Dribbles: Orlando summer fun


BY SAM AMICO

Random dribbles on the NBA’s summer league in Orlando, which began Saturday and concludes Friday:

1. Second-year Magic forward Aaron Gordon has been the Blake Griffin of summer, as Gordon leads the Orlando league in scoring (21.5 ppg) and rebounding (14.0 rpg).

2. The Magic hired an independent shooting coach to work with Gordon. It seems to be paying off. Gordon went from 42 percent on free throws at Arizona to 72 percent last season as a Magic rookie. His form and shot look even better this summer.

3. Here’s a nice feature on Gordon’s improvement in the Orlando Sentinel.

4. Hornets rookie center Frank Kaminsky has been a monster in the middle, scoring 16.5 points and grabbing 10.0 rebounds in two games. Kaminsky likely would’ve been a top-five draft pick back in the days when big men mattered. They still matter, actually. It’s just that so many coaches insist on playing small ball.

5. No good or bad to that above point, by the way. It’s just a different game today. And with the Warriors winning the title after benching their starting center (Andrew Bogut), you can be sure the trend toward small will continue.

6. Anyway, back to summer league. Combo guard Aaron Harrison went undrafted out of Kentucky, but has also played well for the Hornets. Harrison’s twin brother, Andrew, was selected No. 44 by the Suns, then traded to the Grizzlies. Aaron is averaging 13.0 points and 5.0 assists in Orlando. Andrew is at 8.5 and 2.5, respectively.

7. Speaking of undrafted rookie guards, I really like what I’ve seen from Ryan Boatright with the Nets. You may remember Boatright as the hard-working backcourt-mate of Shabazz Napier (Heat) at Connecticut two years ago — when the Huskies won the NCAA title. At 5-foot-11, Boatright may be a little undersized, but like so many UConn guards (Kemba Walker, Napier) he just makes winning plays.

8. So far, Boatright is averaging 15.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in Orlando. He may not make the Nets, but he should make some team somewhere.

9. Another of my favorite unsung types so far: Frank Gaines of the Thunder. He went undrafted out of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) in 2013 and has bounced around the D-League and overseas since. Sometimes, it takes guys longer to find their way to the NBA. Gaines has looked sharp in Orlando. Maybe he’ll be one of those guys.

10. Others who have impressed me in Orlando: Heat rookie guard Justise Winslow; Pistons rookie small forward Stanley Johnson; second-year Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams; second-year D-League guard Keith Appling (with Magic); and especially, Pacers rookie center Myles Turner.

11. Finally, check out the post by Spencer Davies on lottery pick and Magic rookie Mario Hezonja. It’s safe to say the 6-8 swingman isn’t intimidated by his first experience in the NBA.