***This preview was written by new RidiculousUpside.com contributor Brendan Owens***
How did Erie do last season?
The 2014-15 Erie Bayhawks, affiliate of the Orlando Magic, finished their season in 6th place (Eastern Conference) after a 24-26 record. Coach Bill Peterson, a longtime NBA assistant in his first season with Erie, was led by Seth Curry, Peyton Siva, and Drew Crawford. Curry has since signed a two-year guaranteed deal with the Sacramento Kings, and both Crawford and Siva have signed overseas. Back is guard Keith Appling, who played well for Erie after being acquired toward the end of last season. Appling, who was in training camp with the Magic and recently appeared in 5 pre-season games with the team, will be relied on as he is one of two returning players for the Bayhawks this season.
How will they do this season?
Coach Peterson and his staff will look to develop their 4 affiliate players; guards Tyler Harvey and Jordan Sibert, wing Melvin Ejim, and center Nnanna Egwu. All four players, along with Appling, played together in summer league which should provide valuable court time to establish familiarity and chemistry. Harvey is a 6-2 lefty scoring guard who was selected by the Magic with the #51 in the NBA draft, and as a senior at Eastern Washington led the nation in scoring (22.9PPG). He is a deadly shooter both off the catch and dribble, and should be one of the league leaders in scoring this season. Learning the defensive schemes, building strength, continuing to develop his pick-and-role game, and proving he can consistently make shots against higher competition will all be key for Harvey. By being drafted, his NBA rights are held solely by the Magic thus preventing other teams from signing him.
Nnanna Egwu is a 6-11 rim protector who had a career 201 blocks at Illinois, and with his signing the Bayhawks could trade big man John Bohannon to Delaware for point-guard Myck Kabongo. Egwu has long term potential and will need time to develop, but could follow the path Willie Reed took before signing in Brooklyn. Also playing upfront will be returning big man Daniel Coursey, a durable 6'10 center who finishes around the basket (52% FG) and rebounds his space well. He played with the D-League Select team in the Vegas summer league, averaging 7.50ppg and 6.50rpg. Additionally, the team brings in Derrick Caracter, the 6'9 forward who played in 41 games for the Lakers as a rookie in 2010-11. Kabongo, the point-guard who played 2 seasons with the Austin Spurs, is limited offensively but uses his quickness to be a disruptive on-ball defender. He can act as the primary ball-handler and distributor, as his skill set should complement the offensive-minded guards in Harvey and Sibert.
Most likely call-up?
In addition to Appling, playing on the wing is another prospect to keep an eye on in Melvin Ejim. Winner of 2014 Big 12 Player-of-the-Year award over Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart, the 6-6 forward is still developing as he plays more on the perimeter as a professional. After a successful stint in Italy as a rookie, and most recently playing well in five summer league games (9.2ppg, 6.8rpg, 4-10 3FGA), he took a small guarantee from the Magic to fight for their final roster spot. Add his experience in the FIBA Americas Cup with the Canadian National Team, he looks ready to be one of the better prospects as he uses the D-League to refine his driving/playmaking abilities.
Most intriguing assignee / other questions
With Orlando's drafting of Mario Herzonja, 2014 draft pick Devyn Marble may be assigned to see more playing time in Erie this season. In 6 games with Erie last season, the 6-6 wing averaged 13.0 ppg., 5.2 rpg. and 2.2 apg. The Bayhawks defeated the Raptors905 in a training camp scrimmage last week 102-83, and will begin their season on the road against the Westchester Knicks on Saturday, November, 14th.