NBA Draft will present several tough choices for Orlando Magic

Mar 13, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) reacts after scoring against the Texas Longhorns during the second half at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) reacts after scoring against the Texas Longhorns during the second half at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

There has always been a philosophical question surrounding the NBA draft of how to draft, especially when it comes to a top-five pick. The question of whether to pick the best player available or selecting a player that better fits the roster is a question the Orlando Magic have to answer this summer.

The question becomes even tougher because the Magic find themselves in a unique situation.

The Magic are not starting this rebuild from scratch as they already have a core of young talent on the roster. Back in 2013, the Magic started from scratch as they had just traded away Dwight Howard and had to find the player to build around and started tanking. Their veteran holdovers like J.J. Redick, Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis were clearly on their way out sooner than later.

But this time around, Orlando has already paid young players that have shown potential in Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. The Magic also have a group of intriguing young players on their rookie deals in Cole Anthony, Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter, R.J. Hampton and Chuma Okeke.

The Orlando Magic are likely picking up a high draft pick this year. That will present some challenges as they weigh both the incoming talent and the roster they have already assembled.

The Orlando Magic’s upcoming draft picks — including their likely top-six pick and the pick they will likely receive from the Chicago Bulls — will be adding to a team of already established players. Or at least, players the Magic have already established they want to grow and develop.

The crowded areas where the Magic already have established young players could put a bind when the team prepares to make their pick. This puts Orlando in a tricky position.

The team will have to decide if it believes any of the team’s current players have enough potential to take the leap and draft for a team fit, or they rather take the best player available.

With the top pick in the draft, it is usually fairly straightforward. Even if a team jumps into the lottery, the chance to take raw talent is usually too much to pass up.

This year’s draft is unique, as it is considered a five franchise-changing draft, and these players are versatile positional-wise. Evan Mobley is a center, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga play on the wing and Jalen Suggs plays the guard position. Then Cade Cunningham, who is the media’s consensus number one pick, has the versatility to play the guard and wing spot.

If Orlando wins the lottery, they will likely draft Cade Cunningham, who had a strong college season averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per gmae while shooting 43.8-percent from the field and 40-percent from three. He also has the versatility to alongside any of the Magic’s young guards at the height of 6-foot-8.

But even with this rationale, the Magic would be silly to pass up on his talent. The team can always figure out positional fit later. Bringing in this kind of talent is a no-brainer. Especially in a league where more teams — including the Magic — are more willing to play multiple ball handlers on the floor at the same time.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

After that, the dynamic of the next four picks becomes very interesting. How the Magic value Green and Kuminga’s experience in the G-League for the Ignite team will be a question that every team will try to answer. Or will the team look at the deep Tournament runs that Mobley and Suggs led their team on more favorably.

In either case, all four players would duplicate some skill or position the Magic already seemingly have. But the team is not likely to view much of its roster set in stone.

The G-League has better talent than the college game as it is filled with NBA talent, and since Green played well, averaging 17.9 points on 46.1-percent shooting and 36.5-percent from beyond the arc. Green seems like the best positional fit as he provides a scoring and shooting ability that this team desperately needs.

Kuminga also played on the same Ignite team as Green, he played better in competition than the others and played strong on both ends scoring 15.8 points and grabbing 7.2 rebounds but did not shoot the ball well from three as he shot 24.6 percent from three.

But Jonathan Kuminga is a versatile forward like Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke. Kuminga was not a strong shooter either and his ability to slot in with the other players the magic might be building around is questionable. The Magic would not pass him up over some other players in the Draft for sure, but the team would also have to carefully determine who they are truly trying to build around.

There would be a lot of mouths to feed with Kuminga in the fold.

Orlando could still opt to go big too even with Wendell Carter and Mohamed Bamba on the roster.

It is believed Mobley’s upside is higher than Kuminga’s and should be higher on the draft board. However, as Mobley does not provide a need for the Magic, they might want to take a look at moving their pick for a player who fits their team while still providing upside for the team, or they will have to move one of their young centers to avoid a logjam at the center spot.

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Then again, both Carter and Bamba are slated to become free agents at the end of the 2022 season. If the team is unsure of either player’s fit with the roster long-term,  Mobley might be a high-upside pick to man the middle for the Magic for the long term.

Since the Magic paid Fultz, they may be inclined to move the pick if Jalen Suggs is the player available at their drafting spot. Both Suggs and Mobley have high upside, but the Magic are in a position where they might want to add a player that makes sense for their current roster.

Suggs too though could play off the ball some and could be a good complement to Fultz in the starting lineup or as an option off the bench to start playing alongside Cole Anthony.

The team should not feel pigeonholed to any option with this draft. Orlando has some clear positional needs to fill, but even with an imperfect fit the team just needs an injection of talent.

Then, the Chicago Bulls’ pick adds another layer of decision-making to this draft. The Magic have different routes they can take with the Bulls pick. Orlando can always make the pick, or they can trade the pick in different scenarios.

The Magic can trade the Bulls’ pick with their pick to ensure they can draft the player they want. Instead, they can package the pick as part of a deal to trade out of the draft.

The Magic have young talent on the team, so the Magic have to be careful of adding too many young players to a roster that will end up lacking the veterans that are needed to create the right balance.

In the end, this year’s draft is going to be an important piece to this team’s future. The front office has to decide whether they want to draft for the best player available or a player that better fits their roster. And then figure out how they work with an incredibly young roster.

Next. Magic's youth leading to a slow progression and development. dark

Then finally, the Bulls pick has the potential to add more possibilities to this draft that can change this franchise for years to come.