Orlando Magic Offseason Grades (Early Edition)
The Draft Picks
The Orlando Magic entered this year’s draft with two Lottery picks. That was obviously a huge opportunity for the team to add some top-end talent. Even with just the sixth and 11th picks, Magic fans were eager to see the team add some quality players.
Still, this is a Magic team that has a lot of pieces in place. They did not need to hit a home run or draft their star in this draft, but they needed to supplement their roster in a meaningful way.
Did the Magic do this? They certainly filled at least one critical need in adding one of the best shooters in the draft, although not the one everyone suspected.
It was hard to find a perfect fit for the Magic. There may not have been an “A+” draft unless other teams did things earlier that worked in their favor. So they stuck to their principles and selected talent in the way the Magic can.
Everyone came to the realization the Orlando Magic were going to take Anthony Black in the days leading up to the draft. There was just a lot about him that the Magic typically like that they could not ignore.
He is a 6-foot-7 ball handler, showing the skill and positional versatility the Magic typically like. He is an extremely smart player and an aggressive defender to boot.
That was all on display at Summer League where he successfully led the team, played great defense, especially on the NBA-level players, and seemingly controlled the pace of every game he was in.
Black checks a lot of boxes. But there are a lot of questions still to answer.
His shooting remains a huge concern. He was not a great shooter at Arkansas and that carried over in Summer League where he was a bit all over the place and sometimes even hesitant to shoot.
And then there is the concern about adding another ball handler to the team.
The Magic already have Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony to handle the point guard minutes. Is there a clear path — or runway as Jeff Weltman likes to put it — for Black to get playing time? Is Black just insurance in case Suggs does not work out or the team decides to part with Fultz or Anthony in next year’s free agency?
That is not the worst thing in the world, obviously. A team can only take what the draft gives them and it is hard to argue that Black was not one of the better options available to the Magic. But it is hard to imagine the team going with another non-shooting point guard long-term.
That is inherently limiting. And that is probably a question that needs to keep hovering in the background moving forward.
Everyone was surprised when the Orlando Magic made Jett Howard the 11th pick in the draft. Very few people had him high on their draft boards. And for a decent reason as he struggled with his defense and doing much else during his time at Michigan.
It is hard to throw all of that away as that is such a big weight in his draft profile. Who knows if that will come back when he reaches the NBA. Even if it was because of an ankle injury — Jeff Weltman acknowledged the team went back and did a re-scout of the first half of his season.
Still, there is no denying Orlando needed to get shooting out of this draft class. It was essential the Magic come away from this draft with a shooter. And no matter who you preferred, most Magic fans probably would have been satisfied to some degree by selecting Gradey Dick, Jordan Hawkins or Jett Howard, although the former two were certainly talked about more.
Ultimately the Magic seemed to prefer the size and playmaking potential from Howard. At 6-foot-8, Howard is bigger than the other two players the Magic were likely considering. He showed in Summer League some ability to attack off the dribble that he can further develop.
It will still be a long road to get him there. And he has to prove that his Michigan season was more about his injury than any inherent flaw.
That is the big question for Howard and ultimately this Magic draft class.