Magic’s Less Proven Summer League Players Looking to Make Strong Impressions

by Josh Cohen

LAS VEGAS - The remainder of NBA Summer League in Las Vegas will be a great opportunity for NBA front office personnel to get a better, more thorough look at players not currently under contract with an NBA team.

There are several on the Orlando Magic’s summer league roster that could draw interest. One of them is D.J. Hogg, a member of the Lakeland Magic’s 2021 G League championship squad. Best known for spacing the floor with his sweet shooting stroke, the 6-foot-9, 215-pounder out of Texas A&M has knocked down four of his seven 3-point attempts through three games.

Reuniting with a few of the others from that G League title team has made his summer league experience that much better.

“It was great. I loved my time with the Lakeland staff,” he said. “We had great players as well. Everybody was cool. It was very easy to get along (with everyone). We had a lot of team activities for what we could do with quarantine. You would do a lot of zoom calls. It gave me a chance to get to know everybody before coming here now in summer league. I’m a little more familiar with the faces and names. It makes everything a lot easier and a better experience.”

Another player looking to make a good impression is Shakur Juiston, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward who grew up in New Jersey. Back at the UNLV campus where he spent two of his college seasons at, he’s elated to play at the Thomas & Mack Center once again.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Juiston, who wrapped up his college career at Oregon and last season spent some time in the G League with the Memphis Hustle. “I’ve been away for a minute. Coming back, it’s got the home court advantage type feel.”

Energy and defense are his forte, and he’s absorbing every piece of knowledge tossed his way from the Magic’s coaching staff.

“Great opportunity,” he said. “All the coaches don’t let anybody slack. They want the best out of you. They bring the best out of you. I feel being here around these coaches is going to help me push forward in my professional career. It’s a blessing to be around them.”

A sprained left thumb is going to keep point guard Jalen Suggs out for the remainder of summer league. But he still plans to be on the bench cheering on his summer league teammates and doing whatever he can to motivate them.

Although disappointed he won’t be able to be on the court with them, he’s excited to see them give it their all in these final two games.

“It’s a whole different level of hunger. That passion they come with when they are trying to provide for their families in this game of basketball,” said Suggs, who in his three summer league games averaged 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals. “I’m looking forward to continue having an impact on the bench using my voice, using my leadership. Just because I’m not on the court playing doesn’t mean I can’t impact and help these guys.”

A quality showing at summer league has proven before that it can really launch a player’s career. For instance, in 2019 when the event was last held, stellar performances by Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn catapulted them up the Miami Heat’s depth chart. Another player that flourished that week was Terence Davis, who left Las Vegas in 2019 with a contract from the Toronto Raptors.

Having provided instruction in past summer leagues, Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley has seen first-hand what this experience can do for young players. Getting them to learn proper habits and play a winning brand of basketball is the goal.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Mosley. “We talked about it coming into summer league. Talking about guys learning the habits, getting the fundamentals down. Try to see the things that we are putting in place and how do they respond to it. With Jalen being out, how do other guys get their opportunity to do things that we’ve asked them to do.”

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