2023 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Devin Cannady returned, now he aims to stay

Devin Cannady's return to the court was something like a miracle. But the Orlando Magic found a keeper and a guard they hope to develop. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Devin Cannady's return to the court was something like a miracle. But the Orlando Magic found a keeper and a guard they hope to develop. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Devin Cannady is everywhere in Orlando right now.

Yes, he spent plenty of his offseason elsewhere — including playing Summer League in Las Vegas and some much-deserved vacation. But Cannady has been spending a good chunk of his time embracing and wrapping himself in Orlando.

Whether that was inviting fans to join him for games of NBA 2K, starting up his own podcast or showing up at Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches, Cannady has put his roots in Orlando and is embracing the opportunity here.

Cannady spent much of the 2022 season being a nice story. He was the guy that everyone rooted for.

How could you not?

He was incredibly optimistic even through a devastating injury that cut his NBA dreams short just as they were becoming realized. He stayed in and around the franchise as he recovered and rehabbed, getting a late-preseason training camp invite to be on the floor for the final game before heading to Lakeland.

Devin Cannady made a miraculous return to the NBA last season and put himself in a position to make an impact for the Orlando Magic. Now that he is back, he has to find his way to stay in the league.

His return was never guaranteed. But Magic fans watched and celebrated as he made his return to the Lakeland Magic late in the season. As the Orlando Magic finished their season, Cannady came full circle.

He was healthy, playing well and back where he started. Back in the NBA.

Last season for Cannady was all about his recovery and getting back on track. He did that with an impressive short run with the Magic last season. Now, he is trying to build on it and resume a career that took a detour last year.

Cannady returned to the Magic in April after a short recovery run with the Lakeland Magic last year. He averaged 10.0 points per game and shot 40.5-percent from beyond the arc. He shot 7.4 3-pointers per game.

There are some things to read into these stats. Cannady’s best skill is his shooting and that does not go away. He took a lot of 3-pointers.

But the warning is always that these games came at the end of the season. A season where the Magic were near the bottom of the standings and positioning for their offseason. Cannady had the free reign and the opportunity to go out there and let fire.

That was all they needed him to do considering his long road back to the NBA. He just needed to see that he belongs.

He shot 42.4-percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and 58.3-percent on corner threes. And he got a lot of open threes too.

The Magic are short of shooting and so the attraction of Cannady is obvious to this team. The Magic were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last year (really for the last decade). Having a player they can trust who can hit outside shots consistently is just vital. It is still the biggest piece missing from this roster.

That certainly gives Cannady value. And that is the reason the Magic signed him to a multi-year deal when they brought him back. The Magic never stopped believing in Cannady as much as he believed in himself.

That does not mean there is still not a fight ahead of him to find his place.

Last season for Cannady was about getting back to the NBA. Even in a short sample, he proved he could get there. This season is about Cannady finding what will keep him in the NBA long term.

That is undoubtedly where his shooting is his greatest tool. That is the skill that got him to the NBA. And the Magic will certainly feel comfortable putting him in the lineup to space the floor and hit a couple of 3-pointers.

That is where everything starts with Cannady. But he is likely still pretty buried on the depth chart — playing point guard behind Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony for sure and potentially even behind R.J. Hampton.

Cannady has to find a way to diversify his game and add value beyond being a shooting specialist, as valuable as that is to the team.

Right now, at least the way the Magic have used him, Cannady is fairly one-dimensional. That may really be role-dependent. He still played plenty of point guard but he was not the main playmaker or creator.

Despite his 29.0 minutes per game in those final five games of the season, he averaged only 2.0 assists per game. He had only 6.4 assist points per 75 possessions, according to Basketball Index. There just were not a ton of solid passing stats from Cannady.

There just are not a lot of noteworthy stats for Cannady beyond his shooting — aside from an unusually high steal rate (1.3 steals per 75 possessions).

Cannady’s run at Summer League presented some struggle — he scored 10.8 points per game in four appearances, shooting 26.5 percent from deep on 8.5 attempts per game. The Magic did not seem so worried about his poor shooting in that setting. Neither did Cannady.

Similar to his run with the main roster, Cannady was nominally the point guard, but he was not playing point guard. R.J. Hampton took a lot of the point guard duties during Summer League and Paolo Banchero did his own share of playmaking.

That made Cannady a shooter again and only highlighted how important his shooting is. Especially considering how much he struggled in Vegas.

Of course, the problem with analyzing anything from Cannady statistically is that the sample sizes are so small. He only made a cameo with the team last year — five games is not a lot and Summer League is Summer League. Everything was just a taste.

Last season was truly about getting back on the court and resuming this seeming long-shot journey back to the NBA.

The question now is how does he stay? That is ultimately all that matters for Cannady and his career. And he is going to have to fight his way through.

His shooting has opened the door for him to get into the league and has put him in this position to be on the Magic. It is an opportunity he has taken advantage of.

Getting to the league and staying in the league is also quite different.

Cannady has to shoot the ball well. The unfortunate thing about being near the end of the roster is you have a smaller margin for error. Cannady has to perform what is asked of him and do it well to stick with this team — and the Magic and their fans certainly seem to be rooting for him to do so.

Beyond that, he has to continue finding ways to expand his game, improving his defensive ability and his ability to create for others.

Cannady’s story is an incredible one. He has embraced the opportunity with the Magic and the Magic and their fans have certainly embraced him. His being here is a victory in itself.

Next. Outlook: Wendell Carter has a lot more to prove. dark

But there is always what comes next. And that is the part Cannady will endeavor to answer this year.