Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star
As conference tournaments get set to start in the major conferences of the NCAA, the draft is going to be stealing some attention away for a few brief moments.
Everyone who has followed the Magic are pretty aware of the guys at the top of the draft. They had a big weekend leading into this week's conference tournaments. It will be interesting to see what they do with the pressure ratcheted up in single elimination tournaments.
No one would excuse you if you skipped out on a few Magic games in this next stretch.
Orlando will have two picks in the upcoming first round of the NBA Draft. The Magic have their own pick, which right now has the third best odds at drawing the number one pick, and the least favorable of the Nuggets' two picks — the Nuggets and the Knicks. Considering both Denver and New York are on pace to miss the Playoffs, Orlando could have two lottery picks.
So as the conference tournaments get set to begin it is time to analyze the players to watch for when thinking about that second pick.
Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
Gordon is a dead ringer for Blake Griffin. He kind of looks like him and his game certainly looks like his. Gordon has incredible athleticism and a pretty big drive to be good. He is just incredibly raw at this point.
There seems to be little chance Gordon would drop out of the top-10 but Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders currently has the Draft falling with Gordon going 12th to Orlando with Denver's pick. Gordon falling that far would make just about any team happy.
Despite his raw ability, he is a super athletic player that is more of a tweener right now but could be a great player. At Arizona this year, Gordon is averaging 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on 48.6 percent shooting. Arizona seems poised for a No. 1 seed in the tournament with a solid showing at the Pac-12 Tournament.
Gordon has had moments where he has asserted himself and moments where he has looked like a freshman. He is not very polished and is a bit of a project. Thus the mid-lottery projections.
Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse
For Magic fans fixated on point guards this Draft, Tyler Ennis is a good option for the Magic to consider with this second pick. Ennis was simply fantastic at the beginning of the season, carrying the Orange to win after win. He reminds a lot of his predecessor in Upstate New York Michael Carter-Williams with his nose for scoring the ball and making plays.
He will have to reign some of that in at the NBA level and he does not have Carter-Williams' size either. It is still a bit unclear what his potential is or what he can do at the next level. Ennis is averaging 12.4 points and 5.5 assists per game on 41.3 percent shooting and a 22.3 percent usage rate.
With the way Syracuse's season ended, Ennis has to answer some questions about his leadership and ability to will Syracuse out of this slump. The Orange need a good showing in the tournament to help Ennis' draft stock. And a good performance from Ennis will be imperative for that kind of a run.
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky:
The rare Kentucky player who decided to stay an extra year in Lexington. Cauley-Stein was overshadowed by Nerlens Noel last year and overshadowed by Julius Randle this year.
Cauley-Stein is a defensive ace with virtually no offensive game to speak of. But he works really well as that secondary center and a Tyson Chandler-type defensive stopper. To say the least, Cauley-Stein is talented but not the ideal pick with a mid- to late-lottery pick. Cauley-Stein is averaging 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this year. Not great numbers, but not bad either.
This would not be the ideal situation for the Magic, but an interesting project to undertake for whoever drafts him.
Others to Watch:
Doug McDermott, Creighton: Super scorer from a mid-major school, McDermott has put up unreal numbers for the better part of three years. No one quite knows how he will project to the NBA.
Zach LaVine, UCLA: Another combo guard that is young and growing as a player. No position is really defined and UCLA has been up and down all year.
Kyle Anderson, UCLA: Like LaVine, he has been a big part of a fast-paced, high-scoring team. So do not trust the stats. Anderson though can shoot it and has some athleticism to put the ball on the floor.
Gary Harris, Michigan State: Harris has long been looked at as the best player on Michigan State's roster, even better than Adreian Payne. He has not been immune to the inconsistencies and injuries that the Spartans have dealt with throughout the season. He is a very capable player though.
Dario Saric, Croatia: A top prospect from last year's draft that decided to return to Europe. You will not see him in the conference tournaments, but keep an eye on news with him.