Cole Anthony – willingness to work
He came to Orlando with a name already attached. Not merely the one his father, NBA alum and CBS and Turner Sports analyst Greg Anthony. But the one he grew as one of the top high school prospects in the class of 2019 and a favorite to be the top pick in the draft in the preseason.
His struggles at North Carolina became well documented. The team was not as good as everyone anticipated. And then Anthony suffered a torn meniscus which required him to miss two months of the season.
Still, what likely attracted the Magic to him and made him the no-brainer pick at No. 15 was he never stopped. He came back from the injury instead of packing it in for the draft. And that willingness to work is already something that is rubbing off on Magic fans.
Cole Anthony, currently living with former AAU teammate and current Magic teammate Mohamed Bamba, was already in the AdventHealth Practice Facility getting work in as he plays catch-up before the first day of training camp coming up later this week.
Nobody knows if Anthony is going to hit, but he is going to give it his all. And that already seems like a win for the Magic.
Chuma Okeke – patience and determination
It was pretty easy to forget about Chuma Okeke.
The Orlando Magic made him the 16th selection in the 2019 NBA Draft knowing full well he would miss the entire season. Then they made the unorthodox move of deferring his rookie season so he could rehab. They placed him on the Lakeland Magic and let him rehab essentially in anonymity.
Okeke directed his efforts and focus to that rehab. And found a side interest in his music. But this was all done away from his future team and future teammates. Only the hardcore fans really kept track of his rehab. And even that was hard to find because of how nondescript coverage of the G-League can be.
Still, even then, Okeke was off to the side or behind the scenes trying to get himself healthy first and foremost.
Okeke has not played a game since March 2019. That will be a long time between games as the NBA’s coronavirus protocols and delay have further pushed back his debut.
But if all the draft experts are right, Okeke will be worth the wait. And his patience will pay off.
Dwayne Bacon – familiarity
Like the other players on this list, we are still getting to know Dwayne Bacon. There is not a lot expected from him overall. Most analysts acknowledge Bacon was signed essentially as the team’s 15th man. He is not going to see a ton of minutes.
But what likely attracted the Magic to Bacon was his familiarity with the coaching staff. Especially in a season that is going to be so rushed and with a compressed training cap, familiarity is an advantage.
Dwayne Bacon played for coach Steve Clifford in 2018 with the Charlotte Hornets. Since Clifford essentially brought his entire coaching staff with him from those teams, Bacon should be able to slide in whenever the team needs him. Despite fairly meager stats, Bacon has put up some big games before.
And the hope is he will be able to step in very quickly.