ORLANDO – Through their first 33 games, the Lakeland Magic rank No. 1 in the G League in 3-point percentage, a mid-season achievement made possible thanks to their unselfishness, crisp passing, and ability to play inside-out.
The player on the Magic who has made the most threes to this point is Gabe York, Aaron Gordon’s teammate in college at Arizona. The 6-foot-3 combo guard has knocked down 70 3-pointers so far, good for 20th most in the league.
In case you may not quite remember who York is or how he caught the attention of NBA scouts, a few years back he was one of the Orlando Pro Summer League’s top performers. In 2016, the West Covina, Calif. native suited up for the Charlotte Hornets and it didn’t take long for him to impress NBA front office executives with his long-distance shooting and overall potential.
It was in one of Charlotte’s first few games that early July week when York, who went undrafted a couple weeks earlier, was able to show general managers and other talent evaluators that perhaps it was a mistake his name wasn’t called on draft night.
Against the Indiana Pacers, York scored a game-high 18 points, making seven of his 13 shot attempts, including two from behind the arc. Little did the now-25-year-old know that someone with one of the most decorated NBA resumes of all time would be there to boost his confidence when that week was over.
“I had someone like Vince Carter tell me, ‘hey, you belong here,’” York remembers. “It’s kind of hard to believe you don’t when you have someone like that telling you you do.”
Since that week, York has bounced around some, playing for pro teams in Italy and Germany and with the G League’s Erie Bayhawks. He also was a member of the Lakers’ 2017 summer league squad that won the title in Las Vegas with Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.
It’s not a surprise that York is one of the G League’s best 3-point shooters. At Arizona, he was well known for his range. Against Stanford late in his senior year, the now-190-pounder drilled nine 3-pointers as part of a 32-point night.
York, currently Lakeland’s third leading scorer at 16.2 points per game, is now trying to enhance other aspects of his game, notably his playmaking.
“Just decision making, coming off ball screens, knowing when to score, when to pass,” he said about what he’s been working on the most in Lakeland. “I’m becoming a more all-around ball handler, passer and scorer, not just shooting the ball. I’m just finding my way, trying to become a point guard. I just have to keep showcasing that I can play point.”
Amazed by how far away from the basket he can make shots from, Lakeland Head Coach Stan Heath is extremely pleased with York’s talent and overall improvement.
“He can get it going,” Heath said. “With the way the game is being played now with the 3-point shot, he’s a lethal guy. He’s not one of those guys that’s right at the NBA line. He’s a few feet back and gets it off. He’s got a quick release. The other thing he does is he has the ability to get downhill in the paint and make things happen.”
“There’s the top echelon of the players in the G League and maybe the bottom echelon of the guys in the NBA, you can flip-flop those, and he definitely falls in that category,” he added.