Interesting Storylines in Orlando Magic’s Summer League Game Against New York Knicks

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

Tommy Kuhse Dazzles Once Again

One player at summer league who has made a name for himself with his stellar play is Kuhse, an undrafted 6-foot-2 guard out of Saint Mary’s playing for the Orlando Magic. In two straight games now, he has impressed with his shot-making, hustle, intensity, and defensive toughness.

The 24-year-old from Mesa, Arizona exploded for a game-high 25 points on 11-of-15 overall shooting and 3-of-5 3-point shooting in Orlando’s 102-89 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday night. He also had two rebounds, four assists and five steals. 

“There’s just a lot of space out there,” he said. “The Orlando Magic have done a great job of getting guys who can space the floor. We have good bigs who can put pressure on the rim, and my ability to run the pick-and-roll has been a good fit for that.”

Earlier this week against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kuhse recorded 14 points, two rebounds and four assists. In that game, Orlando outscored OKC by 14 when he was on the court.  

“He’s got a knack,” Magic summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. “He’s just out there and he’s making plays – both sides of the ball. He’s super tough. He gets his nose in there. He’s a crafty finisher around the rim. He’s made shots. He’s finished over bigs. He’s played really well for us.”

A five-year college player, Kuhse came on strong for the Gaels in his final two years. As a redshirt senior, he averaged 12.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals and then as a graduate student averaged 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 0.9 steals. 

Justin James Has Improved as a Shooter and Has Gotten Much Stronger

Another summer league standout has been James, a Florida native who played two seasons with the Sacramento Kings after they drafted him 40th overall in 2019. 

The 6-foot-7 swingman recorded 16 points and five rebounds in Thursday’s contest. He also scored 16 on Monday against the Thunder. 

Mermuys was an assistant coach under Luke Walton for one of James’ seasons in Sacramento. With it being a couple years since he last saw him up close, Mermuys has been encouraged by his overall growth and maturity.  

“He’s a hard-working kid, and he has really improved – specifically his perimeter shooting,” Mermuys said. “He has shot the ball well for us over the summer league, and he’s gotten bigger and stronger. You can see his knowledge of the game and some of those things start to slow his game down. He’s a nice young player and he’s on his way.”

James played his college ball at Wyoming, where he averaged 15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists across four seasons. One of the things he does extremely well is initiate contact on drives. In his senior campaign with the Cowboys, he averaged 8.4 free throw attempts, which ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference that year.

Magic Hope Cannady and Houstan Can Help Make Them Better 3-Point Shooting Team

Two big weaknesses for the Orlando Magic last season were free throw attempts and 3-point percentage. Paolo Banchero is almost certainly going to help increase free throws. Devin Cannady and Caleb Houstan, two of the Magic’s other summer league players, could potentially help with the 3-point shooting issue. 

The 6-foot-2 Cannady, who has bounced back and forth between Orlando and Lakeland the last two seasons, was one of the G League’s best outside shooters each of the last two seasons. He made 46.8 percent of them on nearly eight attempts per game in the 2021-22 G League regular season and 40 percent on over five attempts the prior year in the Disney bubble. All his made shots in the five games he appeared in with Orlando to end last season came from beyond the arc. 

Houstan, Orlando’s 32nd overall draft pick last month, is also best known for his 3-point shooting. While inconsistent at the University of Michigan, more than half of his made shots in college came from downtown. 

So far in summer league, Cannady and Houstan have combined to make 16 3-pointers.