On November 28th, the Orlando Magic announced they they sent Stephen Zimmerman to the Erie Bayhawks, their D-League affiliate. Zimmerman’s D-League assignment made a ton of sense as the 7-footer played a combined 11 minutes with the Magic during that initial month.
Even without factoring in that lack of playing time, Zimmerman always seemed like a player that was just destined to spend time in the D-League. We touched on that piece in a late July piece, where I mentioned that Zimmerman stood as a great athlete that was still incredibly raw on both ends of the court. Here’s a more thorough snippet from that July piece.
A little more than week since his assignment, Stephen Zimmerman has been thriving in the D-League. That success is actually coming on both ends of the court as Zimmerman seems to be a lot more aggressive and confident then he was during his stint with UNLV. From an offensive perspective, Zimmerman seems to be more focused on attacking the paint and trying to get easy looks from around the rim. That aggression should automatically allow Zimmerman to succeed against most D-League competition, as he’s bigger and more athletic than the opposition.
Outside of that knack in the pick-and-roll, Zimmerman has had some instances on the offensive end where he does whatever it takes to score. Although that newfound tenacity is still there, it’s a welcome improvement compared to the dovish nature that he showed at UNLV. An example of this change is evident in the play below, where Zimmerman scores around the rim despite being surrounding by three opposing players.
Alongside that improved aggression, Zimmerman has utilized his time in the D-League to show off his shooting stroke. At this point, Zimmerman has just relied on jumpers from inside the 3-point line, probably a positive change that he made since his time at UNLV. Another improvement that he made since his college days deals with his shooting stroke. In that July piece, I mentioned that Zimmerman had a weird looking jumper where it appeared like he started his attempt with the ball near his ear like he’s shooting a shotput.
That hitch appears to be a thing of a past as Zimmerman actually has shown a normal looking jumper with the Bayhawks. Zimmerman’s improved stroke is evident in the play below as he displays a smooth approach from catch to release.
Zimmerman’s progression as an inside scorer and mid-range shooter were clearly evident during the Bayhawks’ Wednesday afternoon game against the Long Island Nets. In that victory, ZImmerman erupted by putting up a 24 point, 24 rebound double-double on 10-21 shooting. Most of that offensive production came inside the paint through various post-up looks or collecting offensive rebounds.
As a post-up threat, Zimmerman utilized solid footwork and a smooth touch to be effective on both the left and right block. Meanwhile, Zimmerman was an animal on the offensive glass as he collected eight offensive rebounds, more than half of the fifteen boards that the Long Island Nets collected throughout the entire game.
Of course, we shouldn’t take a ton of stock from an individual performance, no matter how good it actually is. However, it will be intriguing to see if Zimmerman can continue displaying the skills that he had in Wednesday’s game against Long Island. If Zimmerman can do that during an extended period of time, then it would make sense for Orlando Magic fans to be optimistic about what Stephen Zimmerman could offer the team in the near future.