Three days are left before the Summer League playoffs begin, and two teams that have not set themselves up to advance will matchup tonight with the Knicks taking on the Magic. We’ll preview this matchup between the 0-2 teams before going over which side I’ll be backing for my play.
Heading into this event, the Knicks had one of the least exciting rosters, as they have just one player on this team who was selected by them through the draft. After having the likes of Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride last Summer League, the Knicks' are led by DaQuan Jeffries this year. With three years of experience in the league, Jeffries led the Knicks in scoring with 20 points in their opening game but missed their last game with a hip injury.
New York doesn’t possess much scoring depth outside of Jeffries, which was evident in their most recent game against the Nets, in which they lost 98-80. Charlie Brown Jr. led the way with 16 points in the game, as he’s the team's second-leading scorer, but overall the team shot 37.3% from the field and 27.5% from three. The only player on the roster that the Knicks drafted last year, Trevor Keels, ended the game with eight points and +/- of (-29).
The Orlando Magic team that New York will square off against tonight did have one of the more intriguing rosters in the event going into it, but they have not been able to find much success through their first two games. After losing 108-85 to the Pacers on Monday, the Magic are now averaging just 81 PPG on 40.3% shooting from the field. With a roster that features two lottery picks from this season and 1st rounder from last year, the lack of scoring the team has displayed is a bit shocking.
Kevon Harris led the team in scoring in their opening game, but with him not playing in their game against the Pacers, Caleb Houston stepped up and led the team with 18 points. Orlando’s two lottery picks, Anthony Black and Jett Howard, went a combined 7-21 from the field in the loss.
In terms of rosters, the Magic hold the advantage in this matchup, and with them favored by (-1.5), I’ll be backing them for my play. While Orlando has not shot the ball well through the first two games, they still possess more scoring depth than New York. I don’t expect Anthony Black and Jett Howard to continue to shoot it as poorly as they have, but even if one of them struggles tonight, I trust the rest of the team can pick up the slack.
Orlando at least has the potential to break out from the three-point line with multiple shooters like Caleb Houston or Elijah Hughes able to knock down the deep ball. The Knicks, on the other hand, do not have that ability, as they are shooting 23.3% from deep, which is the worst three-point percentage in the event.
The other area New York has struggled with is turnovers, which does not bode well for them tonight since the Magic are averaging 11.5 steals per game, the second-highest average in the event. Orlando has four players averaging two or more steals per game, so if they can continue to force turnovers and get out into transition, I think they can pick up their first win of the event tonight.
Orlando Magic (-1.5)