Latest mock draft has Magic select rim-protecting big in the first round

Atlanta Hawks wins the NBA draft lottery...
Atlanta Hawks wins the NBA draft lottery... / Anadolu/GettyImages

For the first time in a while, the Magic are not worried about the lottery and who to pick at the top of the draft. With the 18th pick in a weak draft, they rather have the chance to discover a diamond in the rough. 

The playoffs exposed some of the Magic’s biggest weaknesses: shooting and offensive creation. It is tough to survive in today’s NBA without several serviceable three-point threats on the team, so most of the Magic offseason content has been focused on bringing in shooting. 

Names like Paul George, Klay Thompson, and Malik Monk have been thrown around in free agency talks, Dejounte Murray and both Cleveland guards have been mentioned as trade targets, and most mock drafts have focused on pairing the Magic with a shooter, like Tristan Da Silva, in the first round. 

In its latest mock draft, Fox Sports went in a different direction, however. 

Latest mock draft has Magic select rim-protecting big 

Rather than a pure three-point shooter, Fox Sports listed big man Kel’el Ware as a potential pick for the Magic at 18. Ware spent one season at Oregon before transferring to Indiana. There, he started all 30 games he played in, doubled his minutes per game, and dramatically increased his production. 

Averaging 15.9 points on 58.6 percent shooting from the field, 9.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.9 blocks, Ware showed promise as a two-way big man. He even shot over forty percent from three on a low volume. 

At the draft combine, the 20-year-old recorded some impressive numbers, finishing third in standing vertical leap among centers, and second in the lane agility test as well as the shuttle run. 

Ware would add an interesting element to the Magic

While shooting and offensive creation are arguably the Magic’s most pressing needs, they could also benefit from some new energy in the big-man rotation. Wendell Carter Jr. is a solid center, but he is not a rim protector and doesn’t play much above the rim. 

The Magic were a great defensive team, but their only two rim protectors were Jonathan Isaac and Goga Bitadze. Isaac’s health is always in question, and Bitadze barely played once the team was healthy and might leave in free agency this summer. 

So, Ware could add an interesting new element to the Magic’s big-man rotation, even if he probably wouldn’t play much as a rookie. Last season, Anthony Black and Jett Howard barely saw the court when the Magic had no pressure to win yet. It is always beneficial to plan and build for the future, however. If the Magic decide not to trade their pick, they will certainly keep that in mind when they make their pick.