Coming into the 2014/15 season, the Orlando Magic had 14 players on their roster with fully guaranteed contracts, and one whose deal had yet to become fully guaranteed. That deal, which still has 13 days until it becomes fully guaranteed, belongs to second-year reserve big man Dewayne Dedmon. Dedmon, who bounced around between the NBA Development League and a handful of franchises last season before landing with the Magic after two 10-day contracts, isn't too worried about his future. "I try not to think about it," he said
Picking up the game relatively late, Dedmon brings a tantalizing combination of energy and athleticism every time he steps on the floor. He's had his ups and downs, but for much of his time on the court, he's produced and given the Magic stretches of strong play.
Earlier this season, coach Jacque Vaughn praised Dedmon for always bringing a high energy level, no matter the situation. Dedmon has also previously talked about his energy being a big key to his play.
Following the team's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, a game in which Dedmon came in and gave them eight points and six rebounds in 19 minutes of action, I had a chance to speak with Dedmon about his game. "Just always being ready," said the former USC Trojan, who was called into action due to Kyle O`Quinn's foul trouble. "I'm definitely, every time I step onto the court, playing with a lot of energy. That's what I do. So, it’s just always being ready when my number is called and just be able to come out and play the game."
While his numbers may not jump off the page--he's averaged a pedestrian 3.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game in nearly 12 minutes of action--some of the things he does on court do. He's got a great nose for the ball on the glass, much like teammate Nikola Vucevic, and he's not afraid to step up and be physical. He's shown a great first-jump ability, and could prove to be a defensive anchor for the second unit moving forward, thanks to his rim protecting abilities--opponents shoot 45.7 percent at the rim against Dedmon, per NBA.com's player tracking data. That 45.7 percent mark is the lowest of Orlando's four main rotation bigs--Vucevic, Dedmon, Channing Frye and O`Quinn. Indeed, the only Orlando players with better rim-protection marks hardly play: Andrew Nicholson has fallen out of the Magic's rotation, and a fractured foot has ruled Aaron Gordon out since mid-November.
Not only is Dedmon's energy important, his versatility can be as well. We've seen Coach Vaughn go with a lineup that includes both Dedmon and Vucevic, who are true centers, and it's worked, thanks in large part to Dedmon's ability to move his feet and defend power forwards. It is an adjustment, however, as both Dedmon and Vucevic are most comfortable rolling to the basket.
When asked about playing with the Magic's main man in the middle, Dedmon said he "just tries to play off of Vucevic on the block," because of the presence he has become down there. "With me and Nik in the game, we're both rollers, so just little adjustments we have to make," said the second-year big. "I'm still able to play my same game... With Channing it's just hard rolls cause, you know, he's a shooter, but with Vuc, just play more off him on the low block."
Dedmon's versatility, energy, and potential on the defensive end are all huge positives and help the Magic almost every time he's on the floor, but his offense still needs work. He lacks touch around the rim much of the time, and a majority of his scoring comes off of dunks. However, he has been praised recently for his work on that end, especially with his post game.
On the topic of his post game, Dedmon said he feels as though he's made "a lot of strides," citing his work in the offseason as the biggest thing that's helped. "You know, in the offseason I was working a lot on different parts of my game and even continuing to now. I might not play some games, some I might play a low level of minutes, whatever that may be, I’m always in the gym working on different aspects of my game and, you know, the low post and scoring within my range."
The Southern California grad is one of those guys who just simply gets it. He comes in and plays within himself no matter what the situation may be or what his allocation of minutes may be. With the January 10th deadline quickly approaching, it seems unlikely that Dedmon and the Magic part ways, even if they do have plans to call up players from their D-League team, the Erie BayHawks, as sources have indicated.
For now, all Dedmon can do is continue to work hard and prove that he does deserve to be in pinstripes for the long run.