Advertisement

Magic rookie Jett Howard develops in G League, sees benefits

For Magic wing Jett Howard, the first half of his rookie campaign has been divided between Orlando and Osceola.

The No. 11 overall pick in June’s draft has gone back and forth between the NBA and G League throughout the year in order to get significant playing time.

While some rookies may be disappointed by being reassigned and recalled often between the two leagues, Howard views the experience as a positive one.

“I’ve pretty much benefited a lot from Osceola and the playing time I got down there,” Howard told the Sentinel on Friday night. “It’s been great for my development so far. I’ve been loving the process and just falling in love with it at this point.”

Howard was recalled Friday morning and made available for Orlando against the 76ers for the first time since Dec. 27. At Kia Center, he totaled 5 points in the final 3 minutes of Orlando’s 15-point loss vs. Philadelphia.

He remains available when the Magic host the Heat on Sunday for the first night of back-to-back (Bally Sports Florida, 6). Orlando is also listing forward Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) as questionable while guard Gary Harris (right calf strain) will miss his ninth straight.

Wagner and Harris haven’t played since Jan. 3 at Sacramento.

For the Heat, who have defeated the Magic twice this season, rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. (left groin strain) is out. Sharpshooter Tyler Herro (right shoulder strain) is probable while Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) is available.

A look back at first half of Magic season and what playoffs could bring | Analysis

Playing under Osceola coach Dylan Murphy, Howard has made the most of the opportunity.

The Magic rookie has averaged 24.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 32.5 minutes during six regular-season starts with Osceola.

He also played six games in the G League Showcase where he averaged 33.1 minutes in six starts.

In comparison, Howard has played just 10 NBA games in which he’s averaged 1.9 points during 3.9 minutes.

“It’s helped me out in a lot of areas of my game, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “It’s helped me tremendously in the scheming and all of the little details.

“Dylan Murphy does a great job of preparing everyone on the team to buy into the little things, and I’ve done that so far.”

The biggest area that Howard feels like he’s improved the most is his ability to defend. At 6-8, Howard offers size and length to defend multiple positions but it’s a matter of making quick decisions to guard at a high level.

While he offers Orlando accurate shooting (he’s shot nearly 43% from 3-point range in the G League), ultimately it’s the quality of his defense that will eventually allow him to get consistent minutes in the NBA.

Howard specifically mentioned improvements defending both one-on-one and in off-ball situations while navigating screens.

“I feel like just the NBA defense in general I’ve pretty much acclimated to,” he said.

Although Howard said he’s not sure what the Magic have in store for him in the second half of the season, he’s going to continue to stay ready for both squads.

It’s part of the messaging from Magic coach Jamahl Mosley to Howard and Orlando’s trio of two-way players: Trevelin Queen, Kevon Harris and Admiral Schofield.

“It’s invaluable what he’s getting with the minutes down there,” Mosley said. “All of these guys have to know that their moment will come. It’s just a matter of time and being ready when that moment hits.”

Regardless of when Howard gets an opportunity to play again for Orlando, even if it’s just for limited minutes similar to Friday night, he’s grateful for the opportunity.

“When you can do that and play with these guys, it helps a lot and helps you feel more comfortable,” Howard said.

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on X, known as Twitter, at @therealBeede.