Orlando Magic’s two-way players get showcase with Lakeland Magic

The Lakeland Magic split two games at the G-League’s Winter Showcase. Orlando Magic two-way player B.J. Johnson shined as did Amile Jefferson.

Amile Jefferson took a detour on the Orlando Magic’s recent road trip, stopping in Las Vegas while the team carried on to Portland.

The little-used forward was stealing a game at the G-League Showcase to stay fresh for the season. The Orlando Magic, having a bevy of big men ahead of him, have not been able to use Amile Jefferson often. He has played a few spot minutes here and there — a quick minute against the Milwaukee Bucks when foul trouble ate up Khem Birch.

Jefferson is an emergency option. Any chance the Magic can get him some meaningful playing time is valuable. Especially at the G-League where he was an All-G-League player last year.

Jefferson dropped in for the Lakeland Magic on Thursday at the G-League Showcase and scored 22 points to go with 15 rebounds in the Magic’s 113-109 win over the South Bay Lakers.

Even in his G-League stints, Jefferson was never flashy. He attacked the glass, gobbled up rebounds and scored around the basket. Jefferson proving once again he is far too good to be spending much time in the G-League other than a start to keep himself warm.

Coach Steve Clifford always lauds Amile Jefferson for his preparedness and his solid play everywhere — even if he has not quite made his way onto the floor for meaningful minutes yet.

Melvin Frazier also stole some time in Vegas, scoring 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including two 3-pointers, in the win Thursday over the Lakers. He has continued to show improved marksmanship from beyond the arc, an important development for his game.

But the story from the showcase was another player in the Magic’s orbit. Really the story for the entire year for Lakeland has been the play of the Magic’s two-way players.

Two-way player B.J. Johnson continues to turn heads in the G-League, giving the Lakeland Magic a consistent scoring presence. Really, not just that, but a dominant scoring presence.

B.J. Johnson scored 29 points on 12-for-18 shooting in the win over the Lakers on Thursday. He came back with 26 points on 11-for-27 shooting and 4-for-7 3-point shooting in the Magic’s 92-85 loss to the Windy City Bulls.

The Magic’s late two-way signee has been tearing up the G-League this season.

Johnson is averaging 22.2 points per game, shooting 42.6 percent from beyond the arc and a 51.4-percent effective field goal percentage. That is impressive for someone who takes 17 shots per game.

Johnson is turning out to be a good floor spacer who can get to the basket off quick cuts and moves to the basket. Johnson has been knocking on the door of the NBA for a few years now. He got a cup of coffee in the league last year with the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings.

His size and athleticism still make him an intriguing prospect. But he needed to refine his game — especially his 3-point shooting. That seems to be coming around nicely. And Johnson seems like a player the Orlando Magic could plugin if the team is desperate to try some new shooting at some point this year.

Johnson is not Lakeland’s main creator though. That title still falls on Josh Magette.

He is averaging 17.5 points per game and 9.8 assists per game on a 51.8-percent effective field goal percentage. Most of his shots are coming from beyond the arc as he continues to look like a modern 3-point shooting, playmaking point guard.

But at the G-League Showcase, Josh Magette struggled. He scored only 22 total points on 5-for-26 shooting. An uncharacteristically poor performance for him. Among the stellar games, Magette has played this year was a 29-point, 6-3-pointer performance against the Greensboro Swarm on December 7.

There was also a well-known game where he scored 28 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds against the Capital City Go-Go before joining the Magic in Washington, D.C. for their win over the Washington Wizards.

Magette was recovering from an injury to his left hand during the Showcase, which might account for his poorer performance. He has been stellar for Lakeland and a key force in their 9-8 start to the year.

Johnson though seems to be the big prize from Lakeland’s run in Las Vegas. He was scoring efficiently and effectively and has grown as a 3-point shooter. Johnson has good size to defend. And while he has put up some big scoring numbers, he does not need the ball to get his points. He can hit from the outside or attack rotations well without setting himself up off the dribble.

If the Orlando Magic’s offensive problems persist, Johnson certainly looks like an intriguing option to fill in for spot minutes and help spread the floor. Certainly, the Magic could look to him when the time comes.

Next: Steve Clifford's outlook on rotations needs to change

Overall, the Lakeland Magic do not have the record they quite wanted. A spate of injuries have hurt them and the team loses a lot of its effectiveness when Magette is not on the floor. But there are certainly some intriguing prospects in the Orlando Magic’s orbit.

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