Monday, July 3, 2017

Walton Watch: Solid first half for Michigan's Walton in Magic's third Summer League game

Derrick Walton continued to make his case for a shot at a roster spot during Summer League play Monday.

As mentioned last week, the undrafted Walton finds himself in a solid situation on the Orlando summer squad. The Magic point guard depth chart is particularly inviting for an undrafted player looking to make an NBA team.

The Magic return starter Elfrid Payton, who closed the 2016-17 well but still struggles as a shooter. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin is entering the second year of a four-year deal, but he wasn't exactly impressive this past season. C.J. Watson's contract for next season is only partially guaranteed.

In short, Summer League is Walton's chance to make an impact, get a camp invite and potentially get a shot to make the roster.
While it wasn't his best day from the field, Walton did just that in Orlando's third Summer League game of the season.

"When Walton's out there, they just seem to get good looks," commentator Greg Anthony said during the third quarter of the Magic's matchup Monday against Dallas.

Although the Magic squandered a big first-half lead, Walton made an impact throughout the first half, flashing his ability as a floor general. At no point did he looked rushed or overwhelmed.

Heading into today, Walton led the squad with 11.5 points per game (in two games), just ahead of former Michigan State Spartan Kalin Lucas' 11.0 ppg.

In the Magic's third game of the summer, Walton wasn't incredibly efficient with his own shot (8 points, 4-for-12 shooting), but he finished with five assists (his best assist total in three SL games to date). Unfortunately for Walton, he went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. The NBA TV announcers said it seemed like he might have run out of gas in the second half -- hard to tell, but he certainly wasn't as impressive in the second.

I can't say I watch too much Summer League basketball, but the announcers spent quite a bit of time throughout the game -- and especially in the first half -- praising Walton, even going so far as to predict he'll not only make the Magic's roster, but figure into the rotation.

On Saturday, Walton scored 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, with three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes.

On Sunday, Walton dropped 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with three rebounds and three assists in just under 22 minutes.

While you can't read too much into SL play, it is an important time for players like Walton, who want to put additional data out there to convince teams to give them a shot.

So far, Walton looks like he belongs in the conversation. Plus, as mentioned, Orlando needs reserve point guard help.

Walton and the Magic will next take the floor Wednesday against the Knicks. The Knicks roster includes former Wisconsin star Nigel Hayes, who, like Walton, also went undrafted.

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