30 Players in 30 Days: Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic


In an attempt to get myself and others hyped about the 2016–17 NBA season, I brainstormed several different preview ideas. Many outlets are doing team previews, but this is a player’s game, damnit. Why not take my favorite and/or most interesting player from each team and write a l’il somethin’ somethin’? I decided to write them in order of my projected finish for that team.

We’re slowly wading our way to the back end of the lottery. Not quite there yet, but at the very least we’ve gotten to the point where if you told me that Team “X” could snag a playoff spot, I wouldn’t be shocked. While I admittedly don’t know what to make of the Orlando Magic’s roster, I’m hoping and praying new coach Frank Vogel unleashes Mario Hezonja.

My Fave Video

Back story: I went back and forth about who I was going to use for the Magic… and it was between streaky, herky-jerky guard Evan Fournier and freak-athlete Aaron Gordon. I was leaning heavy toward Fournier, especially because of his viral feud with NBA 2K17 developers over his face scan adding an unintentional comedy. I had the video lined up and everything… and then Hezonja came up next on the video queue.

I forget where I read it last summer, but some pundit compared him to the Euro-version of J.R. Smith (basketball only… I don’t think he has a “pipe” fetish). In looking at the stats, I was actually surprised by how much he played last season (18 minutes per). He didn’t light the world on fire, but he showed flashes (like the video above) that led me to believe he could morph into something special.

With Victor Oladipo gone, it’s almost like addition by subtraction. Expect Hezonja’s minutes and efficiency to increase. As for the Magic, they have a weird but intriguing roster. Can’t decide whether it’s a blessing or a curse to have so much positional competition. Fournier vs. Hezonja. Nikola Vucevic vs. Bismack BiyomboSerge Ibaka vs. Aaron Gordon (and no, I’m not quite sold on Gordon playing the three).

I just think with quite a few teams ahead of them getting markedly better, I can’t rank them higher than this currently. But if guys like Hezonja and Gordon can make a big leap, you never know.


30. Jeremy Lin, Brooklyn Nets

29. Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers

28. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

27. Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat

26. Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets

25. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

24. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

23. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons


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