Orlando Pro Summer League Day 3: Thoughts and Tidbits
Day three was a better day for the Magic but Coach Patrick Ewing and his bunch just couldn’t get the team over the hump. The Magic fell to the New Jersey Nets by a score of 94-91 as the Nets were led in scoring by 2010 first round draft pick Damion James. James and Magic guard Joe Crawford were virtually gunning it out against each other the whole game, matching each other score for score. James would end the night with 30 points while Crawford would finish with 29 points on 10-13 shooting. Crawford no doubt showed that he has the ability to put the ball in the basket and has a strong chance to at least make an NBA training camp roster. Two former Clippers, Paul Davis and Yaroslav Korolev, also had strong games for the Magic putting up 16 and 13 respectively. I think it is safe to say that when two Clipper castoffs are your 2nd and 3rd leading scorers, the team is in trouble. That is just far too much Clipper.
As for the Daniel Orton experiment, there was little that changed today from the two previous games. From my perspective he still seemed far too aloof and failed to step up with much needed toughness. Although I will say that he seemed to show a little more life in the 2nd quarter and also displayed a few solid passes out of the post. The main issue remains that I am having to search far too deep to find something positive to say about him. Patrick Ewing did say in his post game press conference that Orton did play with effort today compared with yesterday when it was just completely missing. Orton agreed as well when he spoke and thought that he played better today. He restated that he is struggling to learn all the offensive sets and defensive rotations and that it is often overwhelming for him with so many people trying to teach him things so rapidly. Any Orton expectations should be thrown out the window at this point for at least two years. The current expectations should probably be set at a Greg Kite-esque level or lower.
After the jump you can read more about the Magic and other random observations from day three…
Other random observations from day three:
- Patrick Ewing Jr. continues to impress from an athletic perspective. He had an impressive alley-oop finish and even threw a nice behind the back pass on a fast break early in the game. He finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
- Vladimir Stimac got his first action of the summer league today and although he didn’t score in his four minutes of play, he did run around at full steam. He could at least be a solid banger in practice and at a minimum, would provide tons of unintentional comedy.
- There seemed to be a lot more VIP fans at the game today. It is already difficult enough to make the transition from “fan” to “press member” without random rich people surrounding me groaning after every Paul Davis missed dunk.
- Patrick Ewing Sr. also said after the game that the player rotations for games are not set in stone and that they would change depending on who he thought gave them the best chance to win. Jerome Randle, Donell Taylor and Ben McCauley did not play today. Although Ewing said they weren’t set, teams always move their lineups around every day to see more players. Expect more of it in the next two games.
- With a little over a minute left in the first half today, the Boston Celtics fielded a team of 5 white players. It was awe-inspiring. The gym three people around me were all speechless. However, the basketball gods clearly weren’t as happy about the situation and 16 seconds into the lineup playing together, Luke Harangody was forced to come off the floor because he was bleeding. It was a good run.
- During the Philadelphia game, Evan Turner had an uncontested fast break and chose to lay the ball up instead of dunking it. To me, this says that he will never have that extra “it” factor that a player has to have in order to become a superstar. If you can’t/won’t put on a show during summer league, then when will you?
- Again today, I noticed the stark contrast in summer league coaching styles between Doug Collins and every other coach in attendance. He is heavily involved on the sidelines despite not being the “head coach” of the team. He is persistently rooting his players on and constantly coaching them up. It could be that since he is new to the franchise that he is just trying to get acquainted with his players as quickly as possible.
- Final note today is on Kevin Durant. Earlier in the day it was announced that he signed a 5 year, $86M extension with the Thunder. This afternoon, he was right back alongside his teammates and coaching them up on the sidelines. Durant is such an anti-LeBron that it isn’t even funny. He deserves so much praise for this and sadly, it won’t get nearly the credit it deserves.
Check back tomorrow evening for Day 4 notes.