Orlando Magic Question: What is the Magic’s biggest need in this year’s draft?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 29: Keyonte George #1 of the Baylor Bears looks on against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at Fiserv Forum on November 29, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 29: Keyonte George #1 of the Baylor Bears looks on against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at Fiserv Forum on November 29, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are looking more and more likely to miss out on this year’s Play-In Tournament, with tough losses like Sunday night’s 122-119 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers not helping.

As good as this season has been in showing this is a group that is going to be competitive sooner rather than later, the Magic are still much closer to the bottom than the top of the Eastern Conference.

This means they are likely to have both their own relatively high lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft, as well as a top-four protected pick courtesy of the Chicago Bulls.

As the NCAA Tournament and college conference tournaments get set to begin, the draft is going to be back in focus for this team (at least public focus). And Orlando will have a lot of its future to focus on as they look ahead to this season.

If we assume the Orlando Magic have those two lottery picks, and with this roster looking young and full of potential in many areas, what is their biggest need at the draft?

This is a tough question to answer, and there are several ways you can attempt to do so.

In years gone by, the organization has picked the best player they thought was available and figured the rest out later.

With Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter and Markelle Fultz, the Magic have the core of their team and four of their five starting spots figured out. Simply picking the best player does not work anymore.

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The Magic now need to consider fit next to Wagner and presumptive Rookie of the Year Banchero especially.

If that is the case, and many Magic fans would agree that it is, then what should they do?

The most logical thing is to draft a pure shooter. Somebody who is going to pile up points at the next level, and if they can create some too, then all the better.

Keyonte George of Baylor is one such player, and although he does not have the prettiest shooting stroke, he is capable of scoring in bunches.

This would be huge for a Magic roster that needs that kind of output, as they currently rank 25th in offensive rating (111.3), 23rd in 3-point shooting (34.6 percent) and 18th in field goal percentage (47 percent).

Obviously, George would not come in and solve all of this team’s problems right away. But he also looks like a natural fit next to Banchero and Wagner.

A player who would see less of the ball, but spot up well and move without it while the others created shots for him. If not George, then a player like him has to be taken with the higher pick.

After that, however, it gets trickier with the second selection. Scoring wings who can defend at a high level are the most sought-after players in the league today.

But the Magic’s roster is built in a quirky way, and both Banchero and Wagner fill a lot of that need already.

Having more of these kinds of players can never hurt though, so it may be that the franchise takes a player like Cam Whitmore of Villanova if he is available, to fill out that wing rotation.

We have to keep in mind that injuries are unfortunately a part of the sport, and some insurance for their two blossoming stars is no bad thing to consider.

On top of that, we will reach a period soon where the Magic may be able to turn a whole host of young players and picks into the next disgruntled star.

A player in the style of Whitmore then is the safe selection. He is not going to make the roster any worse, but he is not a huge risk either. Somebody who will fight for minutes in a bustling rotation.

But what if the front office decided, with so much of the future already secure in the players already on the team, to take a real chance here?

We have seen them take calculated gambles that have paid off before, such as trading for Markelle Fultz and adding Bol Bol. Both moves that the organization won.

The Magic have so much young talent and not enough minutes to go around right now. It is why Chuma Okeke, Caleb Houstan and Admiral Schofield cannot get a look in.

Neither could R.J. Hampton, and he was allowed to walk. Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony are two guards with a lot of promise, but their futures are not secure in Orlando at this moment.

So a project player in whatever position they deem necessary could make sense.

The most likely candidates there are at point guard, with the potential to one day take over from Fultz if a difficult decision needs to be made down the road.

To be clear that is not something guaranteed to happen, Fultz is among the Magic’s most important players and is only getting better. He is still only 24 years old.

The other possibility is a player with the defensive upside to perhaps take over from Jonathan Isaac. The forward having recently gone under the knife again to fix an adductor issue.

It is sad what has happened to Issac, but the organization can no longer wait around for him.

They need to plan for a future without him, but that includes some of the amazing defensive abilities he possesses.

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The Magic could even look at trading down to grab a player with a high defensive ceiling that is raw, and receiving something from another team in the process of doing so.

Whatever way this shakes out, the franchise are in a strong position with two lottery picks this summer. How best to use them, depends on how you view the players already on this team.