With the Orlando Magic trading away their key players to rebuild, they have found a hidden gem in the process. The recent emergence of Chuma Okeke has made many Magic fans hyped about the future of this team. With Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier out of the picture, Okeke has received more playing time and opportunities on the offensive side of the ball.
The Emergence of Chuma Okeke
In the 2019 NBA Draft, the Magic took Okeke as the 16th overall pick. However, he missed the entire season last year as he was recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the NCAA Tournament two years ago. Okeke started this season very slowly and then missed extended time with a bone bruise in his knee.
When he came back from that injury, the Auburn product has shown that he can defend at the NBA level. In fact, Okeke is an absolute pest on that end of the floor. He is very good at getting deflections and steals with his long seven feet wingspan. Okeke’s versatility on defense is the best part of his game.
Over the last four games, Okeke has been an offensive spark for Orlando. During that stretch, he has averaged 17.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. The former Auburn Tiger has also shot the ball extremely well during that stretch. Over the past four games, Okeke shot 62.8 percent from the field and 63.2 percent from behind the arc. The confidence that he is playing with on offense is sky-high right now.
Chuma Okeke’s New Role
Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford will continue to start Okeke at the power forward position which is where he is most comfortable. It will certainly be interesting to see where Okeke will play once Jonathan Isaac makes his return next season. With the way Okeke is playing right now along with his rapid development as a player, it’s hard to see him not starting next year. There’s a strong possibility that either Isaac plays the small-ball center or Okeke being shifted to play at the small forward position once Isaac is healthy. When the two can share the court, it will be more difficult for opponents to score.
Okeke came into the league as an excellent defender with a very reliable three-point shot. Over the past few games, aside from his scoring and shotmaking, he has shown flashes of what he can do as a playmaker. It’s certainly possible that the Magic rookie can develop into a point forward because of his unselfishness as a player. However, his ball-handling will need to be better if he is to become a point forward.
What’s Next for the Magic
In their last game, Okeke played a big role in their big comeback win against the Los Angeles Clippers. The new-look Magic team will look to build on this against the New Orleans Pelicans in their next game. The rest of this regular season will be a great opportunity for the young Magic players to gain their confidence and showcase what they are capable of doing on the court.
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