How should the Orlando Magic go about the draft this summer?

I am stepping out of my boundaries here, but I’m an Orlando native and a Magic fan as well as Mavs fan. The Orlando Magic have had a disappointing season after a hot start, where they led the conference in wins for the first week of the season. The Magic are in an interesting position, with Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton being restricted free agents in the summer. The Magic also do not have any future outgoing picks, meaning they own their first and second round picks, in addition to the LA Lakers’ 2nd round pick this year. Their new front office might be tricky to predict and evaluate, as they see this season as an evaluation season, and then will make moves. 

I have the primary needs of the Magic being a scoring PG, more shooters, and center depth. While not all of these will be filled in the draft, they can easily fill some of those needs. As of this post being published, the Magic hold the league’s 3rd worst record at 12-27. This means that the worst case scenario for the Magic would be 6th pick, which has a 4% chance of happening. Assuming they pick in the top 5, the Magic will very easily be able to address their needs in the draft.

First, Luka Doncic, ranked #3 in my big board, seems like the most ideal fit for them should he be available. Mario Hezonja is likely gone after this season, after having his team option declined, and Terrence Ross is a free agent after the 2018-19 season. Beyond Jonathan Simmons and Evan Fournier, the Magic’s wing talent and depth is meager (assuming Isaac as a PF). Drafting Doncic will add a significant threat to the offense thanks to his elite scoring abilities and ability to be a secondary or primary ball handler. He may be able to fill multiple needs with one pick, which should make him the Magic’s number one target in the draft. The Magic could also address wing in the 2nd round, as they are projected to have two early second round picks.

Another option, should the Magic pick outside of the top 3, would be Oklahoma’s Trae Young. Trae Young would be an ideal fit with the Magic, as he can help address the shooting woes from the point guard position, and would also help facilitate the offense. However, his subpar finishing ability at the rim is worrisome. The Magic would need to weigh the pros and cons, but I, personally, think the pros outweigh the cons by a wide margin.

The Magic could also consider Alabama PG Collin Sexton, but his facilitation and 3 point shooting are not nearly as sharp as Young. However, Sexton is also a pure scorer and has better size, better finishing ability, and better defensive skills. Sexton would be an option if the Magic decide to either draft another point guard later in the draft, or if the Magic want to surround Sexton with more shooters. I prefer the Young for the Magic, as I trust his shot to fall with more success at the NBA and for Young to be a better facilitator and more selfless than Sexton. The final PG scenario for the Magic that they should consider is taking a polished, high-floor point guard such as Devonte Graham (Kansas) or Jalen Brunson (Villanova). Graham provides great vision and shooting, but is not much of a slasher and does not contribute much on the defensive end. Brunson is a highly intelligent player that has very few flaws in his game, but lacks great athleticism and size.

Lastly, with Nikola Vucevic becoming a free agent after 2018-19, and Bismack Biyombo likely not being a long term player, the Magic will need to address their center depth. Beyond Ayton and Bamba, most centers are not ready to make an immediate impact in the league. Some prospects that could very likely be available in the early 30s include Nick Richards (Kentucky), Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), and Brandon McCoy (UNLV).Almost all of those players fall under the low-floor, high-ceiling description. Richards is a great athlete that has shown potential in rebounding, P&R, and shooting. He has arguably the highest upside of the three. Azubuike is a long (6’11 with 7’5 wingspan) rim protector that has shown prowess in the P&R offensively. He is still raw, but just turned 18 before the season started. He has an NBA body with defensive skills, but needs to fill in the rest of his game. Lastly, Brandon McCoy is a raw athlete that has shown ability to hit the mid-range, as well as be an excellent rebounder. McCoy went for 33 points and 10 rebounds against DeAndre Ayton in early December.

The Magic must hit on their top pick, and hitting on one of their two early second round picks would be a major bonus. At the moment (4 and a half months away from the draft), I see the Magic taking the best player available with their first pick, regardless of position, then draft a high upside player and a high floor player with their two second rounders. For me, the best-case scenario would be to take Doncic with their first pick, then take Jalen Brunson and Nick Richards. This allows for free agency to be focused towards depth and more veteran pickups like they had in the 2017 summer.

Thanks for reading, and let me know how you feel about more teams being involved than just the Mavericks!

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