Orlando Magic’s process is just beginning, to some chagrin

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Jonathan Isaac (Florida State) is introduced as the number six overall pick to the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Jonathan Isaac (Florida State) is introduced as the number six overall pick to the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeff Weltman and the Orlando Magic made some moves to bring in people and players they like in the Draft. The speed of rebuilding may not quicken.

Jonathan Isaac knows he is not everything he will be yet. Jeff Weltman and the Orlando Magic know Jonathan Isaac is not everything he will be yet. They both seem to recognize the amount of potential that can be found in this relationship and the hope that it can provide.

For a Magic franchise that is five years into the longest playoff drought in team history, patience is probably not the word they wanted to hear. Talk about a process, patience and things taking time is not what they wanted to hear.

But the truth is, the Magic were always going to need some time following a 29-win season. They were never going to be able to turn things around so dramatically in one offseason — and in one draft. Orlando was always going to need some work to get from where they are to where they want to be — the Playoffs.

Now that hope is invested in Jonathan Isaac, the Magic’s sixth overall pick from the 2017 Draft. He is the first step as the Magic try to rebuild, but far from the last step. And Isaac will admit his career itself and the development of his abilities are at their initial stages too.

"“I understand that it’s a process and I understand I’m not where I want to be,” Isaac told Orlando Magic Daily over the phone from the Draft. “I don’t think momentum has shifted in a split second. It’s going to take time to turn things around. It’s going to be a process. I have no intention of it being five years. I know it’s going to be a process and I know I’m going to work hard for my team.”"

When asked what his strongest characteristics were, Isaac answered, “I have no idea.” To some that may have been an admission of weakness or a lack of awareness. But Isaac said with too much self-assuredness to believe that. Instead, it was an admission he has barely scratched the surface of his potential.

The expectation or the only command that came from Weltman when he spoke to Isaac for the first time was to be the hardest worker on the team. That was a command Isaac seemed to accept and relish.

But Isaac also is under no misconceptions of how difficult the task is ahead of him or for his new team, the Orlando Magic. When he was asked about the pain fans have been through the last five years in getting to this point and how quickly he believes he can contribute to a Playoff team, he did not shy away from the challenge. He said he may say something fans do not want to hear, but that he still has work to do to become the beacon of hope his selection seemingly represents.

That may be a hard truth. Isaac averaged only 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He sometimes blended into the background and struggled to find his fit with the Florida State Seminoles. Jeff Weltman said some of this perceived passiveness was Isaac being a good teammate and doing what his team asked of him.

While many scouts believe Isaac is already a strong defender, Isaac said he knows he can still improve there. That amount of humbleness is unexpected from a player of his stature.

Like the Magic, Isaac had to build himself up brick by brick.

"“It’s just been my life in this game and my journey,” Isaac told Orlando Magic Daily. “I started as a nobody. I had to understand that it’s a process. If I want to get where I want I have to put the work in. I take it one day at a time. Each day I get a little bit better.”"

Undoubtedly, the Magic will want to see him expand his game. And Isaac said he was hoping to show he could do more on the ball as he entered the NBA. This is the aspect of his game that could take him to another level in the NBA.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

It will take hard work for him to get there. And it will take time.

In the end, the Magic’s draft was not about adding a player who would make the most impact now. It was about adding the player the team can build around for the future. This was a swing for the future.

For Weltman, the move was about establishing the kind of people and players the Magic want to bring in. His first move was a tone setter.

"“I think tonight was about adding the right kind of people and getting a chance to select a kid like a Jonathan Isaac who really has tremendous potential and multi-position player and so many of the things we just spoke about,” Weltman told Orlando Magic Daily. “How he fits into the team this season? He is going to have to grow up and figure som things out. He will be given the time and space to do that. But we’re excited about what’s at the end of the road for him.”"

The timeline for the Magic to return to contention may be slightly different than most Magic fans believed before Draft night. The team is certainly not done remaking the roster yet. There are still trades to make and roster moves to make. The Draft is not the final step in rebuilding the Magic.

But this first step may not have been the leap forward fans hoped for. The team made no trades of established players like Elfrid Payton or Nikola Vucevic. The team only added two rookies and traded their other two picks — including the 25th pick in the draft — for future assets. For fans hoping for big changes on Draft night certainly felt a bit let down.

For fans hoping for big changes on Draft night certainly felt a bit let down.

Orlando’s future is still uncertain and there is still work to do. But it is clear the 2018 season will be another transition year.

A transition year to let Jonathan Isaac grow and figure out if he can play with Aaron Gordon. A transition year between Rob Hennigan’s players and Jeff Weltman’s players.

Weltman does not profess to have a grand vision or plan. This first step was about bringing in his kind of people and players. It is clear he has a type now. And he will continue to keep building.

"“There’s no next step, it’s just adding the right kind of people and right kind of players,” Weltman said. “I think today is a big step forward for us to add Jonathan Isaac and Wesley Iwundu and preserve some of our assets moving forward. Kind of bring in the sorts of people we want to be about. As we go forward, we’ll be opportunistic. We will seize every possibility that we can to improve the team and bring in those sorts of people. But today was a big step for us.”"

Being opportunistic and working on bringing in the right kind of people is maybe not what Magic fans want to hear. These are statements discussing the team’s long-term health. These are statements of a team still rebuilding.

At this point, that may be the reality for the Magic. The team still has some needs to fill to shore up the major weaknesses of last year’s team. The Draft did not address many of those needs clearly.

Indeed, it was merely a first step to transitioning to Weltman’s regime and not a grand move to push the team forward. The Magic’s rebuilding continues for now.

Next: Jeff Weltman begins forming view of current Orlando Magic

It remains to be seen whether Magic fans will stay on board.