NBA Draft Results 2021: Team-by-Team Grades, List of Picks and AnalysisJuly 30, 2021
NBA Draft Results 2021: Team-by-Team Grades, List of Picks and Analysis
The Orlando Magic were poised to land one of the NBA draft's second-tier prospects with the No. 5 overall pick.
Instead of digging through a long list of candidates, the Magic made one of the easiest decisions on Thursday night when Jalen Suggs became available.
Suggs was widely regarded as a top-four selection in most mock drafts, but the Toronto Raptors passed on him at No. 4 in favor of Scottie Barnes.
That led to the Magic starting an impressive two-player haul in the top 10. They went on to select Franz Wagner with the No. 8 pick.
Orlando did not have to package its selections together to get a top-tier player, and now it goes into the rest of the offseason with plenty of excitement regarding its roster makeup.
The Magic were not the only team that left the Barclays Center pleased with its selections. The Charlotte Hornets found themselves in a similar spot when James Bouknight fell to No. 11.
Charlotte finished its draft night with three solid picks to add depth around Bouknight and LaMelo Ball to feel good about where it stands as the regular season approaches.
NBA Draft Grades
Golden State: A
Los Angeles Clippers: B
Los Angeles Lakers: N/A
New Orleans: B-
New York: B
Oklahoma City: B-
San Antonio: C
If you told the Magic front office they would come away with Suggs and Wagner without trading a pick on Thursday, they may not have believed you prior to the start of the draft.
Most mock drafts had Suggs landing at No. 4 to the Raptors as the likely heir apparent to Kyle Lowry, who is an impending free agent.
When the Raptors chose Barnes, the Magic jumped at the opportunity to land Suggs, who starred throughout the NCAA men's basketball tournament with Gonzaga.
Suggs will be thrown into a starting lineup that was boosted by the presence of 2020 first-round pick Cole Anthony last season.
When Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon were traded, the Magic opened up space for Anthony, Okeke and others to develop on the court at the back end of last season.
With Suggs now in the fold, the Magic have plenty of young scorers to complement Anthony, who can focus on being the team's main distributor instead of attempting to do too much.
Wagner was expected to be around at No. 8, and he brings a solid two-way game to the wing. The Michigan product could also play down low if the Magic opt for a small lineup and put one of Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac on the floor when at full strength.
The selections of Suggs and Wagner give the Magic more scoring depth, and they should accelerate the rebuilding process a bit.
Orlando may need a year or two more to turn into a fringe playoff contender, but it at least has a base in place now to work up the standings.
Any of the few teams slated to pick above the Hornets could have landed Bouknight, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him fall to No. 11.
Oklahoma City's choice of Australian Josh Giddey at No. 6 enabled Bouknight's slip because a few teams between that point and Charlotte were not looking at pure scorers.
By landing the UConn star, the Hornets have a high-volume shot-taker to place next to LaMelo Ball to develop over the next few years.
Bouknight's addition also takes some of the scoring pressure off Gordon Hayward, and it may allow P.J. Washington to play more in the paint instead of posting up outside the paint on possessions to create scoring.
With its other three picks, Charlotte added some intriguing athletes who could fill out the depth behind its starters.
Kai Jones is not a complete paint player yet, but his size makes him an intriguing prospect to develop and eventually take some of the frontcourt minutes.
JT Thor and Scottie Lewis were solid players in the SEC, and they could contribute off the bench in some capacity next season.
In the last two years, Charlotte discovered some depth in the second round through Vernon Carey, Cody Martin and Jalen McDaniels.
If one or two of Jones, Thor or Lewis turns into a solid contributor, the 2021 draft will be ruled as an overwhelming success for the franchise that needs to build from within since it is typically not a top free agent destination.