Orlando Magic fans have put a lot of their focus on the Nos. 5 and 8 picks in the upcoming NBA Draft.
For good reason. The team’s biggest need is for a star player. And the odds are better for a team to get its star player at the top of the draft rather than the back end of it. The Magic have a lot of work to do to get their roster back to a playoff level and a lot of work to do to build it back to the level they want it at.
Orlando knows it will not be a one-year turnaround — most likely. They have two key players working their way back from injury and a cadre of young players to grow and develop along with those two rookies.
In a lot of ways, the roster is too young at this point. Someone is going to get squeezed out of the rotation at some point. There just are not enough minutes to go around. And the team has to add some veterans at some point in the process.
Orlando still has plenty of work to do with its roster. But there is one more tool we have often ignored in our coverage leading up to the Draft — the No. 33 pick.
Orlando because of the team’s poor record also landed one of the top picks in the second round. That gives them at least another shoot at a high-level player who falls out of the first round.
It could be another opportunity to move into the first round and maybe net some other asset.
The Orlando Magic have a lot of options at the top of the draft with two top-10 picks. But they also have a high second-round pick that could net them another key player.
Typically teams that are cash-strapped or near the luxury tax line will look to sell off the guaranteed contracts that come with first-round picks — guaranteed two-year deals with options for the third and fourth seasons — for the free-for-all non-guarantees of the second round.
For teams like the Brooklyn Nets (27th, second-highest payroll in the league), Philadelphia 76ers (28th, third-highest payroll in the league) or the LA Clippers (25th, fourth-highest payroll in the league), saving a big of long-term money by signing a second-round pick rather than using a first-round pick might be palatable.
The point being, the Magic with a high second in No. 33 may very well be a team that could trade back into the first round and grab another rookie — either someone they want to make sure they get and stash overseas or another player to add to the roster.
The kind of players the team could add in the late first-round or early second-round are markedly different. This might be a point where the team invests in players who fill a need as the chances of finding a star drop dramatically. If a super talented player has dropped to this point, there is always a reason.
The Magic absolutely should not turn down a talented player — Nikola Jokic became the first second-round pick to win the MVP last year — but the team would definitely have to find the right mix of player to take that deep of a swing.
Still, there is always hidden talent to find later in the draft. And the Magic have a few players they might want to target in that late-first- or early-second-round range.