The Orlando Magic’s surprisingly successful season means they can go in different directions with their first-round draft pick this summer.
With the most successful season in seven years now in the books, the Orlando Magic can turn their attentions towards building on the momentum made from making the playoffs. The first way they can do this is through the NBA Draft, where they will have the 16th pick.
Hard as it is to believe, it was easier at this stage last year to predict what the Magic could do with their 2019 pick. Most assumed it would be in the lottery because they were not fancied to make the postseason, meaning that taking the best available player would have made the most sense.
Now however it is open to more interpretation, with moves and signings made throughout the season confusing matters even more.
There is no doubt that if the Magic want to become true contenders that roster changes will have to be made, it is just hard to see where that happens now after a positive campaign.
Beginning with the obvious, and the team could still do a lot worse than draft a point guard. D.J. Augustin had one of his finest years as a professional, but he will be 32 in November.
Michael Carter-Williams was a brilliant pickup to close out the regular season, but there’s a reason he’s struggled to find a home elsewhere.
What confusions things though is the addition of Markelle Fultz just before the trade deadline. Fultz is a former first overall pick, and should be given the chance to prove he can be the Magic’s long-term answer at that position.
Only the organization seems to be transitioning into a fringe playoff outfit, which puts Fultz under more pressure than we thought he would be under.
The Magic want to start winning more games, and the development of a young player doesn’t always work in these situations.
The counter-argument to this, however, is that Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba are only young players themselves, and alongside Fultz and Aaron Gordon have the chance to be the franchise’s core heading into the next decade.
So with the point guard situation looking so much better than at this stage last year, where else could the Magic look to in order to fill out their roster? Another big sounds like overkill, but it kind of makes sense too.
With Isaac and Bamba, they are already filling out their roster with long athletes who can defend multiple position and, in theory, shoot the 3-ball too.
Why not add another player like this to the mix? We have seen it work for the Milwaukee Bucks this postseason, with their jumbo lineups featuring players who can shoot it from deep causing opponents all manner of problems.
It looks like the kind of roster building that rivals the small-ball iterations the Golden State Warriors perfected.
General manager John Hammond was also the guy who drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee to kick-start their journey to relevance, so doing so in Orlando makes sense. They already have Isaac, who made notable strides last season, and Bamba already in place.
With Nikola Vucevic an unrestricted free agent, bringing in another big with upside fits their plan.
Imagine adding a guy like Bol Bol to the rotation. It would make the Magic even more fearsome defensively. Tacko Fall is somebody who might not even get drafted, but he is the kind of player who would be so intriguing on this Magic team.
They also have a second-round pick (No. 46) which could be used on Fall instead of reaching hugely for him.
They wouldn’t even need to rush the development of this player either, allowing them to fill in behind Bamba and Isaac and play alongside them to really mess with certain opponents.
This would likely squeeze out center Khem Birch though, a guy who came to embody the Magic’s fighting spirit in making it to the playoffs in the first place. He has to be kept around if possible.
If taking another big doesn’t make sense, then why not look into trading the pick? If the Magic are getting closer to being a true “win now” organization, then the pick could get them something of worth on the market.
Starting with the more outlandish deals out there, perhaps it could be packaged together with some assets in order to acquire Mike Conley Jr.? They could also get out from under Evan Fournier‘s contract by including him in the deal so that the salaries would match up.
This would of course be detrimental to the development of Fultz, but there are worse places to be than backing up a borderline All-Star while quietly rebuilding your game.
More from Orlando Magic
- The most exciting NBA team you won’t see on national TV this season
- 5 NBA teams on the rise that will surprise everyone in 2023-24
- Ranking the 10 championship-less NBA teams by closeness to title
- Orlando Magic draft odds: What are the chances of landing the #1 pick?
- Franz Wagner has smashed the sophomore slump for the Orlando Magic
Returning to the realms of possibility, and swapping the pick for another player who can create their own shot or be consistent from deep would be worth exploring.
The Magic ranked 22nd (108.1) in offensive rating during the regular season, with some possessions downright painful to watch.
Finally they could circumvent the process of trying to find a trade partner, and simply draft an offensive-minded shooting guard with lots of upside.
Fournier has two years and $34 million remaining on his current deal, but when he is gone it would be great if a younger, cheaper and potentially better player was already in place to take over.
It is obvious the Magic don’t have such an individual yet, and while the market may bring them some joy, getting players down to Orlando hasn’t always proved the easiest of tasks.
So drafting one now to learn from Fournier and also how to co-exist with the young core already in place would seem like the best direction to go for the Orlando Magic with their first-round pick this summer.
The fact that they have the choice to go in different directions at all is such a departure from where they were last summer, and that shows real improvement.
There is less pressure to nail this pick and while they haven’t exactly been lights out in the draft throughout this decade, simply adding a young player who can do some things well will be a boost to this team.
Where they’ll fit in on the court remains to be seen though, unless the pick is moved before then.