The big day is here for the NBA.
The NBA Draft is upon us. Teams are already getting active in trades — the Boston Celtics swung a big deal to acquire Kristaps Porzingis in a deal that included Marcus Smart and now the Golden State Warriors are acquiring Chris Paul from the Washington Wizards.
And there is still plenty of intrigue near the top of the draft.
The Orlando Magic are still one of the most difficult teams to figure out with the sixth and 11th picks in this draft. They are a team that is both rebuilding and ready to win.
The Orlando Magic are getting set to be on the clock for the NBA Draft. Here is our power rankings of who the Magic should pick tonight.
And so nobody knows if this is a point for the Magic to package some assets to move up for one more young star to complete their puzzle or if they are going to be more strategic and look for fits to their roster.
The fact Jeff Weltman and his executive staff keep such a tight lip on things only adds further to the intrigue. Nobody has any real idea who the magic will take or which players they are targeting. They only have their history of taking rangy athletes to guide them in trying to figure out who the Magic might target.
Everything is just a guess right now.
As the hours tick down closer to showtime and the conducting of the actual NBA Draft, everyone is eager to see how these puzzle pieces will finally come together.
Your guess is as good as mine.
That is not what this list is. As our final piece of writing before the draft takes place, we are going to do a power ranking of the players most likely to be the selection for the Magic. We are going to combine both the likelihood of drafting a player at six and 11 all in one.
This is a ranking of players we anticipate wearing a Magic jersey by the end of the night. And we are only dealing with the first round. Be sure to check out our second-round prospects too.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Every mock draft has the Orlando Magic taking Gradey Dick with the 11th pick. And while this feels too obvious to be correct, it is still too obvious a pick.
My goal for the Magic on draft night has always been to leave tonight with a shooter first and foremost. To get the best shooter in the draft would be a huge victory no matter what else happens on this night.
My favorite pick for the sixth pick remains Ausar Thompson. His upside, defensive ability and cutting ability I think really fit in for the team’s goals for this season.
The Orlando Magic should use this draft as one last bite at the apple for someone with some real upside. To me, Thompson represents a player with a huge upside. Someone who played a lot off the ball but has a lot of on-ball skills.
And I think his jumper can come around. The fact he won MVP in Overtime Elite the last two years and the Finals MVP this year too shows me he is a winning player, for as little as that is worth. There is a lot to like about him.
The big rumor that has gained a lot of steam over the last few days is the Orlando Magic taking Anthony Black. A lot of this has been fed by Cam Whitmore’s supposed fall in the draft pecking order. Black seems to be the biggest beneficiary.
Black is a player who fits the Magic’s eye to a tee. He is a 6-foot-7, athletic and smart guard who can play some off the ball — just do not ask him to shoot effectively yet — and defend at an extremely high level. The Magic love players who are big for their position and Black just screams a player they would pick.
The question everyone has been asking for the last 36 hours is: Why is Cam Whitmore dropping? It feels like a major smoke screen and a major misdirection for some team trying to make sure they have him.
There are probably six players in this Draft with clear star potential: Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, Brandon Miller, Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson and Cam Whitmore. Say what you want about Whitmore — I have questions about his intensity and playmaking ability — but he is a great athlete, a strong player and someone who can hit from the outside.
I do not know if the Magic jump at the chance to grab him. But if this is about getting one more shot at a high pick, Whitmore is someone with that potential.
As far as team fits for this Orlando Magic team, there are few players who fit the team’s needed skills and position quite like Taylor Hendricks. Orlando is lacking in frontcourt forward depth behind Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner with questions about Jonathan Isaac’s health and uncertainty about what Chuma Okeke can give the team.
The Magic want to be a long team, but they find themselves at times running out some short lineups. So Hendricks would slot in comfortably as the backup forward immediately.
What works about him is that he can protect the rim and defend the paint, but he also has the ability and quickness to show on the perimeter. Hendricks has a high floor for sure even if stardom probably is not in his future.
If you are looking for another player who screams the Orlando Magic’s obsession with length and positional versatility, look no further than Mets 92 wing Bilal Coulibaly.
Bilal Coulibaly is still very raw, but he developed very quickly after the injury to Hugo Besson. Victor Wembanyama said Mets 92 would not have made the championship in LNB Pro A without him.
At this point, he relies on his athleticism to finish at the basket and defend at a high level. He knows his role and plays it well. But I would look too at his shooting which started to come around. This is a player who is going to grow very quickly.
If the Orlando Magic are really drafting on fit, then Kobe Bufkin is probably their guy with their first pick regardless of what the pundits think. There is a lot to work with Bufkin and he is someone who would fill a lot of needs for this team.
He may not have the size at just 6-foot-4, but he is an excellent shooting option and a promising playmaker. He had a killer run through the final two months of the season and it just seems like that is just scratching the surface on his potential.
At the very least, it feels like Bufkin fills in a ton of needs the Magic are lacking with their current group of guards.
A lot of the focus in this draft has been on the Orlando Magic’s shooting need. They also have a big need to find some forward depth and backup center. Fortunately for Orlando, there is a player with a ton of potential who is a shot-blocking ace.
Dereck Lively has the size everyone looks for from the center position with the shot-blocking and mobility to be a real factor defensively. If he can limit his fouling and put a lot of pieces together, this is kind of what a center has to be in the league right now.
If he can add the shooting he reportedly has shown in workouts, then this is a potential starter.
Jarace Walker is going to be a solid player. He connects rosters with his screening and passing ability from a player his size. Ultimately his success in the NBA will depend on how quickly his shooting can develop. If he can develop a halfway decent outside shot, he becomes a Draymond Green type of player.
Those help winning teams. But I am personally skeptical this is the direction the Magic need to go. I do not think they can get the most out of him with their lack of shooting. And his playmaking and size would get swallowed up with this group.
I am very skeptical personally the Orlando Magic will be willing to spend the assets to move up in this draft. They have six and 11 to offer and dangle, but it will cost more. And I think the Magic want to maintain flexibility and give their players their chance to grow together. Orlando is still valuing organizational stability.
If Scoot Henderson is not the trade-up option, then Amen Thompson is. Thompson is excellent at getting downhill and finishing at the basket. He has great size and should be a good defender eventually. And he is a great playmaker.
Thompson would be a great grab wherever he ends up. And there is still the small chance he falls.
Scoot Henderson feels like a perfect guard to pair with this group and to pair specifically with Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
He is excellent in the pick and roll. He can hit from the mid-range and finish at the basket. Henderson should be a no-doubt second pick in this draft.
Shooting should again be the big focus for the Orlando Magic in this draft and so they should have their eyes on a player like Jordan Hawkins. Hawkins was an excellent shooter and helped lead UConn to a national championship.
What differentiates him is his ability to shoot on the move at volume, but also the ability to drive. He is a bit on the smaller size, but he defends well enough. He is a dark horse pick at No. 11 for the moment.
Brandon Miller would be the other trade-up option and there have been a few people pitching that possibility with the decision to slot one of those three forwards to the 2. But I do not see the fit. And I do not think the Magic would expend the assets to move all the way up that high just to get him.
There you have it. We will have complete coverage on the Draft from the AdventHealth Training Center throughout the evening. Follow along @OMagicDaily.