Coming out of the All-Star break in February, Dewayne Dedmon was playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League after the Philadelphia 76ers chose to not sign him for the rest of the season once his second 10-day contract with them expired.
It’s too early to say if he’ll turn into a 7-foot version of Darrell Armstrong with the Orlando Magic. But Dedmon already has Armstrong, the immensely popular guard who also went undrafted and kicked around with several teams before finding a home in Orlando during the late ’90s, beaten in one respect.
While it took almost three years before Armstrong made his first start with the Magic, Dedmon got the call Saturday night before they took on the Minnesota Timberwolves due to an injury to center Nikola Vucevic. And while a series of missed tip-ins and two personal fouls in the opening 3:03 can be chalked up to a case of the jitters, Dedmon’s learning experience was a positive one for reasons that went beyond the Magic’s snapping of a three-game losing streak with a 100-92 victory.
”I thought he was really trying to do the right thing all night,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. ”He does a lot of good things in the flow of the game, whether it’s rolling extremely hard to the bucket (or) making the defense react to him.”
Dedmon played 14 minutes, all in the first three quarters, and finished with two points, six rebounds and three fouls.
”It took me until the third quarter to just stay grounded,” he said.
The Magic signed him to the first of two 10-day contracts Feb. 25. By the time the second one ended, he had played in only three of nine games for a total of six minutes.
But unlike the 76ers and the Golden State Warriors, the Magic saw something to warrant keeping the 24-year-old out of USC around longer.
”He’s a very athletic guy,” said Jason Maxiell, the veteran who has become something of a tutor to him. ”He’s very skilled with a great jump shot, which
”I’ve got more time than just 10 days to show what I can do,” Dedmon said. ”So it’s definitely better.”
Vaughn will live with Dedmon picking up fouls in a hurry as long as the young center continues to show aggressiveness and be a willing passer and setter of screens.
”He does a lot of things that go unnoticed on the stat sheet,” he said. ”For instance, when he goes after an offensive rebound, maybe two guys have to box him out and we get the possession from just his ability to have energy and effort.”
Part of Dedmon’s on-the-job education includes how to use his length without fouling and asking officials for advice on what he might have done to get a whistle blown on him.
”When I get a foul called, I’ll ask a question, like what I did or something like that,” he said. ”And they’ll explain it to me.”
— Victor Oladipo heads into Wednesday night’s game against Brooklyn having scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games, the longest such streak of his rookie season. His 14.2-point average over 75 games ranks second among first-year players to Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams.
— The Magic gave up just one 3-point field goal in their victory over the Timberwolves, the fewest they’ve allowed in a game all season. Opposing teams had been hitting 37.4 percent of their attempts from that distance, leaving the Magic ahead of only Charlotte, Sacramento and Milwaukee in that category.
— Before he had a team-high 18 points Saturday night, Arron Afflalo went through a three-game stretch where he made only eight of 29 shots. The Magic’s only starter to score in double figures in their 119-98 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers was Maurice Harkless with 10 points.
— Andrew Nicholson has gone scoreless in four of his last five games, including a start in place of Vucevic against the Bobcats. After hitting 19 3-point field goals through the Magic’s first 27 games, he is 6 of 30 from that distance since Dec. 23 and has taken but six free throws since Jan. 17.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
”I wanted to see how I would respond from last night. It was a rough night for me.” — Kyle O’Quinn, when told Vaughn wanted to see how he would respond less than 24 hours after a 5-of-20 shooting performance at Charlotte. O’Quinn wound up going 6 of 7 from the floor against the Timberwolves and also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
”From my interaction with Nik, when it flared up, I think I was at the third button. I was putting on my dress shirt before the game at around the eight-minute mark. He came in and told me his Achilles hadn’t felt really good and that he was going to go back out and warm up. Our trainer checked on him, and he was still feeling it. So we decided that was enough.” — Vaughn, on when he learned Vucevic would be unable to face the Bobcats because of a sore left Achilles tendon. The Magic went 2-0 against them in games where Vucevic played and 0-2 in games that he missed.
”I don’t think it feels weird. A loss is a loss. You would like to compete and be competitive. That’s what makes the game fun and enjoyable. I don’t really feel like the game was competitive from the first quarter. So it kind of just made for a long, boring game." — Afflalo, after the Magic gave up a season-high 70 points to the Cavaliers in the first half. The Magic finished the game being outscored 64-32 in the paint and 25-6 off fast breaks.
54.4: After shooting only 35.6 percent from the floor at Charlotte, the Magic made 54.4 percent of their shots in defeating the Timberwolves. Their season-high field-goal outing remains when they shot 55.7 percent in their home opener against New Orleans. They also hit 55.4 percent of their field goals Dec. 29 in a win over Atlanta and went 55.1 percent March 30 in a loss to Toronto.
20: Kevin Ollie, the coach of UConn’s national championship team, played a total of 20 games as a guard with the Magic in the late ’90s. Nineteen of those games came in Chuck Daly’s first season as their coach (1997-98). Ollie established what was a career high for him at the time with 14 points against the Chicago Bulls.
5: The Magic tied a season low in free throws made by going 5 of 9 from the line against Minnesota. After setting an NBA record last year for the fewest attempts in an 82-game season, the Magic remain near the bottom of the league but are averaging more free throws than three potential playoff-bound teams — New York, San Antonio and Memphis.
THIS DAY IN MAGIC HISTORY
April 8, 1994: After the Magic selected Shaquille O’Neal with the top pick in the 1992 draft, it was not a matter of if they would make the playoffs for the first time but when. That goal was officially achieved in a 117-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons, with Shaq going off for 40 points and 16 rebounds. As remarkable as the Magic’s transformation was that, in the same span of less than five years, the Pistons went from a juggernaut in the midst of back-to-back championship runs to a ragtag unit that tied for the NBA’s second-worst record that season. The player whom the Pistons drafted after finishing so poorly: Grant Hill.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Another great home win! Great efforts from everyone out there tonight. Thank you fans for the support you carried us with your energy!!