O’Quinn Inks Three-Year Deal With Orlando

Per his agent, Kyle O’Quinn has signed a three year deal with the Orlando Magic. O’Quinn’s deal is worth $2.5 million over three years. The first year of his deal is guaranteed and worth about $788,000.

O’Quinn, picked 49th in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Magic, was impressive playing for the Orlando Summer League team. In roughly 21.4 minutes per game, O’Quinn averaged 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. O’Quinn used his 7’5 wingspan to make post offense difficult for opposing big men, including one impressive defensive performance against Piston’s rookie Andre Drummond, the 9th pick in this year’s draft, that frustrated Detroit’s rookie into three points on 1-4 shooting and three rebounds.

O’Quinn told HOOPSADDICT.com in July that his plan was to become a backup for Dwight Howard.

“We go off what’s going on today, and [Howard] needs a reliable backup. I’m think I can be that,” he said. “[General manager Rob] Hennigan and Scott Perry are always looking for young talent and you want to be in those type of situations.”

Most people were introduced to O’Quinn after his college team, Norfolk State, upset 2nd ranked Missouri in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. O’Quinn’s endearing post-game interview with Craig Sager made him an early fan favorite.

Orlando Summer League Review

Orlando Summer League MVP

The Candidates: Austin Daye, Detroit; Lance Stephenson, Indiana

Statistically, Lance Stephenson was the runaway camp MVP; when engaged, the Pacer guard was borderline unstoppable. But when he was less engaged, it was unfortunately obvious. In no game was the difference as pronounced as Friday’s matchup with Brooklyn. When he wanted to score, Stephenson reached into his bag of tricks (the prettiest of which is his quick, sweeping crossover dribble) and got to the rim at will. When he wasn’t engaged, he was rolling his eyes and walking away from teammate Miles Plumlee, who did not perform well.

Stephenson led the Orlando Summer League in points by well over two per game, and he was third in assists. He showed that he can play point with some serious size, as well as shooting guard. Statistically, he’s the MVP. But considering the Pacers’ mediocre record (2-3) and Stephenson’s occasionally questionable body language, the MVP award goes to Austin Daye.

Daye was fantastic, averaging 15.8 points per game to go with 7.4 rebounds. His 3-point percentages were a little low (.353), but his pace-adjusted stats were excellent: per 48 minutes, Daye averaged 28.9 points. More importantly, the Pistons went 4-1 in Summer League. One could make the argument that Daye had more help than Stephenson (Brandon Knight averaged 7.3 assists, Kim English averaged a ridiculous .455 from 3-point range), but by that logic, Kevin Love would have won the MVP award over LeBron James this season, which would have been a travesty.

MVP: Austin Daye, Detroit Pistons

Biggest Project

The Candidates: Fab Melo, Boston; Andre Drummond, Detroit

For the purposes of this “award,” we aren’t including players who probably will never play in the NBA. Thus we exclude the Blake Ahearns and the Bradford Burgesses. Instead, we focus on two players who simultaneously present a series of frustrating challenges and intriguing skill sets.

Let’s begin here: Fab Melo is not as good as Andre Drummond, and if that’s the qualification for “project,” Melo wins. Hands down. Drafted for his interior defense, Melo has a very difficult time defending the paint. He got lost several times when the team went into a 2-3 zone, which is understandable since he’s new to the system, but he got lost several times in man to man defense as well. Melo has an NBA body; he’s very tall, very long, and very strong. But he has a fairly low basketball IQ, which is worrisome for his career going forward. Celtics fans would undoubtedly like to believe that playing with Garnett will help, and perhaps it will, but Melo has a long ways to go before he is an impact player in the NBA.

But while Drummond entered camp with a few more skills than Melo, Drummond also can rise considerably higher. Drummond’s go-to shot in the post at the moment is an awkward turnaround, which he releases very low for a 7-footer. With offensive polish, Drummond really could become one of the dominant big men in the NBA. But it’s going to take a ton of work to get him there, a ton of work which Detroit has invested in themselves by picking him 9th.

Biggest Project: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Biggest Stock Boost

The Candidates: Kyle O’Quinn, Orlando; Jacob Pullen, Philadelphia

Though Pullen went down with an ankle injury and didn’t play in the final two games, his 13 points per game were impressive, as was his court vision and, to borrow an annoying basketball cliché, his sense of the moment. It was deadly for teams to leave him late in games, and in multiple games, Pullen’s confident 3-pointers brought his team back from large deficits.

O’Quinn impressed early and continued to be a tough, intimidating defender and rebounder as the week progressed. O’Quinn is a hustle player, extremely coachable, who constantly has a great attitude with his teammates. Pullen played well, but O’Quinn went from a moderately uninteresting second round pick to one of the most likable Summer League players in a matter of five days.

Bring on O’Quinnsanity.

Biggest Stock Boost: Kyle O’Quinn, Orlando Magic

Most Intriguing

The Candidates: Tornike Shengelia, Brooklyn; Andrew Nicholson, Orlando

Shengelia started Summer League as an unknown foreign quantity, but after Friday concluded, he had shown himself to be a multi-faceted player with a bunch of interesting assets. Shengelia averaged 10.3 points per game on 52% shooting (with range stretching out to the arc) to go with 7.3 rebounds, but perhaps more intriguing was his court vision, basketball IQ, and NBA-ready body. Unlike many of the young players in Summer League, Shengelia is powerfully built, which should serve him well going forward, and he demonstrated a good sense of spacing around the basket, both giving and receiving passes.

Andrew Nicholson was intriguing for other reasons. First, let’s be blunt, he looks goofy. His awkward duck-footed gait is only exacerbated by the ridiculous length of his other limbs; his long, gangly arms seem to stretch to his shins. But he puts those arms to good use, stretching them over the defenders’ fingertips and using excellent touch around the basket. Unlike Drummond, Nicholson doesn’t seem to fear the post; rather, he embraces it despite his lack of strength and bulk, and we can expect his body to fill out as he commits his regimen to basketball.

It’s a tough decision, but Nicholson gets the nod for showing more potential star power…for now.

Most Intriguing: Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

Miscellaneous Notes

-His excellent play should be duly noted, so please note: Utah guard Alec Burks was fantastic in every game except for Friday’s. His jumpshots were on point, he was getting to the basket fluidly and finishing at the rim, and he appeared to have added some muscle over the summer. Never judge a wing at Summer League, but Burks looked very good.
-Dunk of the week goes to Reggie Jackson of Oklahoma City, who absolutely demolished Jeremy Evans on Friday. “Max contract, man,” Perry Jones yelled from the bench.
-The funniest moment of the week went to Jared Sullinger for his self-awareness. After being called for a foul, he was told by a ref to stop flopping. “Come on, man,” Sullinger said in disbelief. “I’m too big to flop.”

Morrison Is Unsure Of His Future In The NBA

As media members slowly filled the Orlando practice facility on Monday, there was a small buzz when, collectively, everyone realized that the first game would include Adam Morrison, the floppy haired 3rd pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Standing outside the Amway Center locker rooms, the former Gonzaga star’s 6’8 lean body and long hair still strike an impressive figure. But when HOOPSADDICT.com talked to him on Thursday, we asked what he had improved since he left the NBA.

Morrison grimaced, then forced a smile.

“I’m not sure,” he said, and the implication was clear: move on to another question.

It was a moment of uncomfortable honesty. This uncertainty has seemed to plague Morrison throughout the Summer League.

In Brooklyn’s first game on Monday, Morrison started off well, scoring the first four points for the Nets off short floaters. But playing off the ball has never been Morrison’s strong suit and as the game progressed and this teammates became more comfortable, Morrison’s touches became fewer and further between.

After taking four shots in the first quarter, Morrison took just three the rest of the way. He had just nine field goal attempts in 31 minutes on Tuesday, and on Wednesday and Thursday, Morrison played just 13 and seven minutes respectively.

“I had a good camp,” Morrison said. “I haven’t been playing well here. Hopefully I can play better in Vegas and see what happens.”

Watching his minutes gradually trickle away may feel uncomfortably familiar to Morrison. A phenom in college, a lack of athleticism and confidence doomed him in the NBA. His field goal percentages were consistently disappointing, and as he struggled, his minutes per game dipped lower and lower until they fell into single digits in his final two seasons.

After spending two consecutive years watching the Lakers win championships from the bench in 2009 and 2010, Morrison took his talents overseas. In 2011, he traveled to Serbia before playing in Turkey for 16 games in 2012. Despite averaging 31 minutes per game in Turkey, Morrison left because he wasn’t pleased with his playing time. So now, as the Brooklyn Nets have brought him back to the United States for Summer League, Morrison, like most other players, is trying out for a roster spot.

“Overseas, you’re not going to have the nicer things you have in the League,” Morrison said. “Obviously the play is a little bit different. The game is really different.”

In Turkey, Morrison was effective. Though his three point percentages never topped .400, even with a shorter line, Morrison was able to get shots closer to the basket and score the ball inside the arc.

He shot .513 from the field overall in Turkey and averaged 13.7 points per game.

“I just want people to see that I’m healthy, that I can move and that I can play a little defense,” Morrison said. “Hopefully people understand I feel like I can still score in this league. So maybe it will happen.”

Confidence is a strange phenomenon. For Jacob Pullen (profiled yesterday by Hoops Addict), confidence gives him a desire to have the ball in crunch time. It gives players a knowledge, even if the knowledge is false, that they are the best player on the court, and that belief can be part of what makes a player great.

“Maybe it will happen.”

The spoken implication, of course, is that Morrison hasn’t given up hope, but the unspoken implication is that an NBA comeback might not happen. He doesn’t know whether or not he will make a roster. He isn’t certain.

For Adam Morrison, and for any NBA player, uncertainty does not bode well for the future.

Pullen Proving He Belongs In The NBA

One of the most contentious ideas in basketball jargon is the idea of clutch. The internet has examined the word from every angle and come up with no solid consensus on what clutch is, how much it matters, or whether the narrative has any basis in reality.

But make no mistake: some players do rise to the occasion in big moments. Jacob Pullen is one of these players.

Pullen, a point guard for Philadelphia’s Summer League team in Orlando, has been putting up big numbers for the Sixers. And even though Philadelphia is 0-2 in games that he has played (he sat out Wednesday’s game with a mild ankle sprain), in each contest his confidence seems to swell when his team needs late buckets.

“I want the ball, man,” Pullen told HOOPSADDICT.com on Wednesday. “It’s a mentality. I don’t know if everybody has it, but I know I do. At the end of the game, I’d rather have the pressure on me, take that shot and take the blame because I know that I can make it.”

He can indeed. Against the Jazz on Tuesday, Pullen scored 23 points, including 4-7 from three point range. Several of those threes were in the final minutes, as he pulled the Sixers to within striking distance before Utah closed out the game.

“Rather than sitting around and not knowing what’s gonna happen, I’d rather try to make something happen,” Pullen said. “That’s the way I was brought up.”

Pullen, previously a star under Frank Martin at Kansas State, spent the lockout playing professional basketball in Italy for Angelico Biella. Pullen played well in Italy, averaging 34 minutes, 16 points, and 3 assists for the club, but he accepted when the Sixers offered him a Summer League roster spot.

“It’s different,” he said, of the style of basketball in Italy. “It was a great experience for me and I enjoyed it a lot, but it’s two different types of basketball, with the athleticism and everything. You just have to be able to adjust.”

Pullen’s play has been eye-opening in Orlando. A supremely confident competitor, his style mirrors his mentality. He scored 15 points in 20 minutes of action against the Pacers on Monday. But he can also dish the ball, recording four assists Tuesday against the Jazz, a high number for a Summer League offense.

Combined with his dangerous pullup jumpshot, his court vision and basketball IQ make him a handful in pick and roll situations.

“The biggest mistake people make about me [is thinking that] me scoring is me shooting a lot,” Pullen said, and indeed, his 19 ppg in Orlando have come while shooting 52%, a very high number for a perimeter player. “I don’t really need a lot of shots to score. I want people to understand I can control a team and get people shots. But at the same time, when you need me I can put the ball in the bucket in a hurry.”

While Pullen is making a strong case for a roster spot on any team, he believes that he would fit in well with the Sixers.

“I think if I did get a shot, I could really help the team, which is all up to the people upstairs,” Pullen said.

If Pullen continues to play the way he is playing, the people upstairs would do well to take notice. Clutch or not, Pullen is leaving little question as to whether he belongs.

Catching Up With Perry Jones III

Perry Jones III talked with HOOPSADDICT.com about his ankle injury, adjusting to the pace of the NBA, what he feels he will bring to the Oklahoma City Thunder and his fall on draft night.

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