Given the level of overlap between the Orlando Magic's regular-season roster and their Orlando Pro Summer League one, it stands to reason that the Magic have more to gain than most teams during the 2013 event, which gets underway Sunday with a full slate of five games.
Here are three Magic players--apart from Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in the Draft, whose status as a player to watch is a given--to whom Orlando Pinstriped Post will pay special attention throughout the week.
Orlando acquired the rookie shooting guard from the Milwaukee Bucks at the trading deadline, but he didn't make much of an impression in his half-season with the team. Lamb, the second-leading scorer on Kentucky's championship-winning team in 2012, made 27 baskets in 24 games with Orlando.
The Orlando Pro Summer League affords Lamb a special opportunity to demonstrate that he has at least one useful skill. Maybe it's shooting; he connected on 47.5 percent of his three-pointers at the NCAA level, but wasn't able to even shoot many threes in his rookie season, as they comprised 22.7 percent of his total shot attempts.
Lamb could also get some run at point guard, a position at which the Magic are woefully thin.
The bottom line is that if the sock aficionado shows he has at least one bankable NBA skill, then he could solidify a spot in Jacque Vaughn's playing rotation. If not, his roster spot could be in jeopardy. Though his salary is fully guaranteed, it's only worth the league minimum, and if Orlando finds a more useful player on the free-agent market, I would expect that it wouldn't think twice about cutting Lamb loose.
Harkless was one of the bright spots for Orlando in the 2012/13 season, showing signs of real improvement as the season advanced. A miserable April tanked his numbers a bit, but we should be clear: Harkless made plays in March that he couldn't have made in November. His comfort level creating his own shot off the dribble really grew, and that's an important skill to have as opposing defenses begin to run him off the three-point line.
Harkless still has a long way to go on offense, though. He'll need to improve his shot-creation and outside-shooting abilities if he is to earn meaningful minutes at shooting guard, and I'd like to see him make more decisive, purposeful cuts away from the ball. Even if those cuts don't result in his getting fed at the rim, they can open space for teammates need him. Given Orlando's dearth of outside shooting, the Magic will need to be creative in order to keep defenses from clogging the paint.
By going from an undrafted free-agent in June to starting for an NBA team in November, Jones overcame some very long odds. He faces a real challenge once again in 2013, as the Magic elected not to make him a restricted free agent; as such, Jones' NBA future is anything but assured.
Jones has good athleticism and is a willing, usually effective defender, but 23-year-old wings with good size and hops are pretty common in this league. Jones needs to bring some other skill, probably on offense, in order to get a serious look from Orlando or any other NBA club.
I think his best shot is to turn himself into a hard-charging driver on offense. Jones doesn't have a reliable three-point stroke, and it's to his credit that he only tried 35 threes in his 63 rookie appearances, but he needs to generate shots at the rim if he's to become an asset on offense.
Jones has shown signs that he can drive effectively, as he shot 57.8 percent from the floor in March by attempting two-thirds of his shots from within the restricted area. If he can return to that style at the Orlando Pro Summer League, then he stands a decent shot at earning at least a training-camp invitation from Orlando, if not another team.
To which player will you devote most of your attention, and why?