The Orlando Magic Summer League Team might as well just call themselves "The Orlando Magic". Four of their starters were regular rotation players for the team last season (Harkless, O'Quinn, Doron Lamb, and Nicholson). Three of the other players were their draft picks, including Victor Oladipo, Romero Osby, and DeQuan Jones. The only player who didn't fall into either of those categories was Rodney McGruder, a finalist for the College Player of the Year award last year. So yeah, the Magic were one tough team to beat.
Meanwhile, the Thunder gave minutes to 11 of their 15 guys, and rotations weren't nearly as clear cut. The lack of an offensive scheme really killed them at times, as point guards were left to try to create something on their own and swingmen had to play hero ball. But the Thunder eventually found their stride, with some tough interior defense that sent Orlando to the line and some excellent ball movement from Dwight Buycks. The game was capped off with a sweet stepback from Jeremy Lamb, who nailed a shot to put the Thunder ahead with mere second to go. Lamb would come up big on the other end of the floor, stealing the ball on the subsequent inbounds play and icing the game.
The win gave the Thunder 4 points, with three for the win and one for winning the fourth quarter. The Magic collected the other three for winning the previous three quarters. The Thunder now have 9 points overall, and likely sit around third in the Orlando Summer League Standings. (Sorry, they're not posted anywhere.)
The Video Recap:
The player that stands out the most from this game has to be Jeremy Lamb. But his impact on the game was largely negative. He was arguably outplayed by his Sheep brother, Doron Lamb. Jeremy just kept rising up for shot after shot, and three after three. He refused to admit that he had gone cold, and kept clanking jumpers off the rim. It was one thing to see him on fire yesterday, but to watch him struggle so fruitlessly today was like watching another person.
Personally, I think the Jeremy needs to diversify his game and get creative. He's an excellent scorer from any area of the floor, and he can shake defenders. But he's not a shooter who can knock down the same shot over and over. It felt like he was afraid of going into the paint after experiencing tough defense from Mason Plumlee yesterday. The only drive I remember him making was towards the end of the game, sending himself to the line when his team needed it the most.
Look at it this way. Russell Westbrook is definitely a player who has off nights, and doesn't hit the shots that he wants to. But instead of firing up the same shot over and over, he tries new things, and he gets himself into the post. He also sets up his teammates for scores when he's under pressure. This saves himself, and the team, from a totally disastrous performance. Basic stuff. Lamb, on the other hand, will keep senselessly chucking it from the same area and lose interest in offensive ball movement. We also saw it from him during the Thunder's last game of the season, against Milwaukee. Obviously, it's something that can be fixed, so I still hold hope.
Daniel Orton had a really quiet game today, weaving his way to 9 points and 7 rebounds. He was mostly a factor in the early game, but he helped to propel the offense when they didn't have a lot going for them and got some key rebounds. You can tell that Orton loves to play guys (like O'Quinn) who are a lot smaller than him, because he's good at using his strength to get ideal positioning. With the NBA becoming a smaller league, I could see Orton as a guy who could potentially take advantage of fast-breaking teams.
The real key for Orton, I think, is the development of his shot and defensive awareness. He showed us yesterday that he could nail some jumpers, but he didn't attempt any today. That might have been because of the Magic's speed, but I'd like to see how consistent his shot really is. His defensive awareness could be improved just by playing against better centers. He'll sometimes get faked out by faster bigs on the perimeter and taken to a position where he doesn't want to be, which can lead to easy buckets. Either way, he's shown a lot in the Summer League so far, and might be a better option than Thabeet at this point.
Jerrett had another nice day shooting from three, nailing 50% of his attempts. All things considered, I'd really glad that we have a big who can shoot. But, as I said last time, he really needs to work on other aspects of his game. When played as a big, he was eaten alive by Andrew Nicholson in the paint, and racked up 8 fouls. It didn't look like a lack of strength to me, it just looked like a lack of knowledge on how to play the position. When put on the perimeter, Jerrett brings nothing to the table in terms of passing or driving ability, which can kill the offense if your other two guards aren't mobile. I still like him as a prospect, I just hope he doesn't see the floor next year.
RJ was totally outshined by Dwight Buycks. Seriously. He tried to assert his dominance early in the game, but just ended up missing shots and committing turnovers. When the pace was faster, he seemed like he was in his element, running to the rim and finding lots of shooting partners. But when the pace was slower, the Magic read him like a book, and he had a bad shooting day. His game ended abruptly when he hit his head and was sent to the locker room. I'm not reading too much into this performance, since he's already proven himself in the NBA.
His performance in tonight's game wasn't as good as yesterday's performance, but it was still very memorable. Buycks continued to show everyone how good of a distributor he was, finding shooters when they were open. Late in the game, he scored or assisted on four of the final six possessions, only taking a break when Lamb had two scores of his own. He also shot over 50% and only had a single turnover.
There were some flaws, though. Buycks doesn't look to set up big men very often, and doesn't really work off of the pick and roll. This resulted in some bad stretches of offense, because players simply weren't hitting their shots. He also can go through stretches where he's not all that involved, which can really hinder how well the team moves the ball. But all in all, there's really no reason that we shouldn't sign this guy.
Roberson had an excellent game tonight. As always, he was a defensive factor, limiting Mo Harkless' effectiveness and patrolling the paint. He made the Magic earn a lot of their buckets at the line too, somewhat ruining their offensive flow. Specifically, he forced a jump ball late in the fourth that led to a Kuric three, and he had a great steal on Andrew Nicholson that led to freethrows. He was the perfect defensive jack of all trades, and some of his plays really helped push the pace and get the Thunder some easy scores.
The big knock on Roberson is still his size. He got 9 rebounds, but the Magic weren't exactly a big team themselves. He's also not very involved offensively. It's clear that he has skill there, and the athleticism to score in the paint, but he just seems content to stay as the fifth option half of the time. These flaws might seem minor, but I'm still skeptical as to how well he would benefit a better team. At least, any more than DeAndre Liggins does.
Andrew Smith, the big man out of Butler, had a mostly unmemorable game. He banged for a couple of points, but his day was cut short when he rolled his ankle and had to be helped off the floor. Michael Snaer was a relatively efficient scorer, but he didn't bring much else to the table, and I feel like Dwight Buycks made him look better than he really was. Ron Anderson did his usual thing in the pain, and hit another jumpshot. Still not too high on him, but we'll see. Kyle Kuric continued to shoot and not do much else. He was bailed out from a disaster of a night by two threes in the fourth. Ryan Reid got time after Andrew Smith's injury, and he played his usual role as a glue guy. Excellent defense, rebounding, and offensive awareness. Still doesn't have the physical tools to make it to the next level though.
Thunder Wonder: Dwight Buycks
Thunder Down Under: Daniel Orton
Thunder Blunder: Reggie Jackson
Thunder Plunderer: Andrew Nicholson
Let us know your thoughts on the game in the comments! And be sure to check out @WTLC on Twitter for instant analysis during all of the Summer League games this week!