Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Very Crucial Orlando Summer League

First of all, yes, the 2012 AirTran Orlando Pro Summer League really is for those super involved and diehard basketball fans yearning for constant professional NBA action. There's not much casual fan appeal, which is why tickets won't be sold once again to the public. I’m ecstatic that Amway Center gets to host Summer League after the Lockout derailed it last year. For the first time since Jameer and Dwight participated in 2004, Magic fans need to pay very close attention to this Orlando roster of prospects and potential who will hustle their asses off to make the training camp roster in the Fall. Mark Price is one of the few Stan Van Gundy assistants/associates still around who will be coaching our Summer League squad. Bo Outlaw and Brent Price will be Mark's assistants. Bo should suit up and rack up triple-doubles like in the old days. The Sentinel has provided a nice overall breakdown of things to keep an eye on. It’s too bad we’ll have to deal with NBA TV’s Rick Kamla and his dreadful commentary rather than the witty Dante & Galante. Can’t have everything.

You’ll see a few familiar faces out there on the court for Orlando: Justin HarperDeAndre Liggins, and Ish Smith. All were with the Magic last season, but SVG didn’t give these nearly enough court time that was needed for development. It’s a clean slate for everyone. That’s certainly the case for Ish, who is fighting for a contract as an unrestricted free agent. He’ll be battling the likes of Charlie Westbrook, a guard who surprisingly wasn’t drafted last week. The South Dakota man is definitely thankful for the opportunity to prove himself in Orlando. We'd all be ecstatic if Westbrook became our George Hill. I already would prefer to have Charlie and Ish steal all of Chris Duhon's minutes. Liggins is also an unrestricted free agent, but I would be outraged if DeAndre wasn't re-signed barring some unexpected twist. Looking forward to yelling "That Ish 'Dre!" a few times this week. 

Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins get to finally have their first full NBA offseason after enduring turbulent rookie years. Give these gentlemen the proper chance to earn their contracts and roster spots. They may very well be valuable bench pieces for the '12-'13 campaign. With Ryan Anderson being traded to New Orleans, the Magic's first round Draft choice Andrew Nicholson gets to impress us and the incoming coaching staff. Maybe he'll immediately prove worthy of big minutes. 2nd round Orlando selection Kyle O'Quinn will have to scratch and claw his way onto the training camp roster. Orlando is already big man heavy with the acquisition of Gustavo Ayon from the Hornets, but Kyle will be battling the likes of Magnum Rolle and Luke Nevill for minutes. Luke's field goal percentage is quite enticing to at least give a bonecrushing 7'1" man an opportunity. Magnum still is a badass name and the originality hasn't worn off. Rolle's college highlights may as well be ancient history. 

Speaking of Harper, most Magic fans will get their initial viewing of Justin's Richmond and Strasbourg teammate (as well as close friend) Kevin Anderson. Kevin is definitely a score first type of point guard. I had glowing reviews of Harper's time in France. Also, Lavoy Allen was on that team. I never expected him to have more success in Philadelphia than Harper has so far in Orlando. Kevin Anderson seemed to be playing even better than both Justin and Allen during that Lockout period. Looking at his game-by-game stats, Strasbourg coach Vincent Collet took away Anderson's playing time and touches. His numbers obviously weren't for the better. As I had written last year though, France isn't the best place to develop your talents. My worries may be warranted. But again, a clean slate for everyone now. We'll see if Kevin can show us that 2010 Atlantic-10 Player of the Year form

Dominique Sutton looks like an absolute terror of a man on both ends of the court when he competes. Sutton has no problem getting into a John Wall or Austin Rivers' face. At 6'5" though, he's undersized as a small forward. Sutton needs to find a way to play shooting guard. Then again, Quentin Richardson has lasted over a decade in the league as an undersized SF. Maalik Wayns is another one of those guards who I was surprised to not see get drafted. Maybe he was penalized for having an oddly spelled named? I don't know. What I do know is the guy has a quick trigger jump shot and his best asset as a point guard is constant attacking of the rim. Just give Maalik the ball, clear the lane, and watch him take it to the rack. He looks shorter than his listed 6'1", but his measurements match those a six-footer. DeQuan Jones is honestly on the outside looking in off the bat. The Miami Hurricane has to prove his value as an energetic impact player to stand a chance.

If you're a college basketball fan, then Bradford Burgess should immediately pop into your head as a main piece in VCU's 2011 improbable Final Four run. Burgess should have been in the 2011 Draft as a Junior. 48.7 FG% as a winger is very attractive. Bradford fell off his senior year, only mustering up a 36 FG% and didn't come close to being drafted this summer. If the Ram can find his peak form again, the Magic may have uncovered a golden piece who would surely get a training camp invite. I don't really care for Rider's Ryan Thompson. Here's his Italian stint. I show the same lack of interest in high-leaper Josh Owens. But that's why they play the games. Surprises and disappointments will be aplenty. 

The fun begins July 9th through the 13th. Check here for game and time listings. The Magic will kick off Summer League action Monday at 11 a.m. against the Brooklyn Nets. Keep an eye on Brooklyn guard MarShon Brooks who is a main piece that would potentially be acquired in a trade involving Dwight Howard. Brooks is viewed as a possible star in the making after having a solid rookie season. I don't share that viewpoint...yet. It'd be hilarious if we somehow saw a Magic-Brooklyn throwdown. Tuesday July 10th at 3 p.m. has the Magic taking on the Detroit Pistons. Orlando meets the Utah Jazz on Wednesday July 11th at 5 p.m. Then it's the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday July 12th at 5 p.m. Finally, Orlando closes their week of action on Friday July 13th against the Boston Celtics at 10 a.m. 

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