2022 Orlando Magic Daily Big Board 2.0
The debate at the top
This is probably where I have personally had my biggest change in how I viewed the draft. In our last Big Board I had Auburn forward Jabari Smith as my No. 1 player, and that has been the convention for a while across the web. It is hard to argue (we will get to him).
But every time I have done a mock draft exercise, I keep turning back to Paolo Banchero. I just have fewer questions about him to fill the biggest need the Orlando Magic have.
That need? A guy who can just get a bucket. A guy the team can dump the ball to and create a basket for himself or others.
When you watch the teams remaining in the playoffs, they are centered around wings who can create shots for themselves and create for others.
Banchero has a bit of a ways to go to create for others — he averaged 3.2 assists per game — and he still has to show more imporvement as a 3-point shooter — he made 33.8-percent of his 3-pointers.
Then again, Jayson Tatum averaged 2.1 assists per game and shot 34.2-percent from deep in his lone year at Duke. Banchero is going to benefit a lot from NBA spacing just like Tatum did.
But the Magic are desperate for a guy they can center their offense around. They need a scorer on the pivot or off the bounce who can just create. To me, there is no player in this draft that screams star skills or capabilities.
The Magic need a player they can center their offense around. And to me, that player is Banchero. So I have him No. 1 on my board.
That should take nothing away from Jabari Smith. He drops a spot because of the Orlando Magic’s need for a creator and isolation scorer, someone who can break down defenses and create a shot from nothing. There is still some indication Smith can be the guy. He just was not able to do that in Auburn, for various reasons.
Smith represents the other big need for the Magic: Shooting.
Smith has the size the Magic love at 6-foot-10. He has length for his position and the athleticism to be a good defender — 2.3 win shares and a +3.8 defensive box plus-minus according to Sports-Reference. And he is a fantastic shooter.
Smith made 42.0-percent of his 3-pointers on 5.5 attempts per game. He is as good of a shooter as anyone in this draft. And the playoffs have shown just how vital shooting is (the Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff lessons post is coming).
I have taken to comparing Jabari Smith to Rashard Lewis.
He has the athleticism to finish at the rim like Sonics Lewis with the shooting of Magic Lewis. That is one heck of a player.
If the Magic — or anyone — make him the first overall pick, there is nothing wrong with that decision. Smith has all the tools to be a really good player. The question remains — and this is partially the fault of Auburn’s guards — we never got to see him be “the man” at Auburn.
At the end of close games, Duke turned to Paolo Banchero to finish. Auburn seemed to let Smith fade into the background.