Which NBA Draft prospects the Orlando Magic have worked out (that we know of)

Kira Lewis will bring speed to the NBA and whoever picks him. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Kira Lewis will bring speed to the NBA and whoever picks him. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA limited how many draft prospects could visit NBA teams in person. Here is who we know the Orlando Magic worked out.

The NBA’s Draft process this year has been unsettled and strange, to say the least.

The Draft was supposed to take place in late June. The league’s hiatus from the pandemic suspended that indefinitely. The NBA Draft Lottery had to wait until August and September to get going. And the league finally set Nov. 18 as the date.

That left players and teams with five extra months to prepare for the Draft. But the wait has still been interminable.

Things were made much cloudier because of the ongoing pandemic. The NBA Draft Combine went virtual — hosted at several NBA sites, but done in private. There was no grand gathering of the NBA’s executive class.

Individual workouts also changed dramatically.

Teams were still able to conduct interviews with prospects via teleconference. But as Orlando Magic assistant general manager Matt Lloyd said, the team did not get to show off its city and its organization to prospects and break bread over dinner or lunch. A big part of the draft process was lost because of that.

Teams are still putting together their full draft picture. And it will be a somewhat incomplete picture than what they normally would get because of this.

Lloyd said in his interview with the Orlando Magic Pod Squad earlier this week that one benefit that might come from this Draft process is that individual workouts were severely curtailed. They would lose that chance to interact with prospects. But the good news is they would not necessarily be influenced by the 1-on-0 or 3-on-3 workouts that often leave a lasting and imperfect impression on teams.

The NBA though was still trying to help prospects and teams get together in some way during these pandemic times.

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They set up rules limiting teams to 10 in-person individual workouts for the rest of the draft process with access to these workouts severely limited with COVID protocols. This would at least give teams some face time with prospects.

And it would give fans and reporters some indication of what teams are thinking and who they might be targeting. Not that the Magic have ever drafted someone they worked out — they did not workout Jonathan Isaac, visiting him in New York for an interview in 2017, and they did not hold an in-person workout for Mohamed Bamba in 2018.

So take everything with a grain of salt.

But with draft prospects meeting with the media in the run-up to Wednesday’s draft, names have started to leak about who is working out where. We are getting some of the names of players who worked out with the Magic.

They are the names that everyone would expect. Here is the incomplete list as we know it now:

R.J. Hampton, New Zealand Breakers

The former high school and AAU star opted to play his gap year in the NBL in Australia rather than going the college route. If he had stayed in college his perception might be much different because of the talent he has.

Instead, he struggled to adjust to the professional ranks and needed time to adjust. Was it play style? Was it simply not being ready to play a professional schedule? These are all questions that have dulled his appeal in the eyes of NBA scouts.

And it has a player with clear top-10 talent falling out of the Lottery and right into the Orlando Magic’s lap (potentially).

Hampton has an explosive first step. He can get to the basket well and make some flashy plays. There is a lot of flashes of talent in him.

But his struggles to finish through contact and the rim and his struggles especially as a shooter are probably why he has fallen this far. Every team, and especially the Magic, are probably examining his shooting closely.

R.J. Hampton took his quarantine to work with former Orlando Magic forward and current Memphis Tigers assistant coach Mike Miller to improve his shooting form. There have been reported gains in that area. But nobody will really know until he steps onto the court for a game.

It will be hard to pass up on this kind of talent at No. 15. And the Magic are right to get more information on him wherever they can find it.

Devin Vassell, Florida State

Most Orlando Magic fans have long targeted Florida State Seminoles guard Devin Vassell as a potential draft pick. He has everything the team likes and would almost certainly be able to help the team immediately while also having room to grow.

Vassell is about as perfect of a 3-and-D prospect that there could be. He shot 41.5-percent from deep and has the length and pedigree that comes from playing for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State.

Vassell does not pop off the page with his stats. He is athletic but does not do much attacking off the dribble. His role at Florida State was to get out in transition to score and work off screens or as a spot-up 3-point shooter. On a talented and often veteran Florida State team, Vassell was not in a position where he would get the ball a ton.

Still, Vassell would be considered a huge dream for the Magic. The team needs shooting and Vassell is one of the top-3 shooters in this Draft. He checks off a lot of the boxes for the team.

The Magic would have to trade up to get him and he certainly would be someone they target.

Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama

The Orlando Magic have focused more on intangible skills in their recent draft history. More specifically length. It has become something of a joke among Magic fans and around the league. If a guy does not have a positive wingspan, then he is essentially taken off the draft board.

But it makes sense to say the Magic focus their drafting on intangible skills, trusting their player development to fill in skills as players improve and grow.

So the next intangible skill the Magic could focus on? Speed seems like a good bet. The Magic spoke all year about trying to increase their pace.

If that is the direction, Kira Lewis Jr. from Alabama is probably the way to go. He is fast, and he knows it.

While Kira Lewis does not have the elite speed of player comparisons like De’Aaron Fox or John Wall, his speed stands out in this draft class. And that is something the Magic could certainly use. Lewis should be on the radar.

Lewis’ quote cited by Josh Robbins of The Athletic is very important for this process too, and it deserves pointing out. One of the bigger goals of these individual workouts is to assess and judge how a player takes coaching. They run players through the same drills they run their players through and they want to see how a player takes criticism and how quickly they pick up on foreign concepts.

That is why despite the potential for recency bias or 1-on-0 bias, teams still want these individual workouts to complete their profiles on these players before the Draft.

Cole Anthony, North Carolina

Like R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony was a player who dominated at the high school and AAU level and was one of the top prospects in the Class of 2019. He went to North Carolina and struggled mightily to live up to that promise.

Anthony averaged 18.5 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game. He shot worse than 40-percent from the floor as he tried to carry a woeful North Carolina team as far as he could. Cole Anthony also dealt with a torn meniscus earlier in the season that required surgery (the same injury Al-Farouq Aminu had that knocked him out for the whole year).

Anthony developed something of a reputation as a bit of a ball hog and selfish player for how he had to play at North Carolina. Regardless if that is true or not, the questions will hang over Anthony as teams figure out what he can do and where he can fit in.

Anthony has some point guard skill and he was put into the role of a scorer. He may not be an elite scorer. But he can get his shot off when he wants and he can be a gifted scorer.

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Like Hampton, picking Anthony would be a bet on his talent overall coming through.