When the Magic announced Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O'Quinn would be joining Victor Oladipo on the Magic's Summer League roster, there already seemed to be an air of excitement. At least, as much excitement as one can have for any announcement involving Summer League.
Here, theoretically, was a chance for the Magic's young players to gel together and grow.
This was very much the idea that Rob Hennigan brought with him from Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were tight on and off the court. They did everything together. More importantly, they grew together.
If the Magic are truly copying the Thunder method, they are trying to do it in the same way. Their young players will need to grow organically even off the basketball court. The Thunder have clearly reaped those rewards.
Will the Magic?
Orlando is still laying the foundations on the roster. The Magic do not quite have their Kevin Durant (unless Victor Oladipo is much better than we all anticipated). It is all still coming together.
But it is coming together at this beginning stage. That goes directly to the culture and the kind of players the Magic want to build. Or maybe it is just good luck. The Magic have something working and building this summer at Amway Center, in New York, at IMG Academies in South Florida or, really, anywhere the Magic players might be.
Throughout the summer, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Kyle O'Quinn, Doron Lamb, Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic have been working out together and generally spending all times of the day with each other building that chemistry on and off the court. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld dove into this topic last week:
“I think it’s really important,” Harkless said. “We pretty much spend all of our time together, whether it’s in the gym or just hanging out at a guy’s house playing video games, watching TV or playing Spades. We just spend a lot of time together. I think it’s really good. It’s going to help us build chemistry, on the court and off of the court.”
“We’ve been going non-stop ever since the season ended,” O’Quinn said. “We took a couple weeks off and then I remember watching the Finals in the weight room. We were getting ready for Summer League, and then in Summer League we had a good showing. After that, they gave us a few weeks off and then asked us to come right back. We’ve been getting at it this offseason."
This summer it has almost been surprising to see one of these players out and about without at least another one around. Whether it is a quick BJ's run for a pizookie, going to watch Tobias Harris' brother in an AAU tournament at Disney or ragging on each other for horribly random reasons, these key players for the Magic have spent a significant amount of time with each other building up the chemistry and camraderie in a smiliar manner as the Thunder.
This is a little thing. A very little thing. But it could turn into a very big thing.
Growth and development takes years. The Magic are building it brick by brick. The evidence is there already.