The Orlando Magic have the sixth pick in this year’s NBA draft, and there’s no way they should let a guard like Trae Young pass them by.
Although the Orlando Magic were hoping for a bit of good fortune in the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, that did not happen.
Their especially poor season resulted in the sixth overall pick — the same position they landed in the previous season, which led to the drafting of forward Jonathan Isaac. Despite injuries limiting Isaac to just 27 games in his rookie year, there was much to like about what he did in his limited time on the court.
Isaac was the new front office’s first lottery pick, and given how that has looked so far, there’s reason to believe they can repeat the trick with the sixth pick again this year.
But who will be available at that point? With the consensus top two of DeAndre Ayton and Luca Doncic long gone, there is only one player they should go for: Trae Young.
The answer to this question is split into three key parts, with the first of those being the most straightforward to argue. That is the fact that Young will likely be the best player left on the board by the time the Magic are up. Hard to argue with that one.
In fact, as it stands, Young has been the sixth pick in five of the 10 mock drafts that carry the most weight online.
There are two ways teams approach drafts: Needs vs. talent. Given that Young fits both categories for this team, they would be insane not to take him.
Which brings us to point No. 2, and that is that the Magic are in dire need of a guard they can build around.
Think about it: Who was the last great floor general this team had? Jameer Nelson? Beloved in Orlando, sure, and yet even he was only a one time All-Star with the team.
As great as he was, there was an element of cult figure to his time with the team. That and running the pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard helped people’s perceptions of him.
There might be serious talent in the frontcourt positions in the draft this year, but in theory, the Magic are set here.
They will likely offer Aaron Gordon a max contract, and while that might feel a bit steep, they cannot afford to let him go … even if he seems to like the Indiana Pacers:
So if they lock Gordon down long-term, and are happy with Isaac’s play after one season (which they should be), where does that leave room for another forward to develop?
There’s only so many minutes to go around, and given that Bismack Biyombo is going to be stuck on the roster for two years and there’s no guarantee Nikola Vucevic can be moved, it would create a logjam — even more so when you consider Vucevic expanded his offensive game this season, and could in theory be used as a stretch-4 himself next season.
Why add to what is already a crowded area while neglecting the backcourt? As it stands D.J. Augustin is probably the starting point guard for the team at this point.
He’s a fine player, but somebody much better suited as a backup, as he has been for much of his career.
The counterargument to this is that the league is saturated with guards and that picking an above-average one would be easier than ever before.
A fair point, but the idea now is building a roster for the long haul with young talent that could become elite, not padding it out with capable NBA players.
The third reason the Magic should draft Young is because he would bring the very thing this team needs more than any other in the NBA: excitement.
When was the last time you truly got excited watching the team play? It was probably Gordon’s rookie year when his athleticism wowed everyone.
Since then, every highlight moment this team has had has involved a Gordon as well. Watching the team this season was a chore, a slog.
Imagine adding a freewheeling, flashy guard who is not afraid to shoot the ball early and often. If the sneaker companies want to do it, then the Magic should strongly consider it too.
Young shot 36 percent from 3-point territory in his one season with Oklahoma. There’s room for improvement, but that’s already more promising than most players already on the team.
Young also averaged 27.4 points per game. He did so with a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 28.3. College stats obviously don’t translate directly to the pros.
But if the NBA PER average is 15, Young was clearly doing something right in college and there’s no doubt he could help this team offensively almost right away.
Imagine pairing him with a defensive terror like Isaac, as well as center Khem Birch (another player who would take minutes away from a potential forward).
There would be a much greater balance to the team with a roster made up of these players. There would be growing pains, of course, and Young is no savior.
If he were, he would be the consensus No. 1 pick this summer. Still, he ticks off so many of the boxes that the Magic need covered that it’s hard to look past him.
Being compared to Stephen Curry isn’t a bad thing, but even if Young never comes close to the player Curry went on to be, when was the last time Orlando even had a player who could be compared to somebody like that?
In 2018, with 3-point shooting at a premium and more teams boasting elite guards than ever, the Magic are lacking severely in both areas, shooting 35.1 percent from deep as a team last year (28th in the NBA).
This makes Trae Young the obvious choice for the Orlando Magic with the sixth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. But will they want to go in a different direction?