Denton: Dedmon Making Most of Opportunity

Dewayne Dedmon

By John Denton
April 11, 2014

ORLANDO – Dewayne Dedmon got three looks in the NBA this season and just might have found a home with the Orlando Magic because of his ability to block shots, rebound and defend in the post.

But Dedmon has stressed repeatedly that there is so much more in his game and, in time, he will get a chance to show it to those with the Magic.

Dedmon, who stuck with the Magic following two 10-day stints, played a major role in Orlando’s defeat of Brooklyn on Wednesday night. In the third quarter, Dedmon drilled a 15-foot jump shot as the shot clock was about to expire. And in a tied game with 4:24 to play, Dedmon set a screen, rolled to the basket and dunked hard as he was fouled at the rim. His go-ahead points gave the Magic a lead that they would never relinquish.

``That’s definitely just me showing some of the things that I’m capable of doing,’’ said Dedmon, who also had nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal on Wednesday. ``We’ll get to more of that later, but I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing.’’

Dedmon, a 7-footer from USC, is a late bloomer in the sport after not starting to play basketball until his senior year of high school because of strong religious beliefs in his family. He has been afforded more playing time with the Magic of late because of the left Achilles’ injury to Nikola Vucevic. Dedmon, 22, feels like he has plenty of growing still to do in basketball and he’s already planning to spend his summer in Orlando working on his game.

``You want to come out every night and show what you can do because everybody is watching,’’ Dedmon said. ``You want to play with a lot of energy and that’s what I always try to do. I’m getting more acclimated to the system here and figuring out what my role is. I still think I can be a lot better.’’

INCREMENTAL GROWTH: With the Magic in the midst of another rebuilding season, head coach Jacque Vaughn has often had to look for successes in little areas of the team. Not so much focused on winning and losing as much as he is looking for incremental growth, Vaughn saw a promising moment from young players Kyle O’Quinn and Maurice Harkless on Wednesday against Brooklyn.

With the Magic leading 108-107, they were having trouble in-bounding the ball when the Nets overplayed point guard Jameer Nelson and forced O’Quinn to look elsewhere. And just before the count got to five – something that has bedeviled the Magic on several occasions this season – O’Quinn saw Harkless cut backdoor on Joe Johnson and fed him a pass that resulted in a dunk. The play put the Magic up 110-107 with 24.6 seconds to play and sent them on their way to a victory.

Vaughn liked how O’Quinn and Harkless – both second-year NBA players – adapted in the heat of a tense moment and made an instinctive play to win the game.

``At the end of the day, a coach can’t give you all of the answers on the floor and you have to use your instincts and react to a situation on the floor,’’ Vaughn said. ``It was good to see two of our young guys react to a situation in the right way.’’

DRIVING FORCE: Magic rookie Victor Oladipo entered Friday night’s game ranked 18th in the NBA on drives into the lane with 491. The NBA’s statistical database measures a drive as a non-fastbreak play that starts at least 20 feet out and gets within 10 feet of the basket. Oladipo’s 6.5 drives a game are resulting in 4.9 points a game for him and 7.1 points a game for the Magic.

Those are impressive numbers for a player who has spent his first season in the NBA dividing his time between the shooting guard and point guard positions.

Oladipo said two of the most valuable things that he’s learned this season as it relates to driving to the rim in the NBA are the need to change speeds on the dribble and how to protect himself from contact. All of the hits and hard falls to the floor that Oladipo absorbed early in the season took a tool on his body, and he’s worked to get better at protecting himself on drives into the lane.

``I think I’ve gotten better a little bit of everywhere, especially with my reads and not going too fast and not falling all of the time,’’ Oladipo said. ``I’m learning how to not just throw my body out there and I’m learning how to land. I want to play a lot of years in this league, so I’m making sure I don’t fall on the ground too much. … I feel like I’ve gotten better month to month and I just have to make it consistent now.’’