Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
Alton Clark of NBA Playbook is covering the 2012 Orlando Pro Summer League on behalf of Magic Basketball. This is Alton’s roundup of Day 1.
Magic 92, Nets 88
- Andrew Nicholson was the top story from the Magic’s first Summer League game, debuting with 24 points and 12 rebounds (both game-highs) on 8-for-16 shooting from the floor. Nicholson scored the ball effectively in all three post areas (low, mid, and high). He was a physical presence on the offensive end and he put a lot of pressure on the Brooklyn Nets’ backline defenders. Nicholson stretched the floor with his outside shooting, which opened driving and passing lanes for his teammates. He was the best player on the floor and really showed the packed crowd at Amway Center’s practice gym why he was general manager Rob Hennigan’s first-ever NBA draft pick. The only drawback of Nicholson’s first professional game was that he committed six fouls. There is a “no foul out” rule in Summer League so Nicholson was not disqualified, but this is something to keep an eye for the remainder of the week.
- Kyle O’Quinn was the low post defensive anchor for the Magic’s backline. Although the box score only credited him with two blocked shots, he altered many more and used his 6-foot-10, 240-pound frame to prevent his man from establishing ideal post position. O’Quinn was patient in the half-court and ran the floor well in transition. On one play, he forced the Nets’ 7-foot center Jeff Foote to catch the ball off the block, squared up and held his ground as Foote tried to back him down with two power dribbles, blocked both of Foote’s shot attempts, tipped the second block to his point guard Maalik Wayns, trailed the break, caught a dump-off pass from Wayns in full stride, and finished an and-one layup. That type of energy is going to be key for the Magic’s frontline and can even be contagious amongst the other bigs. O’Quinn brings a blue-collar mentality to the table and isn’t afraid to confront anyone.
- Maalik Wayns played the role of distributor today and was a master at it. He had a game-high 10 assists and was reading the Nets’ defense at an extremely high level. As an undrafted free agent, one would expect to critique Wayns’ ability to run a professional team but he was as calm and poised as any point guard today. Wayns must continue to improve his outside shot and do a better job of containing his man off the dribble. He will be tested by talented point guards the rest of the week, like Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, so the remaining games will truly show how composed of a player he is.
- With Ryan Anderson acquired by New Orleans in a sign-and-trade, the Magic will need one of their bigs to be a consistent three-point shooting threat. Although it was only one game, Justin Harper didn’t lack confidence in his outside shot and knocked down two three-pointers with relative ease. Harper also hit a few mid-range jumpers on pick-and-pop situations. With Nicholson and O’Quinn battling in the post, it is imperative that Harper develops into a legit outside shooting threat to keep defenses honest.
- Al Thornton was really the only bright spot for Brooklyn today. In the first half, he was over-penetrating and trying to create on his own. In the second half, he let the game come to him and was reading the defense. He got out in transition for some easy buckets, which gave him confidence in his mid-range game. Given the intimate setting of the practice court, you can hear practically everything from press row and Thornton made a huge mistake that is unacceptable for being one of the few NBA veterans on the floor. On the final possession for the Nets when they were down 91-88, Nets Summer League coach Popeye Jones called a timeout and drew up an elevator screen at the top of the key for Tyshawn Taylor. Thornton was one of the screeners, but obviously did not make enough physical contact with Taylor’s man to free him up for a clean look. Taylor attempted to drive and missed a layup, which essentially ended the game. Thornton helped Taylor up off the ground and said, “I forgot the play, dawg. My bad.”
- This week, Magic fans have been hearing MarShon Brooks’ name in Dwight Howard trade talks. Thankfully, after his performance today, the latest trade rumor has Brooks going to the Los Angeles Clippers in a four-team deal instead of Orlando. To Brooks’ defense, today was his first time primarily playing the point guard position at the NBA level. But Brooks struggled at doing the one thing that he does best — creating his own shot off the dribble. Anyone that has followed Brooks’ career knows that he can score with relative ease, so today should be viewed as an anomaly.