Orlando Magic Player Evaluations 2016

Feb 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) celebrates with guard Elfrid Payton (4), guard Victor Oladipo (5) and guard Mario Hezonja (23) after he dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 130-116. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) celebrates with guard Elfrid Payton (4), guard Victor Oladipo (5) and guard Mario Hezonja (23) after he dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 130-116. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic
Feb 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Mario Hezonja (23) pumps his fist as he makes a three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers during second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 130-116. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Mario Hezonja

There was a lot of excitement for Mario Hezonja when the Orlando Magic drafted him with the fifth overall pick. A lot of that probably had to do with YouTube videos and stories of his bravado.

None of that really came out though his rookie year. Only in brief bursts and flashes. This was a year where Hezonja would have to do some learning. A lot of learning.

Scott Skiles opted to develop Hezonja extremely slowly. He made a mistake, he would get pulled to watch from the bench and learn from video and practice. He was not going to cost the team wins for the sake of his development and learning. Progress would come slowly.

Hezonja was not quite the player he was advertised to be. Sure, he could shoot it. But he was also a deft passer. And a tad bit more humble than the YouTube stories had him out to be. He recognized how much learning he had too.

"The player the Magic got with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 Draft was a little bit different. He was a little more humble than advertised, recognizing the gravity of coming to the NBA and understanding of the work that would have to come. This was a player who was confident, but understood how much learning he had to do to get where he wanted to go. American culture was not foreign to him, but the American game was. He needed time to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the game and even the longer 3-point line. Not to mention more complicated defensive schemes. The approach the Magic took was not to throw Hezonja into the fire, but bring him along slowly. Mistakes were met with meetings with coach Scott Skiles and some lessons on the bench and in practice."

Hezonja’s value is not going to be judged on his rookie year. It is going to be judged on the player he becomes down the road. So take his ‘C+‘ grade with a grain of salt.

And look forward to what he will do his second year in the NBA.

Next: The trade