As Orlando Pinstriped Post recapped the first day of SB Nation's blogger mock 2014 NBA Draft, we urged our readers to stay tuned to the second day despite the fact that the Orlando Magic no longer had any picks. Now we can explain that decision.
In a three-team deal, the mock Magic acquired point guard Jeremy Lin via the Houston Rockets, along with the 17th overall pick in the Draft via the Boston Celtics. OPP used that pick to select Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkić 17th overall. In this trade, the Celtics acquired Magic swingman Arron Afflalo and Rockets center Ömer Aşik. Those two newcomers join Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, and Kevin Love in a formidable Boston starting five. Houston, in clearing the salaries of Lin and Aşik from its books, can now pursue in earnest top-level free agents like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
Acquiring Lin and Nurkić represents a solid return on the Magic's investment in Afflalo. In his second season with Orlando, Afflalo posted career-best averages in scoring (18.2) and assists (3.4) while shooting an efficient 45.9 percent from the floor and 42.7 percent from three-point distance. Afflalo turns 29 on November 1st and can become a free agent in July 2015. His age and pending free agency means he has more value around the league than he does to the rebuilding Magic.
With the 12th pick in the mock Draft, the Magic added Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis. His presence, as well as the incumbency of Jameer Nelson at that position, may seem to make the Lin acquisition superfluous, but we disagree with that idea. An excellent pick-and-roll point guard with the ability to score off the dribble, Lin gives the Magic a starter who can succeed Nelson more readily than the rookie Ennis. The deal also frees Orlando to release Nelson to realize some salary-cap savings. Or it can keep both players while it brings Ennis along. No matter which path the Magic choose here, they have flexibility and the freedom to develop Ennis at his own pace.
Dealing Afflalo for Lin has another benefit, namely enabling Orlando to move Victor Oladipo to shooting guard on a full-time basis. Lin excels with the ball in his hands, while Oladipo plays at his best without it. We believe Lin and Oladipo will complement each other offensively and defensively, as Oladipo can check the speedier, more skilled point guards with whom Lin struggles.
Nurkić, meanwhile, is a prospect we value highly, and we believe he's an excellent value pickup at 17 overall. Playing against grown men for Cedevita Zagreb of the Adriatic League, the 19-year-old Nurkić posted astounding per-game numbers of 11.7 points, 5.7 boards, and 0.8 blocks in just 16.6 minutes. A young seven-footer with that level of skill certainly merits consideration with the 17th pick, and once we learned he'd be available there, we happily accepted the trade offer the mock Celtics made.