The NBA Draft Lottery is now in the books, and the night went exactly as it was supposed to for the Orlando Magic.
They were most likely to end up with the sixth overall pick themselves, and they did. The pick from the Chicago Bulls as part of the Nikola Vucevic deal also conveyed, landing 11th overall.
This was the most likely scenario for the organization, and it could have gone a lot worse. Like, Detroit Pistons levels of bad, they dropped from the worst record in the league to fifth overall pick.
Yet despite this, there is still a tinge of pain because there was a chance, albeit only a nine percent one, of landing Victor Wembanyama with their own pick.
That is all in the rearview mirror, and the Magic can now plan for an offseason where they address some of their most glaring needs, beginning with shooting, through the draft. A great opportunity has been presented to a front office that has drafted well in recent years to add two of the top 11 players in the country.
But is that really the direction the franchise should be taking? They were one of the most improved teams last year when healthy, so the case for trading the picks is a strong one.
The Orlando Magic are a developing team with playoff ambitions. With two Lottery picks, the Magic have a chance to be aggressive and add a veteran player by trading their picks or try to move up.
There is one obvious direction the Magic should go with this, and they should at least engage in the conversation before ruling anything out. Scoot Henderson, who depending on your views is no lower than the third pick in the draft, finds himself surrounded by teams who don’t necessarily need him.
The Charlotte Hornets have the second pick, and LaMelo Ball plies his trade there. The Portland Trail Blazers will pick third, and they still seem to want to make it work with Damian Lillard. Then come the Houston Rockets who — well nobody really knows what they are doing right now.
All of which is to say, these are three organizations the Magic could absolutely offer their two lottery picks to, in hopes of moving into the top four.
The Hornets would see this as an opportunity to stock up on young talent on a roster that is sorely lacking, while the Trail Blazers could entice Lillard to stick around with Shaedon Sharpe plus two more high-level rookies.
Of less appeal to the Magic would be the fourth spot, although the Rockets are such an enigma right now that they may even be able to convince them to part with Alperen Sengun for those two picks and perhaps Jonathan Isaac or Jalen Suggs. Maybe both?
Adding in young players like Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac or even Cole Anthony to go with the two lottery picks is where this gets really interesting. There are several teams that are going to want to shake things up this summer after falling short in the postseason, and we have not even heard from the inevitable star or two who fancy moving on from their current situation.
Knowing where the Magic’s two picks now sit in the lottery helps to define their value, while the collection of players they could add to a trade has to be of interest to other teams looking to build out a contender or else blow it up entirely and start over.
If the regular season showed us anything, it is that the Magic made rapid improvements and through the play of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, are ahead of schedule. The temptation may be to go all in for a superstar to take this project to the next level, but that does not even have to be the case in pursuit of getting better.
The Magic can keep all of their future picks, pick swaps and most of their young players in tow, and instead just offer up the two lottery picks and see what comes back. Whether that is moving up in the draft to get one guy, or adding a veteran to help this team go up a level, there are merits to both.
Successful as the front office has been in recent drafts, adding two top-11 guys to this already crowded roster will not simply just make the team better overnight. There would be a feeling-out process that would take more than a season to see how good both of the rookies can be, and how best to utilize them with the core of the roster.
If we can accept that Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter and Markelle Fultz are the four best and most important players on the team, the introduction of two youngsters who will want touches and time to make mistakes would disrupt that flow.
So much so that it is more likely the Magic would take a small step back next season. They are in no rush to reach the top, but this would be a deflating follow-up to what was an exciting season. Would it not be better to go for one better player, who could ideally slide in as the starting two-guard for the franchise?
Failing that, why not go for a veteran who will be able to co-exist more peacefully next to what is already in place, because they will understand the position they would be occupying. There are many steps to be taken in this process, and the Magic have been presented with an excellent opportunity to be much better again next season.
But given the strength of this draft class, and the potential to get involved in all manner of discussions with the picks, as opposed to trying to shoehorn in two more young guys, trading the picks has to be the direction that the Magic go this summer. They will regret it if they don’t.