The Draft is over and the analysis of the Draft is just beginning. Everyone likes to try to grade the Draft immediately after it happens, ignoring the fact that there are still raw prospects in need of development. The winners and losers of this Draft probably will not be determined until a few years down the road.
That will not stop the Internet from providing its instant analysis (yours truly included).
So how did the Magic fare in the Draft? Here is a sampling of some of the grades:
4. Orlando: Aaron Gordon (Arizona) – Super athletic forward with a drive to play the game. He can sky through the air and finish hard. But Gordon still has a lot of development and refining to go through. He loves to play basketball and that will drive him to get better. Gordon though really has no jumper quite yet. I mean, not at all. This is a pick on pure upside and athleticism. The Magic need a lot of everything, but he does not fill a complete need and he is not ready to contribute immediately. This pick is a bit of a reach and does not fit where the Magic are at. Grade: C-
10. Philadelphia: Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette) – Payton was the biggest riser in the Draft going from virtual unknown to lottery pick overnight. He put up gaudy numbers for Lafayette and played well against his competition. He is long and big for a point guard and is someone who will pressure on defense. As noted, his jumper needs improvement and when he played against good teams, he struggled a bit more. Payton has to improve his jumper. Which makes it tough because he will be next to Michael Carter-Williams. That is an interesting fit. Grade: B-
12. Orlando: Dario Saric (Croatia) – Saric is a very talented player who is something a point forward. Of course, he is also freshly minted with a two-year deal in Turkey. Saric still needs to develop but he is very talented. The best player on the board. But, he will not be around for the Magic. And Orlando has to start to turn the corner. That is a problem to think about for the Magic. A good player, but this feels like the wrong time unless those trade rumors are true. Grade: C+
Well, I guess we know that GM Rob Hennigan likes — for the second year in a row he drafted super-athletic, defensive-minded players. Adding Gordon and Payton with Oladipo gives the Magic three versatile defenders who can lock up anyone. I love the potential of both players. If Gordon ever develops a jump shot he could be a superstar. Ditto for Payton. They do just about everything else well (though they both could get stronger). But where is the offense coming from? With Arron Afflalo gone and Jameer Nelson likely to be bought out they’re left with Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic. But the Magic don’t have to have everything figured out now. They are being patient. I personally think that Dante Exum was a better choice at 4. But getting Payton at 10 lessens my objection. I understand why the Magic felt they needed to add a forward first and Payton was my sleeper in the draft. Marble is a no-nonsense forward who does everything well and nothing great. Sort of like their second rounder last year.
The two teams in the top half of the lottery that I thought most needed a point guard to provide a direction for the next three-to-five years (or more) were the Magic and Lakers. In Orlando’s case, it passed on both Exum and Smart, while L.A. didn’t get a crack at either guy once it was their turn to select at No. 7.
That said, I think both teams salvaged things fairly well. The Magic and Lakers were both able to draft one-and-done power forwards — Gordon and Julius Randle, respectively — with star potential. It worries me a bit that neither Gordon nor Randle has the shooting range that has become so common for elite power forwards in recent years, but both have plenty of time to fill out their games. Orlando also managed to pick up Elfrid Payton, the third-best point guard in the class, by swinging a deal with Philadelphia to move up to No. 10. It therefore left the lottery with a big-time athlete and a top prospect at their biggest position of need. That’s not too bad.
Obviously you can see there were mixed feelings on the Magic’s Draft. I felt Orlando needed to get a player who could impact the team this year, drive some fan interest and help the young guys turn the corner. Adding a project — a talented and interesting one — in Aaron Gordon did not do that.
But as Chad Ford notes, Gordon and Elfrid Payton both fit into the defensive-minded ethos the Magic appear to be building. They are in line with the culture Orlando wants to build even if it is a more patient approach.
And Ben Golliver thought much the same that the Magic could have gotten a better impact player, but thinks they salvaged things well with the talent they got.
How would you grade the Magic’s Draft?