Erie BayHawks look for bounce back, without their budding star

Last season was a rough one for the Erie BayHawks. They finished with the worst record in the league. This year, they have some nice talent to grow.

Last year, the Erie BayHawks did not play the way they certainly wanted.

The Orlando Magic’s D-League team finished a league-worst 12-38 record. For as much as team record matters in the D-League (it probably matters more to the management in Erie as opposed to the management in Orlando), it was disappointing.

The BayHawks featured several players the Magic had looked at — including eventual D-League call up Keith Appling. The team also had cameos from NBAers Branden Dawson, Devyn Marble, Dewayne Dedmon and Adreian Payne.

The Magic still do not use the D-League extensively. Part of that is geography. Shipping players up to Erie is a long process and keeps players away from Magic practice. Next year when the team is in Kissimmee or Lakeland, the Magic will likely use the D-League more with their young players, shipping players for a weekend game before returning to the team for practice or a game the next day.

Inevitably Stephen Zimmerman will spend some time in Erie to get some playing time. There is even the small possibility Mario Hezonja could get some playing time in Erie now that he has fallen out of the rotation.

Chris Reichert of The Step Back at least believes the Magic should entertain this idea this season.

Super Mario was a draft darling back in 2015, but much of what happens early in a prospect’s career relies on confidence, playing time and improvement. Hezonja hasn’t seen much of those aspects, but maybe an assignment to Erie could spark something in the exuberant forward. Erie will run the same schemes and use the same verbiage in their sets, so allowing Hezonja to spend some time here honing his skills could be the perfect antidote for his early career woes.

The BayHawks could be a very interesting team in the D-League this season. They have a talented roster, including D-League top overall pick Anthony Brown, who was just signed to a contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. It also includes Magic designees Cliff Alexander, Dawson and Ramon Galloway.

But the BayHawks have gotten off to a rough 1-3 start so far this season.

Brown was tearing it up, averaging 29.3 points per game in the first three games. He was destined to get the call up sooner rather than later, even from the moment the BayHawks picked him. If things do not work out for the Pelicans, he will be back in Erie pretty quickly (and probably back to the NBA shortly after that).

Dawson and Alexander are each averaging about 14 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. The two tweener forwards are still etching their NBA identities. But neither has extended his range to the 3-point line yet.

The Magic may need a true power forward at some point, and Alexander fits that bill. If he can become more consistent, he has the talent to make it to the NBA.

Galloway has struggled to shoot the ball and averages just 7.0 points per game.

The BayHawks are probably not going to win the D-League. The team appears like it will struggle again to pick up wins. There are still some players to keep an eye on.

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