If any consensus was reached after the Orlando Magic selected freshman Kentucky center Daniel Orton with the 29th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, it was that Orton's raw abilities make him a tantalizing prospect, but also one who won't contribute at the NBA level for several years. His performance in last week's AirTran Orlando Pro Summer League, which I covered live for SBNation.com, only reinforced that idea. Orton never asserted himself at either end of the floor, instead only showing the briefest glimpses of potential before fading into the background, as more skilled players became more prominent.
After the jump, his game log, a look at his stats, and what it all means.
|5 July||L, 86-77||13||3||3||2||4||5||1/8||1/4|
|6 July||L, 78-73||17||2||2||1||1||2||0/6||2/4|
|7 July||L, 94-91||17||4||0||1||3||4||0/0||4/6|
|8 July||L, 80-78||17||4||4||1||2||1||2/6||0/0|
|9 July||W, 80-77||20||3||0||2||3||4||1/7||1/3|
Red flags abound in Orton's play. Just 9 rebounds in 86 minutes as a center, for instance, which is less than half an acceptable figure for a center. 14.8% shooting, which is horrible by any standard, for another.
They go beyond statistics. Orton doesn't look comfortable with the ball. Tentative, as though he doesn't quite know what to do with it. To be fair, he didn't get many touches. But when he did? Maybe a few dribbles in place, and then a hook shot-putted to the basket. Some of the offerings didn't draw iron, instead dropping well short of the hoop.
His face-up game is similarly unrefined. You appreciate the willingness to branch out, perhaps, but he shoots his jumpers with a similar lack of touch and confidence. He seems more likely to face-up from the right side as opposed to the left. I employ the therm "jumper" loosely, as his shot is more set, with little lift. The lone set-shot he made, then, came from the top of the arc on Thursday afternoon. Line-drive right to the back of the rim, the ball kicked around a bit, and dropped.
About the best I can say for Orton is he's big. And Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing, who took command of the summer-league squad, praised Orton's attitude, saying, "he’s very coachable and he wants to work." ESPN analyst David Thorpe is right, though: Orton has much to learn. He is several seasons away from being a rotation-caliber player at this level, which is understandable. As one team official told me last week, Orton missed his senior year of high school due to a knee injury and played only sparingly at Kentucky in his lone year of college. In a way, he's like a high-school senior or a college freshman playing in the big leagues. That's probably fine with GM Otis Smith, who said on Draft night that Orton is a guy "you don't necessarily have to use today."
For what it's worth, I do think Orton played harder and better on the final two days of the league. Maybe he settled down. But he ran the floor harder and pursued rebounds more intently on those days, it seemed to me. He has myriad steps to take and ways to improve, but the skill topping my imaginary list is rebounding. If he improves nothing else besides his rebounding, he can still have a rewarding NBA career, as rebounding is always in demand. And a rebound every 9.5 minutes in summer-league play won't cut it.
But a more pressing concern might not be skill improvement, necessarily: he may just need to hit the gym. Orton repeatedly mentioned that tired legs dogged him throughout the week, which sapped his energy. Orton has to put a lot of work in here as well.