2023 Orlando Magic Draft Preview: Keyonte George adds a scoring element

Mar 19, 2023; Denver, CO, USA; Baylor Bears guard Keyonte George (1) reacts in the second half against the Creighton Bluejays at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2023; Denver, CO, USA; Baylor Bears guard Keyonte George (1) reacts in the second half against the Creighton Bluejays at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are in a weird position entering the NBA Draft with two lottery picks with a young jam-packed roster.

Any pick Orlando makes creates questions with players already on the roster, whether it be the backcourt with Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony or in the frontcourt with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

Regardless the Magic still have needs in the scoring department. Everyone is obsessed with the team’s shooting and the Magic still finished near the bottom of the league in offensive rating. As good as their defense looked statistically, they still needed to score more.

Orlando needs scorers and players who can put the ball in the hoop or have that scoring knack. And Baylor guard Keyonte George has the potential to answer that call.

George listed at 6-foot-4 and is best to be regarded as a combo guard with the potential to be a lethal scorer at the next level.

The Orlando Magic have done well to shore up their defense and focus on positional length. But getting a scorer like Keyonte George would be a huge boost to the team.

He is a three-level scorer and can play both off and on the ball. Players with the ability to score within the flow of the offense and to create his own shot has been a hole the Magic have for a long time at the guard position. Something the team could always use.

Orlando has put an emphasis on versatility in many ways. They love players who can not only shoot from the perimeter but create off the dribble. And this is why a player like George seems to fit in so well.

George has already displayed the ability to finish around the rim as well and will be a strong piece next to any teammates at the next level. To have the ability to play off of a player like Markelle Fultz or be able to be a scoring threat next to Jalen Suggs, Keyonte George can prove to be a Swiss knife on the offensive end of the floor.

George however was somewhat inconsistent in his year at Baylor averaging 15.3 points per game but on 33.8 percent from three and 79.3 percent from the free-throw line but only 37.6 percent overall from the field.

Some of that certainly had to do with his 30.8 percent usage rate. he took 12.5 field goal attempts per game and 6.9 3-pointers per game with 4.5 free throw attempts per game. The ball was in his hands a lot with Baylor and he had to take a lot of shots and shoulder a lot of the playmaking and scoring burden.

He will not have to do that in the NBA. George projects more as a secondary attacker and stand-still shooter. That is an area where he projects as able to contribute at a high level in the NBA.

However, the flashes of his high-scoring prowess were there. He scored 20 or more points 12 times this season and topped off with 32 points on 10-for-18 shooting, including 6 for 12 from three, in a win over West Virginia and their famous press defense.

It should be noted though that none of those 20-point games came after February. He certainly seemed to slow down as the season progressed, falling from being projected to go around the point the Magic were taking their first pick to possibly falling out of the Lottery.

To say the least, George has plenty of scoring ability that is worth looking at. If he can reform himself into a catch-and-shoot option with some attacking abilities off ball reversals, then he could turn into a very strong player in the NBA.

He has all the offensive tools a team could ask for from a wing. He can hit floaters and runners, score on tough defenders and finish through contact around the rim. Further, George has a feel for the game and is able to get to his spots using skill more than pure athleticism and which also may end up developing his defensive game as well.

George is a dynamic offensive player and can do a lot of things with the ball in his hands.

The key to this might just come down to George’s decision-making and his understanding of when to score.

He averaged only 2.8 assists per game even with the ball in his hand so much. It is also not surprising he averaged 2.9 turnovers per game.

Perhaps it was his role, but George settled for a lot of iso pull-up shots. Those are naturally inefficient shots. And he has had bouts of bad decision-making and struggling when he gets put under pressure.

Baylor was certainly asking too much of him.

But a negative assist-to-turnover ratio certainly suggests he is not someone teams should rely on heavily for playmaking. It raises the question of whether he can switch to becoming a secondary scorer and floor spacer who occasionally attacks.

George has plenty of defensive potential. He is well-built for his size. When he gets to players on balance, he can hold his own defensively. On closeouts though, he can get caught leaning and off balance.

George is a player who has a lot of scoring potential and tools. But he still has to put them all together. And the question arises about him whether he has the tools and patience to be a secondary player and shed some of his worst habits from his up-and-down freshman year.

If a team believes he can be a solid 3-point shooter and can shave down the decision-making and defensive rough edges, then George could be a high-level 3-and-D player and scorer.

That is ultimately what the Magic need though. They need guys who can put the ball in the basket. And that is something George is certainly capable of doing.

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The Magic have the option to take a swing and miss as their young core has already shown flashes and are ready to take the next steps. But if George ends up being the player he can be, the Magic will become that more dangerous on both sides of the ball.