With the NBA offseason in full swing, players have to find ways to continue to get reps in to not only stay in shape, but also improve their games. For the Orlando Magic, this is especially important with the amount of young, growing players currently on the roster.
Some choose to play in Pro-Am’s or one of the many recreational leagues that float around throughout the year, while others work with their teammates and grow as a team. While it’s clear the Magic’s young core has been doing so and will continue to do so, a handful of them will have the opportunity to hone their craft playing at the international level.
Five of the Magic’s current 13 players — Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless — will play, or have the chance to play with their countries in some way, shape or form this offseason. This could be extremely important for all of them to take that next step and be ready to come into training camp and into the season to make a sizable impact on the team.
While Oladipo and Harris won’t actually be playing for the US Men’s National Team at the FIBA World Cup, their selection to the US Select Team could be huge. It gives them a chance to go against some of the game’s best players and work to find holes not only in their games, but their opponents as well. They get to see how they stack up against the players they’ll see at least two-to-four times this season.
Nicholson and Fournier on the other hand will be playing for their respect countries this offseason. Nicholson was named to the Canadian National Team roster for their 11 game exhibition slate that will include games against Spain, Serbia, Croatia (twice) and Turkey, all of which will be playing in the World Cup next month.
Fournier on the other hand will be seeing time with the French National Team in the World Cup. While it’s unclear his role at this time, it’s safe to say the smooth shooting Frenchman will see some time. France, the eighth ranked country in the world, will play the likes of Spain, Serbia, Brazil, Iran and Egypt.
Finally, swingman Maurice Harkless who’s in a weird spot. Harkless was adamant throughout the season that he would be playing with the Puerto Rican National Team this summer, but is not officially on the team’s roster. There is no word yet on whether or not he will be added at a later date.
This would be somewhat of a blow for Harkless to miss out on this on-court time. He began to really find his groove towards the end of the season, and was clearly more comfortable on both ends of the court.
This is a big summer for the Magic, and with a handful of players with great opportunities, we could see sizable improvement from the young team this season.