Why the Orlando Magic should draft Dennis Smith

Dec 31, 2016; Coral Gables, FL, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) dribbles the ball against Miami Hurricanes guard Ja'Quan Newton (0) during the first half at Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2016; Coral Gables, FL, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) dribbles the ball against Miami Hurricanes guard Ja'Quan Newton (0) during the first half at Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

NC State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith fits the mold of guards in today’s NBA which is exactly why the Orlando Magic should take him with the sixth pick.

When the Orlando Magic make their selection tonight with the sixth pick, they will have several great options to choose from. Jonathan Isaac, Malik Monk, and Dennis Smith are all expected to be available once the Magic are on the clock.

Considering the state of the current NBA and the current roster for the Magic, all signs directly point to NC State Wolfpack point guard Dennis Smith being the smartest pick. And when the Magic are on the clock, he should be their pick.

The combination of Smith’s athleticism, scoring and play-making ability immediately fills several needs for the Magic. This pick also modernizes the Magic at the point guard position and creates more stability at this increasingly important position.

After three years of Elfrid Payton, the questions surrounding him and his development have become too great to ignore. Smith would represent an upgrade for the Magic.

Smith is the prototypical guard in today’s NBA. He has elite athleticism that is slowly returning after he tore his ACL in August 2015, before his senior year of high school.

During workouts, Smith reportedly had a 48-inch vertical. Coach Frank Vogel noted following his workout with the Magic in May that Smith displayed plenty of athleticism. It was something that stood out.

The injury caused Smith to miss his senior year of high school and was a concern for scouts. But his vertical shows his ability to bounce back. Coming out of high school, Smith was ranked higher than both Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz per USA Today.

Smith has been overlooked due to such a severe injury relatively recently. His performance during draft workouts and his play at NC State has put that argument to bed.

Smith averaged more than 18 points per game and famously torched the Duke Blue Devils for 32 points for NC State’s first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 22 years during his freshman year. Smith also played in every game for the Wolfpack, averaging just less than 35 minutes a game and posting a 27-percent usage rate. He had to carry his team and did so efficiently and effectively. At least individually.

Smith proved in his freshman year he is still an elite player post-injury.

The NBA has been trending toward combo guards in recent years. Players like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all have play-making and scoring abilities. Dennis Smith shares these same characteristics.

Smith has shown he is not afraid to carry the offensive load when leaned on, which he was at NC State. He was even able to average more than six assists per game playing in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball with subpar teammates.

Smith also has the ability to be an elite two-way player. His combination of strength and quickness makes him a strong defender. Under Vogel’s tutelage, he has the tools to become a top tier defender as well. Although, he is far from a strong defender now.

The Elfrid Payton factor is something to consider if the Magic take Dennis Smith. The fortunate situation the Magic find themselves in is they do not necessarily need to trade Payton if they take Smith. The Magic can share minutes at point guard until they are ready to give full-time duties to Smith. Smith might even be able to play alongside Payton in smaller lineups if he can improve his 3-point shot.

Payton has shown glimpses of brilliance towards the end of last year but his offensive shortcomings are something that cannot be denied.

Smith would represent a modern upgrade to the position. Something the Magic desperately need.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

When the Magic drafted Payton in 2014 the school of thought was he would become an elite defender due to his length. But Payton has not developed into the perimeter defender they thought he would become.

Offensively, Payton has not exactly set the world on fire either. From a macro perspective, the Magic were 27th in points per game last season. Admittingly, it is not fair to put all of that on Payton’s shoulders. But his inconsistent play that found him in and out of the starting lineup for most of the season contributed to the offensive struggles.

It seems like the team is ripe for a change. And in a modern NBA offense, the point guard is the maestro and most important position to fill.

Dennis Smith fits the mold for today’s NBA point guard. He is a two-way player who can shoot the three (36 percent 3-point field goal percentage at NC State). Meanwhile, Payton has been auditioning for the point guard of the future for three seasons and still has not convinced spectators.

Next: What we've learned about the NBA Draft

The best opportunity to find a player who will be able to impact both ends of the floor immediately is Dennis Smith. And that is why he should be the Magic’s pick tonight.