace the screw in his left foot. Davis originally suffered a left foot fracture of the 5th metatarsal during a game against the New York Knicks on January 30, 2013. He is expected to resume basketball-related activity later this summer.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has more on Davis’ setback: “Although team officials said Davis will resume basketball-related activities later this summer, it’s unclear whether Davis will be ready to participate in the Magic’s training camp when it begins Oct. 1.”
- Jordan White of Hardwood Paroxysm on Victor Oladipo in his Day 1 dispatch at Summer League in Orlando: “I’ll admit, I wasn’t all that excited about Oladipo. OH MY GOD I’M SO SORRY I WAS SO WRONG. Athleticism is one thing, but knowing how to use it is quite another. Oladipo knows how to harness his athleticism in every facet of his game, from his terrifying defense to his explosive offense. He also displays a polish to his game that’s extremely rare for such a young rookie.”
- A look back at Nikola Vucevic snaring 20 rebounds against the Miami Heat. In the first half.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post recaps the Magic’s loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder in today’s Summer League matchup and highlights Andrew Nicholson’s work in the low post.
- Maurice Harkless gets posterized.
- Brett Koremenos of Grantland: “One of the most interesting plots of the Orlando Summer League was that the draft’s second overall pick, Victor Oladipo, was going to log major minutes running the show for the Magic. From a developmental standpoint, this was a great call by the Orlando front office. Coming out of Indiana, Oladipo was strictly an attacking wing whose main goal was simply “score.” Being forced to run a team, even for this short stretch, has already forced thought and nuance into the young guard’s approach.”
- For Magic fans, Doron Lamb’s development is something to keep an eye on — he was one of the players that came over from Milwaukee in the J.J. Redick trade.
- Orlando has made a concerted effort to give a lot of playing time to their key youngsters in an effort to “instill good habits … and to experiment a bit with positions,” as Dunlap puts it.
- Jeff Zillgit of USA Today Sports: “Oladipo plans to take a small break after summer league and then get back into training. He will also spend time watching video of slashers such as Dwyane Wade and point guards Westbrook and George Hill, who both played shooting guard in college.”
- The Magic are raving about the assertiveness that Maurice Harkless’ is displaying on the court at Summer League.
- Oladipo reached the foul line a lot against the Thunder.
Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
7-13 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 19 PTS | -4
Nicholson rebounded from his poor shooting performance on Sunday. He wasn’t backing down people as often as he did against the Celtics, but he still showed off his polished post game and even stepped out a few times to shoot the mid-range J (though, that produced mixed results). Nicholson needs to improve his awareness from the post, specifically when he’s double-teamed, something he struggled with today.
3-8 FG | 8-12 FT | 3 STL | 5 REB | 14 PTS | +14
He didn’t shoot the ball well, but Harkless looked much improved in several aspects of his game, especially dribbling. He handled the ball in pick-and-rolls and drove to the rim, and looked comfortable doing so. He feasted at the line and played some very good man defense. Unfortunately, Harkless didn’t have the range today, missing several open jumpers, including two jump shots.
2-12 FG | 8-10 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 12 PTS | -6
It wasn’t the stellar performance of his Summer League debut, but Oladipo still had a solid outing. His shooting left much to be desired, but what was very encouraging was his adjustments. Rather than continue to settle for jumpers, Oladipo drove to the basket much more in the second half. He wasn’t as steady running the point today, but the pressure he’s facing now is beneficial to his development.
2-5 FG | 0-2 3P | 2 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -11
His stat line won’t jump out at you, but the K-State alum moved off the ball well. He made a nice read off a Nicholson post-up, cutting to the lane and sinking a floater. He’ll need to show more on both ends of the ball if he’s going to fill a 3-and-D role for the Magic, so we’ll see if he’s able to do so as the week progresses.
|Oklahoma City Thunder
They never stopped fighting, and put themselves in great position to win the game during the last few minutes. Jeremy Lamb wasn’t spectacular, but his crossover on Harkless and subsequent step-back game-winning jumper sealed a come-from-behind victory. Dwight Buycks continues to impress. He had 11 points and five assists, yet even those numbers don’t do proper justice to how well he moves the ball and operates the offense.