The Orlando Magic annual Pro Summer League kicks off this weekend and there is plenty of reason to be excited.
While not exactly the type of basketball prefer to see, basketball is basketball. The Orlando Magic Pro Summer league will be held at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL this weekend. Here are a few notable reasons to look forward to the Magic Summer League.
5. Frank Ntilikina vs Dennis Smith Jr
In a showdown of top 10 picks, this match-up will feature two of the NBA’s anointed next era point guards. Frank Ntilikina, was drafted at eight by the New York Knicks under the direction of former team president Phil Jackson.
Dennis Smith Jr was drafted one pick later at nine by the Dallas Mavericks in what many thought was a draft day slide for the former North Carolina State standout. Prior to the draft, he received interest from teams like the Lakers, Kings, and Magic. Some experts believed he was a better selection at eight for the Knicks.
This showdown will give us a glimpse into what these two could do for their respective teams. Expect to see fireworks on day one.
4. Malik Monk
Charlotte Hornets rookie guard Malik Monk makes his professional debut as the Hornets attempt to create a dynamic backcourt.
Monk was labeled as the best scorer in the past draft class. Standing 6’3 190, Monk was viewed as a bit undersized at the two guard position. As a result, he saw his stock drop a bit more than his talent level indicated. Expect Monk to come out with guns a blazing to prove the doubters wrong and make teams regret passing him up.
3. Competition & Unknowns
Every year, the NBA summer league’s are filled with guys who are attempting to make an NBA roster. Some guys are college standouts who failed to get drafted, overseas studs, or guys who simply have been stuck in the G-league system. Regardless of how they arrived, they bring a tough competitive spirit and that generates NBA buzz. In recent years, this is where players generate their first round of hype. Last year, Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson was the highlight of the league with his strong shooting display which landed him a starting spot last season.
Expect to see one or two off the radar players, generate enough buzz to warrant camp invites. A few key players to watch will be Orlando Magic’s second rounder Wesley Iwundu , second year big man Stephen Zimmerman of the Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards invite Devin Robinson out of the University of Florida.
2. Experiments and Visibility
The summer league gives NBA teams a chance to analyze how they believe their young additions can be used for the regular season. Players may be asked to do things they normally would not be asked during the regular season. This is the time for teams to experiment if certain players can play out of position or if players can be effective in other roles.
With six lottery selected players participating in the Orlando summer league, expect the league to generate a lot of interest as executives and team management are in attendance to see their guys first professional action. A few lottery players will be handed the opportunity to do things not on their college resumes.
1. Jonathan Issac
The main draw of the Orlando Summer League will be Magic rookie Jonathan Issac. Issac was the mystery of the draft as a 6’10 forward who plays like a guard. Issac is already drawing ceiling comparisons to players like Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Magic selected Issac under the impression that he will be a project player, but indications from Issac are that he will be able to contribute to the Magic starting day one. Issac is very undersized for his size and knows he must add more strength in the future. It would an encouraging sign to team and fan base if Issac displays a strong showing. Expect opposing players to immediately test him.
Every year, one rookie has a target on them and this year Issac is the guy.