Oh, Osby: Magic's "other rookie" impressive, too

Osby receives encouraging tweet from Durant

Came to see the summer league, and an Orlando Magic regular-season game broke out.

Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, DeQuan Jones, Kyle O'Quinn and Doron Lamb were on the floor at Amway Center.

The Magic could have charged people to see these guys. Wait, they already do.

They did unveil a rookie who threw his body around, made plays on both ends and helped will the Magic to a win against the Boston Celtics.

Victor Oladipo did all that, and at 100 mph, but his play wasn't a surprise. He's the Magic's top pick, No. 2 overall.

It was the other rookie, the second-round choice, the guy with the dime-store novel name — Romero Osby — who unexpectedly was just as impressive as Oladipo on Day 1.

Magic assistant James Borrego, handling the club's summer-league team, was a little taken aback by Osby's sudden impact.

"He changed the game for us," Borrego said. "He was fantastic. He looks to me like a player who wants to be in the NBA. He wants a job."

The Magic announced they had signed Oladipo on Sunday, his first two seasons guaranteed at $4.7 million and $4.9 million.

Osby got a pat on the back.

He came off the bench to score 18 points, sharing the scoring lead with Oladipo, on 7-of-8 shooting. He added five rebounds and a block.

As the 51st pick in the draft out of Oklahoma, Osby, a 6-foot-8 forward, is playing for his future. He's playing to prove there weren't 50 players better than him. He's playing for his wife and little girl, most of all.

"I don't look at it as pressure. I look at this as a stepping stone. No, I didn't get picked in the first round, but I was blessed enough to get drafted," Osby said.

"I can create all my own momentum if I work hard."

At 23, there's a look-you-in-the-eye maturity about Osby.

He fits into the mold of the new Magic player under GM Rob Hennigan: No head cases allowed.

Still, it's a bottom-line business where talent reigns. Osby will need to wow everyone this week and in camp to create room in a crowded field of power forwards, small forwards and hybrid forwards.

Harkless finished the season as the starting small forward and Tobias Harris as the starting power forward. Harris came over late in the season in the J.J. Redick trade, assuming the position with Glen Davis on the mend after breaking his foot.

Toss in Nicholson, a power forward who has been working all summer on his 3-point shooting, and O'Quinn, a power forward-center, and it's a numbers game.

Like Harris, Osby is a 'tweener. He can hit the 3-pointer like a small forward, but lacks the size to defend like a power forward.

What Osby brings to the table is a little bigger version of Oladipo's game. "I try to come in and help the team any way I can, be an Energizer bunny," he said.

He admittedly wasn't an "energy guy" until late in his college career. Two things changed his style of play.

"One was my coach, Lon Kruger, who said if I wanted to make it in the NBA I'd have to fight and work hard," Osby said. "Then, there's my wife and daughter. My little girl, she looks to her Daddy for leadership."

He was trying to keep his 3-year-old, Saniya, from rolling around the hallway floor while conducting an interview.

Osby's wife, Shalonda, then showed Romero her phone — and a tweet sent out by Kevin Durant. Durant had been watching the Magic-Celtics game on NBA TV.

"Ro Osby is a steal for Orlando…plays hard," Durant tweeted.

Osby was overwhelmed. "I appreciate that. He's a Texas guy. I'm an Oklahoma guy," he said. "You wouldn't expect that."

For Romero Osby, it was a day of surprises delivered and received.

bschmitz@tribune.com.

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