Orlando Magic: Assessing the Magic's Position in the Draft
The team is in the midst of a rebuilding process, and taking the longer route of developing young talent is the safest one traveled. The team already has a great prospect in Nikola Vucevic at center, yet it should not hinder its options in the draft. Its projected pick at fourth gives it plenty of choice in terms of moving the franchise forward.
Currently, the Magic have just Jameer Nelson and Ish Smith at point guard. The former has been with the organization for his entire career, which will make this season Nelson's ninth. He is 30 years of age, and it isn't a poor judgement call to keep him as the starting guard.
It may be beneficial for Orlando, as not only does it keep a veteran presence at the helm, but the 2013 draft does not offer many point guard prospects. The plethora of guards, forwards and centers available makes drafting Nelson's potential replacement a risky move, considering the talent available at other positions.
Nelson is averaging 15.3 points and 7.4 assists this season.
At the 2-guard spot, Orlando has Arron Afflalo, J.J. Redick and E'Twaun Moore. Save for the latter, they are having career years in terms of production. Afflalo's 16.7 points and Redick's 15.4 points per contest has them as one of the best duos at the position.
Since Redick's promotion to the starting lineup, Afflalo has struggled as the starting forward. He averages just 11 points on 35.4 percent shooting, so the vision of drafting a guard and moving Afflalo up isn't entirely viable.
However, that should not limit the Magic's interest in a guard in the draft. Players like Shabazz Muhammad, Ben McLemore and Marcus Smart have a ton of potential, so considering the trade of Afflalo and drafting a replacement is the best route.
Alternatively, selecting a shooting guard and having them off the bench is also an option. However, thrusting their new acquisition into the spotlight could be a double-edged sword. The Magic can explore either and alter either if they choose.
Redick's contract expires at the end of the season, so re-signing him could be an idea; however, drafting a younger, more-skilled guard is the cheaper and better long-term option.
As aforementioned, Afflalo has become the starting small forward for Orlando. However, his struggles give plenty of signs that this cannot be a long-term position change. Aside from him, the Magic have Hedo Turkoglu, DeQuan Jones and Moe Harkless.
This position has been a jumble all season for the team, with a number of different players starting this season. Aside from Hedo, Jones and Harkless do not possess a great jump shot to keep the defense spaced. It isn't a huge issue with Nelson, Redick and Afflalo in the game, but developing such a shot must be essential.
Where should the Magic's focus be in the draft?
It would give either player a more complete game, yet neither have shown much promise to prevent the Magic drafting a forward. Anthony Bennett and Otto Porter are the two best forwards on the board, and both fit with what Orlando is hoping to do.
The duo can score the ball, and are close to 40 percent shooting from three-point range. Bennett and Porter can both rebound well, and could fill a void for Orlando on the wing.
Power Forward and Center:
The 2013 NBA draft has a plethora of frontcourt prospects, and could give Orlando the next best center in the league if they draft well. The Magic already have Vucevic, who is a nightly double-double threat. His 14.4 points and 12.9 rebounds in January gives a potential preview on how he could perform down the road.
Drafting another frontcourt player could give Orlando a great tandem at power forward and center. They do have Glen Davis and Andrew Nicholson as the central contributors at the 4, but selecting a game-changing presence like Nerlens Noel to pair with Vucevic would be interesting.
The Magic don't have much length or height down low, save for Vucevic's seven-foot frame. The 6'11" Noel could come in at power forward and play a la Anthony Davis or Larry Sanders. He is averaging 10.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.9 blocks for Kentucky, and certainly has the potential to translate that to the NBA level.
There is also Cody Zeller and Alex Len as top frontcourt prospects, but they do not have the enticing defensive mindset Noel offers.
Where Does Orlando Use Its Pick?
It will be a tricky selection for the Magic, as their own interests and those of other teams depends on how they use their pick. Selecting a backcourt player to pair with Vucevic would be ideal, as it gives the team a young, solid one-two punch going forward.
Alternatively, Orlando could pair its center with another frontcourt prospect. The team could then keep Nelson as a veteran leader at point guard, and further develop Harkless or Jones at small forward. Afflalo has performed well at shooting guard thus far, so taking forward/center would give the Magic a more complete lineup.
Only time will tell which route the Magic take. Leave a comment below on how you think Orlando should go about the draft.
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