Another week of Summer League play is in the books and now the Orlando Magic can move forward with a focus on free agency. But what did the Magic learn from the summer league games?
The Orlando Magic are at a turning point in the franchise’s history. The annual summer league games gave us a preview of what the incoming rookies will be able to do against NBA talent. While most of the players are fighting to make rosters for the coming season, there are a few seasoned current NBA players looking to refine their game.
The summer league is not a clear indicator of what to expect from individuals during the NBA regular season. There won’t be as much experience on the court and not as much of a scouting report or game plan in place to win. Teams are more concerned with the players getting a chance to showcase their talents. Lets analyze what the Orlando Magic can take away from this past week.
1. Jonathan Isaac was the right pick for the Magic
The Orlando Magic came into this week hoping for a glimpse at what the franchise could develop towards down the road. With this year’s draft class being touted as the deepest since the 2003 draft which was headlined by LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, it would be a tragedy to end up selecting the one guy who becomes labeled a bust as the Detroit Pistons did with Darko Milicic at pick two.
With Orlando picking in the sixth spot, many fans figured the team would select the best scorer available to add an offensive boost to one of the worst offenses in the league. Dennis Smith Jr. was on the board. Malik Monk was on the board as well. Both prospects were considered great scorers and can’t miss prospects. Jeff Weltman and John Hammond decided to go with “upside” and “potential” like the last Magic regime. They combined those words with characteristics like “length” and “versatility”. The complete package described the next face of Orlando Magic basketball and they selected forward Jonathan Isaac.
From day one of summer league action, the sixth overall pick of the Orlando Magic did not disappoint. Admittedly nervous in his first NBA game, Isaac displayed flashes of what he is capable of on both ends of the court. By the second game, Isaac came out more comfortable and showed even more of his skills finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block, while shooting 7 of 12 from the floor in 22 minutes. Then he capped off that performance by knocking down a step back jumper at the buzzer to end the game.
Isaac still has a ways to go and he knows it, which is a bit refreshing. He knows that he can affect the game immediately by using his length and athleticism on the defensive end. Because of his length, Isaac showed great timing and control when defending in the painted area or on the perimeter. He doesn’t bite hard on pump fakes and shows hard on help defense knowing he can make up the ground with his long wingspan.
On the offensive end, Isaac scored in a number of ways. He has the confidence to catch and shoot from three-point range. He is capable of isolating his defender on offense and getting to his sweet spots for open looks. Isaac is listed at 6’10” for the moment, but he seems a bit taller than that. Nearly seven foot tall, Issac has the advantage at being able to shoot over the top of defenders.
The more Isaac plays, the more he will improve. The Magic made a wise choice when they selected Jonathan Isaac.
2. Wesley Iwundu has the tools to be a major contributor this season
Second round pick Wesley Iwundu has the tools to be effective in this league. Projected out as a “3-D” type of player, Iwundu’s 7’1″ wingspan proved to be very useful on the defensive end. Iwundu was able to cut off passing lanes or cause deflections that broke up plays for the opposing team. While those things don’t show up in the stat lines, they contribute to winning ways. Wesley had a memorable chase down block at the rim in which he turned around to finish on the offensive end with a layup.
On the offensive end, Iwundu showed great court vision and passing ability. After a week in summer league, it’s clear that he will be capable of running an offense in spell moments.
Iwundu’s anticipation and athleticism will be great assets on both ends of the court. The Orlando Magic are looking to be long and athletic at all positions. Iwundu will become more comfortable bringing the ball up the floor and initiating the offense. If he is successful, it will only benefit the Magic by having another long player at a key position. While at Kansas State, Iwundu was the primary ball handler, so the transition should be seamless. Iwundu will need time to learn the offense at the pro level.
3. Derrick Walton Jr. can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor
One of the more impressive performances this week was that of point guard Derrick Walton Jr. He entered summer league as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan. Walton finished the week converting 50 percent from three-point land and will surely earn himself an invite to training camp at the very least with that type of shooting potential.
Aside from his deep shooting numbers, Walton showed that he has the poise to run an NBA offense. After spending four years at Michigan, stepping into the role of floor general on the NBA level is a little easier for Walton than it would be for a typical freshman coming out of college.
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Walton took care of the ball incredibly well this week having only four total turnovers in four games. In a league that is going in the direction of having longer and taller guys at every position, Walton still finds a way to get the job done. With the Magic struggling last year shooting from deep, Walton is a likely candidate to be an addition to the Magic roster.