It is nearing October. Training camps in the NBA are supposed to open next week. That does not appear to be happening with the players and owners still hammering out the details of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Over in Europe, all the flirtations with international ball clubs should be nearing its zenith as those teams are actually in camp and preparing for the opening of their seasons.
Second round pick Justin Harper is the lone player from the Magic to make the trek overseas to start the season — things have been quiet on the Hedo Turkoglu flirtation with Turkey and Dwight Howard does not appear headed to China… who knows what DeAndre Liggins is up to (seriously, who knows?).
Harper signed with SIG Strasbourg in France’s first division. He joined his teammates for training camp and has played in a few friendlies. Earlier Tuesday, Harper played in a friendly against Fraport Skyliners of Germany. Harper had nine points in 16 minutes for Strasbourg, shooting 4 for 12 from the floor and 1 for 3 from beyond the arc. He started the match for Strasbourg.
Harper had 14 points in a loss to league rival Nancy in an exhibition game (major h/t to Adam Papageorgiou… I hope I finally spelled that correctly) a few weeks ago. However, Harper needed 13 shots to get those 14 points and was a dreadful 1 for 7 inside the paint (at least htat is what I am assuming that means on the box score).
The good news for Magic fans is that Harper is starting and getting a chance to play. But it is also pretty clear from these preseason warmups that Harper still needs to get used to playing at a professional speed. You would think that the international game better suits his skills since he is a power forward in the stretch-4 mold. But that has not been the case so far.
I do not want to glean too much from these box scores because they are exhibition games and without video of the games (except for the two videos embedded in this post with another h/t to Adam Papgeorgiou… Harper is wearing No. 5, according to Strasbourg’s Web site), we have no clue how his coach is using him and how similar that would be to how Stan Van Gundy would use him. You also have to remember the box score tells us nothing about his defensive capabilities. Ultimately that is what will decide how much playing time he would get in a Magic uniform.
Harper has an opt out in his clause that will allow him to return to the NBA once the lockout ends if he so chooses. Strasbourg’s season begins October 8 against Cholet.