What Magic Should Do With Second Pick
The Orlando Magic ended the 2012-13 season with the worst record in the NBA. However, they were not able to convert that league-worst record into the top overall draft pick, losing out to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Draft Lottery and instead landing the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
The Magic will have to wait and see where Cleveland goes with the top pick, but the smart money says Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel is the first player selected, although it very well could be Georgetown small forward Otto Porter, leaving the Magic with some options to consider depending on where the Cavs go.
We asked some of the HOOPSWORLD writers to weigh in on what Orlando should do with the No. 2 pick and here are their cases for a few prospects:
Draft Trey Burke
There’s no question that the Orlando Magic’s biggest need is a young point guard who can develop alongside their up-and-coming core that consists of Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson among others. Orlando’s front office was reportedly disappointed when Marcus Smart decided to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season because they loved his game and wanted to make him their point guard of the future. Even though Smart is out of the mix, the Magic may still decide to go with a floor general with their lottery pick. Trey Burke out of Michigan is widely regarded as the best point guard in this draft class and he makes sense for Orlando at No. 2.
Center Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky is intriguing, but the Cavaliers will likely select him with the top pick. Shooting guards Ben McLemore out of Kansas or Victor Oladipo out of Indiana would also be great picks since the Magic could use a young two-guard to develop behind (and ultimately replace) the 27-year-old Arron Afflalo, who was underwhelming last season.
However, Burke would fill a bigger need since Jameer Nelson is 31 years old and currently the only point guard on Orlando’s roster. Burke could develop behind Nelson and make a smooth transition to the NBA alongside Orlando’s young nucleus. The Magic’s young players are a very tight-knit group and the 20-year-old point guard would fit right in.
While some people may say that Burke is a reach at No. 2, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan isn’t afraid to draft a player higher than expected if he falls in love with them. He was involved in the decision-making process when the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Russell Westbrook with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, a move that was initially criticized but turned out to be brilliant. If Burke impresses Orlando then he very well could be their pick, regardless of where he’s projected to go.
Orlando has tried to bring in proven winners and strong leaders as they assemble their team, which suggests Burke could be the pick. He led the young Wolverines all the way to the national championship game as a sophomore and picked up a number of achievements along the way including every National Player of the Year Award (AP, NABC, Naismith, Robertson, Sports Illustrated, Wooden), the Bob Cousy Award (given to the nation’s best point guard), Big Ten Player of the Year Award and NCAA All-Tournament Team honors. Burke has an impressive résumé and he has a good head on his shoulders, which is why it’s not hard to imagine the Magic falling in love with the point guard and making him the second player off the board on June 27.
– Alex Kennedy
Draft Ben McLemore
Assuming Nerlens Noel is off the board at No. 1, the Magic have to look for an impact player. As much as drafting Trey Burke might solve a roster need, the question surrounding Burke continues to be, is he a game changer in the NBA?
There is no doubting Burke’s impact on college basketball, but is he the guy to run your team for the next 8-to-10 years? If the Magic are not overwhelmingly convinced he is, they are better off waiting to address their point guard need either later in the draft or in trade or free agency. If that’s the case, they should draft the best possible talent they can and that’s Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.
The Magic gain a couple of things in a McLemore pick. First, they get arguably the best pure shooter/scorer in the draft. Second, they gain the ability to shop and ultimately trade Arron Afflalo, who might return a starting caliber point guard or a prospect with more upside than Burke.
McLemore is as close to a can’t miss talent as there is in this draft and McLemore at No. 2 adds another impressive young talent to a Magic roster that still does not have a bona fide go-to guy.
McLemore’s skill set fits into what Orlando is already building and he is a low-risk pick. The Magic cannot afford to botch a draft pick and McLemore is arguably the safest pick at the top of the board.
The Magic could try to address need with the No. 2, but given where Orlando is in the grand scheme, collecting the best talent makes the most sense regardless of position.
– Steve Kyler
Draft Victor Oladipo
Although they weren’t the “winners” of the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery, the Magic have to be really excited about being in the number two spot. They’re going to be able to add another really talented piece to their already talented young core, which has come together nicely less than a year after starting a total rebuilding project.
When the Magic started that rebuilding process, one of the main things they stressed was creating a winning culture. The player in this year’s draft who would help them the most with that is without a doubt Indiana’s Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo is a winner who competes fiercely every time he steps out on the court. He’s not one of those guys who just brings it when the lights are on either, he brings the same workman like attitude to practice and his workouts. He’s coming off of a junior campaign in which he was one of the best and most efficient players in the country. When you factor in his impact on both ends of the court, there may not have been a better wing in college basketball last season.
The only issue with the Magic potentially drafting Oladipo is that he plays the same position as Arron Afflalo, who is under contract for the next three years at the reasonable rate of $7.5 million. Adding another shooting guard when there’s such a need at the point guard position may not seem like the right move, but the Magic are still at the stage of their rebuilding period where they can afford to draft the best fit available and Oladipo definitely jumps off of the page as a tremendous fit.
He’s tough enough on the defensive end where he could potentially play with Afflalo for Jacque Vaughn if needed, but more importantly could make Afflalo expendable if another team covets him in a trade.
– Yannis Koutroupis
Draft Nerlens Noel
Back in 2007, the Portland Trail Blazers made a terrible miscalculation. They held the top pick in the NBA Draft, and they made an assumption that would prove nearly as costly a draft day mistake as the one that saw them draft Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in 1984. On draft day 2007, the Blazers assumed that University of Texas star Kevin Durant was going to evolve into a power forward, and since they already had former UT standout LaMarcus Aldridge at the four, they opted to draft Greg Oden instead. That decision will haunt them for years to come, as Durant has emerged as the best small forward in the West and Oden is unlikely to ever play basketball at a high level again due to his injuries.
As the Orlando Magic go through the process of evaluating whom they should choose with the second overall selection in this summer’s draft, they can’t afford to make assumptions like the one made by the Blazers in 2007. It’s tempting to look at Nerlens Noel as a center, and in so doing perhaps conclude that a lineup with promising young big man Nikola Vucevic already in the mix doesn’t need another center. That temptation should be overcome, however. It seems the Cleveland Cavaliers, holders of the top pick, are not necessarily a lock to take Noel, and the Magic should immediately jump on the chance, if afforded.
We’re not going to know who Noel is as a professional basketball player right away, and that’s just fine. The Magic have no delusions about being a playoff team over the next couple of seasons. They’re thinking long-term, and that’s exactly why Noel is a great pick for the Magic. Noel will make his (apt) return around Christmas, but even then we’re probably going to have to wait two or three years to see the best version of Noel emerge. He’s not going to be a go-to player on the offensive end, but he will bring plenty of intangibles with his ability to run the floor, block shots and score out of a pick-and-roll.
It’s too early in the rebuilding process for the Magic to get too caught up in drafting by position, and if they are simply to look at the best player on the board when they get their crack at it, it would be a huge mistake for them to pass on Noel. He’s going to need a great deal of help to get his offense going, but Orlando would hate to look back three years from now and see that they missed out on a player who could be among the league’s best with time and training.
– Bill Ingram
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at each of the lottery teams and their draft options. On deck for Thursday is the Washington Wizards and the No. 3 overall selection.
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