2021 NBA Draft: 5 shooters the Orlando Magic should have their eye on

Corey Kispert is perhaps the best shooter available in the Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Corey Kispert is perhaps the best shooter available in the Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Any conversation about the Orlando Magic at this point always goes back to one skill — the one skill the team has seemingly lacked since Dwight Howard left in 2012 when the team completed its role of changing how 3-pointers were used in the NBA.

The Magic have done well in that time of collecting versatile athletes — under both Rob Hennigan and Jeff Weltman — but they struggled to find skilled players to surround them and give them space. Namely, the Magic have struggled to draft shooting.

Looking at the Magic’s draft picks since 2012, the only players who anyone could characterize as shooters are Mario Hezonja and Cole Anthony. That is not exactly a sterling list.

As the Orlando Magic prepare for the offseason and NBA Draft, shooting is at the top of the list of things the team needs to acquire. The Draft is not full of great shooters though.

The Magic have finished outside the bottom 10 in 3-point field goal percentage just three times (2015, 2016 and 2019) since Howard left after the 2012 season. The team finished 11th in 3-point field goal percentage in that 2019 playoff breakthrough. But the team fell back to 25th in 2020.

Last year, the Magic finished the season 27th, making 34.3-percent of their 3-pointers. After the trade deadline, the team was one of two teams that made fewer than 10 3-pointers.

The Magic certainly should know and understand that shooting matters in the current NBA landscape. And the team is still fairly short on it.

James Ennis and Ignas Brazdeikis are the only players on the roster to finish the season who shot better than 40-percent from beyond the arc. It is not clear if either player will return next year. Moritz Wagner and Gary Harris were the only others to shoot better than 35-percent. The Magic are hoping that Chuma Okeke (34.8-percent), Terrence Ross (33.7-percent) and Cole Anthony (33.7-percent) can have a bump up in shooting next year.

It is clear shooting is the biggest need. And any time the Magic hit the transaction market, it feels like finding shooting is the most important thing.

There are a lot of calls among the Magic faithful to make sure there is a focus on shooting as the team begins to rebuild. With two draft picks, Orlando has the opportunity to really change the base of the franchise. With already established role players like Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz and Chuma Okeke, the Magic have some pieces to build around.

Most teams drafting in the top-10 though are focused more on talent than on skill. They are not going to be looking for specific skills. They just need to get talent in the building — so long as they can carve out minutes for them to play.

But within each tier that they set out, shooting can definitely be a separator. The problem is that this draft may be short on shooters talent-wise. It is not that there are no shooters but the majority of them have apparent ceilings or are not considered in the top tier of players.

To be sure, shooting could be a separator as the Magic sort out and group the players they are considering with their two picks.

Since shooting is such a key skill for the Magic, here is a brief synopsis of the best shooters available in the upcoming draft.

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

Projected Range: Mid- to Late-Lottery

Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert might well be the best pure shooter in the draft. He was a key tool to Gonzaga’s undefeated run to the national championship game in the NCAA Tournament. He was the perfect complement to Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme as a pick and roll and inside-out combination.

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Kispert averaged 18.6 points per game in his fourth and final year at Gonzaga, shooting 44.0-percent from beyond the arc and 87.8-percent from the foul line. He improved his 3-point percentage each season and it started at 35.1-percent his freshman year.

That is a pretty big thing. Kispert was a leading scorer for a winning team and should be comfortable in an off-ball role. He is the kind of player who should step in and immediately make an impact offensively.

At 6-foot-7, Kispert has the perfect size to play small forward and he is a strong enough player off the ball already to be an impact player for whoever drafts him.

The reason Kispert will likely slip down boards is not because of his shooting ability, it will be his age and upside. Kispert is a four-year player and at 22 years old will be one of the older players picked in the Lottery of this draft.

Moses Moody, Arkansas

Projected: Mid-Lottery

The most difficult transition for most players from the college ranks to the pro is coming to the realization they will not be the primary scorers anymore. So many guys who were able to get 15 shots per game up in college find themselves having to carve roles without the ball.

Figuring out which college players can successfully make this transition is one of the most difficult parts of scouting. It is also difficult then to project out how their shooting stats will change when their role changes too.

Moses Moody of Arkansas is getting described as the prototypical 3-and-D player in this draft. He is likely going in the Lottery and will be one of the players the Orlando Magic will consider when it is their turn to draft.

Looking at his stats, it is hard to see that because he had to spend so much time on the ball.

Moody averaged 16.8 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 35.8-percent from deep. Those may not be exactly encouraging numbers until you realize Moody posted a 22.3-percent usage rate. Moody was on the ball a lot and had to be the main creator for an Arkansas team that earned a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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Orlando Magic

His main benefit comes from his 7-foot-2 wingspan to match with his 6-foot-7 frame. He projects as a strong defender and that ability to score and get separation with NBA spacing is big for his ultimate ceiling.

But why everyone thinks he can be a plus-shooter in the pros is because he will be on the ball less, leading to higher-percentage spot-up opportunities and his 81.2-percent free-throw shooting suggests he can vastly improve his percentages.

Moody is not going to be a  great shooter immediately. He is going to need to put in the work. But it sure looks like all the tools are there.

Tre Mann, Florida

Projected Range: Mid-First Round

Few players made such a big jump in their 3-point shooting like Tre Mann.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard went from 27.5-percent 3-point shooting in less than 20 minutes per game as a freshman to 40.2-percent on nearly five attempts per game in 32.4 minutes per game as a sophomore. That is a pretty big leap.

He was even a poor free-throw shooter as a freshman. It is safe to Mann made a pretty big leap with his shooting.

Now, he is considered one of the best shooters in the class. And he already played well off the ball in Florida’s balanced offensive attack. This is a guy who had to work for everything and really put a lot of those pieces together this year.

At Florida this past year, Mann showed an ability to hit off the dribble and work at every level. He has some good dribble pull-up moves too and is a really crafty ball-handler for someone his size.

Mann has a lot of other skills that will put him on draft radars. Young is only outside the Lottery because all those pieces were not consistent enough over his two years. He is still learning how to be a playmaking guard and where he lands and the role he plays will likely determine his early success.

Franz Wagner, Michigan

Projected Range: Mid-Lottery

Moritz Wagner’s little brother, Franz Wagner, is considered one of the better defenders in the league. He is a traditional small forward at 6-foot-9 who does not mind doing the dirty work as he did for a very good Michigan team.

His success or failure in the NBA is likely going to come down to his ability to hit from the outside. And there is where there is definitely some hope.

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Wagner shot 34.3-percent last year, improving from his 31.1-percent mark his freshman year. He made 83.5-percent of his free throws last year and had a similar percentage the year before. That suggests, his shot is in good shape and he should be able to extend beyond the NBA 3-point line.

Wagner will still need some work to become the best shooter he can be. His release is a bit slow and low. But he can hit when he has space.

Most teams will draft him for his defense and hope that his shooting continues to trend in the right direction.

Wagner is just very solid in a lot of areas offensively. He is not going to do anything that is super beyond his abilities. He will not be the primary scorer, but he might be the best defensive player in the Draft. If the 3-point shot is consistent, he will be a valuable player moving forward.

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Projected Range: Late-First to Early Second Round

Illinois was the trendy pick to win the NCAA Tournament this year because they had perhaps the best offense in the entire nation. That was in large part due to the inside-out game they could feature with Kofi Cockburn as a load on the inside and a perimeter attack led by Ayo Dosunmu.

Dosunmu averaged 20.1 points per game and shot 39.0-percent from beyond the arc this year. That was in part because his attempts were down as he took on more playmaking responsibilities.

But Dosunmu was more than capable of wracking up big games. He was a heady driver who played bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame. He definitely had a good level of toughness. And that will serve him well when he gets to the next level.

His best skill remains his ability to get downhill and get to the basket. He is really good at breaking down defenses. Dosunmu will have to learn how to score off the ball and not freelance as much.

The specter of Illinois’ early NCAA Tournament exit will weigh on him though. Dosunmu scored just nine points on 3-for-8 shooting from deep in that surprising loss to Loyola-Chicago. A lot of that came down to Illinois being disconnected especially when they got down in that game.

Illinois last year was subject to some wild swings with much of the team’s offense reliant on Dosunmu’s driving and shooting ability.

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