Ignas Brazdeikis is making his closing statement for the Orlando Magic yet again

Ignas Brazdeikis is making the most of an extended opportunity for the Orlando Magic as the season comes to a close. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Ignas Brazdeikis is making the most of an extended opportunity for the Orlando Magic as the season comes to a close. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have opportunity to spend at the end of the season. Even late in the game of a close contest, the Magic are giving chances to players that have largely been at the end of their bench.

That is what Ignas Brazdeikis took advantage of last year to get a two-way contract with the team.

Brazdeikis is good enough at one thing: He can score. At least against a certain kind of player and opponent.

So here is where Brazdeikis is again, just like last year. He is trying to fight for his place in the NBA as the season closes and getting the biggest audition stage he can have for a team at the bottom of the standings.

And here is Brazdeikis again making the most of the opportunity.

Ignas Brazdeikis is closing the season strong as he makes a statement with added opportunity to stick around the NBA a little longer.

With the Magic clinging to a three-point lead late in Tuesday’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brazdeikis delivered what felt like the clinching blow. He missed a jumper but was able to beat the Cavs for the rebound and hit a tough floater.

Orlando led by five and had the game wrapped up from there.

Brazdeikis finished the game with a season-high 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting, adding six rebounds for good measure. It was his best game of the season so far as he was able to put all of his skills on display, putting together his shooting with some creative finishing.

More important for him, it has capped off a string of solid games for Brazdeikis.

With precious time running out this season, the Magic’s two-way guard is trying to make a last impression. It may not be to play for the Orlando Magic next year — it very likely will not be despite how much the Magic have had to use him this year — but Brazdeikis is trying to crack an NBA roster.

In this sense, it has been a good closing statement for Brazdeikis. He is averaging 13.8 points per game and shooting 52.8-percent from the floor and 41.7-percent from beyond the arc in 27.2 minutes per game over his last five games.

As the Magic have turned that attention toward preparing for the offseason and have started to limit minutes for their young players, that has created opportunity for Brazdeikis to play in sometimes meaningful minutes. That is what happened both in last week’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Tuesday’s win over the Cavs.

Brazdeikis has been able to show his craftiness on the ball and his ability hit open jumpers.

That is shown in the numbers too. According to Basketball-Index, Brazdeikis is posting an 83-percent effective field goal percentage on field goals off screens, a play type that Brazdeikis gets at about a league-average rate.

He is also good passing off of his drives, although his first instinct remains to drive.

These numbers though come on fairly small samples because he has not played a ton by comparison to others around the league — 12.0 minutes per game in 40 appearances this season. Brazdeikis has had to wait for his time.

This stretch has been the most sustained run of play he has had. And it has at least shown some of his offensive potential and ability.

This is what Brazdeikis did in the G-League when he went to play for Lakeland.

Orlando Magic cannot rule out drafting another guard. light. Related Story

In seven games with Lakeland, Brazdeikis averaged 21.6 points per game and shot 48.7-percent from the floor and 16.7 field goal attempts per game. He has averaged at least 20 points per game in all three seasons he has played in the G-League.

Coach Jamahl Mosley credited the G-League and Brazdeikis’ time with Lakeland for how he has been able to integrate quickly with the added workload. He has credited the team’s coaching staff too for staying on players and helping them succeed.

But obviously there is still work to do. Just like there is everywhere on the roster.

This season was very much about Brazdeikis trying to prove himself as something more than a G-League flash in the pan. He is clearly a capable enough scorer to graduate from the G-League but he has not quite found his place in the NBA.

The truth is that Brazdeikis has always been a capable supporting scorer. He is a good shooter and can attack when the lane opens up for him. But it has never been good enough to displace anyone above him.

And his defensive deficiencies have always popped up. Brazdeikis just does not rate as a good defender by any metric or number. That is likely the biggest reason he has not been able to crack the rotation or the ceiling that has been placed above him.

And that is why these games matter for Brazdeikis. That is why this opportunity matters for him.

These are his most extended minutes this season. He has played more than 35 minutes in two games since April began and five of his eight games with more than 20 minutes have come since March 15.

That is an opportunity a player like Brazdeikis would beg for. He is getting that. It is one of the benefits of the end of the season for a player like him. The Magic have opportunity to spend and Brazdeikis is taking advantage of it.

Next. 3 rising, 3 falling after the NCAA Tournament. dark

What that means for Brazdeikis beyond this season is still anybody’s guess. All he can do is keep making this final statement to end the season.