Orlando Magic’s young core showed more positive signs at Summer League

The Orlando Magic entered Summer League with expectations with four young guys in Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs expected to carry their roster.

Those four players are going to be on the regular-season roster and likely in the rotation. But as there were struggles to begin, overreactions occurred. The team had a hot start in a win over the Golden State Warriors but struggled in back-to-back losses before these rotation players cycled out.

But Anthony and company showed there is more to be excited about than potential concerns moving forward.

The Orlando Magic finished their Summer League at 2-3. Despite some difficulties learning a new system, they showed plenty of positives for their future growth.

It is important to note it is just Summer League and Orlando put a lot of emphasis on the defensive end of the court rather than the offensive end. Also, these players played new roles and were put into new situations with a new coaching staff to boot. It takes time to adjust.

Anthony arguably had the most adjusting to do as he played more off-ball with Suggs than he did last season as Orlando dealt with injuries.

In just four games, Anthony averaged 7.5 points per game on 28.9-percent from the field and 30.8-percent from three. It is obvious Anthony struggled to shoot the ball, but that was not his focus during these stretches of games. Anthony showed improvement on the defensive end, which was the biggest weakness from last season.

Shooting numbers should not be a concern for someone who played well the previous year. Once he got back to playing the point guard spot without Suggs in the line-up, he scored 15 points on 46.2-percent shooting and 2 for 3 from beyond the arc.

Anthony struggled in his adjustment to playing off the ball in only three games but showed once he was comfortable, he was still capable of making plays. He still did not get the chance to prove whether or not he could play off of one of Orlando’s other guards and will likely get that chance once the season begins.

R.J. Hampton, on the other hand, displayed his needed improved shooting ability but also had adjustments to make.

Going back to last season, Hampton shot 31.9-percent from three and needed improvement. During these three games, he shot 44.4-percent from three. He did only shoot 31.8-percent overall from the field. But these numbers, both good and bad, need to be taken with a grain of salt, with the small sample size.

Hampton’s biggest adjustment was playing the small forward next to Anthony and Suggs. He struggled most on the defensive end regardless of being 6-foot-7 or not. He needs to add weight to be strong enough to guard the bigger small forwards in the NBA.

Hampton displayed his improved shot and combined with his new size (in the backcourt for now) in a more specified role will allow Hampton to show an improved version of himself. Eventually, once he puts on weight, he will be able to play the small forward combined with the ability to play in the backcourt.

Wagner followed more of a traditional rookie transition into Summer League.

Wagner had the most critics after the first couple of games, but he went unnoticed for the positive impacts he made. From the start, Wagner moved well off of the ball and was a good team defender creating multiple opportunities for himself with screens and back door cuts.

As time went on, Wagner continued to look more comfortable with the ball in his hands and created plays for others.

Overall, Wagner averaged 8.0 points per game on 44.8-percent shooting from the field. Wagner was not perfect by any stretch as he shot 15.4-percent from three. But by using the eye test, it was clear his shot was consistent. The majority of his misses were just short.

Wagner shot 34.3-percent from three in his final season in Michigan, so he is a capable shooter. Once Wagner adjusts to the NBA three-point line, the rest of his game will complement, and he will be a good player for the Magic.

Suggs had the best performance for the Magic during the Summer League.

Suggs averaged 15.3 points per game on 41.5-percent shooting from the field and 35.7-percent from three. Suggs showed flashes of what he can do and potentially what he can become. The plays he made on both ends of the floor made an impression across the league. Suggs also made an impression with his rebounding as he averaged 6.3 per game.

Summer League is never the sample size to conclude from. There is little offensive structure during these games and contains a lot of isolation basketball. Summer League will not tell you who can play, but it will tell you who cannot play.

All four players played well enough to show they belong. But regardless of their struggles, Summer League is not the three or four games to decide how good they are going to be.

Anthony, Hampton, Wagner and Suggs had good outings during Summer League. They all received criticisms that were overreactions to one or two games. They showed flashes of what they can be and what they have worked on.

There is no reason to say Hampton should be traded or Anthony cannot fit on this team. After taking a closer look, all four players showed there is a lot to be excited about.