Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 116, Atlanta Hawks 112

Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic looked comfortable as they took a win in their preseason opener. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic looked comfortable as they took a win in their preseason opener. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks meet for their first preseason matchup of the year. Both teams are looking to see how their new additions work with their existing lineups.

38. 112. 125. Final. 116

Basketball is finally back after a short break from the NBA Bubble for the Orlando Magic but an even longer one for the Atlanta Hawks. Although Friday’s game was only a preseason exhibition game, there are still several things to take away from it.

Both the Magic and the Hawks have several new faces on their respective rosters and Friday was a chance to see them against another NBA team. The Hawks made additions to their starting lineup and bolstered their bench, while the Magic added young unproven talent.

For the most part, the Magic brought last year’s team back and in limited minutes, the returners showed they are back and ready to compete. Evan Fournier lit up the Hawks in the first quarter and finished with 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 22 minutes. The team’s all-star, Nikola Vucevic did what he always does and put up an easy 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes.

Although the sample size is small, the Magic’s defense looked solid against an offensive-minded Hawks. The Magic finished in the top 10 in defensive efficiency last year which should carry over to this coming season. They took an early 26-13 lead and the starters built double-digit leads in both of their stints to start the half.

As expected Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams were disruptive in the passing lanes while Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic did their share in the paint.

Offensively, the starting lineup functioned as it did last year. Handoffs and pin downs between Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic worked like a charm while Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon created off the dribble.

However, while the Magic operated as expected, they were not as active on the boards. This led to several put backs from John Collins or kick-outs from Clint Capela. The Magic grabbed 49 rebounds to the Hawks’ 61. Clint Capela grabbed 14 rebounds and was particularly dominant against lineups including Khem Birch as the lone big man.

Most likely the Magic will not be running lineups consisting of Khem Birch and Carter-Williams as the biggest players so expect this to change as Mohamed Bamba and James Ennis re-enter the lineup.

Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON. A. Aaron Gordon put up 12 points, six assists and three rebounds in 16 minutes. However, what you cannot see from the stat line is that he threw down a put-back dunk over John Collins and Clint Capela and showed a freshly rested pair of legs.<p>Gordon seemed to have no problem attacking the rim and absorbing contact on the way. He even managed to drain a three. Steve Clifford said before the game that Gordon would be a minutes restriction due to the nature of the game but that did not stop Gordon from producing.</p><p>If preseason games serve any purpose, it is to evaluate young players but to also give veterans time to get back into game form. Gordon showed in 16 minutes that he is ready to produce on the offensive and defensive side of the floor. It remains to be seen if he will produce in the regular season or even the playoffs but based on tonight’s game, all signs point to yes.</p>. F

Orlando Magic. DWAYNE BACON. B+. Dwayne Bacon was one of the few free-agent signings that the Orlando Magic made this past offseason. With James Ennis out with a calf injury, the team called on Dwayne Bacon to start. He may have already proven to be a quality signing.<p>Bacon started at small forward and put up 14 points (11 in the first quarter), two rebounds and two steals. He was scoring in isolation, off the dribble and was comfortable pulling up from three.</p><p>The Magic have a solid defense and are looking to ramp up their offense for the coming season. The shot-creating forward to help them do just that. Whether it is working in tandem with Fournier or creating shots for himself, Bacon could provide the scoring that the Magic have needed in the past.</p>. G/F

C. Finishing with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting and five fouls in almost 20 minutes of play, Cole Anthony had an underwhelming start to his NBA career. Out of the gate, it was clear the guard was jittery and nervous at times, especially when playing against a player like Trae Young.<p>While Anthony did not put up staggering numbers nor did he impress in any area, after he calmed down and played with confidence, he showed hints of why he was a first-round pick. At the start of the fourth quarter, Anthony had a series of floaters and a pull-up three that boosted his confidence.</p><p>Anthony is not a particularly big guard listing at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds which could pose problems on the defensive end. In-game for example, Trae Young was able to blow by Cole Anthony on several occasions and with the rookie on his back Young was able to create lob opportunities to a waiting Clint Capela. As Anthony matures as a player, it will be important for him to develop an astute understanding of NBA defensive if he wants to succeed.</p>. PG. Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY

F. Orlando Magic. CHUMA OKEKE. B-. Similar to Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke suffered from nervousness during his debut which resulted in turnovers and dead plays. Entering late in the third quarter, the former 16th overall pick struggled to guard Atlanta Hawks forward Danillo Gallinari. But in the fourth quarter, Okeke was able to bounce back and show off his versatility.<p>Okeke ended with nine points, three rebounds and one block. Six of those points came from three where he comfortably pulled up from behind the arc. Grabbing rebounds was a problem for Okeke, especially against bigger centers like Clint Capela or Bruno Fernando.</p><p>Fernando ended with nine rebounds and most of those came in the fourth quarter where Okeke played the most. Okeke showed promising flashes on the offensive end but will need to prove himself on defense especially as an undersized forward listing at 6-foot-8. A good start for the rookie though.</p>

. ATLANTA HAWKS. B. The 2021 Atlanta Hawks feature several new players that are set to make a big impact. Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela all made their debuts. All three seemed to slide right into the system with Trae Young at the helm.<p>Capela was working in the pick and roll with Young and was able to pull down 14 rebounds. Gallinari came off the bench as a stretch four option and dropped 14 points. Bogdanovic had a quieter night with nine points and four rebounds. All three of these players will provide immense value to the young Eastern Conference team.</p><p>Alongside the veterans performing, second-year players Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter showed promising growth on both sides of the floor. Reddish finished with 13 points off the bench which Hunter ended with 18 points. Hunter showed the aggressiveness that he was lacking last year and Reddish had several impactful defensive plays. The future is bright for the Hawks but for the meantime, these preseason games will be a chance to learn and get used to new faces.</p>.

Next. Everything is different for Orlando Magic's first road trip. dark

The Magic and the Hawks will play their second preseason game against each other on Sunday.