Robert Franks played seven games with the Orlando Magic at the end of the 2021-22 season, following a strong year with the Lakeland Magic in the G League during the bubble season in 2021.
Since then, Franks has moved to Australia, where he spent last season and expects to spend this upcoming season playing basketball at. Last season with Brisbane, Franks had an eye-popping first season in Australia, averaging 18.2 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game, one steal per game, and 0.5 blocks per game on 49 percent shooting, 39 percent from the three-point line, and 76 percent from the line. These numbers aren’t far off from his G League stats with Lakeland in the bubble season: 12.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.5 blocks on 51 percent shooting, 36 percent from beyond the arc, and 78 percent from the free throw line.
All in all, his repeatable shooting and rebounding have translated from his Washington State days, when he was one of the most lights out shooters in the conference (40 percent from three as both a junior and senior on high volume).
On Thursday night, Franks had yet another big night in the NBA - this time as a member of a foreign team doing a preseason tour in the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian NBL. He scored 32 points, grabbed seven rebounds, racked up three assists, and got two steals and a block, all on 11/20 shooting, including 60 percent from three. He did struggle with turnovers, throwing some inaccurate passes and getting stripped of the ball one time, but the other turnovers could have been considered flukes and one-offs.
Breaking Down His Game
Franks started 0-3 shooting, getting blocked by Mikal Bridges, missing a physical post-up shot against Devin Booker, and a three rimming in and out in transition. After that, he caught fire, with a lot of damage coming against the Suns’ starters and rotation players. Franks was showing three level scoring capabilities, finishing well at the rim, scoring over Deandre Ayton in mid range, and hitting threes from any spot on the court, both off the dribble and spotting up.
As a slasher, Franks was comfortable absorbing contact at the rim, finishing in transition, and even displaying left-handed finishes around defenders. While this was the most minor area of his three level scoring, it was still a notable performance because it showed more to his scoring than just jump shooting.
In the mid range, Franks took Ayton on an island and hit a jumper over him after slowing the possession down. Franks also drew a shooting foul from a mid range jump shot and hit a runner, but with the declining push for mid range shots in the NBA, three shots (two field goal attempts, one foul drawn) was enough to know mid range scoring in small quantities is still a strength for Franks.
Three point shooting is where Franks did a healthy amount of his damage. He made two ‘ultra-deep’ threes on three attempts, but was also doing damage off the dribble in transition and spotting up in the half-court. After being blocked by Bridges to start the game, Franks came back with a vengeance by scoring over him, Chris Paul, Ayton, and other Suns rotation players. This mentality did wonders for him, and with his best performance of the day across the four NBA games from Sunday, Franks almost certainly caught the eyes of front office executives.
The Long-Term Vision For Franks
The NBA isn’t kind about age; the average age in the league is 26 years old, and Franks turns 26 in mid-December. In order to latch back on in the NBA, he will need to thrive yet again in the NBL, and likely play on a 10-day contract at the end of the season, similar to how he did in 2021. Could this performance from the weekend propel his journey back to the NBA? Maybe the Magic would take a chance on him again, as the roster can never get enough shooting around the number of guards and playmakers they already have. The big selling point for Franks’ return to the NBA path is that he had this big outing by hitting tough shots over some of the best defenders on a playoff team, with the stats backing up the odds at this being repeatable.
Even if he doesn’t ever return to the NBA, he could have a legacy of his own in the NBL, gearing up for an All-NBL season in 2023. Look for NBA teams to be scouting the 36ers a bit harder than normal in order to keep tabs on the former Magic sharpshooter.
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