Weaknesses emerge in Day 3 of Summer League

In three games, the Magic have seen just about everything they can out of their Summer League roster. There is plenty more to learn about players like Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O’Quinn and Maalik Wayns (the three surprising newcomers), but much of that probably is not discovered until training camp when the competition increases.

The Summer League can be an endurance test too. So by the third game in three days, weaknesses begin to emerge. That goes no different for the Magic, who dropped their second game in the AirTran Pro Summer League on Wednesday. That gauntlet is part of the process though. Orlando continues to evaluate the prospects and the players on the Summer League rosters.

Orlando’s roster has holes. That has become quite clear. An identity has emerged. It is an identity based in defense — thanks to stalwarts like Kyle O’Quinn and DeAndre Liggins, along with surprising performances from Dequan Jones, Charlie Westbrook and Dominique Sutton. But this is also a team that lacks a lot of shooters. After the crisp performance from Monday faded away, the Magic are struggling to put the ball in the basket.

Not that the final score matters much in these games.

The Magic have a clearer look at the players they have now with their strengths and limitations. There is still development that needs to occur for sure. That will come though.

We will see if Orlando can adjust after a 79-75 loss to Utah in the third game of the AirTran Pro Summer League.

Like I said, weaknesses began to emerge for the Magic. Kyle O’Quinn had his first poor game of the summer league, getting beat around the basket by the much taller Enes Kanter. O’Quinn scored no points and grabbed only four rebounds in 11 minutes of this game. Kanter really used his size to overpower O’Quinn and showed a lot of touch around the basket — the reasons he was picked third in last year’s draft. He ended up with 12 points and 12 rebounds on five-for-nine shooting.

O’Quinn looked a bit overmatched for the first time. Some poor positioning did him in and Kanter was able to out maneuver him around the basket. But it is OK to have a bad game. Nobody is expecting O’Quinn to come in and start right away. Everyone recognizes there are limitations in his game. One of them might very well be that he is a bit undersized and that on some nights he is going to get pushed around by taller players.

It is something for him to keep an eye on and continue to work on.

Andrew Nicholson continued to impress as he looks more and more comfortable in the post, scoring 16 points on four-for-seven shooting.. That has really become his home and even with teams sending double teams his way he is able to get to his pet moves — a righty hook or drop step to the middle and hook shot. He really does a good job using what weight he has to get where he needs to in the post where he has tremendous footwork and skill. Developing that left hand and a consistent jumper are the next keys for him.

DeAndre Liggins also continues to look like he is a solid defender. Alec Burks had the game of the day Tuesday with 30-plus points, and he had only 15 on 5-for-11 shooting. The one thing we wanted to see from Liggins, however, is some aggression offensively. Liggins looks stronger and more dialed in defensively, but the offense is not there for him yet. His offensive game is largely what is holding him back in the NBA right now. Liggins missed his only shot Wednesday.

The weaknesses of this Orlando Summer League team are pretty apparent though. O’Quinn, Justin Harper and Nicholson are all post players and one of them is forced to play the wing. That has fallen to Harper who is more or less a stretch-4 for this team. This is a team that lacks a lot of great jump shooters and so it relies on guys like Maalik Wayns to create (he has done a great job). But a day after only hitting 1 of 13 3-pointers, Orlando went an icy 3 for 11. This is not a shooter’s team.

But they can play defense. There have been some fantastic defensive possessions from this summer league team.

Three games in three days is a lot for these players with so much on the line. It looked like O’Quinn was getting a light day in this one, playing only 11 minutes. But we continue to learn about these players.

Midway through the summer league, I think you can safely bet Maalik Wayns, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins will get an invite to training camp.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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