Orlando Magic confident they can get a long-term and short-term fit in NBA Draft

Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has not been the most active executive, but somebody likes the job he is doing. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has not been the most active executive, but somebody likes the job he is doing. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are exhibiting confidence in their draft process as they get set for a critical draft to add to their team in the short- and long-term.

Matt Lloyd was traveling to the Big East Tournament when the world stopped.

By that point, Matt Lloyd and Jeff Weltman have said most of their draft prep was done. The conference tournaments, Lloyd said, are when the team starts to get a jump on the next year’s draft class. But there are always last little things to tie up.

All that got put on hold because of the pandemic. Draft meetings quickly went online. The Orlando Magic had to finish its draft process without the benefit of bringing players to Orlando for a tour and for individual workouts.

With the five-month delay in the NBA Draft, the Magic even had to take a step back and put the draft away for a little while, lest they fall completely in love with everyone and be unable to make a decision when it comes to draft time.

Paralysis by analysis is the great fear.

While free agency preparation is also running as the league gets set for its expedited offseason to prepare for a December 1 start to training camp, the Magic are still knee-deep in an important NBA Draft.

A draft where the Magic are still very confident they can net a player who will contribute to the team in both its long- and short-term prospects.

That seems to be at least some of the consensus as the draft board begins to take shape around the league. The magic can get a quality player that will fill a need the team has.

Magic assistant general manager Matt Lloyd joined the Orlando Magic Pod Squad to preview the Draft and some of the Magic’s draft process:

"“Every draft offers an opportunity,” Lloyd said. “It’s our responsibility to find that opportunity. That’s where I think we do have a little bit of an internal advantage because we put the time in getting to the bottom of a high volume of players. . . . There will always be an opportunity to mix the players that we have on the team, the system that Coach Clifford is running and what we have seen to be successful both internally and externally and then find that guy. That’s our responsibility.“I think there is going to be an opportunity to add something to the team that fits a needs perspective and fits from adding upside. That’s how we approach it.”"

That might be draft talk. Every front office is confident in its draft capabilities and draft process before it begins. They have to believe in that process.

But it is worth noting that Lloyd mentioned shooting as something the team is searching for from the Draft, hoping to spread the floor more for Markelle Fultz.

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He added that Chuma Okeke is a player they believe can be a plus-shooter and help the team pretty quickly. Lloyd said the Magic believe Okeke can be a versatile player capable of playing both forward positions. He said the question facing Okeke is whether he can develop and defend one more position.

As the Magic have said in talking about Okeke in every offseason media availability, they believe Okeke embodies a lot of the things the Magic look for in a draft pick. There is excitement within the organization for finally bringing him in.

Still, Orlando needs to make sure it continues adding talent and hits with this NBA Draft. And the team has done a lot of study on this draft class.

Lloyd said the team has been able to complete most of its usual draft prep. The only thing missing is the element of bringing players in to Orlando and have a personal conversation over dinner and get them acclimated with the area.

The team still completed loads of teleconferences and interviews over the Web. So they certainly still know these players.

But Lloyd said the team is largely left in the dark on how players have improved their games. Workouts were very limited this draft process — the NBA limited teams to 10 individual workouts that had extremely limited access and restrictions. Reportedly R.J. Hampton is one of the players the Magic worked out. So too was Devin Vassell.

Agents have controlled a lot of the flow of information on this front. Teams are focused on evaluating players based on their college tape that ran dry in March.

Whether the Magic have had a successful draft process likely will not be figured out for a few years. The team is going to take a player they believe fits their roster and their future.

That seems painfully obvious. Nobody knows exactly who the Magic like. Orlando plays things close to the vest — Lloyd joked he would have to cut out his tongue or get encased in carbonite if he talked about any specific players — when it comes to the Draft.

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But Orlando seems optimistic with a week to go before the team makes its selection.