Orlando Magic's draft pick clearly shows what the team is all about now

The Orlando Magic are moving to the next stage of their development, selecting Tristan da Silva with an eye on the best player in the draft and someone who will immediately help them win.
It was no surprise the Orlando Magic selected Tristan Da Silva. Physically and skill-wise he checks all the boxes for the team. He also signals the team is not waiting on development, they got a player who will help them win immediately.
It was no surprise the Orlando Magic selected Tristan Da Silva. Physically and skill-wise he checks all the boxes for the team. He also signals the team is not waiting on development, they got a player who will help them win immediately. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There is always a debate when it comes to the NBA Draft: Do you take the best player available on the board or do you draft for need? Do you just add talent to the roster and figure it out later or do you pick a player who has a clear role to boost your team?

Perhaps more importantly, the question is: When do you transition a young team from collecting talent to supplementing the roster with skills they need?

The hope, of course, is that the two needs converge. The best player on the board is the one that fits a need. Perhaps the need informs and breaks ties among similar players.

The Orlando Magic have been collecting talent for a long time. They have struggled to find their identity.

But the 2024 season was a breakthrough. The team won 47 games and made the playoffs. They built on their defensive identity with their size and length. They are hungry to do more. All the while their rookies from last year sat on the bench and developed more behind the scenes.

Everyone is going to need to step up. And everyone is going to need to be ready to play at the highest level. The Magic believe they picked someone capable of doing all that they ask.

They believe they found that intersection of the best player and someone who fills a need in Colorado forward Tristan da Silva.

"I think we talked the other day about trying to find the intersection of he's also maybe at a stage," Jeff Weltman said after the Magic made their pick. "You want the player who is going to help your team and have a successful career when you're picking 18. . . . We're lucky that he is right at that intersection. He checked all those boxes."

Weltman said the Magic set out to add shooting, skill, IQ and positional size. They feel they checked all of those boxes with their pick. He said he believes da Silva is one of the highest IQ players in recent drafts.

Da Silva averaged 16.0 points per game, grabbed 5.1 rebounds per game and dished out 2.4 assists per game at Colorado last year. He shot 49.3 percent from the floor, 39.5 percent from three and 83.5 percent from the line.

He put up 16.5 points per game in Pac-12 play, his second straight year averaging 16.0 points per game in conference play.

A lot of scouts and analysts tend to downgrade players for staying in school for too long. But da Silva increased his scoring average every year at Colorado. He got better every year.

Trista da Silva seems ready to help the Magic win right away

He is 23 years old, but each one of those extra years made him the kind of player the Magic tend to target.

"Just figuring myself out. It only comes with experience," da Silva said after he was picked. "That is something that you can't skip. You can't fast-forward. Taking my time was big in my development and becoming a better player. I know what I'm doing really well, I know what I'm not. I feel confident and ready to step into that next level."

That is the kind of poise and self-awareness the Magic are constantly looking for. They like players with that kind of selflessness and IQ. Da Silva said what he would bring to the team is someone who would make the right reads and play unselfishly.

Weltman said he believes da Silva will open the floor with his shooting and his ability to cut, knowing when to cut and shape the defense to create holes for himself and for others. The Magic met with da Silva in Chicago and then again extensively in Orlando for an on-site workout.

Da Silva said he clicked quickly with the Magic's front office over a 2.5-hour dinner that was scheduled to last an hour. The Magic draft the person as much as the player.

These are things the Magic are always looking for. They believe he will be a seamless fit for the team. Knowing what the Magic like, he checks the boxes that define this team with his size, versatility and basketball smarts.

More importantly, those skills are things that translate to winning and an immediate impact on the team.

Most older players are considered ready to play immediately and players who can plug in. Da Silva has the skills to slide right in and add something to the Magic. That is something they need as they aim to keep climbing the standings.

"I really do just believe his IQ, his ability to make people around him better and more than anything his poise and his demeanor while he is on the floor, putting people in the right position, being in the right position, knowing when to cut, when to move and the ability to space the floor as well," coach Jamahl Mosley said after the Magic made their pick. "I think he has room to continue to grow and also his ability to understand how to win in this league and winning habits he has developed through his journey."

That is the important thing. Despite his age and experience, he is still a young player with room to grow and improve as all rookies are.

But he brings a lot to the table. A lot that the Magic need in his shooting and a lot that the Magic like in his IQ and cutting ability. These are things that will help the team immediately even if he still has to earn his way onto the floor and go through the normal growing pains.

What da Silva does translates to winning basketball. That is the only goal that matters for the Magic.

"He makes the game a lot easier for the other four players to play," Weltman said after the pick. "Even though he's an older player, he has growth in him. There is a lot more untapped that the NBA will unlock in him. He will make it easier for our primary creators to play. He can also shape up angles, read the floor balance and do things that just put guys in their right spots. In Europe, they say point guards are organizers. he's kind of an organizer at the forward position."

That is what the Magic are looking for. They want as many playmakers and decision-makers as they can find. Da Silva fits that mold.

He has the experience in big games—he averaged 15.0 points per game and shot 53.8 percent in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments, including scoring 20 points in their First Four win over Boise State and 17 points in their overtime first round win over Florida. And he knows how to help his team win.

That is ultimately what the Magic want to be about now: Winning basketball. Da Silva feels confident he can add himself quickly to the mix.

"It sounds like it's pretty similar to the way we played in Colorado," da Silva said after his selection. "Trying to dictate the game with our defense and playing through those big wings, getting the ball in the right people's hands and playing smart basketball."

The Magic are looking ahead to a busy offseason. They are looking ahead to a major opportunity to grow. They are aiming to win and continue developing on that front with their young roster after that breakthrough.

Da Silva then indeed represents that cross-section. He is a skilled player who checks those important boxes for the team—someone who can grow and develop with this roster and help them win in the present.