With the season winding down, we check in with the Orlando Magic's NBA Developmental League affiliate the Erie BayHawks. Chris Reichert of Hardwood Paroxysm's Upside and Motor joins us to answer some questions regarding the team. Reichert is one of the most in-tune people with the D-League.
You can find Chris on twitter at @Chris_Reichert and all of his work at Upsidemotor.com.
1: How are the BayHawks doing this year? Are they in the playoff hunt?
The BayHawks have struggled a bit this year. They currently hold the worst record in the league at 11-26 and they have lost nine straight games. Needless to say, they are not in the playoff hunt at this time, but hopefully they can finish strong. Erie currently ranks last in points per game and they are the only team in the league under 100 points a night as they clock in at 95.8.
2: Has anyone stood out from the BayHawks this season and really moved up the ladder in call up ranks?
Melvin Ejim has proved himself to be a quality small forward moving into the future. Through 35 games he’s averaged 14.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists and provided excitement for a roster that lacks really any explosive players. Ejim turns 25-years-old on Friday, but I can see him making a team next season with a strong offseason and training camp. At 6-7 he shoots the 3-ball at a decent clip (33.3%), he gets to the free throw line (3.8 attempts per/gm) and he’s just a guy who can make plays for teammates as well.
The other player of mention here is Keith Appling who earned a call-up earlier this season with Orlando. They traded for him mid-season last year and he’s been their best player ever since. He’s averaging 18.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals a night and his aggressive nature always keep opposing defenders on their toes. He’s one to watch as the season winds down.
3: Second-round pick Tyler Harvey is spending the season in Erie. How has he looked as he transitions into the professional ranks?
Harvey hasn’t had the season I expected and he’s struggled to find consistency in his jump shot which is perhaps the most surprising thing so far. He’s only 22-years-old and though he lit up the NCAA ranks, he did so in a small conference and sometimes that just doesn’t translate right away. He’s shooting almost 36 percent from deep (6.3 attempts) which isn’t bad but if his calling card is his shooting then that number needs to be around 42-46 percent to garner real NBA attention. He doesn’t get to have the ball in his hands much so we haven’t seen if he really has the ability to make plays for others, but at 6'4" he would be a small shooting guard in the NBA, so I think Erie needs to let him loose a little bit down the stretch so the Magic can really see what they have in him moving forward.
4: The Magic used the D-League some this season with Devyn Marble, and calling up Keith Appling. How do you think they've done in comparison to other teams with using their affiliate?
The Magic have done well using their affiliate. All of their younger guys are getting quality minutes for the NBA club, so it wouldn’t make sense to assign them to the D-League. Marble has only played 14 games with the club however and I think it would make more sense to send him there for an extended assignment to close the season. He’s averaged 31 minutes a night with Erie and that live-game action cannot be replaced as a valuable learning tool moving forward. Marble is still quite raw offensively so extensive reps against game competition would be useful definitely.
5: The Magic are looking to bring a team to Florida in the next year or so. how much of an impact could that have on the Magic, and the D-League as a whole?
I think having a D-League affiliate closer to home would make a sizable difference for the Magic, because they could assign and recall players with more ease which would likely cause them to utilize the resource more often. Again, they are a very young team so maybe they won’t have as many assignees to their affiliate but if their club was 10 minutes away from Orlando then that makes everything much easier on both fronts.
If they leave Erie it will have an impact on the D-League overall because it will open up an opportunity for a team without an affiliate to purchase the BayHawks and start their own relationship. There are still eight teams heading into the 2016/17 season without their own D-League franchise so I’m sure that opening would be snatched up pretty quickly.