Despite Pat Williams and Lil Penny being present, the Orlando Magic continued their streak of bad luck and dropped to the sixth pick overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, but fans should not worry. This year’s draft is extremely deep, and there are plenty of players to complement Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac. The Magic may even find a star at the No. 6 spot this year. Recently, a list of prospects the Magic interviewed at the draft combine was released. Here are the top six Orlando Magic draft prospects to target with their first-round pick.
Orlando Magic Draft Prospects to Target
Luka Doncic: PG/SG, Real Madrid/Slovenia
Recently reports have announced that the Slovenian sniper may drop in the draft if he’s not taken No. 1 overall. If this is the case and he falls all the way to sixth, Orlando must not hesitate to draft Luka Doncic. He can play as both a primary ball handler, something the Magic have lacked, or as an off-ball shooting guard who can run off screens. Doncic had a remarkable run in the Euro League Championship, winning both the regular season and finals MVP awards. Astoundingly, he’s the leader of the team despite the fact that Real Madrid has NBA talent and that Doncic is just 19 years old. Doncic would fit well with Gordon, Isaac, Evan Fournier, and D.J. Augustin, He’d provide more spacing on the floor and some much-needed creativity as a playmaker. As far as comparisons go, it’d be easy to say Doncic’s floor is somewhere between the rich man’s version of Hedo Turkoglu and Dario Saric. His ceiling may be a point guard version of Larry Bird or a James Harden who can play defense.
Trae Young: PG, Oklahoma
Trae Young has been linked to the Magic even before the draft combine. Young’s best skills, three-point shooting and creating for others, are talents Orlando desperately needs. The bigger issue is what Young lacks as a prospect. Young, listed at 6’2″ and 180 lbs, is a bit on the diminutive side when it comes to NBA point guards. Defense will be the biggest issue for Young moving forward. If the Magic draft Young, strong defenders like Isaac and Gordon may help to hide him defensively. Comparatively speaking, Young as the next Stephen Curry seems a bit outlandish. More realistic expectations could see Young being a Mike Bibby or Lou Williams type of player in the near future.
Collin Sexton: PG, Alabama
If there was a way to combine Collin Sexton and Young, that player would be the best point guard in the draft. Sexton lacks the elite shooting ability and passing instincts of Young, but he more than makes up for it on the defensive end of the floor. Sexton is a high-intensity leader who can dominate the court at times, despite being a freshman. The prime example of this would be when Alabama had to play three on five against Minnesota, and Sexton’s Crimson Tide actually outscored their opponents 30-22. Sexton would fit in well with the point guard-deprived Magic. He would certainly help them with both defense and to play at a faster pace offensively. Sexton can be seen as a high upside Patrick Beverley type or a smaller Jrue Holiday.
Mikal Bridges: SF, Villanova
Mikal Bridges has won two national titles during his three years at Villanova. At 6’7″ and 200 lbs, he is the ideal three-and-D wing. With his size and length, Bridges should be able to guard multiple positions defensively. His three-point shooting would also help out Orlando’s spacing on offense. Though he lacks the star potential of many of his peers in this range, Bridges may have the highest floor. He could easily turn into a drama-free version of Matt Barnes or a more polished Robert Covington.
Wendell Carter Jr. C, Duke
Wendell Carter Jr. was the third-best freshman big man in the NCAA this past season (behind DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III). This is an excellent accomplishment, despite the fact that Bagley, another freshman big on his team, was better than him at Duke. Carter has stretch five potential in the NBA and compares favorably to Al Horford, who is currently dominating the NBA playoffs. Carter can shoot well from the outside, is able to guard multiple positions, and is a rebounding machine. Though he won’t be throwing down thunderous dunks on a regular basis, he would serve as an upgrade to Nikola Vucevic moving forward.
Michael Porter Jr: SF/PF, Missouri
There is no bigger question mark with exclamation point potential in this draft than Michael Porter Jr. He can score from anywhere, has the size and athleticism to guard multiple positions, and has excellent off-ball offensive instincts. The reason why the player who was considered by many to be the best recruit in the nation last year is not the consensus No. 1 pick is the fact that he missed all but three games of his only college basketball season. His workouts and interviews will be key to where he gets drafted this year. Porter’s potential can lead him to be anywhere between Joe Johnson to Harrison Barnes.
Top second-round prospects for the Magic
The Magic reportedly interviewed Donte DiVincenzo and Bruce Brown Jr. Both track as second-round targets who could help offensively as combo guards. Grayson Allen is another three-and-D prospect whose high floor could entice the Magic. Jarred Vanderbilt, who some regard as the best rebounder in the draft, could be a sneaky pick for Orlando Magic in the second round. Vanderbilt can guard almost anyone on the court and plays with high energy.
Prospect to avoid at all costs: Mohamed Bamba: C, Texas
Prior to the draft lottery, there were rumors linking Mo Bamba to the Magic. Bamba, who’s been compared to Rudy Gobert by some, has glaring bust potential. Despite tremendous measurables, Bamba lacks the intensity of most defensive anchors. He lacks quickness in regards to his second jump. That will hurt him immensely when it comes to rebounding. Bamba also doesn’t have any type of shooting ability to stretch the floor. He is, at best, a poor man’s Gobert. But Gobert’s recent playoff series against the Houston Rockets showed that these types of bigs cannot play in certain match-ups in today’s NBA. A team featuring Bamba, Isaac, and Gordon may be able to defend well in the regular season, but it would be blitzed out of the playoffs due to a lack of spacing and shot creation.
With the level of depth in the coming NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic cannot afford to botch another top-six lottery pick. There’s an opportunity to land a star for a team in desperate need of excitement. Acquiring the right player here is the first step for this franchise to return to the playoffs.
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