NBA Summer League: A time for basketball fans everywhere to gather and watch some organized basketball for the first time since the first few weeks of June, and the last time until October. A chance for young players to show their teams what they have, and hopefully improve just the right amount. A chance for undrafted free agents, and NBA D-League players to show NBA teams their worth in hopes of securing an invite to training camp.
While the Orlando Magic have quite a few interesting players on this years Summer League roster, a couple of the names stand out. Point guard Seth Curry, a former Liberty Eagle and duke Blue Devil and brother to Golden State star Stephen Curry, and guard Cameron Jones. Both Curry and Jones are current members of the Santa Cruz Warriors, who lost in the NBA Developmental League Finals this season to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Curry had a cup of tea in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers, but was unable to latch on with either for good. Jones on the other hand has yet to be “called up” by any team in the NBA, despite putting up good numbers in Santa Cruz.
However, this could be just the break that both of these players need if they want to get their big shot at the NBA level. The Magic are rebuilding, and with the recent waiving’s of Jameer Nelson, Doron Lamb, Ronnie Price and the team withdrawing their qualifying offer to E’Twaun Moore, they could be looking for some added guard depth, most notable at the point guard spot. That’s where Curry comes in.
Curry, who’s known for his shooting ability much like his brother, did an extremely good job initiating the offense last season. I spoke with Adam Johnson of Sea Dubs Central about both Curry and Jones and what they can bring to the table. When I asked him about Curry and his ability to run an offense, Johnson gave me this answer:
“It was incredible to see just how far he came over the course of a season. With Golden State center Ognjen Kuzmic on assignment for a majority of the season in Santa Cruz, Curry helped initiate a pick-and-roll type motion offense with plenty of ball screens and quick rotations on the perimeter from one end of the court to the other.”
“What was most impressive was how he transformed his game after his second call-up to the NBA when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers. He came back with a quicker release on his shots and harder cuts off of screens when moving towards the ball on the pick-and-pop. He is able to make the adjustments and is not afraid to take the necessary contact when driving the lane as well. He’s very smart with the ball and very rarely did he make any poor decisions on offense with the ball.”
With Nelson and Price out of the picture, Curry could potentially get a good, hard, long look from the Magic if he’s able to impress them during the week long summer tournament in Orlando. While they have a handful of other players who can handle the ball — Ben Gordon, Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo — giving Curry a shot could be something that would turn out to be very beneficial to the Magic in the long run.
The 6-foot-4 Jones is just as interesting as Curry. He’s a good scorer, pouring in 19.4 points per game, and lit it up even more in the D-League playoffs, scoring 25.4 points per game in Santa Cruz’s seven playoff games. Jones was able to score rather efficiently as well, posting a 56.0 percent true shooting percentage this season, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field, 39.9 percent from three and 85.0 percent from the free throw line.
Outside of his scoring ability, Jones brings a few more interesting things to the court. He’s a decent play maker, dishing out 3.4 assists per game this past season, and he took care of the ball when asked to do so, turning it over just 2.6 times per game. Jones has also shown a willingness to hit the glass, grabbing 4.1 rebounds this past season.
When I talked to Mr. Johnson about these two, he had this to say to me when I asked what Jones can bring to the table aside from his scoring ability.
“Cam prides himself on his defense, and that’s what he attributes to him winning the Most Improved Player Award in the NBA D-League for the 2012-13 season. He has a willingness to grind it out on both ends of the court, which you might think is uncharacteristic of an offensive-happy league like the NBADL. He’s one of the most vocal players on the court, fighting through screens and making the necessary adjustments when possible. To him, nothing on offense matters unless you can get the stops on defense.”
Aside from their play off the court, Curry and Jones both bring something that has proven to be big in general manager Rob Hennigan’s eyes: Character. When I talked to Mr. Johnson, I asked him how these two guys are off the court. He had this to say:
“They are both great guys. After the trade deadline passed in the D-League and the roster finally settled Cam emerged as a real team leader, providing for a great cohesiveness. He considers himself to be a leader on the floor with his experience and his desire to play at the next level. It’s a responsibility that not all players are willing to accept, but Jones wants to be the guy that his fellow teammates can rely on when they need a lift on the court.
Seth is quiet and very kept to himself. He stated opening up later in the season but he’s not going to be the boisterous and vocal guy that some people want. He lets his game speak for itself and in some cases that is the preferred mentality in a locker room. He’s a level-headed guy with a great family behind him. He acknowledged the comparisons to his brother early on in the season but it wasn’t long before he found and created his own identity.
Neither were one to shy away from any tough questions either which speaks volumes about their character as well and a willingness to own up to expectations and mistakes on the court.”
With 11 players currently under contract, and at least one more in Ben Gordon on the way, the Magic have the room for both Curry and Jones, if they were to impress them enough. They have everything the Magic need and want: shooting ability, play making ability and are both great locker room presences. While these two aren’t going to just be given roster spots, with strong enough play, you could be hearing a lot more about both of them in Magic pinstripes.