The NBA season is finally here. The Orlando Magic kicked off the preseason in Memphis against the Grizzlies on Monday night.
Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel elected to go with the starting lineup he ended last season with; Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. Vogel rotated a full three units throughout the game. The second unit consisting of DJ Augustin, Jonathon Simmons, Mario Hezonja, Jonathan Isaac and Bismack Biyombo. The third unit of Shelvin Mack, Kalin Lucas, Wesley Iwundu, Damjan Rudez and Marreese Speights.
Jonathon Simmons was everything the Magic thought he would be. When Simmons was on the court he played with a demeanor that displayed his intent to win. On the defensive end, he was gritty and up into his man. When he got his opportunities on offense he showed he could get to the basket.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 3, 2017
Simmons will be interesting to watch the rest of the preseason and early regular season. He signed with Orlando with intentions of expanding his team role. If he continues to show this capability, Simmons will be hard to keep out of the starting lineup.
Jonathan Isaac saw his first NBA action midway through the first quarter. Early on in the game, Isaac was a little timid on the offensive end. On several occasions, after catching a pass he would make a move and then pick up his dribble to pass to another teammate. He finally settled down in the second half and finished with a team high 15 points on 6-10 shooting from the field.
@jisaac_01 is one smooth..young..skilled basketball player. Impressive preseason debut.
— David Steele (@steelemagic) October 3, 2017
Isaac obviously has more learning to do before he is a major contributor, but Monday night was encouraging.
Wesley Iwundu logged 17 minutes on the court with the third unit. While he did not have a basket, Iwundu did contribute 6 rebounds and 3 assist to go along with some good defense. For Iwundu to stay on the regular season roster he has to play to his strengths on the offensive end. Iwundu is great in transition and has no problem leading the break. In a half court set offense he works best when cutting to the basket. The Magic will need to put him in those situations if he is to have a successful role on the team this season.
Getting His Mojo Back
Mario Hezonja didn’t have an amazing game but he did play with more confidence. Mario mentioned in training camp that having consistency in the coaching has helped him to know what his role is. He feels that the coaches trust him and he can play his game. He wasn’t hesitant to take shots like prior years (even though they weren’t going in). Hezonja went 0-5 from behind the arch and that’s not what you want from one of your best shooters. Hezonja is still battling a knee injury that has taken away from his explosiveness a bit. So hopefully he can regain that strength and knock down those open jumpers from deep. The Orlando Magic are going to need it this year.
First Game Kinks
With this being the first time this incarnation of the Orlando Magic have played a game the product on the court was sloppy at times. The first unit showed some obvious chemistry building on the previous season. However, the second and third units still need more time to gel. The rest of this preseason will help the Magic to gain more chemistry as a whole and give coach Vogel the opportunity to experiment with lineups.
The Orlando Magic next game will be Thursday night against the visiting Dallas Mavericks.