Amidst a flurry of World Cup tweets and .gifs of Brazilian fútbol fans crying, Twitter completely forgot there was a Orlando Pro Summer League basketball scheduled Tuesday. The Orlando Magic, playing without Romero Osby who was nursing a sore shoulder, lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, by an 80-73 final. The result lifted Memphis into first place and dropped Orlando from first to fourth.
Here are a few observations and notes that I recorded:
Aaron Gordon struggles with position switch
It's hard enough for an 18-year-old basketball player to learn how to play one NBA position, but two? That's nearly impossible. That's the challenge that Gordon was tasked with, filling in for three injured Osby, and it affected his game.
He scored just four points, all from the free throw line, and missed all three shots from the field. He also didn't record a single rebound.
"I was learning the three all week and Ro's shoulder went down, so we don't have enough big men for me to stay at the three so I had to step in," Gordon said. "I didn't do a good job rebounding today, but it's something I'll adjust to. I just got to pay attention more to what the four-men are doing and make the necessary adjustments."
I asked Gordon which position he's more comfortable with. "The three at this point," he answered.
Coach Wes Unseld Jr. agrees with Gordon's assessment.
"We've played him pretty much at the three through practice and in the first two games," coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "Ro was a little banged up today so we decided to look at him at four. It threw us off a bit at the four spot, just not clear with all the routes, and he'll get better in that regard. But I think the three spot going forward is going to be where we play him."
Victor Oladipo doesn't find his rhythm
Oladipo, the second-year guard, shot 4-of-12 from the floor and scored only 11 points against Memphis. He did, for his part, record seven rebounds. After the game, he was quick to take part of the blame.
"You're gonna have good days and bad days," Oladipo said. "At the end of the day, you've got to learn from your bad ones and minimize them. As a young vet, I learned that a lot last year." He said what he learned last year is that the game is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, attributing the amount of games to that phenomenon.
Oladipo had a few good looks, but also forced some of the action. One can attribute some of that confusion to the team's simply forgetting plays, which Oladipo referred to as "mental mistakes." There were several occasions where he would pick up his dribble, expecting his big man to pop, only to watch as his bigs went the wrong way.
"I think as I go, my team goes," Oladipo said. "Which is why we didn't do so hot today. Again, it's a learning process and you got to just continue to keep getting better.
Players react to the Channing Frye signing
It was clear, in asking the guys, that they were on board with the Magic's pending signing of Frye, the veterean sharpshooter. Oladipo smiled when he was asked about it. "It's going to spread the floor," he said. "It's going to open up the lane finally. People can't sit anymore so it's going to be better so I'm excited for him to get there."
Frye, as Evan noted in his piece, is quite the floor spacer and he had an enormous effect on the Phoenix Suns' offense last season. In particular, he created open lanes for lead guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragić. Bledsoe was three points better and Dragic was 3.4 points better with Frye on the floor.
Phoenix, as a team, was 6.5 net points better with Frye, per NBA.com/stats. Without him, it actually posted a -0.5. Without him, there's no way the Suns challenge for the eighth spot in the stacked West.
Gordon was asked about Frye, too. "It's going to be great," Gordon said. "He's a stretch shooter, a very good pro and a veteran." He continued to say how great the reported deal will be.
"He's going to help me out a lot. He's going to give me little bits and pieces that I can pick up from."
- After the game, Oladipo said there were days last year where he would cry. "It's no fun losing, and when you feel like you have a big part in losing, it doesn't sit right with me. I'm a competitor, man, I want to win. So when you're not performing to the level you want to perform at, it's tough." He said he's learned to keep it "even keel" and to have a "short-term memory."
- In watching Elfrid Payton, it's clear that he's very comfortable navigating pick-and-rolls. So I asked him what the first thing he looks for when he initiates one. He offered a detailed answer.
"What the big's going to do," said Payton. "You know, I'm trying to get down and stretch it out and play off my big, whether he wants to pop or roll. If he rolls and his guy helps, then I've got the snap back coming back [up top]. So just trying to read the defense and try to make the best play possible."
- Payton threw several impressive passes out of the pick-and-roll that did not result in assists because his teammates couldn't finish the plays. But he has an impressive patience and wherewithal in running them and that's important moving forward.