Matt Lloyd: Orlando Magic seeking a star at pick No. 6

Jan 23, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) drives to the basket against Duke Blue Devils forward Harry Giles (1) in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) drives to the basket against Duke Blue Devils forward Harry Giles (1) in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic interim general manager Matt Lloyd is beginning the process of sorting through the top prospects. One thing is clear: the Magic want a star.

There is undoubtedly some disappoint the Orlando Magic did not land in the top three of the Lottery. Every loss — even unpredictable, uncontrollable ones — carry some sense of disappointment with them.

It carried special weight this year because the team needed a win so badly. Orlando has gone through five years of a frustrating rebuild that has failed to net a star. In three years with top five picks, the Magic were not able to develop or find a player who could take the team to the next level.

This year’s draft feels different in many ways. It is most likely the deepest draft at the top the Magic have seen since they started this rebuild. There are several players who have star potential in them.

And that has the Magic excited about their opportunities. Even before the Lottery, Magic interim general manager Matt Lloyd said the team was prepared for every eventuality and confident they would get a quality player.

As the team now focuses its attention on the 2017 NBA Draft and where it picks, the team feels its target has to be someone they know who can grow into a star down the road.

"“We’re trying to get all these guys in there, line them up and pick the one we think can best manifest into a star,” Lloyd told Orlando Magic Daily. “We might have to grow that player. That player might have more of an ability to play right away. We don’t know yet. We know our basketball analysis and all of our projections what that has elicited. Until we get them in, sit them down and talk to them, we don’t have the full puzzle.”"

The Magic have started to line up some of the bigger names in this Draft.

They had NC State Wolfpack guard and ACC Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith in for a workout Monday. Smith averaged 18.1 points and 6.2 assists per game, posting a 52.0 percent effective field goal percentage with a 27.2 percent usage rate.

Smith played the role of the star at NC State and thrived individually. His team struggled and that is one of the big questions facing Smith.

So too is his outside shooting. He shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.

The Magic said they were impressed by his athleticism — important considering he is a year removed from tearing his ACL — and Smith said the team had him shooting a lot of 3-pointers.

According to Ian Begley of, Smith impressed in his workout in Orlando:

"I’m hearing that Dennis Smith Jr. shot the ball extremely well during his workout with the Orlando Magic earlier this week. The point guard knocked down more than half of his 3-point attempts in a workout in front of Orlando decision-makers. Smith Jr., an explosive athlete, made 36 percent of his 3-point attempts in his lone season at North Carolina State. He is projected as a top-8 pick in the NBA Draft."

This is not the last we have heard from Smith for sure. And it is clear he has a place in the Magic’s thinking. As much as any player the Magic have looked at in the last four years, Smith has that star quality written all over him.

So do several players the Magic are reportedly examining and looking at for this draft.

Take Kentucky Wildcats point guard De’Aaron Fox, for instance. Fox averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. His big knock is his poor shooting — 24.6 percent from beyond the arc — but those were pushed somewhat aside with his stellar NCAA Tournament run. He averaged 21.3 points per game through the tournament. Kentucky coach John Calipari has compared Fox’s speed to John Wall.

Calipari can be quite the salesman, but no player helped his draft stock more in March than Fox. He may have climbed into the top five of the Draft. And Fox’s free throw shooting — 73.9 percent — suggests he can improve his outside shooting.

Then you move on to a player like Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum — 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds per game, 50.7 percent effective field goal percentage. Tatum has the more traditional look of a star at 6-foot-8, 205 pounds. He can create his own shot and work in isolation extremely well.

Malik Monk dropped 47 points against the North Carolina Tar Heels and can get hot quicker than any player in the Draft it seems. Florida State Seminoles forward Jonathan Isaac has all the physical tools and has scouts drooling over his defense. His offensive involvement and skill remain a question after he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

And none of this gets into the likely top three of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson. The Magic, it would seem, would at least have the ability to pick among three of these players when it is their turn to pick.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

This is all to say, the Magic feel confident they will have the chance to take a very good player in this Draft.

The question then becomes who do the Magic choose, what are they looking for and how do they ensure that player becomes a star? That is where the Magic’s extensive research, interviewing and (eventually) development will have to come in.

The Magic are not just in the team’s longest Playoff drought. They are also in their longest All-Star drought.

The Magic’s gamble to go to the top of the Draft was part and parcel of a plan to draft a star player to rebuild. That obviously did not happen. And a good NBA team needs a star.

It would seem the Magic still view this pick as their opportunity to draft that star. They are not merely looking for a role player in this Draft. They are looking for someone to form a critical part of their core. Perhaps even to build around in the future.

Next: Discussing the NBA Draft Lottery fallout with Heart and Hustle Podcast

The team still has a lot of work to do to prepare for the Draft. But their goals are pretty clear.