NEWSFLASH: J.J. Redick can score.
Unable to compete in last year's Pepsi Pro Summer League due to injury, the Magic's second-year guard made up for lost time by scoring 30 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. His team came away with the victory, as the Orlando Magic held off the New Jersey Nets by a final margin of 85-74.
I'll say this about J.J.: I had him all wrong. I figured him to be fairly one-dimensional on offense. It's true that he relies upon the three-point shot, but he also drives to the basket quicker and harder than one might think. Most of his three-pointers tonight were set up by screens on the low-block, which J.J. would curl around before catching the pass and shooting. The skeptic in me points out that those shots are easier to make in summer-league play because they are not defended as well, but the realist in me counters that the basket is the same height in the regular-season and that the screens will be coming from Dwight Howard and Tony Battie rather than non-roster invitees. A promising offensive display from the Magic's two-guard of the future, to be sure.
But Redick was not the only Magic player who impressed: Marcin Gortat, a second-round draft choice in 2005 who has spent the past few seasons in Poland, posted 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists; James Augustine, the Magic's second-round draft choice in 2006, added 11 points and 5 rebounds; Kevin Kruger, an undrafted point guard out of UNLV, filled up the stat line with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal; and Steven Smith made a strong case for his inclusion on the Magic's 15-man roster with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Marcin Gortat played well for the Magic in the first of five summer-league games. The seven-foot center lead all players with 6 assists to go along with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Photo by John Raoux, the Associated Press
Of the non-roster players who made an impact tonight, I'd say Kevin Kruger was the strongest. We already have three point guards -- Carlos Arroyo, Keyon Dooling, and Jameer Nelson -- under contract for next year, and that doesn't even include free-agent Travis Diener. However, Arroyo and Dooling are mentioned as pieces of a sign-and-trade deal that would send them and Pat Garrity to Seattle for Rashard Lewis and Earl Watson. Diener's potential departure would leave the Magic with only Nelson and Watson to bring the ball up. Kruger would fit in nicely as the third point guard. He had three assists tonight, and made plenty more great passes that didn't lead to buckets. He also has three-point range. The Magic should keep their eye on him, especially if they are still in discussions to make that trade with Seattle.
The Magic take the floor again tomorrow to face the Indiana Pacers. The game will start approximately 20 minutes after the completion of the Heat/Nets contest, which starts at 3:00 PM. Each game in this week's League is streamed live and free of charge on this page of the Magic's website.