Orlando Magic NBA Draft Big Board 1.0: I guess it’s that time

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Jonathan Kuminga, G-League Ignite
Jonathan Kuminga had a strong showing in the G-League’s bubble. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Other Elite Fits


Jalen Green G/F

Even if the Orlando Magic lose the Lottery — the most likely outcome — or still sneak into the top-4, there are plenty of strong players to take that would fit the Magic’s needs or give them the necessary talent injection.

The next two best are players that are part of the NBA’s G-League Ignite experiment. That team is throwing some of the arguments that an elite college team could not beat a low-level NBA team a bit on its head. Or maybe not.

It is at least providing a strong argument the American basketball system needs some upheaval and that allowing younger players to go pro in more supervised, basketball-focused development teams might be as viable a route as college.

In other words, the G-League Ignite program has been a success in its first year. The group made the playoffs with that young group as the 8-seed thanks to a must-win game Saturday.

Jalen Green’s play has been a big reason why.

The 6-foot-6 wing has scored 17.9 points per game while shooting a 53.7-percent effective field goal percentage. This includes eight games of 20 points or more, topped off with a 26-point, 6-for-8 3-point shooting performance Feb. 27 against the Canton Charge.

He had 18 points in Saturday’s season-saving win to make the playoffs.

Green had something of a slow start as there was clearly some feeling out process for him — and perhaps some veteran G-League players trying to knock these kids down a peg — but he really hit his stride as the season went on. His shot improved and his scoring instincts took over.

The biggest complaint about Green is his defense. It is not good yet, to say the least. His technique needs a lot of work. But, at least in the games that I have watched, his effort has not been the problem. That is at least a place to start, even if there is still a lot of work to do.

But there may be no prospect that is a better positional fit for the Magic. Green is a natural shooting guard who can work off the ball and attack off the dribble. He would be a great addition to replace Evan Fournier if he leaves in a trade or free agency. He would be a great complement to the young group that includes Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz.


Jonathan Kuminga F

Similarly, Green’s G-League Ignite teammate Jonathan Kuminga has also impressed a ton with his play during the run inside the G-League’s bubble season at Disney.

Kuminga has averaged 15.8 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game. Although he has had some struggles shooting — 38.7-percent from the floor and 24.6-percent from deep on 5.0 3-point attempts per game — Kuminga has displayed some impressive offensive acumen.

He is really good at getting into the paint and going toward the basket. He can finish at the rim when given the chance. And his shooting, despite the poor percentages, looks a lot better than it was probably advertised.

The fact that both Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga have looked right at home while playing in a professional league has boded well for both of them.

Kuminga has slowed down since his hot start — he scored 19 points, 24 points and 23 points in his first three games, although with decreasing deficiency. There should be concerns about the consistency of his jumper.

For the Magic, Kuminga is in a position the Magic have plenty of help in. The last thing the team needs is another versatile forward that probably fits better at the 4 in the NBA. But this high in the draft, you take the best player available.