On a team with so many 20- and 21-year-old players, picking a player that is expected to improve a week before training camp is a little presumptuous. Many players are going to improve and improve dramatically.
Just in Summer League we saw how much muscle Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless put on in addition to the skills they had begun adding to their games.
Harkless is widely considered to be the player to have made the most improvement this offseason simply because he has polished many parts of his game. Players have talked him up from their workouts with him. Harkless even recognizes the improvement he has made himself.
We saw glimmers of the player Harkless will become throughout last season. There was a reason the freshman from St. John's was a mid-first round pick. It will be very exciting to see him continue to improve and develop this year.
Another player though has made some major improvements. And we saw it, if only for a brief moment during Summer League.
Doron Lamb started from a pretty low baseline. Last year with the Magic and Bucks, he averaged 3.3 points per game and shot 36.8 percent from the floor. In 24 games with the Magic, Lamb posted 3.2 points per game and shot 39.7 percent from the floor. He did not play that much, struggling to get into a rotation that already featured a lot of young players.
This offseason though, Lamb improved his shooting and looked like a much different player before a knee injury knocked him out for the week. Those two games showed a lot of promise though.
Lamb averaged 11.3 points per game and shot 66.7 percent from beyond the arc (6 for 9) and 50 percent from the floor (10 for 20). That is not a large sample size as it is pretty much just two games since he got knocked out for the rest of Summer League after banging knees in the first half of the third game. But even then he showed a lot more confidence in his shot and his abilities in splitting point guard duty with Victor Oladipo.
If this was a glimmer of the Doron Lamb that Magic can expect to see, it will be a very good thing for the Magic.
The question remains whether Lamb will get playing time. The shooting guard position is loaded with Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo certain to play some time at the two. Then there are all those rumors that Maurice Harkless will also see time at shooting guard. It is already a very crowded backcourt.
Lamb fits best as a shooting guard, although it is conceivable to see the Magic try to develop him as a point guard.
Orlando is going to have a lot of flexibility in its lineups and the team will find a way to get Lamb into the lineup — assuming he earns it in practice. It is a long season and the Magic will surely make a few more moves that could free up time for him.
Lamb was one of the stalwarts in Orlando throughout the summer. He is part of the young core Orlando has. And, by all accounts, he has grown with them and improved this summer. In about a week, we will begin to see whether that will make him part of the rotation and whether he indeed could be the most improved player on the Magic this year.