Back in May, the Orlando Magic announced they had entered into a hybrid affiliation with the Erie BayHawks. A hybrid affiliation essentially means that the Magic will control the basketball operations of the club — meaning the Magic front office will control the roster as well as the coaching staff — while the BayHawks owner is responsible for the financial aspects of the franchise and every day business. When I first read that the Magic had finally gotten their own D-League affiliate, I was excited, but also, anxious to see the organization could benefit from a one-on-one affiliation. General manager Rob Hennigan has preached that future success would be dependent on the team’s ability to draft and develop young prospects, and in acquiring the BayHawks, he has what could be an essential tool to aid in that process. Below I will outline different examples of how the Magic will leverage their relationship with the Erie BayHawks.
- The recent signing of Peyton Siva to a non-guaranteed contract is one of the best examples of how the Magic will leverage their new D-League partnership. Siva is expected to be released just prior to the start of the NBA season, and by doing so, the Magic will own Siva’s rights for the upcoming season. NBA rules dictate teams can allocate three training-camp players to its D-League affiliate each season, as long as those players are released prior to the D-League’s draft in November. Controlling a player’s rights in the Developmental League is very rare. The vast majority of players can be called up by any team at any time. Being able to invest time and resources into a prospect while keeping him protected from the poaching of other NBA teams is a tool that will pay huge dividends in the future.
- Now that the Magic have control of basketball operations of the BayHawks, they can install systems that mirror what they are using in the Association. They can also use their affiliate to try out new offensive and defensive schemes to find our their viability moving forward. Recently, Magic CEO Alex Martins echoed this, as he spoke to the importance of synergy between the NBA parent club and Developmental League affiliate. That synergy allows players to seamlessly transition between affiliate and parent club without having different terminology or playing different systems. Players can develop within the team’s system, as well as developing their overall skill set.
- How difficult was it watching young Andrew Nicholson languish on the bench last season? While the team could’ve sent him down, there was no guarantee that he would receive playing time, or be playing in the same system that the Magic ran. Had they had the one-on-one affiliation, they could’ve gotten Nicholson some more reps, pumped up his confidence and also potentially helped his trade value. This year, I envision the Magic assigning the likes Dewayne Dedmon, Devyn Marble, and Nicholson to the BayHawks throughout the season to continue to get playing time in their system. The playing time they will get with the BayHawks could pay huge dividends in their quest to become successful players in the NBA.
- Upon returning from a high ankle sprain last season, Tobias Harris was thrust into action against the worlds best. Had the Magic had the BayHawks, they could’ve assigned Harris and allowed him to work his way back into playing shape to make the transition back to the NBA easier. Having a D-League affiliate could be an invaluable tool to the Magic in the rehab for players coming off of injuries and to help them be ready to be thrust back into action.
Of all players in the NBA during the 2013-14 NBA season, 33 percent had D-League experience. That statistic alone shows why it was vital for the Magic to establish a single team relationship with a D-League franchise. The Erie BayHawks should be an invaluable resource for the Magic for years to come. Expect the Magic to use that resource to it’s fullest on their quest to becoming a sustainable contender in the NBA.