2022 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Ignas Brazdeikis gets another two-way shot

The Orlando Magic brought Ignas Brazdeikis back to the team on a two-way contract. He is trying to prove he is worth a lot more. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic brought Ignas Brazdeikis back to the team on a two-way contract. He is trying to prove he is worth a lot more. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Lakeland Magic won the G-League title last year in the bubble. It was a surprising run from an unsurprising team. Lakeland has the most wins in the league over the past three years with a trip to the conference finals to boot.

Last year was not supposed to be their year. They lost their best player in the middle of the bubble, recalled by the Milwaukee Bucks. They had to figure things out on the fly.

But Lakeland won the G-League title nonetheless. The scrappy team put all the pieces together in the end and survived the bubble to bring home the title.

When Lakeland opens its season to celebrate its fans with a trophy, they are going to look to maintain their dominance over the G-League. There will be a few changes — a new coach and a complete roster overturn, as is common in the league.

If there is hope the Orlando Magic will one day climb to the top of the mountain, their successful G-League run is at least a sign they know how to build such a team — Anthony Parker was promoted from the general manager of the Lakeland Magic to assistant general manager in Orlando.

The spigot has not flown from the G-League to the NBA. Devin Cannady, before his horrific leg injury, represented the best chance of a G-League player making an impact in the NBA. Cannady signed briefly with the Magic in training camp and seems set to head back to Lakeland.

Instead, the flow has gone the other way.

Orlando has continued to sign solid G-League-level players to two-way contracts who end up being big factors for Lakeland. And for a team defending their title, they are getting a solid player to support the cause in Ignas Brazdeikis.

The Orlando Magic brought Ignas Brazdeikis back on a two-way deal. His hopes is that he is making an impact beyond his time with Lakeland.

Brazdeikis was a late signing for the Magic last year and immediately went into the lineup as the team dealt with injuries. And he played wherever the Magic needed him, even lining up at power forward despite 6-foot-6.

Brazdeikis took advantage of the time with the Magic last year, averaging 11.1 points per game and a 51.3-percent effective field goal percentage in eight games and 29.3 minutes per game. It was a solid run and Brazdeikis showed of his skills and abilities in the time the magic had to throw him in there.

He was solid shooting from the outside and could put the ball on the floor for quick dribble pull-ups. That was something the Magic needed. Orlando just had to throw him into the fire late last season.

Just as the team had to in its season opener. Down so many players to injury, Brazdeikis played 19 minutes, scoring just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

That is the two sides of Brazdeikis. His numbers in the 2021 season seemed to come from his playing time. There is a reason why he has struggled to carve out a consistent playing space in the NBA.

Not to mention why the Magic ultimately brought him back on a two-way contract.

Brazdeikis statistically is a good catch-and-shoot option, but very little else. And so he has found himself at the end of the bench more often than not and not on the floor. His run to end last season was his most extensive playing time in the NBA.

The thing for Brazdeikis is improving his 3-point shooting and adding another skill to his game to latch on somewhere. Especially an improvement on defense would help him grow his game and take the next step as a player.

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That is definitely no longer at the G-League level.

In two seasons with the Westchester Knicks, he averaged 20.9 points per game with a 54.1-percent effective field goal percentage. Brazdeikis is one of the best players in the G-League currently.

When the G-League season begins and Brazdeikis gets his time in with Lakeland, he will be one of the most potent scorers for a team contending and hoping to win a championship.

Brazdeikis can certainly fill that role. But that should not be where he wants things to end. He should be pushing to add to his game and try to find a spot on a NBA roster.

If this year has a singular goal for a player in Brazdeikis’ position, it is to graduate from a G-League spot and make the most of his NBA time.

There will be plenty of skepticism on that front. And Wednesday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs is not going to help matters. The Magic struggled with their bench units out there and Brazdeikis was clearly playing out of lack of depth once again.

He clearly has a lot of work to break into the rotation and improve his standing in the league.

Getting there will remain a difficult challenge for him.

But Brazdeikis will get playing time. Being the two-way player for a young team like the Magic is going to afford him opportunities. The short-handed Magic already had to use him this season. And when he gets those chances, he needs to show how his game has expanded.

It is hard to say Brazdeikis has done that in the regular season or preseason. He will almost certainly continue to put up big numbers in the G-League when he lines up with the Lakeland Magic.

And undoubtedly, he will again be a big part in what should be another contending squad for the G-League outfit.

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Unfortunately, that is not the end goal for any of these players. And the Magic need to start seeing the flow go the other way from young players graduating from the G-League to the NBA team.