The 2017 NBA Draft is the most important draft in Orlando Magic’s reset rebuild

Mar 13, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dunks the ball over Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dunks the ball over Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have relied on Lottery luck to reshape their franchise. Wanting to end a long playoff drought, this year’s NBA Draft will prove critical.

We are now less than 30 days until the 2017 NBA, Draft where the Orlando Magic will draft sixth overall.

The team has settled some critical questions already, hiring Jeff Weltman as the team’s president of basketball operations and John Hammond as the team’s general manager. Orlando’s decision makers are now in place.

But plenty of question arise now as the draft process hits its stretch run.

The normal draft questions are starting to arise. Who will the Magic take? Should they draft for need or best available?

But from the ether has risen an even greater and perhaps scarier question: Is this the most important and crucial draft in Orlando Magic history?

The knee-jerk reaction is no, it is not. At the surface, this is another rough year where the Magic find themselves in the lottery after a disappointing season. This happens to NBA teams from time-to-time, right?

But the facts may tell a different story. The main one being, this is the longest playoff drought in the Magic’s history. It has been a half-decade of frustration and futility. The 2017 season especially left the Magic seemingly without much hope for the future. And hope is what the Draft usually provides.

So, no. This does not happen to all NBA franchises from time-to-time. At least not the Magic.

The last time the Magic went this long without making the playoffs you would have to go back to their first four years in the league.

Magic fans are not accustomed to not being a part of the playoff picture for this long. That puts stress on the front office to ensure a top grade on June 22. This is a draft where the Magic have to begin righting the ship and showing a clear path forward.

The Magic are still looking for their star to galvanize their rebuild and provide a clearer path for that future. The new CBA gives teams the chance to offer more money to their star players it makes it more difficult for the Magic to land a big name in free-agency.

The days of the Magic signing a Grant Hill and a Tracy McGrady in the same offseason may not be completely gone, but it is a whole lot more difficult now they can no longer use money as leverage to land a high-caliber player.

Sure, the Magic can always overpay for a mid-level player and bank on catching lightning in a bottle. But at this point is it wise to gamble the future of the franchise by making those types of moves? Ask Rob Hennigan what he thinks.

Considering the Magic are looking to end that Playoff drought sooner rather than later, finding a star in the Draft — and this draft, in particular — takes on greater importance.

That is because trading for a star is not going to be easy with this particular roster.

The two big names in trade rumors in the last year are Paul George and Jimmy Butler. And the Magic probably do not have the assets or the willingness to sacrifice to acquire either player.

First, you would have to be living under a rock to not know Paul George has a strong desire to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. That does not bode well for giving up numerous assets to acquire him.

Even if the Magic were able to put together a package to land George, it would not be worth gutting the team to potentially only have George on the roster for a year. His ties to coach Frank Vogel are likely not enough to get him to re-sign with the Magic once his current deal expires either.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Jimmy Butler is under contract for the next two years with a player option for the 2020 season. The problem with making a move like this is the Magic are more than two years away from being a threat in the East. Even with Butler.

Of course, the Magic would be able to resign Butler but at close to 30 years old and signing Butler to what can be assumed to be a $200+-million contract would not be the wisest long term move.

And trading for Butler would also cost the Magic significant assets? Leaving Butler with no one to play with. This does not improve the Magic’s long term outlook.

Pushing in to trade for one of these superstars without a guarantee they would stay would prove extremely risky and gut the team’s roster. Finding a star is still more likely and more prudent through the draft than through the trade market.

Looking at the current landscape of the NBA, it is fair to say this is the most important draft in the Magic’s history.

Free agency has changed so the Magic will have a hard time signing the next McGrady. The success of the franchise has always hinged on draft day success. From Shaquille O’Neal, to trading Chris Webber for Anfernee Hardaway, to Dwight Howard.

Perhaps on June 22, the new Magic front-office tag-team of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will be able to add to that list and start the next chapter for another Magic all-time great. They will do it without the guarantee of that top overall selection.

The Lottery did not provide that. Orlando has to make its own luck through the decision the team will make at six.

Next: Jeff Weltman's first task is rebuilding Orlando Magic's culture

And it put the Magic in a position with this particular deep draft to deliver something tangible to move the rebuild forward.