The NBA Draft will kick off the offseason on Thursday. When the draft gets underway the Orlando Magic will have the first pick. There are three main players at the top of the draft, and the Magic will be able to choose which one best fits their system.
It is hard to know who the Magic will select, but here is a look at the options, and which one may be the best one for the franchise.
After being a five-star recruit and the No.1 player in his class, Chet Holmgren had high expectations when he began his career at Gonzaga. He reached and surpassed those expectations, playing well enough to be a consensus top-three pick in most mock drafts.
As a team, Gonzaga went 28-4, reaching the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists during his only season in college.
The Magic already have one of Gonzaga’s most talented recent players on their roster, having drafted Jalen Suggs 5th overall last year. Suggs and Holmgren also already have experience playing with each other after playing high school basketball together.
Holmgren’s talent is undeniable, but the Magic already have a strong group of frontcourt players. Wendell Carter has developed into a key part of the Magic’s future and the team still has the opportunity to re-sign Mo Bamba heading into next season.
Ahead of the draft, there have still been concerns about Holmgren’s frame, and he’ll likely need some development time in the NBA. The Magic are hoping to be at the end of their rebuild in the next few years, and therefore the question becomes whether or not Holmgren would be the right pick at this stage of the team’s development.
When looking back at this draft in five years, Banchero might end up having the most offensive impact of any of the players listed. The Duke forward is a dynamic offensive player, something the Magic need right now.
The ACC Rookie of the Year, Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in college. However, there are concerns about his three-point shooting and his defense.
During the last few weeks, it has been unclear whether or not Banchero has even worked out for the Magic ahead of the draft. If he hasn’t, it is unlikely the Magic will select him with the first overall pick.
However, this could all easily be the strategy, secrecy, and gamesmanship so common in the leadup to a draft in any league. It is easy to see why the Magic would take Banchero, who is an excellent offensive player. The team’s biggest weakness has been scoring, and Banchero would add immediate production on the offensive end of the court.
Banchero may seem unlikely to be the No.1 pick if the Magic don’t trade down. However, if Oklahoma City or Houston make the Magic a worthwhile offer it may be smart to move down in the draft order and select the Duke star.
Orlando’s selection of Franz Wagner with the 8th pick in last year’s draft solidified one of their forward positions for years to come. Smith, the current favorite to be the No.1 pick, could be the Magic’s selection to pair alongside him.
Smith, like Banchero, is a great scorer, but in a different way. The Auburn standout is an excellent shooter, hitting 42% of his three-point shots in his only college season.
The Magic desperately need outside scoring, and Smith should fit in well with the rest of Orlando’s roster. Suggs, Cole Anthony, and Markelle Fultz are all talented, young guards, but none of them are exceptional shooters, adding someone like Smith to the roster would help Jamahl Mosley let the guards play to their strengths.
Smith, like Holmgren, worked out for the Magic, and he even went through a post-workout press conference at the team’s facility. In addition, the forward is an excellent defender with a lot of versatility, two areas the Magic have placed emphasis on in recent drafts.
While Holmgren may have a higher upside, and Banchero might be a better overall offensive player, Smith’s shooting and defense are the perfect complement to the rest of the Magic’s group of young players. Any of these three players would be a great pick for Orlando to complete their rebuild, but Smith may be the option that makes the most sense for the franchise.