What's up, guys? I'm mixing things up a little bit with this Ty
Tuesday Thursday column by starting some Draft discussions and answering a few Draft questions on Twitter and creating a hybrid Ty Thursday/Mailbag post. We're tackling a bunch of different draft related topics. Remember: You can email your Orlando Magic questions to me or Evan Dunlap at our joint mailbag account, OPPMailbag@gmail.com or you can hit us up on the Orlando Pinstriped Post Facebook page.
Enough small talk. Let's get to it.
Here's a general question a lot of people in the OPP community have asked:
Can you pair Jabari Parker and Tobias Harris?
There's a sense around the community that Parker and Harris are essentially the same player, with Parker being slightly better and having more upside. But that assumption is an oversimplification and mostly ignores where both players excel.
Parker is about as well-rounded on offense as any prospect in the last decade. Where Harris relies mostly on bullying guys in straight-line drives, Parker carries himself with finesse. He has an arsenal of moves in the low post and he has a shift ability to attack from the arc. He's taller than Harris and better at creating from the perimeter with the ball in his hands. Harris has the ability to bring the ball up off a defensive rebound, but Parker looks like he could initiate an offense, if given the chance. Parker's upside is tremendous and he's better on the perimeter, though Duke's current roster demands that he play more in the paint.
The real fear with pairing the two comes on the defensive end. Neither guy is bulky enough to guard the post with the same prowess as a David West and neither is quick enough laterally to guard athletic small forwards. But Parker is athletic enough to learn how to defend small forwards and Harris should be able to eventually become an average defender at either forward position. That isn't much to be excited about: Why should the prospect of two average defenders manning the forward slots excite Orlando fans? Well, it shouldn't, but the hope is that it'd work so well on the offensive end that things work themselves out on the defensive end.
There are two alternate scenarios here if Orlando were to draft Parker: The Magic trade Harris for a full-time small forward or the Magic use Harris in a sixth-man role. Neither of those options is very tempting, either. Harris would provide an excellent scoring punch off the bench, but he's going to be owed a major pay raise soon and he's shown that he could become a good starting power forward. The X-factor here--or what would make all of this work--is Nikola Vucevic. The third-year big man has become very good at containing the pick-and-roll, but he hasn't yet mastered weak-side defense and he isn't yet ready to man the paint all by himself. If he became an elite defender, Orlando could get away with playing Parker and Harris together on a full time basis.
KWilly asks, via the Dante Exum post:
How good defensively is Tyler Ennis?
Well, KWilly, this question is a pretty tough one to evaluate with Ennis because of Syracuse's system: Jim Boeheim-coached teams are notorious for playing an extended 2-3 zone defense. Ennis is practically never asked to get in a defensive stance and guard someone one-on-one from the perimeter to the rim. Sure, he still has to stay active and close out on shooters, but he's rarely ever sized up mano a mano in isolation situations.
In short: it's difficult to evaluate his defensive positioning and it's hard to understand whether or not he can stay in front of guys in isolation situations. That said, he's quicker than you would think on the offensive end and I think that attribute would translate to the defensive end. He's a little faster laterally than you'd think and he's a smart basketball player so he could definitely develop into an average team defender. Will he be a plus defender? Probably not, but that's a little less paramount if he's paired with Victor Oladipo.
@lashy what two players in this draft would make the most sense for Orlando in terms of how they would fit in the roster and style of play?— Big Bing (@imBINGnotGOOGLE) March 8, 2014
I just want to note before answering this question that I'm always in favor of taking the guys at the top of your Draft board. This question, however, isn't asking for a best-player-available (BPA) list, so I'll play along.
I really like the idea of pairing Dante Exum with Oladipo in the backcourt and I think he's all you could ask for in terms of fit with the roster and style of play. There are some very exciting and young pieces here, but none of the current young guys can consistently and efficiently create for others. Orlando needs that playmaker who can expand what the current stable of guys are capable of doing. Both Oladipo and Harris could really use someone who would make scoring come more naturally to them and Exum has the best chance to become the type of guy who can create easy shots for others on a night-to-night basis. Ennis is also interesting, but his upside isn't nearly as high as Exum's.
As far as style of play, Exum can work too. Orlando's current offense uses its back court as a combo-point guard, with Oladipo and Jameer Nelson often interchanging control between different possessions: Sometimes Oladipo initiates things and Nelson floats off to the side and vice versa. This could be Jacque Vaughn's way of easing Oladipo into a playmaking role, or it could be a dual threat, two-combo-guard offense that Orlando thinks is the future of the league. Either way, Exum would be able to slide into that offense immediately. He's better with the ball in his hands, but I like his shooting stroke and think he could also work off the ball for stretches.
I also really like the idea of Andrew Wiggins in Orlando. Some of that is probably because I think he's such a great prospect, but I also think that putting him and Oladipo in the same backcourt would provide a whole lot of crazy fun on defense. Each guy is long and fast and can dig down and rip away balls for steals or jump the passing lanes and fly out in transition. Wiggins is practically unstoppable on the break and that would be so hectic and awesome alongside Oladipo and Harris.
Wiggins also has the size to slide down to the small forward and may eventually play there full-time at the professional level. Going that route keeps Arron Afflalo at his more natural two-guard spot for now and eliminates the need for those dauntingly tiny and aesthetically unpleasing three-guard lineups. If Afflalo really is in Orlando's plan for the future, then he and Wiggins would be an excellent wing-pairing. If not, then Wiggins' sheer ability to play either wing spot keeps Orlando's options flexible going forward and maintains the idea of roster fluidity that it seems to value.
@lashy If not, who can you see getting picked up near the very end of the first round who could make real impact sooner than later?— BaconvilleNH (@BaconvilleNH) March 8, 2014
I'm actually a little higher on the back end of this Draft than most of the other guys who read and hear talk about this stuff. There's a pretty good mix of guys who can immediately play and guys who are nice little projects who still need some fine tuning. On the back end--assuming he isn't drafted in the mid-first orund--I don't think anyone would make an impact quicker than Adreian Payne.
The 6-foot-9 Michigan State forward has a 7-foot wingspan has improved so drastically from his junior to senior seasons that he should be able to step in right away and give any NBA team good minutes. He shoots three triples a game at a 42 percent clip and he averages over 10 rebounds per 40 minutes. His only knock is that he's 23 years old; if he were 19 and this good, he'd be a top-five pick. If he goes to a team with playmakers, he'll have a nice little NBA career and should be able to impact games right away.