2020 Orlando Magic NBA Draft Preview: Theo Maledon brings versatility

Theo Maledon is a quiet and poised point guard who knows how to manage a game and get to his spots. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Theo Maledon is a quiet and poised point guard who knows how to manage a game and get to his spots. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic will begin working on adding versatility to their backcourt at some point. Theo Maledon may be a safe point guard option to do just that.

The Orlando Magic have the 15th pick and the potential to draft a budding star in the upcoming NBA Draft on Nov.18. Or it could be a chance to add some important depth to a team still seeking for its way out of the bottom of the playoff picturee.

There are a lot of needs to fill as the team looks to bolster depth at nearly every position and put the team in a better position to move forward.

The Magic could look to add additional shooting and backcourt help through the draft with D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams both entering free agency. There are a fair amount of point guard options to consider.

The Magic’s draft record under Jeff Weltman has had them tend toward picking long-limbed, versatile players. Orlando wants players who can play and, more importantly, defend multiple positions. Finding players who check both those boxes is difficult.

It gets even more difficult as the team looks to add skills — such as shooting — to the equation. Orlando has to bolster its backcourt, having spent its previous drafts boosting the frontcourt. The team will be looking for the same kind of versatile qualities.

There are special athletes and bigger names from American colleges dotting these picks. But another potential fit for Orlando is 19-year old French point guard Theo Maledon.

The 6-foot-5 guard has a 6-foot-9 wingspan and has experience playing both on and off the ball. He brings the versatility to play either point guard or shooting guard. He can potentially backup starting point guard Markelle Fultz or play alongside him.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Maledon started playing professional basketball at the age of 16 for Lyon-Villeurbanne in the LNB Pro A.  At 17, he became the youngest player to ever play in a LNB Pro A All-Star game. He has a French Cup Finals MVP to his name and won the Best Young Player in the LNB Pro A award.

Maledon last played for former San Antonio Spurs point guard Toni Parker’s club LDLC ASVEL of the EuroLeague, where he averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 assists per game in 17.7 minutes per game. In his three professional seasons, he has career averages of 6.4 points, 2.1 assists in 15.9 minutes per game.

In his young career, he is a 34.6-percent shooter from beyond the arc. He made 33.3-percent of his 3-pointers across both Pro A and Euroleague games this year for Asvel. His mechanics look fine, but, like his game, it can be deliberate. There is still room for improvement from the outside. He is more successful as a pull-up shooter in the mid-range at this point.

Those are not imposing stats since joining the team in France’s top league and playing in international competitions. But Maledon is a solid young point guard who has helped his team succeed at that level.

Maledon brings a ton of professional experience although being only 19. His former teammates praise his work ethic and maturity.

Despite the still-developing shooting and offensive confidence, Maledon gives the Magic the kind of versatility they look for. He has the physical attributes and size the team prefers.

Orlando would be taking Maledon for his length, poise and positional versatility. Those are all certainly things the Magic value.

He projects as a good defender in the pros with his length. Maledon is just an overall solid player.

But the concern is just what his ultimate role in the NBA could be. He does not project as much more than a backup or spot starter. He is not going to change games by his presence. He will simply hold the ship steady.

He is not a top-notch athlete. Maledon relies on his craftiness with his dribble and short bursts of speed to create separation.

He is not going to live in the paint and get to the basket at will or finish at the rim with athleticism. His game is more about control and mixing up speeds to get where he wants.

While doing that and being so good at that at such a young age is encouraging, there are still questions about how it translates to the NBA. Can a player like Maledon rely solely on guile and not have the athleticism to compete?

And then the next question building off of that is can a player like that be anything more than a backup?

Maledon seems like a player who can manage a game and get to his spots. But the question is just how much that can take him. Is it worth drafting a player who might end up topping off as a career backup?

This may ultimately hold him back and have him rated lower on draft boards than his contemporaries. Maledon projects as a good player and a safe pick.

He checks the boxes for the Magic and gives them the versatile point guard they can use in a number of ways. That might be what is most important and attractive about him.

Already, Maledon seems like a player who knows how to play within himself and his role for a team. He seems like he would be able to step in and contribute immediately and adjust to the speed of the game. It is difficult to rattle him.

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And that might be enough for a team like the Magic to give him a look at No. 15 or perhaps trading down.