A congratulations is in order for the Orlando Magic. They were the team that decided to take a shot on center Daniel Orton. Orton made his professional debut over the weekend, which turned out to be one of the most disastrous performances of the big man's basketball playing career.
The stat lines on Orton go as follows:
1-8 from the field, 1-4 FT, three points, five fouls (three of the fouls were within the Magic's first five possessions), four turnovers, two rebounds, one block, and to cap it all off, he was ejected for fighting.
Not to shabby of a game if you are playing rec league basketball. Orton's attitude and motivation were questioned as well. He was seen pouting a couple times throughout the game and seemed to be a step slower than everyone on the floor.
Orton has been a walking billboard of self-confidence since he declared for the draft. During the NCAA tournament while Orton was still wearing Kentucky blue, he was quoted as saying "The only color I care about is green."
Not typically something you want to say while you are a part of Big Blue Nation. If he could take it back he may have wanted to say, I don't know. maybe something along the lines of "The only color I care about is blue?"
Then, just a couple of weeks ago, he was being interviewed and asked if he ever thought about going to another program. This, in my opinion, received too much media attention. Sure, you shouldn't go around saying yeah I should have played at Kansas, but all in all he was asked a pretty fair question and gave an honest answer.
Now if I was in his shoes I probably would have answered it a little differently, but we all know that Daniel Orton isn't the brightest crayon in the box.
We should give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean it was his debut, right? Although if you think about it you rarely (almost never) see such a poor opening act from a first round draft pick.
Orton's game seemed to be moving at a pace that you could only describe as slow. He showed the entire world what it was already thinking. He should have returned to college.
Orton was a mediocre bench player at best last season for the Wildcats and is proving why many, including myself, projected him to be a bust. He needed more time to develop his game and he was just not prepared to make the jump to the next level.
I can't help but start to point my finger in another direction. John Calipari is somewhat to blame for this situation. If all of Big Blue Nation saw that Orton should not be going to the NBA yet, how does John Calipari miss it?
The thing is he didn't miss it, he just fulfilled a promise. During Orton's recruitment, I'm sure Calipari made him a promise that he would get him drafted in the first round—not saying that Calipari said it would be after his first season, but at some point.
When you see yourself projected as a first round draft pick, I can see why the only color you're seeing is "green." I also find it difficult to believe that Calipari sat Orton down and said, "listen Daniel I don't think you are ready for the NBA and you should probably skip out on the millions you are about to make and come back and play next season in Lexington."
The conversation probably was a little more like this, "Daniel, who really cares about college? I know you are here to get to the next level so you can get paid so you should probably go ahead and ruin your career but at least you will be making bank."
I'm all for players who are ready for the NBA to go ahead and take the leap, but it is evident that Orton was not ready. He needed some time to mature. Another point to reflect on is that Orton is already clashing with his teammates.
This does not bode well for a rookie talent who is already stirring up team chemistry in the locker room.
Don't worry Kentucky faithfuls—we did have one great performance from a former Wildcat during the opening week of summer league. Jodie Meeks went for 18 points and looked to be in good shape. Now the 76ers have a real talent that they can look forward to grooming. Orlando, just be thankful you have Dwight Howard.