As a fan it is all eyes on the Magic and the 2023 NBA Draft, with Orlando holding picks 6, 11 and 36 in Thursday’s big event.
Having previously written about what the Orlando Magic have at this moment it is now time to address everything that this draft could entail. The team is loaded with options. Comfortably under the salary cap they may chase free agents in the coming weeks but before that comes the Draft.
But what do the Magic do in this Draft. We could trade both picks, or a single pick and players to add more quality to the roster, to move up the Draft standings or even trade back. Perhaps we use both first-rounders.
Here we will look at some of the likely prospects the Magic could take in the first round of the Draft, along with also considering the possibility of Orlando moving up or back.
The Magic And The 2023 NBA Draft
The 2023 NBA Draft takes place in Brooklyn Over the past two seasons Orlando have taken Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and Caleb Houstan in the Draft. This Draft nights provides Orlando with a multiple opportunities and options. The 2023 Draft Class is said to be very deep, with players likely to be available in Orlando’s pick range that address the need for wing shooting and a back up centre.
The event begins at 8pm Eastern on Thursday 22nd June (1am Friday in the U.K.).
The top 14 picks are:
1. San Antonio
11. Orlando (from Chicago)
12. Oklahoma City
14. New Orleans
Add More Youth To Address Needs
We will come onto talking about the prospects a little later in the article but for now let’s talk options. Given the Orlando has to work with no Front Office should be busier leading up to this Draft than ours.
If the Magic feel this Draft is front-loaded with quality players, then they could keep both picks and see what happens by taking additional youth to develop. That scenario allows them the opportunity to draft for fit and for best player available. The downside is perhaps that additional youth and inexperience. There also has to be opportunity for the rookie to play and develop his game. However, it is potentially the cheapest option for salary cap impact with set rookie wage scales.
Some suggest the best scenario for Orlando is keeping one of the picks and package the other for a trade. This potentially covers all the bases, but still carries some risk, nothing is guaranteed. Trading the 6th or 11th pick and players could net you an established player to help push the team forward. This type of trade is one we know only too well. No Magic fan will ever forget the 2016 Draft night debacle that saw Serge Ibaka arrive in Orlando, with Victor Oladipo and our pick (Domantas Sabonis) heading to Oklahoma. We all know this is a different and better management team than that of 2016, but be careful what you wish for.
Moving Up And Trading Back
If Orlando feel “their guy” is further up the Draft then perhaps we see a bold move up to get him. This is a dynamic process on the night that could be impacted by the selections of other teams.
Many feel that a deal with Portland at the 3rd pick is available for the right offer.
But what would it take to get that pick? Orlando are certainly able to offer a lot of draft capital to any team. Besides this year’s picks at 6, 11 and 36 they own all their first and second round picks (through to 2030). Then we have Denver’s 2024 first round pick (top 4 protected) and a host of other team’s second rounders. Throw in some young talent and perhaps you have a deal coming your way.
Another possibility is that Orlando trade back down the draft order.
Hypothetically, say Orlando have addressed their shooting need with the 6th pick and are now looking to secure a big man as back up to Wendell Carter Jr. Many of the suggestions as to draft order have this type of player available lower than 11th. Therefore the Magic could look to trade back by giving up the 11th pick but netting themselves additional resources whilst getting their target.
Taking A Look At Some Prospects
So let’s do this in no particular order as there is much conjecture about the order of this Draft’s big board.
Let’s start with the man most projections have us taking. Thompson is able to play at both guard and forward, having the look of a potential star.
Thompson’s offensive plays get most of the attention, but his defence can be impactful and could make him attractive to the Magic. He’s very athletic, stands at 6ft 5in and has a versatility which could allow him to defend all but the centre positions. It is a propensity for those effort and bell ringing plays that makes his defence. He will get in the passing lanes to deflect the ball or make a steal to start a fast breaks. He is also considered to be a very effective shot-blocker for his size.
Offensively, with pace running towards the basket is his forte, with or without the ball. When he has the ball he is considered to be an excellent precision passer.
Has a two-way playmaking wings he is considered an amalgam of Jimmy Butler, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and our very own Markelle Fultz.
This 6ft 5in guard is an excellent on-ball defender and a willing passer. He is said to prefer to set up teammates rather than create his own shot. His size is an asset, a point guard with the body of a wing. This size and athleticism allows him to work around or over power defenders with ease. He’s a good finisher at the rim and seen as a playmaker in the pick-and-roll.
Black is not a great three-point or free-throw shooter, so developing all facets of that part of the game would be a priority were Orlando to take him.
He is projected to be a high-to-mid-lottery pick, offering instant-impact as a rookie. Black draws comparisons to Cade Cunningham and Josh Giddey.
All jokes aside, Gradey Dick fits the need the Magic need the most; shooting! Whilst not being touted as a top 6 pick on paper, the thing Dick excels at is shooting. His shooting potential has drawn comparisons to Klay Thompson, Reggie Miller, JJ Redick and Kyle Korver.
Whilst nobody selecting Dick is expecting a Thompson or Miller, getting a player who spaces the floor and just shoots naturally is a game changer for the Magic. The space on the floor afforded to players like Banchero, Wagner and Fultz could make the Magic a far more dangerous prospect. With Gradey Dick you could get that.
Whilst defence is the critique on Dick, do keep in mind the length of the Magic team and the defensive potential of this team. The Magic are perfectly placed to carry Dick defensively for what he brings offensively.
Also not to be slept on is the slashing ability and athleticism as he comes out of a great college programme. Add in his size, standing 6ft 4in and you start to see why Dick could be perfect for the Magic, an option which fills a number of needs at the 2, 3 or coming from the bench.
If the Magic don’t pick up Dick, another great prospect would be UConn marksman, Jordan Hawkins. The 6’5 shooting guard is the other great shooter in the draft and like Dick, Hawkins comes from a strong college programme.
Hawkins is an active marksman and can move around fast to find his shot without just setting up in the corner. With his shooting from 3 mirrored by his shooting from the free throw line, Hawkins fills a need for the Magic.
Also not to be slept on is that Hawkins has good athleticism. Should he be selected by the Magic, his shooting prowess and ability to find his shot would be appealing to the Magic (especially given the passing ability he could be lining up alongside). Hawkins’ skillset is reminiscent of Klay Thompson, Richard Hamilton and Terrence Ross.
Dereck Lively III
The Magic are trying to fill a need with the backup 5. If you are noticing a theme of strong college programmes so far, you would be right. Just like rookie sensation, Paolo Banchero, Lively has came through at Duke.
Standing 7’1, Lively fills the backup 5 and shot blocking needs that the Magic would like. Lively is an active player and possesses great size already. With time to grow into his frame, his inside game is already encouraging.
The big knock on the Duke Blue Devil has been his outside game. However, Lively has wowed scouts with his ability to hit the outside shot in workouts. If this can translate to in-game situations, Lively could be a bargain pickup for the Magic at 11. There are comparisons here to Nic Claxton and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Whitmore at pick 6 may seem like a reach for the Magic. He has been landing in a lot of top 5 selections. However, with the top 4 likely to be Wembenyama, Henderson, Brandon Miller and Amen Thompson, that only leaves a single slot before he potentially falls to the Magic.
He would seem to be the pick for Detroit. However, the Pistons could also be tempted by Jarace Walker or Taylor Hendricks. Coming again from a strong college programme at Villanova, the 6’7 Whitmore, has great athleticism and could be classed as a wing. Whilst the Magic are set at the 3 with Franz Wagner, Whitmore fits the athletic potential, size and potential that would suit the Magic front-office.
Critics would say Whitmore is not the lights out shooter the Magic would want. Whilst decent with potential at 3, Whitmore and a Dick or Hawkins at 11 would be a huge potential and fills a need draft for the Magic. Whitmore’s game resembles in part that of Miles Bridges, Keldon Johnson and Jae Crowder.
Right now, the 6’ 6” guard Sensabaugh would be a reach at 11 for Orlando. However, Sensabaugh is an Orlando native and a former Florida Mr Basketball. His build and game has drawn comparison to that of Julius Randle and Joe Johnson.
Sensabaugh is a prospect who could rise in the draft and might be a player to look at should the Magic look to trade back in the draft. Whilst defensively he needs work, the key for Sensabaugh is that he projects as a 3 level scorer. The Ohio State Freshman has potential and his scoring punch with Orlando ties might just make him a sleeper to watch as we head towards the draft. He could be of huge impact from the bench.
In Conclusion On The Magic And The 2023 NBA Draft
This is a team that is patiently and efficiently rebuilding, there are no shortcuts being taken. There is no need to rush all in this summer.
We have through this measured approach a solid young base of talent in Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony. Throw in those draft assets previously mentioned and Orlando is clearly in a position to make the most of the opportunity on Thursday and beyond. Whether Weltman and Hammond choose to go via trades to upgrade talent at needed spots or by or using the picks themselves we will soon learn. This is a young team, with time on their side. History shows players generally come into their prime aged 26 to 28 years old.
The downside as fans is that Orlando has missed the playoffs in all but two of the last eleven seasons. It is very true to say that the Magic have been searching for an identity and rebuilding since Dwight Howard left!
Just perhaps we have seen the last of the Draft lottery for some time. It is time for the Magic’s playoff drought to end and the missing piece of that jigsaw may just be waiting for us on Thursday night!
The Magic and the 2023 NBA Draft written by Paul Bacon and Gary Craggs