Promoted to frontpage. This FanPost was initially published on April 25th at 7:19 PM. - Ed.
With the season coming to an end, it's time for the Orlando Magic front office to reevaluate players from this year's roster and understand how they fit in the big picture moving forward. OPP is taking this period to look at how each player graded out this year and where they fit in with Magic in the future. However, it's time to look at what the 2013 NBA draft has to offer.
There are two ways to rebuild a team:
1.) You can look to reload the roster through free agency and swap players around in the trading season.
or 2.) You can take the approach that Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan is likely to take. And that is building through the draft, hoping to eventually land a superstar player who can turn around a franchise.
This year's draft doesn't appear to have a superstar NBA player who can turn around a franchise in one season. But that doesn't mean that there aren't players worthy of NBA rosters who can, one day, start or serve as potential role players for solid NBA teams.
The Orlando Magic will have the highest chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick in this year's lottery and will pick no lower than No. 4. Fans should be excited that the Magic have the opportunity to rebuild through the draft, especially under the leadership of a guy who has an eye for talent like Hennigan. With that said, it's time for us to look at potential Orlando Magic draft prospects -- starting with Trey Burke:
Trey Burke's 2012-2013 season:
Burke contemplated leaving the University of Michigan last year, but returned once he learned that he was projected as a second rounder -- what a decision that turned out to be. On Dec. 15, Burke dissected the West Virginia Mountaineers with 27 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds, shooting 12-of-16 from the field. A little over two months later, Burke led the Wolverines over Illinois with 26 points on 11 shots -- he also recorded 8 dimes in the victory.
Just over a month after that, Burke put together one of the most remarkable performances in NCAA history against the Kansas Jayhawks. The Wolverines trailed top-seeded Kansas by 14 points with seven points remaining, and five points with 21 seconds left. Burke scored all 23 points in the second half and in overtime, including this improbable 30-foot 3-pointer, leading the Wolverines in one of the craziest tournament games in recent memory.
Burke and the Wolverines lost to top-seeded Louisville in the championship game, but his performance throughout the season and the tournament solidified his 2012-13 Naismith Player of the Year award and catapulted him high across draft boards everywhere.
Burke is a strong, physical guard who has shown an innate ability to knock shots off the dribble. According to DraftExpress, he has a 6-foot-5 wingspan, despite standing just 6-foot. He's a smart basketball player and really seems to have a sense of what's going to happen before it happens. One of my favorite things about Burke is that nearly every major basic and advanced statistic improved from his freshman to sophomore season. His True Shooting % rose from 53.8 to 56.9 percent and his Effective Field Goal % increased from 50.2 to 53 percent. His assists rose from 4.6 to 6.7 while his turnovers dropped from 2.8 to 2.2 per game. In the national championship game, he finished with 24 points on 11 shots against two of the best college perimeter defenders in Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
Burke's defense leaves a lot to be desired. He often struggles guarding the pick-and-roll, often being easily screened and left unable to fight through picks. Michigan, as a whole, wasn't great defensively (ranking 117th in the nation) and Burke played a part in that. Bigger guards never really had a problem attacking him, and in the NBA most guards are going to be bigger than him. He has great body control offensively, but didn't finish at the rim at the rate most GMs probably wish he would have, and lacks the explosiveness to make up for his height when attacking post players. There were plenty of times this year I saw him get to the rim and miss the shot, when I thought he should have finished.
Burke is a smart guard who has the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor and create for teammates with a low turnover rate. Isn't that what you want from your starting point guard? His defensive woes are there but Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard aren't good (or even decent) defenders yet either. I imagine that, despite what his critics say, he will find a starting spot in the NBA for years to come.
How does he fit in with the Magic?:
Ironically, Burke reminds me of a young Jameer Nelson -- an undersized, strong, scoring point guard with defensive question marks. Beno Udrih will become an unrestricted free agent and it's unclear whether the Magic will decide to resign him. E'Twaun Moore isn't a point guard and it's unclear, as of now, whether Doron Lamb can learn that role either. Drafting Burke gives him a chance to learn behind Nelson until he's ready to assume the starting role. And what better person to learn behind than a guy who's physically built the same and faced the same concerns coming out of college?
I subscribe to the theory that drafting the best player available is always the right choice, so with that said, I'd select Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 overall selection. But a team with the best odds to win the lottery hasn't actually won the lottery since, ironically, Orlando did in 2004 and selected Dwight Howard. And if Orlando doesn't get as lucky as they did in '04 and is stuck selecting 2-4, then I'd select Burke if he's available. Orlando will, eventually, need a point guard for the future, why not take Burke if you get the chance?