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So How Are These Summer League Guys Doing So Far?

2013 July 10
by Adam Papageorgiou

Oladipo Free Throw

Ignore the 1-2 win-loss record. Ignore the fancy CBA-like points system that makes every quarter matter. Ignore even certain individual statistics (like points for example). Let’s just focus on how the Magic’s crop of athletes coached by James Borrego have ‘looked’ in three straight contests played Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Orlando has played 14 of the initial 18 players expected to compete at the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League. Tobias Harris has been held out as a precaution, and Ramone Moore, Andrae Nelson, and Eric Wise can’t be visually found inside Amway Center. So let’s check on those other fourteen gentlemen. If you need the box scores: Day 1, Day 2, Day3.

Victor Oladipo

You want vindication of Vic’s comparisons to Dwyane Wade? Let’s try this: 26-of-32

That’s what Vic has shot at the free throw line in just 3 GAMES! That’s almost eleven attempts at the stripe PER GAME! The Magic as a team had numerous contests where their entire squad didn’t hoist up eleven attempts. Oladipo can get away with shaky shooting (11-of-32 on field goals) and the occasional turnover (14 so far, equaling his assists total) if he’s scoring over eight points per game from the line.

Victor is the antidote for a roster that broke the NBA record last season for fewest attempts at the charity stripe. Granted, Vic’s propensity for racking up fouls and free throws does have a lot to do with transforming into a starting point guard…a position this Hoosier had never before played. It’s really been trial by error, but an experiment that is paying dividends at this moment. Already I can notice the #2 pick’s court vision and overall ball-handling improving.

Victor picked apart numerous Celtics guards on Day 1…except for Jayson Granger oddly enough, whose physicality caused Victor to pick up his dribble often. Sunday has been Victor’s best contest as Oladipo has quickly become a marked man this week. Still, Oladipo has handled traps and full-court pressing (much of it courtesy of Miami) amazingly better than one Michael Carter-Williams and most other PGs in town. That makes this (hopefully temporary) test at point guard a full success just in that instant. The perception that Oladipo can’t shoot is inaccurate. 4-of-8 from 3-point range and constant pull-up consistency being displayed.

Long-term I just can’t envision Victor playing point guard. He’s not quick enough to defend the better PGs. Offensively, Victor can’t overcome the challenges of constant pick-and-roll switches and he moves too fast for his own mind to process where the open man or spot is. It’s not a knock on Victor, he should just be solely a shooting guard who will be even better now thanks to these lessons he’s learning at the helm of the offense.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic debut for Oladipo thus far. He has a fabulous attitude and is backing up his love of being a gym rat and film geek. He commands respect from his peers with his hustle and knack for drawing fouls. His 17.3 ppg could very easily carry over to the regular season in due time. Magic fans are already begging to buy his jersey. Just stop it with the unnecessary ‘scoop’ finishes at the rack, Vic.

Click below for my views on the remaining ‘starters’ and the bench mob. Come on, click it. I know you want to.

Doron Lamb Injured

Doron Lamb

Before Lamb got hurt on Tuesday by banging his left knee (Hennigan on the phone in the background scouring his free agent options), the starting shooting guard was showing why he was so beloved for his sharpshooting capabilities and defending as a Kentucky Wildcat. Lamb was having a rough Sunday, and was even having his minutes taken away by Rodney McGruder, before Lamb came back late in the fourth quarter and played a key role in dispatching of the Celtics.

The 16 points against OKC followed. D-Lamb’s 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range is a carry-over from Lamb’s underrated solid play down the stretch of last season. If Doron doesn’t see the court again these next few days, he need not fret. Lamb is showing solid progress considering he’s another guy Milwaukee gave up on early. Lamb is proving he’s more of an SG than PG, which shouldn’t be a problem for Jacque Vaughn and company.

Maurice Harkless

Throwing that ridiculous Jeremy Lamb crossover out the window (Can we REALLY fault Maurice for that badass move?) that won the game for OKC on Monday, Harkless has shown he can definitely start for the Magic. Whether that’s at SF or SG is the bigger argument. Moe’s 46 FG% and outstanding aggressiveness to the rack is a step in the right direction for Maurice to accept more offensive responsibility.

Remember, Maurice didn’t get to participate in Summer League or training camp after being drafted by Philly last year due to that sports hernia. The 20-year-old has shown some defensive help lapses, but nothing that worries me as we enter Harkless’ sophomore campaign. Note: Adding 15 pounds of muscle while losing zero quickness or lateral motion is awesome.

Andrew Nicholson

The Canadian’s inconsistency is prone to giving me Stan Van Gundy-like ulcers. 1-of-9 against Boston, then a superb 19-points against the Thunder that included a plethora of offensive moves including a HAKEEM DREAM SHAKE! Then a flat out ugly outing against Miami. So if the pattern holds, Nicholson will play well Thursday against the Sixers and crap out again on ‘Championship Day’. I’m concerned that Andrew’s ceiling is already at a limit. His beastly outing against Oklahoma City came mostly with the weaker, more terrible Grant Jerrett matched up on him.

Whatever bits of improvement Nicholson showed defensively at the tail end of last season have all but evaporated. Uncle ‘Drew’s field goal percentage isn’t an issue because he’s getting used to playing with all of the added muscle on his upper body. Those almost 4 turnovers per contest while being a ball movement killer better shrink.

Kyle O’Quinn

Our beloved and wonderfully bearded center posted a double-double on Day 1, and almost another one on Monday, before Miami was able to corral the always energetic big out of Norfolk State. KOQ has been for the most part efficient with his touches. Showing off that soft touch on the jumper and dishing some beautiful passes to his teammates. Kyle’s future isn’t in jeopardy, especially when you scream “AAANNNNDDD 1!!!” in Fab Melo’s face as payback, causing half the practice gym to hold back laughter. When the Magic begin ‘win-now’ mode, O’Quinn will probably be a 3rd-string center and he’ll still have that A+ attitude and work ethic.


Osby Free Throw

Romero Osby

SIGN HIM NOW, ROB! RIGHT NOW! ‘Death Roe’ (this will catch on instantly come October) is undersized for the power forward position, but that didn’t stop him from owning Kelly Olynyk on both ends of the court and earning high Twitter praise from Kevin Durant on Day 1. If an MVP trophy is going to be awarded at the end of the week, the Celtic’s #41 who has some Dirk elements to his game would get it. So for Osby to give up a good 5 inches to the long-haired Gonzaga big and still stifle and suffocate Olynyk is a testament to how much of a grown ass man Romero is.

Osby has the intensity of O’Quinn but the skill set of a poor man’s Tobias Harris. If you’re not sure, that’s a hell of a compliment for a #51 selection. Death Roe should be thought of as a perfect over-sized small forward off the bench and makes DeQuan Jones very dispensable. I don’t know what I admire more, the Sooner’s spin move arsenal or his game face stare. Just as it applies to Oladipo, Roe is more than just scoring. Both guys can be positive contributors in various manners.

DeQuan Jones

Oh…ah…awesome dunking, D.J.! Better fast break run and pass, Romero. That dunk and a smooth 3-pointer against the Heat are all DeQuan has to show after 3 days and twenty-two minutes on the court. Jones has just kind of floated out there on a stage where that can’t be acceptable anymore. DeQuan just can’t be all about his explosive athleticism. It’s impossible not to love Jones as a human being (he’s up there with Oladipo and O’Quinn), but D.J. just hasn’t displayed enough defensive prowess or offensive potential. The only reason DeQuan, who is now an unrestricted free agent, will have a roster spot on the 2013-2014 Magic is because Orlando doesn’t care about winning (which may very well be the case). The Doron Lamb injury may very well give DeQuan more minutes in these remaining two contests on Thursday and Friday to conclude this Summer League.

Rodney McGruder

MACGRUBER! Still not getting tired of doing that in my head. Dubbed ‘Rod’ or ‘Gru’, the man out of Kansas State has been a solid of a 2-way player as D-Lamb so far. Scoring 11 points in just under 11 minutes off the bench on Sunday caught plenty of attention. Enough notice to make myself ignore his ho-hum past two contests. McGruder can run off screens, shoot it from anywhere in the building, avoid being a liability on defense, and will make opponents pay for not respecting his fast break abilities. If Rodney doesn’t nab a Magic roster spot (I think Henny should give him the training camp invite at minimum), then there will be plenty of suitors.

A.J. Slaughter

Had a rough 4:37 against Boston, which explained Borrego not playing him more in that contest. Boston’s pressure caused A.J. to get sloppy and he just never recovered. Slaughter didn’t hop off the bench for Day 2 before finally performing well against Miami in a game that very few Magic guys looked decent. 7 points and a few assists on Tuesday in over eight minutes. As a point guard, A.J. is a better option than E’Twaun Moore. Slaughter knows how to maneuver past double teams and presses better than I anticipated. His passing could be crisper though and I’d like to see more jump shot attempts since that’s what he displayed in France.

Keith Clanton

Clanton was the last Magic player this week who had been dressed in uniform but didn’t see a single second of Summer League action…until the final 6:25 of that disappointing defeat to the Heat. My UCF Knight heart bleeds in pain. Still, despite the limited parquet time, Keith showed off toughness to battle in the paint against larger men (Keith Dunigan), an interior bucket, an assist, and a steal. Clanton’s foot speed was lacking both in one-on-one situations and on switches created by pick-and-roll play. Without more touches on offense, the Magic brass really can’t tell if Keith could be a cheaper replacement for Nicholson. If Keith doesn’t get those touches, hopefully a Vegas invite gets thrown his way. The worst thing for us to see would be Clanton not truly getting a chance to prove if he’s a viable NBA pro or not.

Matt Gatens

The former Iowa stud had the reputation of potentially being a J.J. Redick-type guy. He looked the part when it came to wearing that familiar #7 jersey. Matt was able to prove it momentarily just seconds into his Magic debut against the Heat by hoisting and drilling an elbow 3-ball. The rest of that 8:44 evening for Gatens didn’t produce much else. Matt’s defense and non-existent play-making abilities weren’t up to snuff. Gatens could be of use to a team hungry for another perimeter presence deep on their bench, but Orlando won’t need him. McGruder would be sufficient enough.

Shane Lawal

Other than some good boxing out and committing some respectable ‘hard’ fouls, Shane hasn’t met my expectations of him. I viewed him as the DeAndre Jordan of Italy who looks a little bit sluggish for the NBA level of play. Lawal has only participated in Day 3 action (8:29). The jury should still be out on whether Shane should stick around on this side of the Atlantic, or pack his bags for Italy again. We’ll see if Borrego gives him another chance.

Jared Berggren

The ‘center’ out of Wisconsin has only played 2:23. That’s it. All of it coming in a brief Day 1 first half stint against the Celtics. The Badger looked bewildered and goofy simultaneously. I don’t blame Borrego for giving Berggren the hook. This guy really can shoot like Ryan Anderson on the perimeter, but he’s a liability everywhere. It’s mean to say for sure, but Jared shouldn’t get any more meaningful court action. I hope Jared has a passport. Europe will come calling.

Glen Dandridge

Back to Europe he should go. I want those ten minutes and thirty-four seconds back. All of that time came against Miami where he went 1-of-4 (An airball included) and didn’t provide much else.


Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor. 

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