Orlando Magic Draft Evaluation: Redrafting the Jeff Weltman Era

Jeff Weltman has collected some solid players for the Orlando Magic through the draft. But is still seeking the big fish. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Weltman has collected some solid players for the Orlando Magic through the draft. But is still seeking the big fish. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images) /
6 of 7
Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic represent the old guard for the Orlando Magic, keeping the team competitive while young players grow. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /


Just for comparison’s sake and to get a sense of just how much value the Magic have or have not gotten from the Draft. I thought I would do the same draft class comparisons to players on the Magic’s roster who were on the team during their rookie contracts that were not outright selected by Jeff Weltman.

Nikola Vucevic (16th pick, 2011)

It took Nikola Vucevic a little while to get himself going and become a NBA All-Star player. There have been some frustrations on the road there. But if there is a player who proves you should not judge someone by their rookie year, it is Vucevic.

Vucevic barely played as a rookie on the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers. He came too Orlando and got an opportunity, becoming a dependable double-double for nearly a decade now

Among his draft class, Vucevic ranks sixth in win shares and box plus-minus and fifth in VORP. The only player selected after him that ranks higher is Jimmy Butler. In what turned out to be a great 2011 Draft class, Vucevic is one of the shining stars and a bargain at No. 16.

Evan Fournier (20th pick, 2012)

Similar to Nikola Vucevic, the Orlando Magic cashed in a veteran player to get a young player to add to their collection to start the rebuild. Nobody really knew what to expect from Evan Fournier because he too played very little for a playoff-bound Denver Nuggets team. He just needed the opportunity to blossom.

And like Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier flourished with the opportunity. Say what you will about his weaknesses and shortcomings, but the Magic have gotten a lot from a player who was selected that late in the draft. Like Vucevic, the Magic probably asked too much of Fournier.

Among his draft class, Fournier ranks ninth in win shares, 19th in box plus-minus and 16th in VORP. He is behind Terrence Ross in box plus-minus and VORP. The two biggest players selected after Evan Fournier are Khris Middleton and Will Barton. But still, Fournier is a solid pick at No. 20 despite his inconsistency throughout his career. And he has far outdrawn his draft position.

Aaron Gordon (4th pick, 2014)

In some ways, the Orlando Magic tanked two years to get to the 2014 Draft. And so, after striking out in the Lottery, Aaron Gordon was the big prize from two years of rebuilding. That is unfair to put on Gordon. But Gordon has struggled to live up to his billing.

Orlando botched his early development as injuries overtook him in his first two years. Then they tried to move him to the small forward with a clogged lane — as opposed to another versatile forward like, say, Tobias Harris — before he had the skills to attempt playing that spot.

Gordon has been a disappointment in a lot of ways. Still, among his draft class, Gordon ranks sixth in win shares, 10th in box plus-minus and sixth in VORP.

It was not a good draft class with really only Joel Embiid stepping up among the top players. A second-round pick in Nikola Jokic and late first-round pick in Clint Capela take most of the statistical headlines in the class.

In a re-draft from Chad Ford, he picked Gordon 10th. The Magic probably have not gotten the expected return from a fourth pick, but Orlando still got a solid player nonetheless.

Markelle Fultz (1st pick, 2017)

Like with Chuma Okeke, it is almost unfair to compare Markelle Fultz to his draft class. Markelle Fultz simply has not played enough games to elicit a fair comparison. The injury that knocked him out for most of the first two years of his career makes him virtually a rookie this year.

While everyone has been very impressed with Fultz and his feel for the game to this point in the season, nobody is about to say he is “first overall pick” Markelle Fultz. He is not playing as he did in college. But he has still proven himself to be a solid player.

Compared to this year’s rookie class, his 2020 win shares (2.7) rank fourth behind Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant and Jaxson Hayes. His box plus-minus (-1.7) ranks 15th and his VORP (0.1) ranks eighth.

This is to say, Fultz is playing like a quality rookie contributor in his first year. In some metrics, he has been a big contributor statistically toward his team’s success. There are still a lot of questions about what Fultz can ultimately be, but this is a good sign.