Grading Orlando Magic's 2013 NBA Draft Decisions
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For a team like the Orlando Magic, who are in the midst of a rebuilding phase, the 2013 NBA draft was of utmost importance. The decisions they made on draft night could influence the direction in which the franchise moves now and in the future.
But how exactly do the selections of Victor Oladipo and Romero Osby impact the Magic?
Round 1: Victor Oladipo (SG, Indiana)
As draft day approached, acquiring a shooting guard was probably the most important position the Magic needed to fill, despite having acquired Arron Afflalo in the Dwight Howard trade last summer.
The need for a 2-guard became even more prevalent when Afflalo started becoming a centerpiece in trade talks prior to Thursday's draft. As Joe Kotoch of SheridanHoops.com indicated before the draft:
Sources say Orlando is very interested in Eric Bledsoe and is prepared to deal Arron Afflalo to the Clippers to get him. GM Rob Hennigan has been aggressive in acquiring assets and has assembled a good core of young players.
While nothing occurred on draft night, one would think that trade is still a possibility.
With that in mind, the Magic decided to move forward and draft Indiana's Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick.
Oladipo and Ben McLemore of Kansas were undoubtedly the two best shooting guards available, and which player the Magic would pursue if attempting to fill that position was a tossup.
Ultimately, the team opted to go with Oladipo's athleticism and ability to defend over McLemore's elite scoring ability.
And that's not a bad choice.
Oladipo saw steady improvement over each of his three years with the Hoosiers and emerged as one of the team's most reliable, important assets in 2012-13.
As a junior, he averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game playing in arguably the nation's best conference.
More impressively, he shot 59.9 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from three-point territory.
If this were baseball, Oladipo would be a five-tool player.
General manager Rob Hennigan seemingly decided to go with his all-around talent over McLemore's scoring prowess.
And while McLemore has the potential to become an elite scorer in the league, Oladipo isn't a slouch offensively, and with more work, he will only get better.
Depending on what occurs with Afflalo, Oladipo could be the starting shooting guard next season and immediately get an opportunity to make a major splash.
Given his experience, growth as a player and confidence, being thrown into the mix right away shouldn't bother him.
With a seemingly vibrant personality and a willingness to put in the hours of hard work it takes to become better, it's incredibly hard to find anything negative about the Magic's choice with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft.
Round 2: Romero Osby (PF, Oklahoma)
In the second round, the Magic decided to take Romero Osby, a power forward out of Oklahoma.
At first glance, the pick seems like a strange one.
With Glen Davis and Andrew Nicholson already on the roster, a power forward wasn't one of the positions the Magic needed help at.
However, with Davis and Nicholson both being mentioned in trade talks, it's understandable that Hennigan decided to go with a power forward in the second round.
And Osby isn't a bad choice.
After two years of struggling at Mississippi State, Osby transferred to Oklahoma and excelled, especially during his senior season.
During his last year as a Sooner, he averaged 16 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 52.6 percent from the field. In addition, with a limited sample size, he shot 52.9 percent from three-point range.
Make no mistake, Osby will never be a star in the NBA. In fact, he'll probably never be a starter, either.
But that doesn't mean he can't provide value off the bench.
In fact, much like Oladipo, Osby's struggles during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Mississippi State followed by his success at Oklahoma show a genuine passion for the game and the desire to get better as a player.
Drafting players who have a great work ethic is half the battle.
If Nicholson and Davis are no longer with the team next season, Osby will likely get the chance to play a critical role off the bench and opportunity to contribute significantly.
He's not great, but he can be solid.
And finding a good pick as late as No. 51 in the draft is a difficult task, but Hennigan seemed to grab another player who fit the team's need.
Dwight Howard may have been traded last summer, but the franchise isn't wasting any time dwelling on the days he took them to the NBA Finals.
Slowly but surely, Hennigan is building a strong core of young players who are oozing potential. If head coach Jacque Vaughn can get the most out of them and get them to buy into his system, the future is bright for the Magic.
Patience is key, and with another long season likely ahead of them, the Magic will be afforded the opportunity to claim an even bigger prize in the 2014 draft.
But until then, baby steps need to be made.
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