The Orlando Magic are a team still in the early stages of a rebuilding process. With their two lottery picks in the NBA Draft, fourth and 12th overall, the team has a chance to catch some real talent given the supposed depth available to choose from. In a lot of places there have been calls for the team to take Dante Exum, but there are many reasons why this makes no sense for this team.
OK, so Exum has some things going for him that make him intriguing, but Orlando should not be the team that takes a chance on this guy. Best-case scenario, he turns into Damian Lillard, and while everybody would love to have that guy on their team, missing out on that potential is just something the Magic are going to have to live with if he comes good. Coming from Australia, the only times he has played against true elite competition was at the various tournaments he was invited to and played in. Other than that, playing for his country at youth level against the likes of the U.S. would have also pitted him against other players in this upcoming draft. Is that really a large enough sample with which to take somebody?
Again, he could prove everybody wrong, and that would be great for him and the league. He would become an international poster boy for the NBA as it globalizes it’s brand. What Orlando needs is more of a sure thing though, whoever that may be. Some think that Andrew Wiggins isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, for example. However, everybody is in agreement that at the very least he will be a solid NBA professional. It’s not stylish, sexy or even done that often, but drafting relatively safely is what Orlando needs to think about doing. Another team will take a flyer on Exum and hope he turns into the real thing, but expectations are beginning to creep back in Orlando, and they need to start producing on the court sooner rather than later.
Point guard is the most important position in the league these days. So while drafting a player like Exum, a point guard with a great deal of potential, is something a lot of teams will look into, why not come at it from a different angle. The point guard position is also the deepest in the league, and you can bet that the Magic could pick up a mid-range floor general for a manageable amount of money this summer. Maybe not Kyle Lowry, although that would be nice, but somebody in his mold. Goran Dragic was passed up by many teams last year, but he got a chance in Phoenix and took it. Orlando would be better to approach the situation in the same way. That is, pick up a veteran point guard somewhere along the way who already knows the league, and leave another team to take a chance on Exum.
People forget, this team already has Victor Oladipo. While he is a shooting guard at heart, the point guard experiment didn’t work, he needs an older head by his side in the back court as he grows. Yes, every team would like to replicate the success of the Washington Wizards with John Wall and Bradley Beal looking like they could be the backcourt tandem there for a decade-plus. But pulling stuff like that off is hard to do. Why not draft a forward, somebody like a Jabari Parker if available, stick him in with the other potentially brilliant bigs that are Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris, and watch them dominate as they grow together? It would seem the more sensible thing to do.
As ever though, we know that front offices and general managers in the NBA don’t always go with common sense. The team may indeed decide that an Exum-Oladipo backcourt is the way to go. With the potential of both, who could blame them? Buying into that idea for a moment, both are already known for being two-way players, meaning putting them together could lead to happy days ahead for this team. It just seems that a lot of experts and people who claim to know what they are talking about think that securing Exum is the be all and end all. It isn’t. His potential could fill arenas down the road, but Orlando needs things to start happening for this franchise now, or risk turning fans away from the team permanently. Exum can’t change that himself overnight.