Understandably so, since the draft’s top pick has the potential to significantly alter the direction of the Magic’s rebuild. But Orlando’s draft night won’t be over after making its decision with the No. 1 pick.
The Magic also have two second-round picks at Nos. 32 and 35.
There are more unpredictable outcomes with those picks because of where they’re at in the draft, the Magic’s recent history with second-rounders and Orlando’s roster.
Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman admitted “it’s very complicated” balancing the factors when it comes to deciding what to do with those second-rounders.
“Obviously, we don’t want to spend 99% of our time and disregard these other two picks,” Weltman said. “Because of the nature of those picks, there’s probably more action there. It’s a unique talk that gets serious about the No. 1 pick — 32 and 35, there are a lot of talks going on.”
The Magic are unlikely to draft players with both picks.
Since Weltman and general manager John Hammond joined the organization in May 2017, Orlando’s drafted and signed two of its own second-round picks — Wesley Iwundu (33rd pick in 2017) and Melvin Frazier (35th pick in ‘18). In 2018, the Magic also traded the rights to Jarred Vanderbilt (41st pick) to the Denver Nuggets for the rights to Justin Jackson (43rd pick) and a future second-rounder.
The Magic traded their other second-rounders most other years.
If the Magic decide to trade one or both of their second-round picks, there could be opportunities for them to move into the backend of the first round. Attaching one or both of the picks in a trade alongside a player such as Terrence Ross, who’s made it clear he’d like to continue his career elsewhere, could be enticing for contending teams who need wing depth and is looking to trade a player on a contract that extends past 2022-23.
The league’s rookie-scale contract structure states first-round picks will be signed to 4-year deals, the first two years guaranteed, with team options for the last two seasons. Second-round picks, especially in the early-to-mid 30s, are attractive for contending teams because they’re able to negotiate the contracts and the picks aren’t assured two guaranteed seasons on their deals.
Ross is on an expiring deal that’ll pay him an $11.5 million salary for 2022-23 — about $1 million more than the projected standard mid-level exception ($10.3 million).
“When we made all those trades last season, T kind of got holding the bag,” Weltman said of Ross. “We recognize that and have had discussions about that. T loves the Magic. He loves the locker room. He’s just a good teammate and good professional. Obviously, we’ll be exploring options with our whole roster. Conversations are always ongoing league-wide.”
If the Magic are able to move up into the latter half of the first round, they should target Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams or Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. Orlando interviewed Williams during the mid-May draft combine.
Orlando needs a 3-and-D wing — with an emphasis on reliable 3-point shooting — who has good size and length for their position. Both Williams and Moore would provide those skills with supplementary playmaking.
If the Magic use one or both second-round picks, they should target wings/forward such as Kansas’ Christian Braun, Colorado’s Jabari Walker or Baylor’s Kendall Brown. It’s known Braun and Walker worked out for Orlando.
Weltman said the Magic “pay attention” to how many more young players they can add to the roster.
Orlando could have around 10 players under the age of 25 on the roster for 2022-23.
Weltman emphasized how important it is for younger players to feel there’s a pathway for them to grow, suggesting it’s likely the Magic make moves in the second round so they don’t overcrowd the roster with young talent.
“How many young guys can we get through the woods? They’re not all going to make it through maybe, but they have to have a chance,” Weltman said. “We are having discussions with teams. Because we’re a team that has two early second-round picks, it puts us in a position to have some conversations.
“That said, we’re also trying to develop a comfort level with where the players we like will go in the draft. If we feel we’ll get a good player with our second-round picks, there’s no reason to try to bop around.”
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