Orlando Magic 2019 NBA Draft Preview: Second round picks on the grind looking for a chance

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 21: UCF Knights guard Aubrey Dawkins (15) shoots the ball during the game against the Central Florida Knights and the Cincinnati Bearcats on February 21st 2019, at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 21: UCF Knights guard Aubrey Dawkins (15) shoots the ball during the game against the Central Florida Knights and the Cincinnati Bearcats on February 21st 2019, at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

For some players projected to go undrafted or in the second round, they have bounced around the entire league hoping to prove their worth.

There was added interest from the local media to Wednesday’s NBA Draft prospect availability.

UCF Knights forward Aubrey Dawkins got a workout with his ‘hometown team” — the Orlando Magic already worked out center Tacko Fall and would work out guard B.J. Taylor on Saturday — and the local media wanted to know everything about his draft experience so far.

The usual question gets brought up asking where Dawkins had already worked out. He rattled off a list of names, stopping to think and make sure he got the sequence or the locations right. He then rattled off a bunch more names of where he would work out next — including with the Charlotte Hornets the following day alongside Fall.

At a certain point, it seemed more efficient for Dawkins to list where he was not working out rather than where he was.

That is all part of the grind for a player trying to scratch his way into the NBA Draft. It is hard to find any mock draft that has the 24 years old forward going in the draft’s 60 picks despite a skill set that seems tailor-made for the NBA. He has to prove he is worthy of a spot — if not in the draft then at Summer League.

Dawkins had one more year of eligibility but felt the time was right to make the leap to the NBA. Certainly, his age had a bit to do with that decision making. It was his time to go through the grind.

"“I love UCF and I love what I did there and the run I had there,” Dawkins said. “But I know for me, my personal growth, for my development and my game, I knew it was the right decision for me. I had to make it. I’m happy and it’s my journey to run.”"

Dawkins turned in a fine season for the UCF Knights last year, helping them earn a NCAA Tournament berth and a near upset over the Duke Blue Devils in the second round. He averaged 15.6 points per game and shot 40.3 percent from beyond the arc. This a year after he had to sit out for transfer rules and dealt with a shoulder injury.

The team’s exposure in that NCAA Tournament probably helped Dawkins get in front of a few more faces. Scouts canvass the entire basketball world — and the Magic probably scouted their share of Knights games in their backyard — but his 32-point performance against the top-seeded Blue Devils probably put him in front of a larger audience.

That might explain a lot of the interest. Just as much as his game would. He has a good 3-point shot and a big body that can defend well. He does not blow anyone away in any singular aspect, but he is a solid player who can come in and fill a role.

"“Shooting the ball and playing defense,” Dawkins said. “Those two things right now are big in the NBA especially coming in as a wing player. Those two things you have to be able to do. For me, that’s what I want to emphasize and show what I can do consistently. The rest will fall into place.”"

Dawkins is on the grind trying to prove he is worthy of that pick. That is the lot of players slotted at the end of the draft.

Florida Gators guard Jalen Hudson, who also worked out for the Magic on Wednesday, is in that similar boat.

Hudson averaged 9.3 points per game for Florida last year, hitting on just 28.0 percent of his 3-pointers. This a season after averaging 15.5 points per game and hitting on 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers. His senior year last year seemed like a statistical outlier. But Hudson had to prove himself all over again.

Like so many prospects, Hudson is trying to show some things he may not have been able to show in college. And perhaps dispel a few myths about his game in a NBA setting.

"“Just trying to show them that I’m a competitor,” Hudson said. “Obviously, things are not always going to go as planned. If the opportunity presents itself, I know that I can play very well and play at this level and make an impact. In these workouts, I want to show I can really be a great player and contribute to any team that I am a part of.”"

Like Dawkins, the 6-foot-6 guard is trying to find a way onto a roster for Summer League or into the late second round. He said he wanted to show off his versatility in a way he could not at the college level.

He also had a strong finish to the season and played well on the biggest stage. He scored 33 points against the LSU Tigers in his final home game at Exactech Arena, hitting four 3-pointers. He scored 26 total points in the team’s two NCAA Tournament games, hitting on 9 of 28 shots.

Hudson is a versatile defender and that had him fitting in well with Florida. But ultimately his shooting will determine whether he gets an opportunity in the NBA. He too is making his rounds throughout the league to show what he can do.

A lot of the guys the Magic have worked out in these publicly announced workouts fit this bill.

They are guys who are on the very edges of the NBA Draft and likely to go unselected. The teams around the league have Summer League rosters to fill, databases to fill, prospects they actually want to see against live competition and G-League rosters to fill. Everyone fits into this landscape somehow and is looking for a way to stand out.

For so many of them, it has been a long and winding road. Nights spent in hotel after hotel for the biggest job interviews of their lives — one that will continue into July’s Summer League most likely when international teams start to enter the picture more realistically.

There is nothing they can do but try to enjoy the moment and the opportunity.

"“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Dawkins said. “Whether you are my age or 18 or 19 years old, you can’t get drafted more than once. This opportunity is something that is truly special. There should be no negative feelings about it. When it’s time to lace them up, you should be excited.”"

Next. Talen Horton-Tucker has size, lacks sizzle. dark

Thursday will reveal where all of these players end up and what kind of impressions they made. The draft process is nearing its completion.