DaQuan Jeffries Has Potential to be Excellent NBA Defender

Jeffries signed Exhibit 10 contract with Magic
by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - The only individual awards given out each year at NBA Summer League go to the league MVP and championship game MVP, which in 2019 were both claimed by Memphis Grizzlies rookie Brandon Clarke. If an award was handed to the top defensive player, however, the Orlando Magic’s DaQuan Jeffries would have probably been at least a finalist for it.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, who signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Magic on Tuesday, was excellent on that end of the floor in all five of the games he appeared in for Orlando, which went 2-3 during its time in Las Vegas.

The soon-to-be 22-year-old was able to showcase his defensive gifts against some stiff competition, including a pair of 2019 draft lottery picks, a 2018 first rounder and a player who played in 63 NBA games last season.

In the Magic’s final game, the Bulls’ Coby White – the No. 7 overall pick in last month’s draft – shot 3-of-13 overall and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. Jeffries, using his length, strength and instincts, played a big part in that.

Even against a taller opponent such as Chandler Hutchison, the 22nd overall pick in 2018, Jeffries wreaked havoc. The 6-foot-7, 197-pound Hutchison made only three of his 10 shot attempts while turning the ball over four times. A couple times when he attacked the basket, he was met by Jeffries.

Having a near 7-foot wingspan helps Jeffries make it tougher for opponents to get clean looks at the basket. This is what happened the few times the Edmond, Oklahoma native was switched onto Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro, the 13th overall draft pick last month. He also did a solid job in that game guarding Duncan Robinson, a 6-foot-8 forward who appeared in 15 games for the Heat in 2018-19. He was able to deflect away a few of Miami's passes in that contest as well.

Another thing that really stood out about Jeffries was how strong he is. A couple times he ripped the ball away from an opponent, including Jarrett Allen, one of this year's brawnier players at Summer League.

Arguably Jeffries’ best defensive moments in Vegas were when he used his speed and athleticism to deny opponents in transition. Rodions Kurucs, a second round draft pick in 2018 who averaged nearly nine points per game last year in the NBA, quickly discovered this about Jeffries when Orlando took on Brooklyn.

Jeffries’ Summer League teammate Vic Law, who starred at Northwestern for four seasons, also signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Magic. He, too, is a very good defender capable of guarding multiple positions.

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