The NBA Draft is under a month away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day the Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. Today the Orlando Magic’s 2018 draft will be analyzed.
Orlando finished with a 25-57 record, making it six straight years without a playoff appearance. After the season they decided to fire head coach Frank Vogel after two short seasons in charge. They are not close to competing for anything as of now but do hold the number six pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
While they are still on the search for a head coach and that can tip fans off to what way they may go in the draft, there are a lot of things that can be addressed without knowing who will be the next person in charge. The Magic scored the 24th most points per game, while allowing the 21st most points in the league. While they do rank 11th in assists per game, they conversely rank 26th in the Eastern Conference for rebounding.
Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic all scored over 16 points per game, but none of those players are worth building a team around. Jonathan Simmons, Terrence Ross, Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustine are good role players, they just don’t have the necessary stars on the roster to play their roles and have to do more. Rookie Jonathan Isaac did not have a successful rookie season and will need to grow into himself more this offseason.
Gordon is a restricted free agent that will need to be signed but the rest of the core are all under contract for next season. They will be able to get Gordon back but their problem is that they have limited cap space for a team that wasn’t very good. Orlando will have to get creative if they want to offload contracts and actually build a winning team. If they can do that it will speed up the rebuilding process.
In the NBA you simply can’t win without having stars, so the Magic will need to figure out how to draft a star or leverage their current assets to acquire a star.
Orlando Magic picks and needs
Orlando has three picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
First round: No. 6
Second round: No. 35, No. 41
The Magic need to get a point guard and some perimeter defenders on the team to help fill their needs. Augustine is a role player, while none of the mentioned players earlier are known as being able to guard well. They’ll also need to get some outside shooting, as they ranked 27th in the league and can do much better.
Pick No. 6: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
This pick takes into account what other draft profiles before this have people taking and the Magic’s needs into account. Young will help fill the void at point guard and will help the three-point shooting numbers. One thing he will not do though is improve the team defense, which will need to be addressed at another time.
Young burst on to the college basketball scene with his play-making ability. He scored and assisted more than any player in college basketball last year, which helped show flashes of what he can do in the NBA, where the floor is more spread open. He is a microwave of a player that can get hot fast but also cool down and experience cold stretches. He averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 points per game in his only year in college basketball.
The defensive issues were already noted and Young has some other problems to worry about as well. He turned the ball over entirely too much in college. While the floor will have more space, he’ll also have to face longer and more athletic players. He might be able to be a serviceable defender in the NBA and could protect the ball better but those are risks the Magic will have to take.
Pick No. 35: Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati
Evans is another player that can fill the Magic’s needs. Specifically, Evans will help the team defense and three-point shooting. He has been projected from anywhere in the middle of the first round to the middle of the second, as a lot of different players are, so the Magic could get a solid player at pick number 35.
He averaged 13 points per game on 37% shooting from three-point range last season for the Bearcats and figures to be a “3 and D” player in the NBA. He has limited athleticism and likely won’t be able to run the point efficiently at the NBA level but can get on the floor early if his defensive skills translate and develop in the NBA.
Pick No. 41: Chimezie Metu, C, USC
After three seasons at USC, Metu decided to bolt for the NBA Draft. He scores well at 15.7 points per game but needs to offer more in the rebounding department, as he only pulled down 7.4 a game last season. Metu improved defensively his last season as a Trojan but that will need to be developed some more. Metu is going to be a project for an NBA team.