Unbeknownst to them at the time, the 2012 NBA Draft actually turned out to be a pretty important for the Magic.
At the time, they still had Dwight Howard and just two picks in the draft. There was still an uncertain future. And there was a very uncertain and shaky general manager. Rob Hennigan had not quite proven himself at all as a general manager or talent evaluator. But he came in saying that the team and organization would focus on building through the Draft.
This was his first big test.
In a re-draft of the 2012 NBA Draft, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders lists the three Magic draft picks from 2012 currently on the roster in the first round. While none are superstars, this certainly suggests that Hennigan did a very nice job in his first Draft (on short notice at that).
According to Kyler, Maurice Harkless, whom the Magic acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, would be picked 10th if the draft were held today. That is quite the bump up from 15th when Philadelphia actually took him. Harkless is still seen as a bundle of talent that needs some refining, but he has steadily improved his jumper as his second season has gone on and has refined his defensive skills some.
David Thorpe of ESPN.com disagrees. He moved Harkless down from 15 to 17, calling him at worst a “solid rotation guy.” No other Magic draft picks made his top 20.
The biggest jump might be from Kyle O’Quinn. Kyler has him going 24th after the Magic took him with the 49th pick in the Draft. That is quite the leap. O’Quinn has certainly showed the most growth of any player on the Magic roster. He has become a trusted player in Orlando’s rotation. One of the more pleasant surprises this season.
Of course, not all is peachy.
While Andrew Nicholson remains in the first round, he dropped from 19th to 28th in Kyler’s estimation. As good as O’Quinn has been, Nicholson seems to be going in the opposite direction.
He has struggled all season to find his shooting touch and has fallen woefully off the depth chart. It is hard to put a finger on exactly what went wrong with Nicholson. A season that started extremely strong and a rookie season that showed a lot of promise turned into an extremely disappointing sophomore year. It looks like Nicholson just has no confidence in any part of his game.
That is not to say Nicholson cannot turn it around. He has another year left on his deal and has the chance to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of him.
That is going to be the key for him moving forward. This season has become something of a lost one for Nicholson. He will have to regain his rhythm and find himself in the offseason and moving forward.
So how did the Magic make out in the Draft in 2012? It is still a little bit too early to make that determination. Especially considering the talent Orlando is still trying to develop.