Patricio Garino, Marcus Georges-Hunt seize the opportunity

Aug 15, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Spain guard Jose Calderon (8) dribbles the ball as Argentina shooting guard Patricio Garino (29) defends during the men's preliminary in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 15, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Spain guard Jose Calderon (8) dribbles the ball as Argentina shooting guard Patricio Garino (29) defends during the men's preliminary in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic’s two D-League call-ups, Patricio Garino and Marcus Georges-Hunt are eager to seize the opportunity and make the most of their NBA chance.

Patricio Garino did not eat much leading up to the Austin Spurs’ finale Saturday. There were a lot of nerves before that final game of the season. Or what he thought would be his final game of the season.

Garino said his agent was in Austin when he received the call from the Magic with an offer to join the team — reportedly on a multi-year, non-guaranteed contract. From there the nerves and excitement only picked up. There was a lot to do.

First, Garino had to play the game. He finished with 15 points and eight rebounds as the Austin Spurs finished their season with a 136-120 loss to the Sioux Falls SkyForce.

Then he had to plan for his return to his second home in Orlando.

Garino got the call that he would be on a NBA regular season roster as the Orlando Magic called him up from the D-League. Things had indeed come full circle.

From Garino’s first NBA game watching the Magic take on the San Antonio Spurs to his time at Montverde Academy in Central Florida to playing on the Magic’s Summer League team this past summer, Garino had returned home for this first big opportunity in the NBA.

"“It feels really comfortable,” Garino told Orlando Magic Daily after practice Monday. “I feel like I never left. I’m in a cloud all day yesterday since I got the news. I definitely feel very comfortable here. I know the coaches on the team are doing a good job making sure I’m included in the team.”"

Garino impressed during that run with the Orlando Magic White Team, the team that eventually won the Orlando Summer League. He averaged 12.0 points per game through three games before leaving to join Argentina for its preparations for the Olympics.

His play — along with his solid defensive work after four years at George Washington — earned him consideration from several teams. He ultimately picked spending training camp with the Spurs over the Magic because he said he felt there was a better opportunity for playing time.

Garino was one of the Spurs’ last cuts before the season. He spent the year with the Austin Spurs, averaging 11.2 points per game while shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc.

He, along with Marcus Georges-Hunt, the second Magic D-League call-up made Monday on a similar multi-year, non-guaranteed deal, will be trying to showcase themselves again as best they can as they get a firmer promise for Summer League and training camp next year.

"“I like that both of them are big-time shooters,” coach Frank Vogel said after practice on Monday. “Both shot 40 percent in the D-League. Both are capable defenders and great culture fits. High IQ guys, both with great competitive spirit and fight and will and determination to play the game and to win. These are all qualities that we are trying to look forward to play here.”"

Vogel said the team’s management and scouting did the legwork on selecting these two players and the ultimate decision to call them up. But Vogel certainly had his input too. These two players fill needs.

With the Magic playing a more spaced and up-tempo style, shooting is at a premium. Since the All-Star Break, the Magic are 28th in the league in 3-point field goal percentage. They have made just 30.6 percent of their shots beyond the arc since the break. Spacing has helped, but the Magic offense could use making these 3-pointers a bit more.

That is where Garino and Georges-Hunt will help the most. But they have also proven themselves to be a bit more versatile, at least in the D-League. Both are skilled defenders and smart basketball players.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

For the Maine Red Claws, Georges-Hunt averaged 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. That included dropping an 18-point, 10-rebound, 13-assist triple-double in November. He proved himself a player with a wide set of skills.

The kind of versatility the modern NBA demands.

"“Playing defense is where I lock in first,” Georges-Hunt told Orlando Magic Daily after practice Monday. “But spacing the floor and being able to knock down the open shot when Elfrid [Payton] or D.J. [Augustin] is driving. Stay spacing and being able to knock down the open shot.”"

Garino too said he is able to knock down the open shot and play defense. It is all the right things you expect eager young players to say as they join a new team at the end of the season, hungry for opportunity.

It is unclear just how or when they will get it.

The Magic backcourt is pretty stacked with Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks getting minutes there. Unless the team plans to scale back minutes for one of those three players — Jodie Meeks is the most likely candidate with his injury history and expiring contract — there are not many minutes to go around.

Garino and Georges-Hunt will have to impress in practice, carry that over to the D-League and then in training camp next October. The good news is since they are under contract, they will have a leg up with access to the Magic’s facilities and workouts with teammates — new and returning.

Georges-Hunt said what he wants to show in the last five games is to be consistent and do all the things that do not show up in the box score. With players on a call-up like this, they have to stand out without always necessarily standing out.

The D-League is not the NBA after all. The competition is about to get much tougher for these two players to prove they belong.

"“It’s a great opportunity,” Georges-Hunt told Orlando Magic Daily. “Not many people get the opportunity. So I am going to take advantage of it and keep working.”"

Next: Orlando Magic sign Patricio Garino, Marcus Georges-Hunt

This is an opportunity to do exactly that.