JERSEY CITY, New Jersey – Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley dropped a piece of advice to Kai Sotto and the rest of their Summer League team rookies navigating their NBA journey.
“Just go out and be yourself,” Mosley told reporters on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) after the second day of practice run by his assistant and Osceola Magic coach Dylan Murphy.
The 21-year-old Sotto is one of the 15 rookies in the 22-man Magic Summer League team.
Kai Sotto pic.twitter.com/CAuBAh9s5l
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) July 3, 2023
“Don’t try to do things that you’re not capable of doing,” Mosley added. “Do what you’re best capable of doing. And I think the more you try to do something you’re not, the more you get exposed. So just enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process, but be a sponge every single day.”
The Magic Summer League team started their practice Sunday (Monday in Manila) at the state-of-the-art AdventHealth Training Center, just one block from their arena, Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
The 7-foot-3 Sotto is the tallest player on the Magic Summer League roster and second tallest next to No. 1 pick 7-foot-5 Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs in the Las Vegas tournament, which will run from July 7 to 17.
Mosley said their focus in their practices is to help the likes of Sotto and the rest of the newcomers, particularly their lottery picks — Anthony Black and Jett Howard — to get acclimated to the NBA’s speed, officiating and style of play.
“They’re just soaking everything up that the coaches are teaching, and the coaches are doing a phenomenal job of breaking down things to the slowest level that it can be. So, they’re able to adjust to the game the right way,” Mosley said.
Mosley, who piloted the Magic to a 12-win improvement last season from his rookie year as NBA head coach, is known for his player development and defensive acumen way back to his assistant coaching days in Dallas, where he and Sotto’s agent Tony Ronzone of Wasserman Sports, formerly Mavericks Director of Player Personnel, worked together.
Mosley also credited second-year players Caleb Houstan and Kevon Harris and five-year veteran DJ Wilson for teaching the likes of Sotto the ropes and what to expect in the Summer League.
“It’s great for them to learn from these guys, and they’re all willing teachers. I think the great part about that with young guys is just helping them start their journey,” Mosely said.
Sotto and the rest of the Magic squad will fly to Las Vegas on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time) and continue to train there before their Summer League debut against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday (Sunday Manila time).
Magic Summer League Schedule:
July 8 vs. Detroit 5:30 p.m. (July 9 5:30 a.m. Manila time) ESPN
July 10 vs. Indiana 8:30 p.m. (July 11 8:30 a.m. Manila time) NBA TV
July 12 vs. New York 8 p.m. (July 13 8 a.m. Manila time) ESPN2
July 13 vs. Portland 9 p.m. (July 14 9 a.m. Manila time) ESPN2
Fifth Game TBD (to be determined)
Mosley looks forward to seeing how their young guys respond to the challenge in an NBA-level competition.
“Well, a big portion of what I like [to see] is their ability to walk into their journey of what the NBA is for them,” Mosley said. “How they can find their space in it, how they fit into what the league is asking, what is demanding, and just see how they respond to what Summer League does.”
Alder Almo is a former senior sportswriter for Philstar.com and NBA.com Philippines. He is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and writes for the New York-based website Heavy.com.