Orlando Magic Free Agency: Five targets for the mid-level exception

Milwaukee Bucks guard Wesley Matthews is a proven veteran who can give the Orlando Magic a needed 3-and-D presence. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Bucks guard Wesley Matthews is a proven veteran who can give the Orlando Magic a needed 3-and-D presence. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Justin Holiday, Indiana Pacers
Justin Holiday had his best shooting season of his career last year with the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Second Draft: Justin Holiday

Whether it is through a trade or in free agency, the idea of the second draft is going to be an area the Orlando Magic are going to have to try to exploit.

The second draft is this concept where players — especially first-round picks — struggle with the team that drafted him but show enough flashes for a team to take a flyer on them. Acquiring Markelle Fultz was essentially a second draft acquisition from the Magic.

The idea is that a new setting and a new role can help unlock a player. This is probably what is behind the idea of acquiring Dennis Smith Jr. that has always captivated Magic fans — although now he is working on his third draft and that is essentially a last chance for even young players.

Orlando needs to be looking for bargains. The team needs to be looking for players who can grow.

While the names that I have put on this list in free agency are all good players. They are all players that are focused on helping the Magic win now and solidifying the 2021 team. It is not necessarily about the team’s long-term future.

To be sure, Orlando needs to have an eye on what the team will look like in 2021, but also in the years after. The next two offseasons will be about solidifying the team’s core with Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz set to enter free agency and move off their rookie contracts next offseason and then Mohamed Bamba the following offseason.

Finding younger players who still have growth potential on reasonable deals using part of the mid-level exception is going to be vital to this team.

So give Justin Holiday a look.

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  • He averaged 8.3 points per game on a 56.6-percent effective field goal percentage, hitting 40.5-percent from beyond the arc. He has bounced around the league throughout his career, but he has started to find his footing in the last four years with the Chicago Bulls especially and last year with the Indiana Pacers.

    Holiday is essentially trying to develop into a 3-and-D shooter that teams can rely upon off the bench.

    The 6-foot-6 guard made 51.1-percent of his pull-up 3-pointers, placing him in the 96th percentile in the league, and 40.9-percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, putting him in the 79th percentile.

    Holiday had a career shooting year last year. So there should be some warning with these numbers from last season. He is a career 36.0-percent 3-point shooter and last year’s 40-percent performance was the only year he shot better than 35-percent from deep.

    Last year may end up being a career outlier. That would be the gamble in chasing him. But at least last year, he had gravity and took few open shots. He made them. So whether that is 3-point luck or not, Holiday showed he could be a solid 3-point shooter.

    His defense is solid too. He has built up a reputation as a solid defender off the bench. He has good size to defend opposing shooting guards. He is adept at getting steals and being in passing lanes. But bigger players will be able to go at him.

    Holiday at least breaks even if not comes out slightly ahead on that end.

    If the Magic are looking for a low-key good signing. Holiday certainly fits the bill. He may not have the playoff experience or long-term consistency that someone like Wesley Matthews has. But at least if he is able to copy last year’s success, then Justin Holiday is as good as any other.

    Next. Draft Preview: James Wiseman too big a risk to pursue. dark

    The Magic likely will pursue their free agency in younger up-and-coming players like Holiday. He feels like the most realistic target for the mid-level exception along with bolstering the front court with someone like Baynes if the Magic end up making a trade.