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Practice Notebook: Meeks progressing, Hezonja happy with game

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The Magic will be without one sharpshooter for a while still, while another is comfortable with his game.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Meeks progressing

After being acquired from the Detroit Pistons in late June, Jodie Meeks said he was ready to go and fully healthy from a broken foot that cost him the 205/16 season. Fast forward just two weeks and Meeks was back on the shelf following another surgery to the same foot he had broken in Detroit.

The news was shocking for all, especially after Meeks talked about his health being where he wanted it to be just weeks earlier. Now, with the season set to tip off in just under two weeks, the Orlando Magic guard is getting closer and closer to returning.

Following the teams practice on Thursday, coach Frank Vogel said that Meeks has continued to progress in his recovery.

“Yeah, he’s coming along,” said Vogel. “He’s still on the same timeline, so to speak. Definitely out until the end of November. Hopefully we’ll get him in there as soon as we can.”

Acquiring Meeks was one of the quieter moves the Magic made during their busy offseason. After having interest in the sharp shooting guard in free agency two summers ago, the Magic were finally able to add him via trade to bolster their three-point shooting.

With Meeks out, C.J. Wilcox will likely handle most of the reserve shooting-guard duties early in the season. A knockdown shooter in his own right, Wilcox could find a home in Orlando, something he was unable to do with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Hezonja happy with his game

Preseason is a time of all players to knock off rust, learning new teammates, and in the Magic’s case, a new coach and brand new system. For some players, like Evan Fournier and Jeff Green, the transition has been smooth, with both players appearing to be in mid-season form already. Aside from those two, it’s generally been a struggle for the Magic’s bunch through three preseason games.

One of those players who has struggled in Mario Hezonja. The second-year swingman has shot 33.3 percent from the floor, and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc, and appeared lost at times on the defensive end.

Despite those struggles, Hezonja said he’s happy about where his game is.

“Individually I feel perfect,” said Hezonja. “I’m in shape, I’m ready physically, I’m ready mentally. I’m ready for this year.”

Hezonja did note that the team is still learning each other, what they like on the court, and how they all fit together. This process takes time, but Hezonja said having the likes of Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo, who have played on and had success with playoff teams, is helping a lot.

Nonetheless, Hezonja is going to have to find a way to step up his game to the next level if the Magic are going to take that big step forward. With a need for offensive firepower and shooting becoming more and more evident, Hezonja’s struggles could be a big issue as the Magic inch closer to the regular season.