The Orlando Magic need a player who they can build around. In today’s small-ball NBA, nobody in this draft fits that better than Oklahoma Sooners guard Trae Young.
What do the Orlando Magic need more than anything?
Trae Young is just that.
After years of missing the playoffs and high draft picks, the Magic have little to show for it. Aaron Gordon seems to be blossoming into a good player. And Jonathan Isaac looks promising defensively but neither one can transform a team overnight with his presence. Especially on offense.
Trae Young can.
The Oklahoma Sooners guard led Division I with 27.4 points per game and 8.7 assists per game. He got to the line 8.6 times per game and shot 86 percent. All this while also connecting on 36 percent of his 10.3 3-point attempts per game.
Young was really the only reliable option on a not-so-great Oklahoma team and was often forced into taking pretty difficult shots because of it. His usage rate was the highest in the country at 37.1 percent. Even with that, he was still able to put up a pretty efficient 58.5 percent true shooting percentage.
Young not only puts immense pressure on a defense with his scoring ability, but also with his vision. He led college basketball with an assist percentage of 48.6 percent.
Even though he lacks explosion that some guards like John Wall and Russel Westbrook have, Trae Young does a good job of finding creases and getting the defender on his back forcing the help defense to rotate over. He then is able to kick it out to shooters or make the little dump off pass to the big man underneath.
Young also puts a ton of stress on the defense in fast break opportunities. That ability to pull-up from way deep and hit threes and attack the basket requires constant defensive attention.
He pushed the ball up the court pretty much every chance he could and was able to create good looks mostly because of his shooting. Off the ball, he draws a lot of gravity when running to the wings and corners because defenders have to respect his shooting ability.
Getting out and running is also something Clifford emphasized in Charlotte, they finished top 10 in the NBA in pace last season.
So why is a guy that put up that type of production in a power five conference not in the conversation to go top three?
Size and defense.
Young is 6-foot-2 but only has a 6-foot-2 wingspan which is a liability while finishing over NBA defenders at the rim and also on the defensive end.
Young will most likely have to develop an in-between game and finish with more floaters and push shots around the rim then he had to in the Big 12.
On the defensive end, he is never going to be a great defender and probably will not ever be a good defender. But as he puts on some size and develops an NBA body, he might become average. If he can at least get to that level as a defender, that is all a team really needs from a guy it hopes is going to put up the type of offensive production he can.
The Magic need a player who they can build an offense around. That is something Orlando typically has always had. That lack of a clear star player defines this six-year drought as much as anything.
In the modern NBA, Young has the best chance to become that kind of transcendent player, capable of igniting the offense and generating buzz by his presence. He has the potential to reinvigorate an entire fan base again with his exciting brand of basketball.
This is a decision the team should not overthink.
Every prospect in this draft has flaws and question marks. Offenses are clearly winning in this league and that is Young’s calling card.
Young fits a need. He is also one of the top prospects in this draft. It is a perfect storm for Orlando.
Draft Orlando’s next star.
Draft Trae Young.