Orlando Magic need stability from swapping out two-way players with Frank Mason

The Orlando Magic are hoping to find some stability at point guard as they added Frank Mason on a two-way contract. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are hoping to find some stability at point guard as they added Frank Mason on a two-way contract. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford was asked before Tuesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors about the prospect of adding another player in free agency to the roster.

It is clear the Magic need someone to help them support their point guard depth without Markelle Fultz (and Michael Carter-Williams), and there was no relief. Aaron Gordon’s injury only put them further in the hole since he was essentially the team’s backup point guard.

The team needed to find an answer just to keep the team functional.

Forget about trying to make the playoffs, the team needs a backup point guard just to get to the end of games and remain competitive enough to get anything of value from the players on the court.

But the team was stuck.

As Steve Clifford explained, he speaks every day with president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman about what the team needs and even about some of the options available to them.

But finding another point guard was hampered by something else. The team has a full roster of 15 players and they are so injured, there was no player they would feel comfortable cutting to still field a functioning team.

Orlando will get some of those players back healthy at some point — Chuma Okeke returned from a 16-game absence on Tuesday, Michael Carter-Williams had a setback but is still working his way back and Al-Farouq Aminu will return at some point too — but that does not help the team in the present.

But they need help immediately. And they had few options to get it.

Orlando made a move Wednesday the team hopes will provide some experience and stability to the team.

The Orlando Magic swapped out two-way players, adding G-League MVP Frank Mason to the roster hoping he can provide some stability to the team and organization at point guard.

The team announced it has signed G-League MVP Frank Mason to a two-way contract, cutting Jordan Bone to make room for the diminutive but dynamic scoring guard.

Frank Mason averaged 25.3 points per game and 4.8 assists per game last year for the Wisconsin Herd. He shot 42.8-percent from beyond the arc and a 59.4-percent effective field goal percentage.

Mason should bring a more natural point guard to the team. He has the instincts offensively to lead and organize the team and create off the dribble with shifty dribble moves and good sense in the paint.

Defensively, he certainly will have some trouble because of his size at 5-foot-11. But the Magic cannot be choosers. They went for the best available guard who could get to Orlando quickly and mined perhaps the best player from the G-League.

But Mason still has to prove himself in the NBA.

In 99 NBA games across three seasons, the 5-foot-11 point guard averaged 6.8 points per game and 2.6 assists per game while shooting just 29.8-percent from beyond the arc.

Mason is seemingly one of those in-between players in the NBA. He is a solid driver and can get into the lane to finish around the rim. But his 3-point shooting has been inconsistent once he steps onto the NBA floor.

Bone played 14 games for the Magic, averaging 4.0 points per game and showing some aptitude as a 3-point shooter. But he was not much of a playmaker. The Magic ultimately decided to try out Gordon as their backup point guard rather than throw the young guard into the lineup.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

It is hard to draw too many conclusions though. Bone never seemingly got fully up to speed. But he also did not exactly earn that chance.

But this is all about organization. This is all about finding a player who can get the team into their sets. This is about finding a game manager and someone who can organize the team and help them function.

More than anything, that is what the Magic have missed since Fultz’s injury. Someone who had the confidence and mastery over the offense to make it function with some pace and offensive force.

Cole Anthony is still a rookie and figuring out how to do everything on a NBA court. He has had some really good moments. But the Magic have largely kept him from the main point guard duties. His playmaking responsibilities are secondary right now.

Gordon was doing his best to play the role when he was healthy. But it was clear there was some discomfort. When Gordon was running point guard, the Magic often would not initiate their sets until the last half of the shot clock was gone.

Clifford has talked about organization and getting organized to play basketball. And that was sort of a hard thing to define for those who do not play basketball or understand Clifford’s terminology.

But the Magic’s poor offensive play the last few weeks has made that term abundantly clear. Organization means the ability to get through the offense quickly and confidently.

The Magic’s uncertainty offensively for long stretches is what has paralyzed the team as much as the team’s apparent lack of shooting. Orlando could not even give their shooters a chance to take decent shots.

Mason will have to get himself up to speed quickly of course. He will join the team with at least one practice to get himself up to speed before the schedule grind continues. And no one should view Mason as a cure-all for the team.

After all, the former second-round pick has bounced around the league already and has had to find his place in the G-League.

He showed at the G-League that he can clearly play at a high level and run a team at a high level. The Herd last year finished 33-10 and the best record in the league before the season was shut down.

But doing something at the G-League level is different than the NBA level. But Mason has earned the opportunity to prove himself on the main stage.

Next. To progress, the Orlando Magic have to master the basics. dark

Desperate for some help at point guard, Orlando will give him that chance. And in signing him, the Magic are hoping he can provide the team enough stability to stay competitive and begin to grow again.