As the NBA Draft nears, several fans around the league are eagerly checking their calendars, counting down the days until June 22.
Orlando Magic writers James Cragg and James Plumb answered some questions regarding the latest news about the Magic and what lies in store for the franchise come draft night.
Orlando Magic Roundtable #2: Pre-Draft Chatter
What do you make of Orlando’s decision to hire Jeff Weltman as President and appoint John Hammond as the new GM?
James P: Personally, I absolutely love the moves that the team has made in the front office. Both Weltman and Hammond bring vast amounts of experience to the team and both built successful rosters with their previous teams. For me, the hiring of Hammond is especially good. In Milwaukee, he built mainly through the draft, which is something that he’ll need to do in Orlando. Hammond brought in young stars such as Rashad Vaughn, Jabari Parker, and of course Giannis Antetokounmpo. These are exactly the types of moves he’ll need to make with the Magic.
Perhaps more importantly, it looks like both Hammond and Weltman will work closely with Frank Vogel in continuing to develop the young players the Magic already have. The most important thing about the hirings is that both men have a winning mentality and seem to be the right people to change the culture in Orlando.
James C: The fact that Vogel will remain as head coach was a major selling point for me with regards to my reaction to this news. A top quality coach working in unison with an efficient and reliable front office is something this franchise has craved for several years, and it seems now Orlando’s prayers have been answered. Both Weltman and Hammond have proven track records in the league, building from the bottom up, transforming their respective former teams. Weltman had done a stand-up job in turning the Raptors into a perennial threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Hammond’s work through the draft with the Milwaukee Bucks was highly commendable. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.
With the Magic owning the sixth pick, who do you realistically believe they will draft?
James P: This is a tricky question because there is a huge difference between who I’d like the Magic to take, and who they’ll likely select. Assuming that players like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Jackson have already been selected, I’d like to see Orlando draft a scorer who can play the two or the three. Now, whether that comes in the form of someone such as Jayson Tatum or Malik Monk, it’ll depend on what moves teams ahead of the Magic make. Either way, I think the Magic desperately need to add another scoring threat.
Now, for the realistic approach. The common consensus among most Magic fans at the moment is that they should draft a point guard such as Dennis Smith Jr. or De’Aaron Fox. Personally, I don’t see the need to replace Elfrid Payton just yet. I’m in favor of giving Payton another year to cement the starting job. Which road the Magic choose to go down is anyone’s guess, and it could go either way.
James C: It seems like the general view from Magic fans and the organization itself is to draft a new point guard in either Fox, who is climbing the draft boards at an alarming rate, or Smith Jr. This baffles me. In Payton, Orlando may not have the best shooter, but he is a terrific all-around guard with incredible court vision. I would like to see the Magic add some firepower to their arsenal in the draft in the form of an offensive heavyweight like Monk or Tatum. But realistically, if all four of the aforementioned players are still available when Orlando is on the clock, I’m unsure which avenue they will go down.
Who would you like to see the Magic draft with their late first-round pick?
James P: If Luke Kennard is still available, then it’s a no-brainer. However, I imagine Orlando will miss out on him by a couple of picks, so I’d like to see the Magic draft Tyler Lydon with the 25th pick. The Syracuse forward can add depth at the three or the four and would be a great compliment to Aaron Gordon. Lydon runs the floor well and is the type of ‘spread big’ that the Magic need. He possesses ideal size to create a mismatch against smaller opponents, and his spot-up shooting can help to improve the Magic offense.
James C: I completely agree with the aforementioned selection from James. Kennard would be an ideal fit in Orlando’s system and would add a degree of offensive firepower to the second unit. But alas, it looks incredibly unlikely he’ll fall as low as 25. DraftExpress has Terrance Ferguson heading the Magic’s way in the late first round, but I’d like to see T.J. Leaf or Tyler Lydon fall to Orlando. Both are strong shooters and have a considerable offensive presence. With Jeff Green‘s impending free agency, either of those players would add depth at the three or four spots, where it is desperately needed.
Would you entertain the possibility of trading Orlando’s sixth pick?
James P: Absolutely. This draft is crucial for the Magic — not just for this coming season, but for years to come. If Orlando gets an offer that would help improve the team more than whoever is available, then it makes sense to take it. Whether a team is looking to jump up or the Magic are looking to move back, it’s definitely something that John Hammond will have to think about carefully.
James C: It all really depends on whether the right trade emerges, of course. I would personally entertain the prospect of trading the pick if a legitimate offer was presented. The selection could change the Magic’s fortunes, so it would be naive to disregard the possibility of shopping the pick. As long as a trade that would benefit Orlando’s needs is made, then I’m all for it.