The NBA invented the two-way contracts before the 2018 season to try to give young players who were better than the G-League but still looking for their place in the NBA a chance to get their feet in both.
The idea was to entice players to stay in the NBA orbit by creating a contract that would offer them the best of both worlds. They would play the majority of their games in the G-League, being limited in their NBA time to a little bit more than 50 days total.
The league still seems to be experimenting and trying to figure out what to make of these extra rostered players. The pandemic brought with it a loosening of some of those timeline restrictions. Two-way players became an extra two players added to the roster with the league fearing teams not having enough players to field a roster.
So now five seasons into the two-way contract experiment, what are teams supposed to get out of these contracts? Is this supposed to be a player who graduates from the G-League up to the main roster and eventually into a roster spot?
The Orlando Magic are still trying to get a lot out of their two-way deals as their final two options this year failed to make an impact to stick around.
That seems like the way things are supposed to be. It is a developmental slot and the hope is that a player on his two-way contract can graduate to a full roster spot after getting game experience in the G-League and some run with the parent club.
The Orlando Magic though — and they are not alone in thinking this way — seem more content to use the two-way spot on young veterans. Players who dominate at the G-League level but seem like nothing more than replacement players in the NBA.
The Magic have spent their two-way contracts, really since its inception for the most part, on known quantities. Or what amounts to known quantities from the G-League perspective.
This would not be such a terrible thing if the two-way contract players were used sparingly or the team was still involved in a playoff chase. That kind of reliability and consistency from every player on the roster would hold a lot of value in those situations.
But this is not that team anymore. The Magic as a rebuilding team should be trying to extract value from every corner of the roster they can. There is not an opportunity that they should be so willing to give up.
And so their two-way contract choices have become important. Especially considering the injuries the team has faced that has put these players into the lineup.
There is no getting around to it then. The Magic have had an opportunity to use these two-way contracts to give young players a chance to graduate to the main roster. Instead, the team has continued to use it on older players that provide stability to the G-League team but have struggled to carve out a future.
That might be asking a whole lot for players that are meant to be on the end of the bench. These players are only supposed to be used sparingly — that is the ultimate nature of the two-way contract.
This is not meant to offend Ignas Brazdeikis or Admiral Schofield. Those guys should be on two-way contracts at a minimum in the NBA. They are far too good to be in the G-League. But, by the same token, both have now had enough NBA experience that it is clear what they should be.
There was a little bit of dread among fans when both players came in. The Magic had no choice but to play them in a lot of ways because of injuries. And the team rightfully gave them their chance. They got every chance to show what they can do.
But it is hard to say either Brazdeikis or Schofield did enough to make an impression enough to stay on the roster.
The Magic will be bringing in two new guys for two-way contracts next season. The Lakeland Magic certainly need it after missing the playoffs this past season.
But Orlando needs a new way to approach this tool. It is an opportunity to take a risk and try to bring in a player they envision joining their main roster. That is just not something the Magic have done with this contract to this point in the experiment.
Ignas Brazdeikis: C+
Every team has a scapegoat. That is just how fans work.
It is completely unfair to the player and mischaracterizes the things they do well or why they are in the game. It is usually more of a complaint to management and the decisions they make. You just hope that it is a low-stakes decision — using it on a two-way player is a lot more of a forgivable risk than signing Tyronn Lue to be a starter, Chris Duhon as a backup or Al-Farouq Aminu when the team needs some shooting.
Brazdeikis is clearly too good for the G-League at this point. He averaged 24.3 points per game in three appearances with the Lakeland Magic this year.
Brazdeikis had his most impactful NBA season to date, averaging 5.0 points per game in 42 appearances and 12.8 minutes per game. The Magic gave the third-year forward his most extended NBA look.
While he did not deserve all the vitriol fans gave him for his minutes, that had to be born from something.
It is hard to point to what Brazdeikis did well to stick him onto an NBA floor.
His best skill is likely his craftiness of finishing around the basket. When he was able to get into the paint and get to the basket, he could be quite crafty with his scoring.
Other than that, it was hard to get a sense of what he was good at.
The Magic wanted to use Brazdeikis as a shooter. But he struggled there, making only 31.0-percent of his 2.1 attempts per game. He was a good player to hit off flare screens. the Magic were just not able to get him enough of those attempts.
Brazdeikis is a player who has always been on the fringes of the NBA from the moment he got drafted. But he has struggled to make a wave beyond that.
Admiral Schofield: C
If Ignas Brazdeikis struggled at times to fit into a clearly defined role, Admiral Schofield seemed to struggle to define what his role should even be.
Like Brazdeikis, Schofield is clearly too good to be in the G-League anymore. He averaged 14.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game in 12 appearances for the Lakeland Magic.
He played well enough there that he got a two-way contract midway through the season after the team parted with Mychal Mulder.
There was something there.
Schofield is a big 6-foot-5 and seems more like an undersized power forward than a wing player. And that is probably the biggest thing holding him back. It is just not clear what he does at an NBA level that would keep him in the league. And this year’s extended run in the NBA did not seem to provide any further clues.
Schofield averaged 3.8 points per game in 12.3 minutes per game across 38 games. He shot only 41.9-percent from the floor and 32.9-percent from beyond the arc.
That improvement as a shooter was promising. But Schofield did not do enough of it to say the Magic should graduate him to the NBA roster — or any NBA team should.