Immediately after the ping pong balls fell into their expected place for the Orlando Magic, Gradey Dick’s name was thrown into discussions about who would be selected.
And it makes sense, he is projected to be selected in the range of Orlando’s two lottery picks and has exactly what they need on the court: shooting.
Dick is a one-and-done prospect with a silky smooth shooting stroke who does not need the ball in his hands to make an impact. That makes him a perfect candidate for Orlando.
The Orlando Magic need shooting. Gradey Dick appears to be the best shooter in this draft class. It feels like a clear match for the player and for the team.
Touted as possibly the best long-range shooter in the Big 12 (2nd in the conference in made threes), the Kansas native shot a scorching 40.3 percent from three in his only season at Kansas.
On the year, Dick shot 206 total three-point attempts while making 86 of them. He hit four or more threes in nine games during the season while only failing to make a shot from beyond the arc in three games.
What is even more impressive was his ability to do it from anywhere on the court and at a high volume.
In transition he shined, shooting 56.8 percent on fast-break triples. Of his 44 attempts, he was 7 of 11 off the dribble and 18 of 33 on the catch-and-shoot attempts.
On top of filling a huge need, he is a versatile player who the Magic are usually drawn to at this time of year.
Measuring 6-foot-8, Dick is listed as a shooting guard, giving him the unique distinction of being a “jumbo guard” and adding a new wrinkle to the positionless basketball trend that has been popular over the last decade.
He also projects to be able to put size on his frame which should help him defensively. His size and shooting ability could present interesting new lineups for coach Jamahl Mosley to explore.
On the Magic, Gradey Dick would likely play off-ball for most of the game as Markelle Fultz would run the offense along with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero getting their usual touches.
For many players coming out into the draft, and even players currently in the NBA, playing off of the ball is something of a foreign language.
But for Dick, it will be second nature as he excelled at that as a Jayhawk. And not something he would struggle with in the league.
The bottom line is Dick would fit right into what the Magic are doing right now. He fills a clear need and would easily have a role within the team’s offense.
But it does not come without some problem areas that could prevent him from reaching his full potential in the league. These would also become a hindrance for him in Orlando.
His main issue immediately entering the league will be his defense.
Dick improved as the year went on for Kansas because of his overall hustle and knack for the ball, as shown by his 1.1 offensive rebounds per game and 1.4 steals per game. But defending quicker, smaller guards might present some trouble especially if he gets caught in pick-and-roll switches.
Orlando has length throughout its lineup. But they still switched a healthy amount and Dick would be a cross-match that opponents try to target.
Now he should by no means be a defensive liability because that is far from what he was at Kansas. And if you watch his progression throughout the year, he improved as the season went on.
But he will be a target for defenses to attack in his rookie year. And if he is on the Magic, he will need to be able to defend smaller guards, especially if Banchero and Wagner are sharing the floor with him.
The other area Dick will need to improve on is creating offense for himself.
This will not be an immediate issue upon entering the NBA as his defense could be, but it affects his upside more. If he cannot develop his creativity with the basketball then he will not be able to reach his full potential and morph into the lottery pick he is projected to become.
Now while it is a question mark, this, much like his defense, has a positive spin.
During these last few months amidst the scrutiny, Dick’s ability to create with the ball in his hands has actually become slightly under-appreciated.
His elite shot-making ability is still on par with his catch-and-shoot numbers. Dick shot 33.7 percent (22/65 total) off screens and dribble handoffs, he shot 39.3 percent (18/46) on off-the-dribble short/mid-range jumpers, and he was 53.5 percent (22/43) on off-the-dribble threes.
On shots at the basket, he was 58.8 percent (60/102) on the year and of those attempts near the rim that came from the half-court offense he went 58.7 percent (27/46).
Those numbers show he was more than just an off-the-ball scorer at Kansas and that the criticism has fed into the perception that he is nothing more than Kyle Korver or a glorified spot-up shooter.
Another thing to like is that he has also shown an ability to dish the rock.
When he passed the ball to teammates off the pick and roll they shot a whopping 75 percent. That shows respect for his three-point shot by defenses, which will translate, and his ability to find the open man, even if he only averaged 1.7 assists per game for the season.
Running designed sets with Dick as the ball handler might not be so common in the NBA because he will most likely be the set up for plays where he will be taking the shot, but it is definitely an encouraging sign.
And it is something that will be open for him at the next level considering his ability to draw defenders close with his elite shooting.
Holding two lottery picks in the NBA draft presents a plethora of possibilities for any team. And if you already have your No.1 option on the team, then you can really use your imagination.
For the Magic, with Banchero and Wagner already secured, they are going to assess all options including trading either of the picks or possibly both.
But if they choose to keep the picks and continue to build through the draft, they should look to snag Dick.
Unfortunately, they are in a tricky position as it pertains to drafting Dick. Lots of mock drafts project him to be selected anywhere from 8 to 15 which is right around the Magic’s two picks (6 and 11).
If you are Orlando, depending on how high he is on your board, do you want to wait and hope he is still there at 11? Maybe you will be able to get the top two guys on your wishlist by holding tight. Or maybe you will miss out and end up taking a player who would not be ideal when you could have made other potential moves, either to select Dick or put it in a trade package.
On the other hand, do want to go as high as 6 for a guy with questions about his upside? While there is plenty of optimism from last year’s improvement, that is not the position Orlando is in.
These (among others) are the questions the front office will need to answer come June. And while Dick might be the best pure shooter in the draft, and is probably the best fit in the draft among the players in their picking range, there seems to be a scenario where he ends up elsewhere.
Nonetheless, Dick’s career will rely on the continued development of his handle and defense to go along with his shot-making. If those fall into place, he can be a 20-plus points per game scorer in the NBA. If not, there will still be a place for him in the league, because there is always a place for a guy who can knock down a shot when you need him to.