ORLANDO, Fla. — Not until the beginning of the second quarter of their final game in the Orlando Pro Summer League did the Orlando Magic put a lineup on the floor that NBA followers might call a typically nondescript group in a setting such as this.
After getting a long look at what No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo and such prominent players from a year ago as Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson could do four of the previous five days, the Magic opened the second of four 10-minute periods Friday against the Boston Celtics with second-round choice Romero Osby and four free agent invitees. Oladipo, Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn were all held out and joined Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris, both of whom were sidelined with minor knee bruises, on the bench.
Clearly there was enough evidence on which to judge the progress of players who will return for training camp in October. And the lasting image of Oladipo for the next several weeks will be of him draining a game-winning jump shot from just inside the 3-point line in the closing seconds Thursday night.
“I had some good moments. I had some rough moments,” said Oladipo, who averaged 19 points and went 7 of 13 from 3-point range during the week. “But it was a good learning process for me. Even today, watching from the sideline, was good for me because I could see some mistakes and the reason why I was making them and, in some reasons, what I can do to correct them.”
The rough moments included a 2-of-12 shooting performance against eventual league champion Oklahoma City in a game where the Magic led by nine points with three minutes to go but ended up losing. He also finished with nearly as many turnovers (19) as assists (20) during a week in which he was used primary at point guard, a position he played sparingly in college at Indiana.
“I can see him being a two-guard for us. I can see him being a one-guard for us,” Magic assistant coach James Borrego said. “Where he ends up, I don’t know. But this week gave us a little bit better of an idea of what we have. I think he handled himself well at the one. That doesn’t necessarily make him our future one.”
“I’m a week more comfortable,” Oladipo said. “I’m just trying to learn as you go, and I’m slowly but surely learning. I’m just trying to take every aspect of the point guard position and try to perfect it, limit my mistakes and learn how to be aggressive and find my teammates.”
Harkless averaged 13 points while looking more comfortable putting the ball on the floor and shooting free throws. Nicholson bounced back from a 1-of-9 shooting display in the Magic’s first game to show some confidence in the post and a physical aspect to his game that was missing during his rookie season. O’Quinn wound up being one of the league’s top rebounders and showed what Borrego said was an increased amount of patience.
“As a whole, we’ve seen what their work in the weight room has done and how it translates to the court,” he said. “They all look a lot more confident, a lot stronger, a lot more committed to being a physical team, which is what we need moving forward.”
Until Lamb was injured in the third quarter Tuesday against the Miami Heat, the guard who was acquired with Harris from the Milwaukee Bucks in February had been even hotter than Oladipo from 3-point range. On top of that, Lamb appeared stronger going to the rim and didn’t tire as quickly as he did in the final two months of the season.
DeQuan Jones, who caught the Magic’s eye during summer league play a year ago as an undrafted rookie, got an extended look during the first three quarters of the 102-83 loss to the Celtics. All 15 of his points, including three 3-pointers, came before halftime. The Magic let him become an unrestricted free agent last week, and it’s not clear to him whether his future is in Orlando or elsewhere.
“Honestly, I’m just keeping an open mind,” Jones said. “I’ve explored that and I’ve thought about that. But it goes back to I feel like last season, I’ve put on display what I can do and what I’m capable of.”
The Magic trailed by 25 points at halftime to a Celtics team that included lottery pick Kelly Olynyk. They came close to cutting their deficit to single digits in the fourth quarter but ended up settling for an eighth-place finish in the 10-team league.
“Yeah, we’re disappointed with the 2-3 record,” Borrego said. “But as a whole, we’re very happy with their development and what we saw.”