The need for more: Orlando Magic should keep all their 2017 picks

Mar 13, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Kings defeated the Magic 120-115. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Kings defeated the Magic 120-115. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic will have a busy draft with four picks. Many people believe the Magic will not keep them all. But maybe the Magic should consider doing so.

With a disappointing 2017 season behind them, the Orlando Magic finally learned their draft fate. The Magic will hold four picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.

They will pick sixth, 25th, 33rd and 35th. These are prime draft picks, all of which could very well provide the Magic with players who could contribute to the team moving forward. The sixth pick is where the team can target a star player and someone key to their future. The other three picks all should help add key contributors.

But at this point, there are many people who believe the Magic do not intend to stand pat and use all of those picks. Many believe the Magic should package one of these picks with another player either to move up or bring in another veteran.

After all, the Magic are still a fairly young team, to begin with. Adding four rookies, and having all four of them make the team, would be quite the feat. It would be a sign of some form of rebuilding still as rookies take some time to adjust to the league. And they make a lot of mistakes.

There has been a sense in recent seasons that a large part of Orlando’s struggles are due to the lack of veteran presence on the team. Those thoughts still persist, even though the 2017 campaign may have been the most cataclysmic failure in franchise history with a fairly veteran team.

Veteran players largely fueled the team’s lackluster performance last year. Many of those supposedly reliable veterans did not live up to expectations. Players such as Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin, Serge Ibaka and C.J. Watson contributed to Orlando’s struggles far more than younger players like Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier or Elfrid Payton.

Before last season, the Magic had been known as an up-and-coming young team, with a lot of room to develop. Many believed they had plenty of room to improve.

The additions of Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin and Jodie Meeks, in combination with losing Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo, the 11th pick in the 2016 draft (Domantis Sabonis) and Tobias Harris (for cap space) changed the team’s outlook.

The Magic morphed from a young and up-and-coming team into a team with little hope — and a lot of bad veterans — in the span of eight months.

This draft, in combination with this offseason, presents the Magic with an opportunity to shift the trajectory of the team in a positive direction.

Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and Damjan Rudez are free agents. C.J. Watson has an unguaranteed contract (only $1 million of his $5 million salary is guaranteed). With the exception of Meeks (who was injured), those are a lot of veteran players who did more harm than good for the team as far as on-court production is concerned.

This is why it would be smart for the Magic to hold onto all four draft picks. The four roster spots these outgoing veterans are vacating would be replaced by the four draft picks. It would enable the Magic to reset their roster with young players, using veterans to fill in the gaps rather than as the featured group.

While the direction of the team might be unclear, going younger would change the view of the team and its outlook. The Magic would once again become a young team with a lot of room to improve, as opposed to a veteran-laden mess of a team with a low ceiling.

Adding four rookies would kill some roster flexbility. Even with two-way contracts, the Magic would have little room to add players in free agency or take extra players in trades if they use all four of these picks.

But remember, the Magic have Stephen Zimmerman, Marcus Georges-Hunt and Patricio Garino under contract as well. All three of these players have non-guaranteed deals, similar to C.J. Watson. There is no guarantee these young players stick to the roster after training camp.

All three of them also happen to be prime candidates for the NBA’s new hybrid contracts. This would allow Orlando to keep two of them under contract without counting toward Orlando’s active 15-man roster. The Magic may also use these two-way contracts on their second-round picks.

President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman was a frequent user of the D-League while with the Toronto Raptors. Both he and team CEO Alex Martins anticipate the Magic will use the D-League more heavily with their affiliate now in Lakeland. Martins said plainly, fans in Lakeland can expect to see Magic roster players on occasion this season.

The Magic would still have plenty of flexibility to sign free agents or make unbalanced trades. So what good reason do the Magic have for not reloading their roster with young talent? They certainly gave their fair share of young players away for nothing the past couple years (Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris).

It is time to restock the roster and rebuild a bit, even if it is not a complete teardown.

Simply put, the Magic need to gamble on adding young talent as opposed to relying on bench-warming veterans. The Magic need to do everything they can to increase their odds of finding NBA contributors with higher upsides.

If the Magic want to make drastic improvements, they are likely to do so by trading players already on the roster. That may be the best way to reset their roster some. These draft picks represent an opportunity to restock the cupboard with talent.

Next: Orlando Magic preparing to invest in basketball operations

The odds are far more likely they find a couple contributors with their premium picks than picking over bargain bin free agents.