The Orlando Magic have three rookies to find playing time for next season. Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Devyn Marble were the 2014 NBA draft picks for Orlando, and all three could find playing time for the Magic this season. Let’s look at each guy, how they can earn playing time, and what role they can play.
Aaron Gordon’s playing time really depends on how head coach Jacque Vaughn will deploy his forwards. Tobias Harris, Kyle O’Quinn, Maurice Harkless, and Channing Frye are four forwards who can help Orlando right away. Even if O’Quinn saps up most of the minuets at the backup center position, the combination of Harkless and Harris absorb the small forward minutes, leaving Gordon to take up some of the backup power forward minutes. Because of the dearth of forwards in Orlando, Gordon’s playing time seems to be in limbo.
During his summer league stint, Gordon averaged 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 0.4 blocks on 35% shooting- all sounding about right. Gordon’s biggest asset at the moment is his defensive acumen and overall athleticism. Defensively, Gordon is there. If there was a reason for the Shawn Marion comparisons, that’s it. As the league continues to get smaller and more athletic, Gordon’s ability to defend in the post and on the perimeter will become more and more valuable for the Magic as his game progresses.
Lineup Idea: Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Channing Frye, Nikola Vucevic
Offensively, Gordon can work around the rim and cutbacks. Both Frye and Vucevic can space the floor, allowing Gordon to thrive as as cutter. An underrated passer, Gordon can also work well moving the ball to open shooters, or even a cutting Victor Oladipo. Defensively, using him with Channing Frye and Nikola Vucevic in the frontcourt allows Gordon to cover up for some of the issues in with Vucevic at the rim. Frye is a solid pick-and-roll defender, but allowing Gordon to cover up in that support role would be nice. Gordon would be bigger, stronger, and for the most part, taller than most small forwards, giving him an advantage there as well.
While Aaron Gordon has a bit of an uphill climb for minutes next season, the same cannot be said for Elfrid Payton.
One can argue that Payton is currently the best point guard on the roster. As I stated in the past, Victor Oladipo, the current point guard for the Orlando Magic, will eventually reside off the ball, and more importantly, next to Payton in the backcourt. Even with the late addition of Luke Ridnour in free agency, Payton’s status as the backup point guard should remain unquestioned, and that should result in a bevy of playing time as a rookie.
Payton flashed what made him a top ten pick in Summer League, averaging 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists on 50% shooting. The 1.4 steals per contest were also a nice touch. Payton can do it all for the Magic. He’s a strong defender, with the intensity and want to lock opposing point guards down. His 6-4 frame allows him to factor into long rebounds, and he enjoys initiating offense.
Like Gordon, Payton isn’t a great shooter. Around the rim, Payton finishes well, but he’s a work-in-progress outside the arc. Aaron Gordon took 10 threes in summer league and missed them all. Payton made one of this two attempts. That’s are where the Rajon Rondo comparisons come from- he can change the game in so many different ways, but the shooting issue lingers, and hinders his game slightly.
Lineup idea: Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless, Channing Frye, Kyle O’Quinn
The idea here is that you supply Payton as many scorers as you can, while not totally giving up on defense. Payton is surrounded by Oladipo, Harkless, Frye, and O’Quinn- all providing different ways to score the ball. O’Quinn works well with the mid-range and in, and Fyre stretches the floor, and both can work as pick-and-roll partners for Payton. Oladipo works well off the ball, and as I alluded to earlier, he’s a great cutter. Harkless offers a bit of both for Payton. Going into his third season, Harkless is improving his three-point shooting ability, but before that, he excelled as an off-the-ball scorer.
On the defensive end, you keep the best five defenders on the floor in Orlando.
A second round pick acquired in the Arron Afflalo trade, Marble is an interesting player for Orlando to develop. With Orlando’s lack of shooting on the roster, Marble’s shooting ability, specially at the wing, should intrigue the Magic enough to keep him. In his four seasons at Iowa, Marble shot 33% from three, and shot 31% from three during his summer league stint.
He gives Orlando a reserve wing with the ability to do a bit of everything. He’s a fine offensive player, he can rebound, and move the ball around, excelling at that aspect of his game at the college level. His defense is good, but not great, as well. With Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier slotted into that wing positions for the interim, it’s tough to see Marble playing with the Magic next season. However, he serves as an excellent NBADL player and prospect for Orlando moving forward. If he can develop into a consistent three-point shooter, I can see him factoring into the 2015 roster qute a bit.
The Magic have a ton of young talent, thanks to the Dwight Howard trade and their own struggles over the last three seasons. Now, as the roster fills to the brim with those young players, figuring out who can play with who is the question. Adding guys like Gordon, Payton, and Marble gives them three more players who can molded into fine players, who fit into specific roles. This season, both Aaron Gordon and Payton will be factors on both sides of the ball, with Marble taking a much more reserved role this season, most likely spending much of it with the Erie BayHawks.