Orlando Magic Daily 2022 NBA Mock Draft 3.0: The final countdown

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Jabari Smith, Auburn Tigers
Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) takes a jump shot during the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., on Friday, March 18, 2022. Auburn Tigers defeated Jacksonville State Gamecocks 80-61.Syndication The Montgomery Advertiser /

Orlando Magic Daily 2022 NBA Mock Draft 3.0

The First Pick

Jabari Smith Jr.. 1. player. 38. . F. Orlando Magic

There is no getting around this. These are difficult decisions for the Orlando Magic.

There is no runaway pick for the Magic at No. 1. This is very different than most drafts. Usually, this is the easiest decision in the draft.

Orlando finds itself with the first pick in a draft that many consider has solid but not necessarily franchise-changing players and three players who are all on virtually the same tier. This is not an easy call.

It is no wonder everyone has looked for every tiny morsel of information to figure out what the Magic are going to end up doing.

As I have posited, the real issue for the Magic is not trying to decide which player they should take. The real question is trying to figure out which kind of team they want to build.

Everything Orlando does now — especially this first overall pick — has to be built with an eye toward the team it will ultimately be when it is competing for a playoff spot.

So what kind of team do the Magic want to be?

We know Orlando values versatility. We know Orlando values defense and defensive intensity. We know coach Jamahl Mosley has his precepts — play with pace, space and the pass on offense and together, toughness and talking on defense.

To me, what the Magic are looking for is Jabari Smith, Jr. He embodies all the things the Magic have talked about for the last year.

They need the shooting he can provide and his defensive acumen is exactly the kind of thing the Magic have tried to build their team around. He may not be the primary scorer or creator the Magic have needed, but Smith can possibly get there as he improves his handle. He is deadly efficient with his dribble and capable of hitting shots over anyone.

It is the combination of all these tools that make him so promising. If he is just what he promises to be today at a baseline, that will still be a good player that opens up everything for other players on the Magic’s roster.

It is important to remember he is still young enough to get better.

Of the three prospects at the top of this draft, Smith likely has the highest floor just as much as he has the highest ceiling. And that is ultimately what the Magic are chasing.

They are chasing a player who checks all their boxes, makes the team better in the near- and long-term and who gives them the best chance to make a splash in the NBA.

That choice is narrow for sure. But Smith gives them their best chance to be the team they always envisioned.