The Orlando Magic faced an emergency in December.
In a matter of a few hours, the team saw several players enter health and safety protocols, sending the team into a bit of a rush. The Orlando Magic had a home game that Friday against the Miami Heat and quickly dwindled below the eight-man requirement to field a roster.
The Magic, already undermanned by several long-term injuries at the time, had to scramble to fill their roster. The league was not going to postpone this game — even if that is what the league should have done in this instance.
Fortunately for Orlando, the team was at home. And doubly fortunate, the team’s G-League affiliate in Lakeland was also home. Quickly the Magic filled their roster with players from their G-League team. This gave a lot of players an opportunity to make an impression.
Especially for a young, rebuilding team, this is an opportunity that they are supposed to be flush with — mostly at the end of the season. The Magic were a team that could afford an opportunity to young players. They are a team that needs to be able to find players where others are not looking to help give a boost to their young franchise.
Lakeland experienced great success — including a title in the G-League bubble last year — as a team but its players have not made a huge impact on the main roster team.
Devin Cannady (he will get his own mini-evaluation in this series soon) is probably the most successful player from Lakeland to make an immediate impact in Orlando. And even the jury is certainly still out on him.
Instead, the Magic have put their focus on two-way players who seemingly fit in as secondary players rather than players who could grow into larger roles. The Magic’s two-way choices have been less than inspiring to say the least.
Lakeland, for its part, did not have a great season. Under a new coach and with the constant roster churn that is part of the G-League — not to mention how much the parent club was taking from the G-League club — Lakeland had a down season, missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons and finishing at 11-21, seven games out of the final playoff spot.
Orlando certainly will have to restock its G-League roster and use it again to find gems in the rough. Perhaps Cannady has yet to surprise us after earning a full NBA contract late in the season. He will get his chance to cement the Lakeland-to-Orlando pipeline.
Unfortunately few other players — whether called up from the G-League or called in on this emergency basis — stood out even when that opportunity was laid out for them. It is hard to say the Magic got a lot out of their back-end players, no matter when they used them.
We will get to some of the post players and bigs who joined the roster. For now, we will focus on the guards.
Hassani Gravett – B
The best of this bunch of guards was undoubtedly Hassani Gravett.
Gravett made a really good impression in the Summer League with his hustle and energy. He seemed like a good candidate to keep an eye on in the G-League at the very least. This seemed like a good find, although there were still plenty of questions about whether he could stick to some degree.
Gravett got the call-up during the team’s battle with COVID and health and safety protocols for eight games in December, averaging 6.3 points per game, dishing out 2.5 assists per game and 42.3-percent shooting from beyond the arc.
He scored eight points with two 3-pointers in a win against an equally depleted Atlanta Hawks team and then had 12 points and three 3-pointers in a loss to the Miami Heat.
Gravett was really good as a spark plug and played with a ton of energy when he is in. That good first impression from Summer League carried over into the limited action he got in the NBA.
Gravett’s time was ultimately short. Once the team came out of health and safety protocols, Gravett returned to the G-League. He averaged 13.9 points per game and 6.5 assists per game while shooting 33.9-percent from beyond the arc.
For now, it seems Gravett is still on the fringes of the NBA. He will likely take another shot at Summer League, but a path with the Magic seems hard to decipher.
Tim Frazier – F
The Orlando Magic did not dip fully into their G-League team when they made their emergency signings in December. They grabbed one veteran to fill the role and try to give them some stability.
Unfortunately, Tim Frazier was not effective at filling that role. He quickly became a player of derision for fans. And everyone was seemingly incredulous when the team opted to sign him to a second 10-day contract, as injuries continued to hurt the team.
In 10 games, Frazier averaged 3.7 points per game and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 30.2-percent overall. It was about as bad as Frazier has played throughout his surprisingly long career.
It just did not work out for the Magic and Frazier struggled to find his footing or provide the stability the Magic wanted from the position.
The Magic had a -16.0 net rating with Frazier on the floor, the third-worst of any player who suited up for the Magic this season. The team had a team-worst 93.6 offensive rating with Frazier on the floor.
Certainly, some of that is because he was playing largely with replacement players. But as the point guard of that group, he had a lot of responsibility to get that group going. And they just sputtered throughout their time on the floor with him.
It was just. . . bad.
Jeff Dowtin – C
So who had the worst on-court net rating for the Orlando Magic this season? That would unfortunately be Jeff Dowtin.
The Magic had a -23.8 net rating with Dowtin on the floor with a 95.1 offensive rating. Those numbers also were not good.
The only saving grace for Dowtin was a game-winning, buzzer-beating basket in the team’s final preseason game. That is a nice highlight for a young guy that was very likable in the locker room. But that is about it.
That got Dowtin a look with the Golden State Warriors to start the season. He bounced around the NBA on several 10-day deals before finally landing back with the Magic.
He was also the Lakeland Magic’s leading scorer at 21.1 points per game, adding 7.0 assists per game and shooting 44.2-percent from beyond the arc.
That just never clicked at the NBA level. Dowtin signed with the team in March and spent just a single 10-day contract with the team. He did not seem to make an impact, despite plenty of minutes to go around.
He averaged just 3.3 points per game on 26.3-percent shooting in four appearances at 19.3 minutes per game, the most he played anywhere this season.
Dowtin was well-liked in the locker room. And his strong run with the G-League suggests he may just need more time to get comfortable at the NBA level.
Mychal Mulder – D
To be fair to Mychal Mulder, he never really got a chance for the Orlando Magic this season.
The team signed Mulder to one of its original two-way spots and it seemed like a decent idea. Mulder would be a third, emergency point guard and someone who could be a decent shooter for the team.
It just never worked out.
Mulder averaged 3.7 points per game while shooting 28.3-percent from beyond the arc. He played 13.0 minutes per game in 15 appearances.
The Magic found they did not need the extra guard help or sought to reward players who were killing it in Lakeland and who could be more productive. Things just did not mesh with Mulder.
Mulder would later latch on with the Miami Heat and scored 14 points in two games with them late in the season. He can still get a bucket.
It just was not something that happened in Orlando.
Taken together, all these guards seemed to be misses for a Magic team that should be looking for young players to add to their roster and hoping for a diamond to get unearthed.