As has been the case for the Orlando Magic in most offseasons in the last decade, they find themselves heavily involved in the upcoming NBA Draft. The similarities don’t end there, however, as just like in previous years, the Magic failed to secure the number one overall pick.
All is not lost however, as having two of the top 10 picks (number five and eight), represents a real opportunity to find a young star to add to their promising young core. While the closest the organization have come to doing this already was with Jonathan Isaac in 2017, the Magic find themselves in a unique spot right now.
Finding a future star, or better yet two, should still be the top priority during this draft. But if you look at the roster as it is currently constructed, there are young players with upside at every position. This takes some of the pressure off a front office who have done well since taking over in 2017, but who have yet to nail that home run pick.
The Orlando Magic have two top 10 picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, and can use this unique opportunity to bring in some insurance policy players.
This might seem obvious, but oftentimes the front office of a team try to be too clever or think too far outside the box when it comes to drafting. This looks to be a strong class, at the top at least, and with the fifth pick the Magic will likely snag the remaining player of what many believe to be five deep with sure fire talent.
So while fit is crucial, the Magic should be using both picks to take the best available player, and the reasons are numerous. To start with, the two best young players on the team, Isaac and Markelle Fultz, are both currently rehabbing torn ACLs. That is not the death sentence of an injury it once was, but at this point Isaac could be considered injury-prone.
Fultz has had his fair share of well documented setbacks as well, although luckily for both blinding speed weren’t integral to their success before going down. Fultz is a cerebral point guard, while the timing and positioning of Isaac on the defensive end mean that he will be a menace once again when he returns.
But what about using both picks to bring in insurance policies, in case one or both never reach their full potential? As negative as that may sound, we have to be realistic as well. This happens to players all the time, and although both are still very young, there is nothing to stop it happening again.
Branching out from this point, and the Magic actually already have two intriguing guards in Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton who may end up being the long-term backcourt of the future here. So it may be that drafting another floor general, when there are three already in place (Anthony and Hampton could also work at the two in spurts), is not the play.
Then the Magic could opt for reaching for a player who already looks to have professional level offensive potential. James Bouknight is a name that has come up recently, and if he were still on the board with the eighth pick, he would make a ton of sense. The team have been crying out for a pure scorer for so long, and he could fix a lot of those issues.
Pivoting in another direction, and the frontcourt has depth, but is not without issue as well. Mohamed Bamba finally showed some flashes last year once Nikola Vucevic was traded, but it is unclear how integral he is to the Orlando Magic’s future. Chuma Okeke on the other hand was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dark campaign, although he too has torn his ACL in the past.
With such streaky and injury-riddled options among the team’s big men, would it make sense to bring in another big with one of the picks? Of the top five players mentioned already, Evan Mobley probably won’t be available, but with centers having a renaissance in this year’s playoffs, he would surely be worth a look if available.
As it stands Jonathan Kuminga is almost certain to be available at five, and could provide the kind of insurance that the team will need if they hope to grow with this young core, but if Isaac continues to get hobbled and Bamba is moved on. Wendell Carter Jr. may already be in place and looked good after coming over in the Vucevic deal, but that is no reason not to explore that option here.
This is certainly a good problem for the Orlando Magic to have, but it is one that they have to get right once the draft rolls around. Having no head coach in place still is a concern, because we don’t know what direction they will want to take the young group in. It is almost ironic because for the longest time the Magic needed to draft a star to help them grow, but they never could.
Now they get too opportunities to do so, but because of the intriguing young players in place already, it is not the all consuming goal that it once was. It would still be great to get one, or better yet two, players that fit the bill. But really the organization should be using this opportunity to create depth and competition among the players.
Best case scenario, the rotation is full of young, cheap and willing players. All of whom won’t be able to get paid in future, but again that is a good problem to have. Worst case scenario, a plan is in place to cope with the fact that Isaac and Fultz aren’t the cornerstones they are needed to be. That doesn’t sound like a worst-case scenario at all for the Orlando Magic, but rather is playing this draft smart.