With Chuma Okeke injured and out for most of the 2020 season, the Orlando Magic should let him rehab and use their final roster spot on DaQuan Jeffries.
They retained their major free agents and decided to run it back with hopes of the young core progressing alongside the veterans with valuable playoff experience furthering their development.
The Magic entered draft night with two selections many fans expected would be part of this goal too. They would add something to the team with the prospect of contributing to the team quickly.
Chuma Okeke was not discussed as much in the draft process after he tore his ACL in the NCAA Tournament, likely eliminating his rookie season while he rehabs back to full strength.
Okeke would be a great help to the roster with his shooting, IQ, overall feel, defensive versatility and ability to fit into any rotation, specifically with Orlando lacking a stretch big off the bench. But he does not seem like a great bet to be a high-impact player this season.
ACL tears are not the terrifying injuries they once were. They are painful and the rehab is frustrating (say this from experiencing an ACL tear myself), but the timetable is shrinking by the year to resuming your regular physical activities.
The surgery to repair his ACL happened on April 2 with the average recovery time ranging anywhere from 8-12 months depending on the human. Regress to the median at 10 months and that would put Okeke being fully recovered in February around the All-Star break.
That is a glimmer of hope for Okeke and Orlando as Okeke is expected to make a full recovery and he was already walking without crutches when the team introduced him to the media after the draft in late June.
Losing a first-round pick like Okeke is never an ideal scenario, but the Magic had a Summer League standout that is a perfect fit for them in DaQuan Jeffries. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane wing went undrafted and signed with the Orlando Magic for Summer League, where he averaged 13.2 points, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 42 percent from the field.
His athleticism stood out on both ends of the floor, but defensively is where he is exceptional. Jeffries can guard any perimeter position. He could even hold his own guarding some 5s given his strong build and with his high motor.
He would give Orlando another strong 3-and-D wing. But Jeffries’ passing ability surprised me, and I was very high on him heading into the draft process. He made picture perfect lob passes into the paint, beautiful backdoor passes to teammates cutting and kept the ball moving with the simple passes.
Jeffries even handled some point guard responsibilities, running some pick-and-roll, taking the ball up the floor and initiating the offense. His continuing to add more to his game will make him a serviceable rotation. But his ability to knock down 3-pointers will be his calling card to playing heavy minutes in the NBA.
Regardless, Jeffries would be a smart signing to complete the roster with Okeke on the shelf for most of the season. It gives the team a young wing off the bench for the season, and Orlando can see how Jeffries plays in the NBA while Okeke spends the year strengthening his knee before he goes to Lakeland and the G-League.
It would be awesome having Okeke back for the playoff stretch run, but that will depend on how quickly he can get back into game shape. He would also have two months and 20-25 games to adjust to NBA game speed to get ready for postseason basketball, which is a different animal itself.
With all of these hurdles to overcome for Okeke, spending the full season rehabbing and honing skills with the Magic’s coaching and training staffs could be best for his long-term outlook.
Rookies redshirting their first season has been frequent in recent years, especially with leg injuries increasing and teams opting to take the cautious approach with their young players.
If Okeke comes back and is ready to play, he can spend time with the Lakeland Magic to get up to speed. The G-League is not the worst avenue at all for young players, especially for Okeke who would get a massive uptick and usage while working on parts of his game that he wouldn’t be able to in the NBA, where he’d be a spot-up shooter most likely.
Okeke remains unsigned — the only first-round pick yet to sign his rookie contract — and the Magic have one roster spot currently open after Amile Jefferson agreed to a deal with the team. The details of Amile Jefferson’s contract have yet to be revealed which could cloud the Magic’s ability to bring Jeffries back unless Jefferson is back on a two-way contract or Exhibit 10.
At the very least, the Magic should use their second two-way contract spot on Jeffries, with the potential of converting him into a full roster player in January.
Adding Jeffries would be great for both players and the team itself.
DaQuan Jeffires, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mohamed Bamba as a bench frontcourt with Terrence Ross is strong defensively. The offense runs through Terrence Ross for the most part, and having a secondary ball handler like Jeffries that can make some plays will boost their outlook.
Signing Jeffries with the spot and redshirting Okeke is best for the Magic’s present and future, which was the most important aspect of their offseason. Finding the balance of contending for the playoffs and having a bright future was important, and this series of moves certifies that even more.
Published at Fri, 19 Jul 2019 19:07:53 +0000