5 Great Points Made at 2021 Magic Media Day
1. “Growth, development, learning. I’m really excited about our group. We have a very talented, eager, smart, focused group of players. It’s our jobs, it’s our responsibility to get them through the early phase of their careers successfully. I always cite this old expression, but I think it’s really true: ‘You are how you come into the league.’ And it’s our responsibility to bring our young players into the league the right way. I think that our guys are of the right stuff.” – Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman
The environment NBA players are in is just as important as the talent they possess. It’s not uncommon for guys to put up big numbers, earn individual accolades and make a name for themselves but never really achieve any major team success. It was clear during media day that the Magic’s players are coming into this season with the right attitude and approach. That’s going to pay off in the long run.
2. “It wouldn’t be the first time in this league you’ve seen two lead guards kind of share the ball. You’ve seen Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry. You got Dame (Damian Lillard), CJ (McCollum). The best teams kind of have those two lead guards. It’s never one guard. It’s kind of hard for one guard to carry all that weight.” – Cole Anthony
Touched on this in this “5 Interesting Jalen Suggs Questions” feature. The more playmaking on the floor, the better the ball movement and the less stagnation. Dual-point guard lineups are common these days, as Anthony alluded to with examples from the past and present. The Magic are unique in that they have a surplus of guys who can run the show. It speaks to this team’s versatility. It’s not just the guards with that ability. Chuma Okeke and Franz Wagner are both sneaky good playmakers. If R.J. Hampton plays some small forward this season, which seems possible, Orlando could experiment with lineups in which they have as many as four conductors on the court simultaneously.
3. “This summer, I prided myself on a couple things. I wanted to work on my conditioning. I wanted to work on my finishing around the rim. But I think one of the things that comes along with just time in the NBA and just playing is my IQ. I’m able to see plays happen before they happen. I’m able to make reads. I think that’s one thing I’m really excited to get out there and show this year.” – Mo Bamba
It didn’t get talked about enough, but Bamba finished strongly last season. In April, he had the best shooting month of his career, making 52.2 percent of his floor shots and 42.9 percent of his 3-point tries. In May, he was all over the glass, averaging 9.7 boards in those seven games. Between Wendell Carter Jr. and Bamba, back-to-back picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Magic have two young promising centers with a lot to prove.
4. “I’m doing whatever I have to do to win. If that’s sitting on the bench clapping. If that’s getting my teammate a water. If that’s me tying somebody’s shoe. It doesn’t matter what I have to do. I’m just trying to go out there and compete. It’s not about myself. It’s about the team. And I think all of us have that same mindset.” – Markelle Fultz
Fultz said Monday that his rehab is going great. He’s feeling “amazing” and “hasn’t had any setbacks.” There’s no timetable for his return, but it sounds like he’s making progress. It’s hard to find a more upbeat, resilient, and gutsy player than Fultz, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2017. Despite everything he’s been through, he always has a smile on his face. One of the many things to look forward to this season is he and Jonathan Isaac getting back on the court.
5. “I’m just trying to bring my experience each and every single day. I remember when I was one of these young guys and it goes fast. I’m sitting up here at 27 years old. I feel old, but in retrospect I’m pretty young. Just to be able to come in, work, to push these guys, to help these guys. I remember when I was young trying to establish myself in the league, young trying to figure it out. It’s a lot that comes with it, especially when it’s a new life. This is the real world, as I call it. This is a very prestigious job that you have to take full advantage of.” – Gary Harris
First off, a healthy Harris is a very good player. It was just a few seasons ago that he averaged over 17 points per game. In the 2019 playoffs, he averaged over 14 points per game. So, while it’s true that he is one of the older players on this team, he himself can grow. With that said, his voice is going to matter a ton in this locker room. It’s critical for young players to learn from seasoned vets, and Harris is someone they can certainly look to for guidance.