ORLANDO – Troy Caupain, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound point guard, made such a good impression on Orlando Magic front office executives during his first season in Lakeland that the team decided to make him one of their two-way contract players this year.
Undrafted in 2017 after four solid college years at Cincinnati, Caupain helped Lakeland reach the playoffs in the team’s inaugural year. He was outstanding in the Magic’s postseason game against the Erie BayHawks, too, erupting for a game-high 26 points.
While his statistics – 16.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists – are very similar to his production from a year ago – it’s noticeable that he’s a much improved player, particularly as it relates to his ability to lead by example and keep the team organized.
“I feel like I grew just knowing the ins and outs, knowing how the game works,” Caupain said. “It slowed down for me this year. I’m not thinking about things as much as last year. And just knowing the organization, just being comfortable. We have a close, tight-knit organization from the president on down.”
Running the offense, getting others involved and being assertive when necessary are areas he has certainly excelled at with Lakeland, which currently sits in first place in the Eastern Conference.
But also – and maybe most importantly – the 23-year-old has become a stifling defender and a more reliable 3-point shooter.
Lakeland ranks No. 2 in the G League in 3-point percentage, largely due to Caupain’s comfort from beyond the arc. He’s shooting 39.1 percent from distance, nearly five percent better than last season.
The Magic also rank near the top in both opponent points off turnovers and opponent fast break points, with their starting point guard having a major impact in each of those categories.
Being one of the Magic’s two-way players has boosted Caupain’s confidence. The same for Amile Jefferson, the team’s other two-way player who has recently earned some playing time with the parent club, Caupain says he has benefitted learning from experienced NBA veterans.
“Just being around it (NBA team), you have a different mindset on things,” he said. “You feel that you are a part of the NBA, that you’ve been around people that are in the NBA. Being able to play with those guys is like a dream come true.”
“When you go up, it’s like wow, I’m really here,” he added. “And you know that you’ve been here and you want to get back so when you come back down you do everything to get back there.”