No one could quite believe it when the Orlando Magic finally signed Devin Cannady on April 10, 2022.
A little less than 12 months after a horrific leg injury cut his first NBA opportunity short and seemed to put his whole career in jeopardy, just as it seemed like it was taking off, Cannady was back on an NBA floor.
Cannady made a brief, one-day cameo with the team in training camp. He remained in the team’s orbit as he continued to rehab in Orlando and then again in Lakeland. His return to the court was just a matter of determination and hard work.
His return to the NBA? That was always a bit more uncertain. Even with the Magic expecting to have a poor season and drifting to the end of the season with injuries and the desire to pile up losses.
But Cannady had to build everything back step by step. When he did finally step back on an NBA court, that was probably going to be enough for him. It was the culmination of a long journey. Now it was just about the future.
Devin Cannady spent his year working his way back from a horrific leg injury. When he rejoined the Orlando Magic, it became less about his return and more about his future.
That is what Cannady showed in his short time playing for the NBA. His shooting was always very valuable and it translated to the NBA.
It was a year deferred for Cannady thanks to the injury. But when the Magic finally did call him up, he picked up where he left off.
The Magic liked what they saw enough to sign Cannady to a two-year deal. Even though both years are non-guaranteed, the symbolism of that offer should not be lost.
Cannady not only returned from a horrific leg injury. He stamped his place on the team, carving out a small place in its future. And a chance at a bigger one.
The point is Cannady will have that chance. He will get to stay in the Magic’s gym and go through his work with the Magic’s training staff. He will have that invite to training camp locked into place and the familiarity of playing with this coaching staff and (most) of these players.
That is valuable. He won his audition. Now he will get his chance to make an impact on the team as the most successful player to come through the Magic’s Lakeland program.
Cannady returned to the court for the Lakeland Magic on Feb. 1 and played 16 games. He averaged 15.8 points per game and shot 46.8-percent from beyond the arc on 7.9 3-point attempts per game.
That marksmanship is what helped Cannady win the G-League Finals MVP in 2021 and get his spot on the Magic to end the season. The fact he jumped right back in and put up those numbers was impressive.
He scored 16 points in his debut and it took nine games before he had a game scoring fewer than 10 points. In that time, he scored 32 points against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, making six 3-pointers. He back that up with a 23-point game against the Grand Rapids Gold and then 22 points against the Delaware Blue Coats.
This was seemingly a dream. As was signing with the parent club in Orlando, even if that was inevitable with how much the Magic were clearly investing in the young guard.
Cannady played only five games with the Magic after signing so late in the season. But the leap he took from his eight-game cameo in 2021 was significant.
Like his return to the court in the G-League, he hit the ground running.
He averaged 10.0 points per game and shot 40.5-percent from beyond the arc on 7.4 3-point attempts per game in 29.0 minutes per game.
This was the end of the season, of course, there was plenty of opportunity for a young player trying to latch onto the team. Orlando was sitting players with injuries. Cannady provided necessary relief.
Cannady was almost exclusively a 3-point shooter in his time in the NBA. He scored nine points in his debut, hitting three of his seven 3-pointers.
Like his first stint, which was cut short by injury, he got more comfortable as he played more. And that peaked with 15 points on 4-for-9 3-point shooting in the season finale against the Miami Heat.
That left the best last impression for him.
The 3-point specialty was the thing that stood out. He shot 42.4-percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and 58.3-percent on corner 3-pointers. A lot of these shots were fairly open. So there will be a lot of questions about how the Magic can use Cannady and how Cannady can diversify his game more moving forward.
Cannady was crafty to get steals. But his defense still leaves a lot to be desired. In fairness, though, he was playing at a time when the team was bare bones. The team was not playing its best defensive lineups at the time.
Cannady took advantage of that to get on the court and make his impact. But there are still a lot of questions about how the team can come together and what Cannady’s role will be in that.
Player Grade: A-
Devin Cannady provided the Orlando Magic with something they desperately needed — shooting. His ability to step in and just hit open shots was a godsend for a team that has been one of the worst shooting teams in the league for most of the last decade.
Orlando needs knock-down shooters. And that is why Cannady was such an easy and seamless fit for the team. And likely why the team wanted to bring him back and secure him as much as it could for its future.
The question for Cannady moving forward is what more can he add to his game and contribute to the team. The 3-point shooting got him here. If he wants to play more than mop-up minutes or specialty minutes, he will have to develop into a better defender and improve some as a playmaker — his stats on his ability to pass out of drives suggests he can do that a little bit.
But the summation of his journey was still the most inspiring thing.
To be at this point where we are all seriously talking about Cannady and what his contributions to the team next year might be is nothing short of a miracle.
A little more than a year ago, he was on the Amway Center floor with a jersey draped over his broken leg preparing to get stretchered off the court. His NBA dream was within his reach and seemingly got taken away from him.
It is a credit to his faith, his hard work and his determination that he came back so quickly. It is a credit to his skill and the Magic’s faith in him that he got a second chance at the NBA with the Magic. And it is a credit to him that he did not let that second chance get away.