Mon Jul 05 08:57pm EDT
You'll undoubtedly hear analysts say that former Kentucky big man Daniel Orton's dreadful summer league debut on Monday is proof that he should have waited another year or two before turning pro.
In reality, the Orlando rookie's lackluster performance only validates his decision to leave school.
Yes, Orton picked up three offensive fouls in four minutes and went 1-for-8 from the field. Yes, he looked completely lost on help defense. Yes, he got ejected in the second half for losing his composure and shoving Indiana's Josh McRoberts after tussling for a rebound underneath the basket (see the above video).
But it's a whole lot better for Orton that NBA scouts are seeing those weaknesses up close for the first time now rather than before they guaranteed him a lucrative contract.
[Photos: Action from the NBA summer leagues]
Orton was a first-round pick this season because scouts were tantalized enough by his potential to overlook that he averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 boards in limited minutes as a freshman. Had he returned to school but failed to perform up to expectations as the focal point of Kentucky's interior attack next season, it might have damaged his stock enough to send him tumbling out of the first round.
To his credit, Orton acknowledged immediately that he had a "terrible day" on Monday.
"Gonna get myself together and come back with a focus tomorrow. Gotta slow down, gotta gather myself," he Tweeted. "Still can't believe I got ejected for fighting ha but it wasn't a good day at all for me."
In a postgame interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Orton attributed some of his struggles to his conditioning not being up to par. Still he doesn't think it will take him as long to make an impact in the NBA as some cynics think.
"A lot of people say I need time to develop, and I'm not going to lie about that, I do need time to develop," Orton said. "But I don't think it's going to take as much time as most people think it will. I hope not, to tell you the truth. I put in a lot of hard work and a lot of time. Hopefully I can have a quicker turnaround than most people think."