The NBA Draft Lottery went exactly how the Orlando Magic thought it would, as they landed both the sixth pick as well as the 11th pick (from the Chicago Bulls), the final piece from that extremely profitable Nikola Vucevic trade having conveyed for the Magic.
With so much young talent already in place for the organization, the prospect of adding two more rookies with high upside is in a way a daunting one. There is simply only so much of the ball to go around, and so many minutes for head coach Jamahl Mosley to dish out over the course of the regular season.
Already we have argued the merits of trading both of these picks to either move up in the draft or else to go and get a veteran to help take this group to the next level in their development. If a player like Scoot Henderson is available and all it costs is the two picks, you surely go and get him, right?
Perhaps not, because the best course of action for the Magic’s front office with these two picks, is to play with house money and fill out the rest of their core.
The Orlando Magic have the benefit of having two draft picks in this Lottery. And that gives the team the potential to add two really good players through the draft.
It makes too much sense not to stay put and take the players that are likely to be available to the Magic on draft night. No matter which mock draft you look at, one of the Thompson twins, Ausar and Amen, are going to be available when the Magic are up at six.
Most people think Ausar will be the guy still on the board, and if that is the case that is an excellent player for the Magic to add to their young core. Imagine coming in and filling the only current open starting spot for the team, at the two-guard position, but knowing that Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner will do most of the heavy lifting.
That is an ideal scenario for anybody to enter, and the Magic do not even necessarily have to take Thompson if they do not want to.
Villanova’s Cam Whitmore is a name that is coming up more and more as a player who could rise up the board, and the ability of the Magic’s front office not to leak information has been well-documented.
With Jonathan Isaac looking like he will never be able to stay healthy when it matters, a wing like Whitmore who has a high defensive upside could be just what coach Jamahl Mosley needs to add to this group. That would likely spell the end of Chuma Okeke’s time with the organization, but that wouldn’t bother fans.
Having that kind of flexibility with the sixth pick is a nice spot to be in, with the 11th pick coming in behind it an added bonus. Remember, the Magic drafted Jalen Suggs fifth overall, before then using the eighth pick on Franz Wagner, a forward who has hit the ground running much quicker than Suggs and may be the best sophomore in the league.
So the front office could again swing for the bleachers with this Chicago Bulls pick, but what is more likely is they decide to draft the best-remaining shooter in the class.
This spot seems an ideal range for Gradey Dick to be selected, and he is a player who on the surface does a lot of what the Magic are currently missing.
Moving without the ball and spotting up to hit long-range bombs around Banchero and Wagner, while also being on the same timeline as them both. Not that age is the key factor here, but the chance to take a pure shooter with a high upside to join a group that sorely needs it is too good to pass up.
Looking at the bigger picture and every year there are players who end up being among the best in the class who are taken later in the lottery. If the Magic were to trade away these two picks, and then watch a player they could have taken blossom into a superstar, that would really hurt.
If we trust that the front office once again knows what they are doing and who to select, then the future of the roster is in good hands. That sixth spot seems to be the one where the Magic could throw a curveball, but if they get an eventual elite defender who can score some next to Banchero and Wagner, then the sky truly is the limit.
The organization is playing the long game here, as they should.
Placating fans by signing a Fred VanVleet or trading for an in-his-prime star at this juncture is the wrong move to make. Building steadily through the draft has worked wonders for the Magic to this point. Why would they deviate from that successful formula now, when the stakes are the highest they have been?