From afar the last couple years, Josh Magette was impressed with what he saw from the Orlando Magic, especially after playing against both their G League and summer league teams.
So, when an opportunity to sign a two-way contract with the Magic was presented to him this past summer, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound point guard jumped at the chance to join the squad.
“I just felt like it was a good fit,” he said. “I enjoyed watching their team always. I respected coach (Steve) Clifford and I was just excited to get here.”
Then a two-way player for the Atlanta Hawks, Magette was a big reason why Lakeland lost in the opening round of the playoffs in its first year in Polk County. The now 29-year-old had a phenomenal all-around game, posting 18 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Erie BayHawks during that 2018 postseason contest.
Lakeland Head Coach Stan Heath, trying to come up with methods to slow him down that day, was awestruck by the floor general’s poise, savviness and leadership. Having Magette run the offense when he’s with Orlando’s G League affiliate gives Heath plenty of confidence this season.
“If you can’t beat him, have him join your team,” Heath said during the offseason about adding Magette. “I love him. He knows how to play. He makes guys around him better. He’s just one of those guys as a coach, you just feel like, here’s the ball and you know good things are going to happen.”
Heath isn’t the only coach, however, marveling at the 2017 G League All-Star and 2018 G League assists leader, who last year played professionally overseas. Clifford, while Magette was up with the parent club during training camp, the preseason and the first few games of Orlando’s regular season, could tell right away that he will make a significant impact throughout the year, both in Orlando and Lakeland.
“Smart, great to have around,” said Clifford, now in his second year as the Magic’s head coach. “If he was with us here in the game and played him, we’d be fine. He’s a pro. He’s got high, high IQ. He’s got terrific skill. He’s actually fun to watch in practice just because of his vision, his passing. He knows how to run a team.”
Magette, to nobody’s surprise, has gotten off to a great start with Lakeland, which went 2-1 on its road trip to start the season ahead of its home opener on Saturday, Nov. 16 against the expansion College Park Skyhawks. In those three games, the native of Birmingham, Alabama averaged 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10.0 assists.
The key this year for his development is his outside shooting, which he says he worked really hard on during the summer. Already it appears that persistence is paying off, as Magette made six of his 15 attempts from beyond the arc during Lakeland’s trip, which included stops in Fort Wayne, Canton and New York.
“That’s kind of been one thing that’s held me back,” he said about his long-range shooting. “I’d like to get to where I’m a 40 percent or at least close to it three-point shooter, where teams have to respect not only my playmaking ability but also my three-point shooting.”