By Greg Auman
Special to the Register
ORLANDO, Fla. — On a day when the Orlando Magic’s two lottery picks combined for nine points and eight turnovers, the team’s rookie standout in Saturday’s NBA Summer League opener was second-round pick Devyn Marble, who scored 13 points in 16 minutes of Orlando’s 83-77 win against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 6-foot-6 combo player from Iowa made a strong first impression at Amway Arena, going 5-for-7 from the field with five rebounds and three steals.
“I know my game. I play to my strengths and stay away from my weaknesses,” said Marble, wearing No. 8 for the Magic. “I just came out and tried to be aggressive, to do what I do.”
If the impressive debut was surprising to some, it wasn’t for Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who led the team with 18 points and said he’s admired Marble since his freshman year with the Hawkeyes, when he scored 18 points to beat Indiana when Oladipo was a Hoosiers freshman.
“If there’s anybody who wasn’t surprised by his performance, it was me,” Oladipo said. “The day I found out we got him, I was probably one of the most excited dudes in America. He’s been scoring like that and playing like that since he was a freshman. He’s a really good basketball player, and he’s still got room to get better. I’m definitely glad we got him.”
Marble, a 21-year-old who was selected with the 56th pick in the draft nine days earlier, still faces a challenge to be assured of a roster spot with the Magic, who took Arizona forward Aaron Gordon with the fourth overall pick and Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton at No. 12.
“I’ve been playing well in practice, scoring, defending, showing my overall skill set and what I can bring to the team,” Marble said. “They expect me to come in and score off the bench and defend.”
Marble’s first game in Orlando was better than Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim’s initial experience. Ejim was unable to get in the game off the 76ers’ bench. The undrafted Big 12 Conference player of the year has four more games to show something to Philadelphia, and he’ll also be playing at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas with the San Antonio Spurs.
Marble, who next plays Monday afternoon against Houston, split time between point guard and shooting guard at Iowa, but his future with the Magic could be as a small forward, where his athleticism can help him rebound while helping with his passing skills.
“I was telling our front-office guys I was surprised how comfortable he’s been, (even) defensively, understanding the nuances of the game,” said Magic assistant Wes Unseld Jr., serving as the team’s Summer League head coach. “He’s been very good for us.”