Orlando Magic NBA Draft: Grades for every draft pick

Jett Howard and Adam Silver, 2023 NBA Draft. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Jett Howard and Adam Silver, 2023 NBA Draft. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images /
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Orlando Magic
Jett Howard, Michigan Wolverines. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /

Grading every Orlando Magic 2023 Draft pick

Jett Howard, Michigan

D+. . G/F. Michigan Wolverines. JETT HOWARD

When the No. 11 pick came around to the Orlando Magic, they had a plethora of talent available to them.

Cam Whitmore, onetime a top-5 lock, had fallen out of the Top 10. Gradey Dick was the draft’s best shooter and would address a huge need for the Magic. Kobe Bufkin was on the board if they wanted to address the backcourt again, while Dereck Lively II was an option as the longtime backup to Wendell Carter.

So many options.

Instead of taking any of those players, the Magic reached down the draft board and selected Michigan’s Jett Howard.

On the surface there was a theory to the case: Howard has one of the best jump shots in the class, and he is comfortable shooting it off the catch or off the dribble. He can handle the ball enough to attack closeouts and make plays as a passer in certain situations. At 6-foot-8 he has good positional size.

The problem is Howard is truly terrible at everything else, in such a way as to cast doubts on him ever being anything more than a shooting specialist at the next level.

He is a poor athlete who did not rebound or finish inside while at Michigan. He is a turnstile on defense, with poor footwork, a tendency to lose his man and little strength when his man initiates contact. He does not get steals, does not get blocks and does not draw fouls.

For Howard to make it in the NBA, he is going to need to shoot like Duncan Robinson, because otherwise the rest of his game is like . . . Duncan Robinson.

And he did not shoot like that. His form is pure, sure, but the end result was just 36.8 percent 3-point shooting as a freshman. He needs to be better than 40 percent to have a chance at mattering.

Some of that may come down to ankle injuries that both he and the Magic admitted to toward the end of Michigan’s season.

When you look at the other players on the board, it is truly painful the Magic reached for Howard. Dick is a much better version of what the Magic hope Howard can become in every area. If the Magic wanted a shooter with size who can put the ball on the deck and not get truly killed on defense, Dick was their guy. To take Howard instead looks like a massive miss.

I had Jett Howard ranked at 26th because of his jumper and the hope it can come around. Orlando Magic Daily had him completely off their board — we do not even has a player profile to share before the draft. A consensus draft ranking of eight top analysts averaged to put Howard at 20.6.

All of our projections are just that, projections, and Howard could find a way to put things together and be worth this pick.

It just does not look like great value or the right bet to make for the Magic. And to miss that big in the lottery is even worse.