Cannady played the final five games for the Magic last year. It is hardly enough time to draw any conclusions about a player. Especially one with the kind of back story Cannady has.
It took a little less than a year for Cannady to go from a horrific injury on the Amway Center floor to stepping back onto the court with the team. But it was more of a cameo. A reward for all the work he put in to get back and return for the Lakeland Magic.
Cannady averaged 10.0 points per game while shooting 40.5-percent from beyond the arc in his short stint with the Magic last season. He averaged 15.8 points per game while shooting 46.8-percent from deep in 15 games in the G-League.
The Magic had their eye on Cannady very clearly. And even with his short stint, they signed him to a two-year non-guaranteed deal. According to Spotrac, Cannady’s salary for the 2023 season becomes fully guaranteed on Jan. 10, 2023 (the day all contracts become guaranteed throughout the league).
That leaves Cannady with a lot to show and a lot still to prove. His place is not secure. And he has plenty to fight for through Summer League, the reason the young guard has a lot on the line this week in Las Vegas.
Devin Cannady will make another trip to Summer League as he continues to recover and return from his injury and fight for his place in the NBA.
Most importantly, this trip to Las Vegas for a player like Cannady is a chance to prove he is healthy. It is his chance to put the injury fully behind him.
"“My biggest thing is obviously my health,” Cannady said after Summer League practice Sunday. “The past two months since the season ended was just focused on my body, from a nutrition standpoint, sleep, just overall health. I feel really healthy. This is going to be my first showcase since before my injury I can show what I look like and how I play when I’m healthy.”"
That is a lot to put on display.
Even though Cannady made his way back to the court, he still has to show he belongs. This is a resumption of his NBA journey, one that got him a call-up to the league during the 2021 season while the Magic were still coached by Steve Clifford.
He was an expert shooter, the biggest skill need for this young roster, and that was more than enough to get him a good look. So too was his run to the G-League title with the Lakeland Magic in the 2021 bubble.
Orlando clearly sees some value in him and the team has been heavily invested in his growth and development.
Cannady is the kind of player who should be playing Summer League to try to carve his place with the team. Cannady has shown himself to be a capable shooter — he took 7.4 3-point attempts per game in his five appearances last year! — but there has to be a lot more.
What Cannady hopes to work on during his Summer League is his leadership ability and his ability to handle the point guard duties. Looking at this roster, Cannady is likely to be the team’s point guard. And that will be a test of his playmaking and organizational skills.
That part is already in progress. He is the veteran on the team — and at 26 years old, one of the oldest players on the roster — and is acting like it, trying to give advice to the younger players.
"“What Devin has done is he has done a great job of leading,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after practice Sunday. “This experience of playing multiple positions — whether that is 1, 2, bouncing to the 3 if we decide to go small. But just being able to get in at point [guard], make decisions and his leadership has been really good and his voice has been really good as well.”"
As someone who is also fighting for his place in the NBA, he has to lead by example too. Everyone will follow his lead and energy as he tries to lead the team and prove himself.
Cannady can still expand his game for sure. His shooting will remain his greatest tool. And as Cannady works to get a more permanent spot in the NBA, he will have to lean on that and show his expanded game throughout the week in Las Vegas.
Orlando seems ready to try Cannady in a lot of different areas as the team figures out how to use him and add him to its versatile group of players.
That shows the level of investment the team has in him.
But to do well in Summer League will be about doing the simple things — making shots, playing with energy and being a good teammate and leader. Cannady is not going to be able to prove himself at an NBA level during Summer League. That time will come in training camp, through preseason and once the season begins.
"“Summer League is a big chance for guys on the roster and guys trying to make spots to show what they can do at the NBA level and then carry that over here,” Cannady said after practice Sunday. “The goal is to win and the goal is to win now. For me, it is taking these couple of games in Summer League and building on that for the rest of the offseason.”"
Everything will be earned. And there is a long way to go for him and a lot left for him to prove.
Cannady has impressed though at every stage. Even as he recovered from injury. The Magic have stuck with him as much as Cannady has stuck with himself.
This trip to Summer League is certainly a continuation of that belief and that investment. There is no reason to believe Cannady will not continue to shine.