Magic Wrap Up Play in MGM Resorts NBA Summer League

Plenty learned about Magic over last week
by Josh Cohen

LAS VEGAS – If you happened to create a checklist of all the things you were hoping to learn about the Magic at this year’s MGM Resorts NBA Summer League, here is an educated guess of what that agenda included:

  • A way-too-early-to-truly-judge, but important, assessment of prized rookie Mohamed Bamba
  • A progress report on Jonathan Isaac, and how much he has improved since last season ended
  • The budding chemistry between the Magic’s towering tag team, and the impact they could potentially have as a unit
  • A sneak peek into Steve Clifford and his coaching staff’s style of play, and the confidence they are instilling in the Magic’s young players
  • A checkup, so to speak, of some familiar faces such as Khem Birch, Wes Iwundu and Rodney Purvis
  • A search for unsigned talent who may deserve an invite to training camp in the fall
  • Fun & exciting games with a dramatic finish to wrap it all up

If this checklist matches yours, or at least comes close, then you were in luck. Many of those items, if not all, were addressed over the past week.

Bamba and Isaac – and their nearly 15 feet of combined wingspan – were impressive, individually and collectively, during their time on the floor together. Neither played in the Magic’s final two games, but that didn’t stop onlookers in Vegas from raving about this dynamic duo all week.

Aside from getting some rest, Bamba used the last two games to study the game from the sidelines.

“I think when you’re sitting on the bench, that’s when you’re observing the most and you take in the most, you see all the turning wheels and all that goes into it,” Bamba said.

Particularly during the Magic’s first two games – wins against the Nets and Grizzlies – Clifford’s coaching staff instilled some very important defensive principles. Orlando held Brooklyn to 37 percent shooting, Memphis 26 percent.

“Our guys showed great grit, great toughness, great resolve throughout the week,” Magic Summer League coach Pat Delany said. “I saw great improvement on both ends of the floor as a unit and then also individually and that’s what we were hoping to see here at Summer League.”

With the Magic choosing to rest most of their core young players in the finale – an 87-85 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder – several players looking to reclaim their spots in the NBA or earn their first NBA contracts were given a golden opportunity to showcase their talents.

Purvis, who played for the Magic’s G League team in Lakeland for most of 2017-18 before signing with the parent club late in the season, was one of those players who took full advantage.

On Friday, the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder posted 20 points on 6-of-16 shooting from the field and 4-of-11 from 3-point range.

“I just wanted to see a shot go in,” he said. “I kind of struggled all Summer League and just to see the ball go in the first time, I knew that I was going to have a good game and I just wanted to bring some energy to the game. I knew we were down a lot of guys so I knew we needed some guys to step up and I was able to step up today."

A teammate of his in Lakeland, Troy Caupain, who earlier this week signed a two-way contract with the Magic, came on strong in the second half and finished with 17 points.

Two rookie candidates you may not be at all familiar with, Jacobi Boykins and Tyler Rawson, also had solid performances. Boykins, a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter out of Louisiana Tech, registered 13 points and Rawson, a stretch four out of Utah, scored 11.

And as far as that dramatic finish, you can check that item off the list, too. Although the outcome didn’t favor the Magic, the Thunder’s Deonte Burton connected on a game-winning floater at the buzzer.