The Orlando Magic's 29-point preseason victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night cemented at least one detail for this year's squad: both Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass will get their opportunities to play. Coach Stan Van Gundy explains, via Josh Robbins' gamer:
"They're both gonna play," Van Gundy said. "It may be different minutes on different nights. But right now, in my mind, I'm playing 'em both. They're both playing too well."
Anderson and Bass entered this preseason needing to accomplish separate goals. For Anderson, it was strengthening his body and becoming a more sound individual defender. Bass had to hit the boards harder and improve his grasp on the team's defensive rotations. And both have succeeded so far.
There are still concerns, though. Bass still needs to become more efficient offensively, as he's used an estimated 59 possessions to score his 63 points this preseason. But he's managed to harness his seemingly boundless energy and tenacity, turning it into a much-improved showing in the rebounding area.
Some writers, including Magic Insider Brian Schmitz, have contended the Magic are merely putting Bass on display for a potential trade. Yet now, after this stretch of inspired play, I find it hard to believe the Magic are interested in dumping him. I think he's shown he can contribute to this team in a meaningful way.
There were fewer doubts about Anderson coming in. He's younger, has better rebounding instincts, and can shoot the three-ball without compromising his foul-drawing ability. He projects to be a useful, productive player for many years to come, and his revamped body has only furthered that belief.
The two youngsters have made the most of their opportunities so far this preseason. One hopes their performances don't stop drop off when the games start to count.