The Orlando Magic, coming off of a 23-59 season, are entering a pivotal offseason where management will face several decisions which could alter the landscape of their team. The biggest of these decisions would have to be what Orlando plans to do with their two lottery picks, fourth and 12th overall. The fourth pick is their own pick, and the 12th pick is actually the New York Knicks’ pick, which they acquired through the Denver Nuggets.
With the fourth pick, Orlando has the chance to draft a future superstar and an immediate impact player. With names like Dante Exum, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon floating around that fourth pick in most mock drafts, Orlando can’t go wrong with any selection. The 12th pick, however, brings a little more mystery. There’s tons of quality players sitting in this year’s lottery, but it’s still unknown as to which teams are interested in which player. Orlando can bring in another talented young player with their 12th pick, but the question is, who?
Before we dive into any analysis, let’s take a look at the recent history of 12th overall selections to gauge what kind of player Orlando could be looking at:
So looking at recent history, there aren’t exactly any “stars”: there, but there are some quality players. Thaddeus Young is one of the best players on an otherwise disappointing 76ers squad. Gerald Henderson was one of the biggest pieces to help lead the Charlotte Bobcats to their second-ever playoff appearance. Basically, Orlando can grab a quality, starting caliber player with the 12th pick if they choose wisely.
Now that we’ve gone through the history, let’s come back to the present. Orlando has a few needs one their roster, namely a young point guard (their starter, Jameer Nelson, is in the last year of his contract) and another big man, preferably a power forward.
Starting off at point guard, there are two options that could conceivably be around at No. 12: UCLA’s explosive Zach LaVine, and Syracuse’s impressive Tyler Ennis. Both flashed skills that demonstrate NBA level skills this year in the NCAA, and both bring unique qualities.
LaVine is an incredible leaper, essentially. He showed a 46-inch vertical at a workout with the Lakers recently, something that comes in handy in the NBA. LaVine is the definition of an athlete; incredibly fast, quick and a jumper. He’s been compared to Russell Westbrook in the past because of these reasons, and it’s safe to say that whoever drafts him hopes he pans out like that.
The other point guard Orlando could potentially go after would be Tyler Ennis. Ennis brings in the ability of a gifted passer, with a solid shot from behind the arc. He’s considered extremely mature for a freshman, something that would be key coming in to a relatively young squad. Both of these guards could be around at No. 12, and if Orlando wanted to go in that direction, it’s hard to disagree with either of these picks.
On to their second need, a power forward. Second-year big man Andrew Nicholson was relatively disappointing this year, failing to build on an impressive rookie season.
That’s where Michigan State’s Adreian Payne comes in. Payne, like LaVine, is one of the most explosive players at their position in this draft, shown by his 360 dunk in the College Dunk Contest. Payne is also an impressive free throw shooter, and 3-point shooter for a big man. He projects as a solid role player/sixth man in the NBA, due to his reduced lung capacity. Despite that, his skills can’t be overlooked, and he’d be a great add for an Orlando squad in need of a big.
Orlando has the ability to bring their team out of the cellar with their two draft picks this year. While their fourth pick may be more important, as it’s viewed as almost a “guaranteed quality player,” whereas the 12th pick comes with more risks, but a possible huge upside.
Shawn McFarland covers the Orlando Magic for HoopsHabit.com