Magic Shift Their Attention to Evaluating the Lesser Known
The Orlando Magic saw all that they wanted to from their No. 1 overall draft pick, Paolo Banchero, as well as a couple of their more experienced players through the first two games in Las Vegas at NBA Summer League, deciding it was best to give more of their NBA hopefuls more playing time and take a closer look at them.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Banchero looked the part of a top draft selection, playing 60 minutes total and averaging 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.5 steals and a block per game. He impressed with his unique blend of power and finesse and silenced some of the critics who have questioned his defensive capabilities. What garnered the most praise was his playmaking. It’s not every day you see a player of his size possess such elite passing instincts and vision.
“I think I did well. I was happy with the way I played, but there was a lot I can improve on,” he said. “Second game I had a lot of turnovers. Just getting in even better shape. Those are my first two games, so I wanted to just build my wind back up. But I think overall I did pretty good.”
Guard R.J. Hampton and forward Admiral Schofield also got all the run they needed over the first two games. The 21-year-old Hampton averaged 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals, while Schofield, a two-way contract player last season for the Magic, averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and an assist.
Magic Show Plenty of Fight Despite Coming Up Short
Even without some of their top guns, the Magic hung with a summer league loaded Oklahoma City Thunder squad, featuring 2022 lottery draft picks Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, as well as last year’s No. 6 overall selection Josh Giddey. Down as many as 20 in the first quarter, Orlando stormed all the way back and tied the game at 77 with three minutes and change left. OKC, however, clamped down defensively in the final stretch, causing the Magic to miss their last seven shots from the field, including three potential game-tying 3-point tries on their final possession in an 84-81 loss on Monday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Zavier Simpson Plays Against Former Team
Starting Monday was Simpson, a 6-foot-0 point guard known for taking and making skyhooks in games. He spent last year in the Thunder organization, playing in 35 games with their G League squad, the Blue, before getting called up to their parent club for their final four games of the season. He filled up the stat sheet against his former team on Monday with 11 points, three rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
The Reserves Step Up
One of the main reasons the Magic clawed back and gave themselves a chance down the stretch was the play of the bench, who collectively scored 41 points. Justin James, a former second round draft pick out of the University of Wyoming who has 72 career NBA games under his belt, led Orlando in scoring with 16 points, while Tommy Kuhse, a five-year standout at Saint Mary’s, recorded 14 points and four assists. Big man Jeremiah Tilmon, a former Missouri Tiger who played with the Lakeland Magic last season, made all three of his shot attempts and finished with eight points and two rebounds in just 12 minutes.
“Tommy was hoopin’, Tommy was hoopin,’” Magic Summer League coach Jesse Mermuys said. “I was trying to get him back in there at the end. He did a great job for us and that really sparked that comeback. He hit some big shots. JJ (Justin James) was big. It was a team effort to climb back. That’s tough to do. We were able to do that. Sometimes shots fall and sometimes they don’t. We got some great looks. You just have to tip your hat to OKC.”