Interesting Storylines From Orlando Magic’s Summer League Win Over Sacramento Kings

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

It Was Just a Summer League Game, But That Was a Classic

Was this the wildest summer league game in NBA history? It sure ranks near the top, if not No. 1. The craziness started in the final seconds of regulation. Neemias Queta, a 7-foot-0 center who didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer in 14 games with the Kings last season, pulled Sacramento within three with a triple with five seconds left. Then, Keegan Murray, off the inbounds, came up with a steal, stepped back behind the 3-point line, pump faked, and drilled a game-tying 3-pointer with two tenths of a second remaining.

In overtime, after Paolo Banchero hit a mid-range jay for Orlando and Queta scored inside for Sacramento, undrafted rookie guard Keon Ellis, who grew up in Eustis, Florida and finished his high school career at nearby Leesburg, banked in a go-ahead three with 21 seconds remaining to give the Kings their first lead since the second quarter. The Magic’s Devin Cannady responded on the ensuing possession by sinking three free throws to tie it after getting fouled on a 3-point try. Emanuel Terry, who’s played for 10 professional teams in his career so far even though he’s just 25 years old, rejected Ellis at the rim just before the buzzer. 

That set up a double-OT sudden death, which got quite dramatic. The Magic won the tip, but their first possession didn’t go smoothly. Banchero turned the ball over. That certainly didn’t mess with the 2022 No. 1 overall draft pick’s mind. Initially called a foul but overturned after a coach’s challenge, Banchero blocked Queta’s dunk attempt, giving the Magic a second chance to end it, which they did, as Banchero found Terry for a game-winning layup in a 94-92 victory.  

Banchero’s Size and Strength Glaring – Not Just On Offense, But On Defense As Well

If there was a knock on Banchero leading into last month’s NBA Draft, it was that he didn’t jump off the screen defensively in college. The interesting thing about that appraisal is that he statistically was pretty good on that end. Opponents didn’t shoot well in isolation with Banchero defending, nor did they score many times in the post. We’re not going to know for certain, either way, what kind of impact he will make defensively until the regular season, but what we can gather from summer league action is that his frame is giving him major advantages. In the Houston game on Thursday, Jabari Smith Jr. looked, muscularity-wise, half the size of Banchero and was unable to create much space with Banchero hounding him. The same thing emerged against Murray, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft, on Saturday. Like Smith, Murray’s weaknesses include a lack of dribble speed and ball-handling creativity, which are flaws that Banchero can exploit using his own physical attributes. He’s also been doing a great job closing out on shooters (example below) and timing his block attempts, like the one in sudden death. 

Banchero Shows Off His Signature Spin Move

Part of what makes Banchero so unique are his movements at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds with the ball in his hands. While he’s not the quickest or most explosive – which sometimes limit him when he’s searching for space to get a shot off – Banchero outwits defenders through ingenuity. Not saying it’s quite on Pascal Siakam’s level, but the Magic’s 19-year-old has a wicked spin move that he showcased a few times Saturday (watch below). Beyond that, Banchero’s strength was just simply too much for the Kings to deal with. Although he didn’t shoot it well outside the paint, Banchero was relentless attacking the basket and drawing fouls. He went 11-for-15 from the stripe against the Kings and has now taken 20 free throws through two summer league games. 

Once again, Banchero’s playmaking stood out. He had six assists to go along with his 23 points and six rebounds. His passing is very reminiscent of Chris Webber, one of the greatest passing power forwards in NBA history. Watch this one Banchero assist from Saturday’s game, and then check out a Webber passing compilation. 

Other Magic Standouts 

If you follow Florida high school hoops, you may be familiar with Justin James, who started at St. Lucie West Centennial and then transferred to Oldsmar Christian in Pinellas County. Not a highly touted recruit, the 6-foot-7 swingman went all the way out to the University of Wyoming to play collegiately, where he made a name for himself and became an NBA Draft prospect. The Kings, in fact, selected him 40th overall in 2019. Playing against Sacramento for the first time, the 25-year-old had a nice showing on Saturday with six points and three rebounds. Another top performer was Admiral Schofield, one of the Magic’s two-way contract players last season. He made three of his five 3-point attempts and finished with 14 points.