While Isaac Okoro shows potential and length, he does not fit what the Orlando Magic need. Orlando should go after a combo guard and shooting in this draft.
The Orlando Magic have a type.
It has actually become a joke among even the national media too. The one thing the franchise might be known for on a widespread basis.
Want to figure out who Jeff Weltman and the Magic are going to pick? Just scan the list of wingspans on the NBA Draft Combine’s stats page (not this year, since most of the major prospects did not participate in the virtual version of the Draft Combine).
Mohamed Bamba had the longest wingspan ever measured at the event. Jonathan Isaac made his name as a rangy defender. Wesley Iwundu, Melvin Frazier and Justin Jackson all measured with some of the longest wingspans for their position groups during their Draft classes.
There is a pattern there.
The current front office has so far picked long forwards who have the versatility to switch on screens and defend. They have viewed these players as ones they can groom to be whatever they need them to be. They fit a versatile vision defensively, able to switch onto any defender and counteract the more complex offenses teams are throwing out now.
This focus on versatility and physical attributes has sometimes left important skills by the wayside. For the past few years, there has been a cry from the fan base to obtain guards and shooting. Players who clearly fit needs for the current roster rather than long-term projects who simply block each other’s minutes.
With young players on rookie contracts filling up both forward spots — Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke — and center — Mohamed Bamba — it would make sense this year the Magic add something that adds to that roster (add in Markelle Fultz ensconced at point guard and shooting guard feels like the target).
With two playoff appearances and a roster that is starting to take clearer shape beneath them, this should be the draft that the Magic go with shooting and draft in the backcourt instead of drafting another wing.
Still, Orlando has a type. It is hard not to use the Magic’s past as a predictor for the team’s future.
Cue in Isaac Okoro.
Okoro is very similar to Isaac.
He is a long wing who has a high defensive motor but is not polished offensively. He can guard the one through four positions at any given time, which would provide versatility to any team. He also has the intangibles such as a motor, so a team knows they are getting a hard worker.
Every draft has super athletic, raw physical prospects that catch a team’s eye and makes them believe they can groom him how they want. Okoro is that guy this year.
While Okoro is talented, there is simply no room in the frontcourt for him. Taking Okoro or moving up in the Draft to take him would simply be a waste of an opportunity to add talent to the roster.
There is drafting a type and then there is just adding insult to injury. At some point, the Magic have to start doing some teambuilding. Orlando has too many Okoro-types.
Standing at 6-feet-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Okoro fits the description of what the Magic have been drafting for several years. But with Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu, Wesley Iwundu, James Ennis and rookie Chuma Okeke, there is already a big mix of veterans and young talent on the roster cluttering the position.
Okoro also follows the same description of the draft overall of not being a for-sure hit in the draft.
In his one year at Auburn, Okoro scored 12.9 points per game while grabbing 4.4 rebounds per game. He also shot a poor 28.6-percent from three, which is the opposite of what the Magic need.
He does, however, use athleticism to get easy baskets and cut behind defenses. For someone who is not known as a shooter, being able to be effective on the offensive end is promising but he will need to continue to develop his jump shot.
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He needs to improve on his dribbling ability too. But when he does get into the defense he can finish around the rim and find open shooters. This is a huge plus of being able to be a creator at the wing position.
While he is not polished offensively, he does his damage on the defensive end. That is his most NBA-ready skill.
Okoro made a name for himself as being a disruptive defender averaging a steal and block per game. He has the physical tools to be a good defender at the next level as he has a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He can use his strength on both ends of the floor.
He has even gotten comparisons to Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby for his defensive attributes. This gives any team great defensive versatility, which is highly valuable in today’s NBA.
So while Okoro shows potential and is clearly very talented, he does not fit what the Magic need.
Orlando should go after a combo guard and shooting in this draft. The Magic have drafted the best player available over the last three seasons and loaded up at forward.
Especially with this draft being so unpredictable, the Magic should stick to players that fill clearer needs on the roster. The Magic should take the best guard that is available for them unless they believe whoever they draft is going to be better than any of the forwards that already on the roster.
Overall, Okoro has potential on both sides of the floor but is more advanced on the defensive end of the floor. But with the front being crowed and Okoro being a player that the Magic would likely have to move up for, Orlando should pass on Okoro and look at another prospect.