Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams are forever linked.
They were selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. They're guards. And they've emerged as the two leading candidates to be named the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year.
On Wednesday, they faced off as pros for the first time when Oladipo's Orlando Magic hosted Carter-Williams' Philadelphia 76ers at Amway Center.
"He's had a great start, and I've had a pretty good start also," Carter-Williams said before the game. "So, I get that we're going to be linked together, and that's fine. He plays real hard. He's a real hard-working player. He's talented. So, it's good company."
Carter-Williams began Wednesday averaging 17.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game — the highest averages for any rookie so far this season. Oladipo started the day averaging 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
They're friends. They knew each other during their college days, and they occasionally text each other to offer support when one of them has had a good game, Carter-Williams said.
The Magic selected Oladipo second overall, while the Sixers used the 11th overall pick to choose Carter-Williams.
They played against each other once in college, with Carter-Williams' Syracuse Orange beating Oladipo's Indiana Hoosiers 61-50 in the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. They played against each other during the Orlando Pro Summer League, with Oladipo hitting a late jumper to give the Magic a win over the Sixers.
Tobias Harris sat out his second consecutive game because of his sore upper left ankle.
"I'm just trying to get the ankle to where it needs to be," Harris said.
Harris is one of the most mature 21-year-olds you'll ever meet, and he's trying to remain patient. He was set to start Tuesday night's game in Atlanta but had to be a late scratch because his ankle felt sore.
"It's tough," he said. "But as a part of being an NBA player you're going to go through some bumps along the road. So I just try to keep my faith high and know myself and what I have going for me."
For Magic coach Jacque Vaughn and lead assistant coach James Borrego, this stretch of games should be called "The Spurs Coaching Tree Tour."
Vaughn and Borrego first became NBA assistant coaches with the San Antonio Spurs, where they coached alongside Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown.
On Tuesday, the Magic faced the Atlanta Hawks, who are coached by Budenholzer.
On Wednesday, the Magic played the 76ers, who are coached by Brown.
Brown knows Vaughn and Borrego well.
"I love their demeanor," Brown said. "They're really good people, and I think there's a poise about both of them that, to me, reeks of the ability to coach long-term.
"I respect their poise, their calm. There's a rhythm to how they do their job, and I think there's an intellect also where Jacque's taken a really smart point-guard basketball experience, survived however many years in the NBA and applied it to a head-coaching type of mentality. That's not always an easy conversion. And I think that James is sort of similar in relation to his approach, where there's a studied calmness that I respect."
On Friday night, the Magic will host the Spurs, who are still coached by Gregg Popovich.