With college basketball season hitting the conference schedule, scouts are starting to flock to college arenas and scout the talent that will be matriculating into the NBA for the Draft next year. By all accounts, this year's draft will not be the strongest. And that could leave teams in a prickly situation come the trade deadline and in preparing for tis year's Draft.
While the Magic remain only 5.5 games back of the Bucks for the final Playofff spot, tthe Magic's eys will certainly toward preparing for the Draft. Orlando is still very much in asset acquisition mode as they try to plan their next move in rebuilding the team. It seems like they have some good pieces to pplay with or package in a deal — and that largee trade exception they created iin the Dwight Howard trade.
The Magic's options remain open heading into the trade deadline as several of their players hhave begun to garrner interest and the Magic seek to get rid of some of their longer-term contracts committed to veterans like Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington and Glen Davis.
Will Orlando pull the trigger and gain more assets through this year's Draft?
That is not what some NBA scouts are advising Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. They are telling him teams should bail out of this draft fast:
The Observer consulted with two long-time scouts (neither connected to the Charlotte Bobcats) as conference seasons commence in the college game. Each works for a team likely to have a top-10 pick. Each spoke on condition of anonymity because neither is authorized by his employer to speak publicly on draft prospects.
While the two conversations were separate, each conveyed the same conclusion: This isn’t the year a franchise-changer will emerge from the draft process
'I don’t think this is a good draft,' said one scout. 'This is the year you should consider trading your draft pick – no matter where it is.'
Again, since it seems the Magic are going to need one hell of a run to get into Playoff contention, this could be vitally important for the Magic to consider with the trade deadline coming up.
The Magic would currently pick eighth in the Draft (if there were not a lotterly of course). The value of that Top 10 pick could determine what they could get for it in the trade market and/or what kind of player they can draft. Orlando will be focusing on what kind of value that pick could get them as that pick is as much an asset as the players on the roster.
So what college players should you be paying attention to as March approaches?
There is no consensus top pick this year. Really, most scouts seem to be arguing that there is no one to hold your breath about. Shabbazz Mohammad, Cody Zeller, Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore do not do it for them. This is not to say they could not be solid players. They very well could be contributing players. But that may not be what you are looking for in a top-10 pick.
Considering the Magic are taking a long-term look at things. It does not feel that they are looking at this year's draft to find that star player. If they get the No. 1 pick and have the opportunity to draft a Mohammad or McLemore, they will certainly take it. If they end up with that eighth pick and have to select from a group of players that could include Alex Len, Otto Porter, C.J. McCollum or Michael Carter-Williams, their pick might be primed to be flipped into something else.
At this point, the Magic are probably not thinking that far ahead. They recognize the draft pick as an asset because it could bring them a quality, young player on a cheap contract (again something that could be used for a future move too). Unlike the Bobcats, the Magic are not looking for that breakout player to push them to the next level. They are looking to collect assets.
Would the Magic move their pick at the deadline? Probably only for a player that they were completely certain would be part of the future of the franchise. And judging by the scout's statement, that does not appear to be something that will happen with this draft.
Orlando probably will not give up the opportunity to select a young player that it can develop. Of course, the real prize might be in the 2014 Draft with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker become eligible.