Summer league basketball is full of rookies getting their first taste of NBA ball, young players looking to put some more work in, and some guys looking to earn a legitimate shot with an NBA team.
It’s also filled with overreactions from both fans and media alike.
You can’t crown anyone MVP after a few summer league games, but you also can’t bring out the “bust” label too soon. I’ll go through some of the biggest stat lines from Magic players from this year’s summer league, and breaking it down what they actually mean. Starting with …
Victor Oladipo, 22, SG
Summer League Stat Line: 17.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.7 APG
Oladipo was taken with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and he had one of the best seasons out of all the rookies in the league–13.8 points per game, 4.1 assists and rebounds as well. He was a complete player at the shooting guard spot, grabbing rebounds and dishing out assists while scoring as well.
This summer league, he saw a bump in scoring from that in his rookie year. Given the fact that he’s playing unproven talent and scrubs, this shouldn’t mean too much. While he could step up and become a more dominant scorer with Arron Afflalo gone, but the total from summer league could be inflated. What you could look at is more rebounds than assists (6.9 to 2.7). Again, summer league stats could just be an abortion, but just the idea that Victor could be more aggressive on the boards and in the paints than in the passing game could change the type of player he is.
What does stick out is that Oladipo is shooting 3s better than he did as a rookie (35 percent to 32 percent). Not exactly great numbers, but it is an improvement, and possibly Victor steps up as more of a shooter for the Magic than he was last year.
Verdict: Based on his first season, a big jump for Victor Oladipo was pretty much expected. Look for him to develop into a star for the Magic this year, great summer league stats or not.
Aaron Gordon, 18, SF/PF
Summer League Stat Line: 7.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.2 APG
The Magic took Gordon fourth overall this year, and the former Arizona star will carry some big expectations with him into his rookie year. He has the “unproven rookie” tag on him, so you really can’t compare his stats to anything. But with the poor play of Andrew Nicholson in 2013-14, Gordon could slide in and grab some more minutes at the power forward spot, and it looks like he’s already started with that.
He seemed to play more inside than outside, pulling down rebounds and making some incredible dunks. He failed to make a single three-pointer all summer league, while taking a few per game. If that trend keeps up into his rookie season, Gordon will more than likely be “encouraged” to keep his offensive game inside rather than out.
Verdict: Solid summer league debut for Gordon. He’s only 18 years old, so he might not be 100 percent NBA ready, but he will certainly contribute his rookie year, being a large piece in their forward rotation.
Elfrid Payton, 20, PG
Summer League Stat Line: 9.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.0 APG
Payton is Orlando’s other big rookie coming into the season, and with Jameer Nelson being released, it looks like Payton will be playing the starting point guard role. Luckily for Orlando, Elfrid looked incredible this summer. His 7.0 assists led the team (by a mile) so it looks like Payton will be in charge of the passing game for the young Magic squad.
His 5.2 rebounds were also a bit of a surprise, showing his ability to be active in all areas of the floor at all times. With 1.4 steals per contest, Payton had his eye on the ball at both ends of the court, and will form an incredible defensive duo with Victor Oladipo.
Verdict: Payton is just about a lock to take the starting point guard spot. While he’s an excellent scorer, his passing game might show off the best over the course of his rookie year. Safe to say he’s a dark horse contender for Rookie of the Year behind the likes of Wiggins and Parker.
Dewayne Dedmon, 24, C
Summer League Stat Line: 9.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 APG
Dedmon has bounced around the NBA over the past few years, but has a chance to earn a role with the young Magic. Basically, he’s a 7-footer, any team would want him (as long as his basketball skills match his height). So far in summer league, he’s been solid scoring in the post, but one thing showed up as a red flag; Only 4.7 rebounds from a 7-footer? Not good. If he’s given any serious minutes this season, he’s going to be looked to to pull down more than 4.7 boards per game.
Defensively, Dewayne looked great. 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals per game, he was incredibly active on that end of the floor. If he could come onto the floor and be an anchor in the paint swatting shots and picking off passes, Dedmon will soon become a team-favorite off of the bench.
Verdict: I doubt Dedmon sees any huge minutes this season, but if he can continue to be a strong scorer in the post and a defensive playmaker in the time he is on the floor, he could start to earn more and more bench minutes as the season progresses.