Jan 28, 2012, 6:30 PM EDT
The Orlando Magic drafted Daniel Orton on June 24, 2010, with the 29th overall pick of the NBA Draft. 582 days later, the 6-foot-10 center made his big league debut in garbage time of Friday night’s 93-67 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.
Orton, a project pick and one of five Kentucky players selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, sank two free-throws in his three minutes and nine seconds off the bench for the Magic in Friday’s blowout loss. It wasn’t much, obviously, but at least he can say that he’s finally played in the NBA. It was a long road to that point, too, as Orton had to deal with a season-ending knee injury last season while on assignment in the NBA Development League.
While Orton waited to make his NBA debut, teammate Dwight Howard was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year for a third straight season, ‘strongly’ considered playing overseas and decided that his trade demand would extend to nearly half of the teams in the NBA before his emotions bubbled over following the loss to the Hornets. It would seem that Howard’s likely going to be traded sooner rather than later following the latest incident, though that doesn’t necessarily bode well for his backup’s future in Disney World.
The Magic declined Orton’s rookie option earlier in the week, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it wasn’t without controversy. There are very few players that haven’t had their first rookie option extended — Joe Alexander being one of the more high-profile prospects of the bunch — but Orton’s case was quite rare considering that, prior to Friday it looked like he may never play a game with the team that drafted him.
“I haven’t done anything on the court to prove that I can play or anything, so I understand why they did it,” Orton told the Orlando Sentinel. “But I don’t understand a lot of things, such as why I didn’t get a chance maybe to showcase what I have.”
Getting to the charity stripe for a pair of free-throws in a blowout loss to the Hornets probably wasn’t exactly what Orton had in mind when he made the above comment, but it’ll be interesting to see exactly what happens with him down the road when he’s able to actually showcase what he has. There aren’t a lot of players that have Orton’s combination of size, strength and shooting touch, but the Magic apparently weren’t impressed with what he brought to the table during practice.
Considering he’s just 21 years of age, however, there’s a solid chance that whichever team picks him up this summer might better utilize him on their roster. At the very least, it’s unlikely he’d have to go another 50,284,800 seconds on an NBA roster without actually seeing the court during a game, right?
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