Magic look to build on foundation with young players in summer league – The Denver Post


With a fresh start and new opportunities now that the NBA calendar has officially turned, the Orlando Magic are looking to further evaluate young talent during the Las Vegas summer league.

The event is scheduled for tip-off Thursday at Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion when the Magic take on the Houston Rockets in the opener.

Wins aren’t the priority. The Magic go in focused on growth and development.

“Our young guys need to get accustomed to the foundations that we built,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We need to continue to grow with the continuity with this team that we have out there.”

The Magic’s newest additions, No.1 draft pick Paolo Banchero and No. 32 pick Caleb Houstan, headline Orlando’s summer league squad. They will play alongside third-year guard RJ Hampton and Devin Cannady, who signed a 3-year non-guaranteed contract with the Magic before the 2021-22 season ended.

Entering his fourth season, Hampton volunteered to play in summer league. Players with his experience can’t be required to participate. He hopes to familiarize himself with his new teammates and sharpen his skills.

“I’m looking to get to know the guys on our summer league team and honestly just compete,” Hampton said. “I thought, why not play with the Magic organization in summer league and get better?”

The growth and development from the players will stem from the competitive edge that the Magic would like to have as well as joy for the game.

“One thing about these guys, they’re becoming much better decision-makers,” Mosley said. “The ability to switch pick-and-rolls, the ability to protect the rim at a high level, then offensively finding mismatches.”

Banchero hasn’t played 5-on-5 since the Final Four in early April.

The summer league practices and games will allow him to get up to speed with the rigors of the NBA.

“You have to pick up on things faster in the NBA compared to college,” he said. “That’s what I’ve noticed. I’m just keeping up to speed.”

Banchero will draw the most attention during summer league play. The young star will not only need to show willpower to stand out but physical skill sets as well.

“[Banchero] is a very strong individual,” Mosley said. “I don’t think he understands how strong he really is, and that’s the great part about his willingness to learn. He’s going to find out how he can use his body in different ways to punish defenses.”

The Magic believe all the pieces matter leading up to summer league, and the drills used in practice will transition to the games and that will be their testing ground.

All 30 NBA teams will compete in Las Vegas, and the Magic are set to play four games that include the Rockets, Kings, Thunder and Knicks. A fifth opponent is to be determined.

Summer league for the Magic will be looked at as a starting point coming off a 22-60 season. A strong start here can set the tone for significant improvements.

“Some of these guys haven’t played since April, so it was smart that we get them to understand the foundation that we’re building first,” Mosley said. “Understanding the concepts and terminology, things we’re trying to accomplish from the ground floor will progress as we go forward.”



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