With a roster that includes Victor Oladipo and all three of their draft picks from a week ago, the Orlando Magic shouldn’t lack for visibility when their week-long summer league begins Saturday at the team’s Amway Center practice court.
But their first game could attract widespread curiosity because of who is expected to play for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nerlens Noel, who has not participated in an organized game since suffering a knee injury 17 months ago while playing as a freshman at Kentucky, appears ready to finally make his NBA debut. The 6-foot-11, 222-pound center was projected to be picked ahead of Oladipo in the 2013 draft until concerns about the length of Noel’s recovery time caused him to drop to sixth, where the New Orleans Pelicans chose him, but later traded his draft rights and a first-round pick to the 76ers for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
Before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a game at Florida, Noel established himself as a prolific shot-blocker with a decent outside shooting touch. He averaged 4.4 blocks a game for the Wildcats, including a single-game school record with 12 against Mississippi.
While Noel should take part in the seven-day, 10-team league, the Sixers will not have their newest injured center, Joel Embiid. With the third pick in last month’s draft still recovering from a recent foot surgery, Magic forward Aaron Gordon will be the highest-selected rookie on any of the rosters.
The 18-year-old from the University of Arizona will be joined by guards Elfrid Payton and Devyn Marble. The Magic’s roster also includes Oladipo, 2013 second-round draft pick Romero Osby – a forward who spent last season with Maine of the NBDL – and center DeWayne Dedmon. After spending part of last season with the 76ers because of Noel’s unavailability, Dedmon was signed Feb. 25 by the Magic and started their final six games while Nikola Vucevic was sidelined with a sore left Achilles.
The Magic will have four other players who were in the NBDL last season. The most prominent of those is guard Seth Curry, the brother of Golden State Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry.
The Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder will also field teams. The presence of the Pistons marks the return to Orlando of Stan Van Gundy, who coached the Magic from 2007 to 2012 and was hired to take over a team that has not won more than 30 games in any of the last five years.
The Pistons’ roster includes one of their starting guards for most of last season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and three players Van Gundy coached while with the Magic – Brian Cook, Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins.
Shabazz Napier, the guard from Connecticut’s national championship team, will be part of the Heat’s entry. Other players of note include Nets forward Mason Plumlee, who joined Oladipo on last year’s all-rookie team, and Celtics first-round pick Marcus Smart.
DeQuan Jones, a forward who earned a spot with the Magic for the 2012-13 season largely on the strength of his performance in the summer league, will play for the Pacers.
Due to space limitations, the event is not open to the public and will be open only to the media and team or league personnel.