Orlando Magic Daily 2023 NBA Mock Draft 3.0
The Rest of the Lottery
Question: Are the Thunder betting on potential still?
The Oklahoma City Thunder are perceived as a team still deep into the talent collection phase. With all the draft picks coming their way, they are going to have to be taking some swings for talent.
But this Oklahoma City Thunder team is ahead of the Orlando Magic in their rebuild progression. They were nearly a postseason team last year even with all the youth on their roster and Chet Holmgren sitting out with the broken foot — remember him?
So the Thunder are sitting in the same spot as the Magic. Do they take another swing or look for a player who fits the overall vision and fit of the team? Are they all in on the playoffs this year?
The Thunder like the Magic seem like a patient bunch. So I suspect they will think about the best player on the board and look for a way to fit a new young player into their roster.
Bilal Coulibaly is a player that fits both Jeff Weltman’s and Sam Presti’s eye. He is a raw athlete but his skill set came on quickly to help Mets 92 advance to the French league finals. He can defend at a good level already and should be an interesting prospect to see develop and grow.
Question: Are the Raptors restarting or reloading?
The questions about the Toronto Raptors run the gamut.
They fired Nick Nurse and are involved in renewed rumors over OG Anunoby. Even Pascal Siakam has been dragged into rumors for big trades around the league. And Fred VanVleet seems likely to leave in free agency.
Then again, they got a bit of a lifeline with Gary Trent Jr. opting into the final year of his deal. They still have Siakam and Anunoby on the roster. And Scottie Barnes is still pretty good, despite a relatively down sophomore year.
So what do the Raptors want to do?
They have been good at retooling and developing players. And hiring a development coach in Darko Rajokovic suggests they believe they can retool fairly quickly.
For that reason, I like them going for the straight replacement and taking Cason Wallace.
Wallace has a good first step and gets by his man into the paint. Give him NBA spacing and his assist numbers should jump. Plus Kentucky guards always seem to hit — just go through the list from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Devin Booker to Jamal Murray to Tyrese Maxey.
The Raptors are usually good for a shrewd draft pick. And Wallace would fit in seamlessly to help this team move forward.
Question: Are the Pelicans done with Zion Williamson?
I wish I could focus on the draft pick because the New Orleans Pelicans could get a really important player in this draft for a young roster that is really close to breaking through.
But all anyone can talk about is whatever Zion Williamson is doing off the court and then wondering whether the Pelicans will stomach another season waiting for him to be healthy and dealing with all of what is going on with him off the court.
The Pelicans are not a ta point where they should have to make this decision. They have hung around the playoff picture without Williamson. And when Williamson plays, the Pelicans are one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Anyway, I would take Dereck Lively here. His rim protection potential and size would be a big boost to the Pelicans behind Jonas Valanciunas. Especially if that jump shot is coming around.