After their acquisition of C.J. Wilcox last week for Devyn Marble, the Orlando Magic’s offseason moves are seemingly coming to an end. With 13 players on the roster, the Magic will only need to make a few minor moves to continue to round out their roster for the 2016/17 season.
After it came out that the Magic were planning to waive Marble before his contract became fully guaranteed last Friday, they were able to quickly find a trade partner to take on the third-year swing man, and give them something in return. That something, the aforementioned Wilcox, is somewhat of an unknown to many.
After having a successful four-year career at Washington, Wilcox has played sparingly for the Los Angeles Clippers over his first two years in the league. Wilcox, who the Clippers were planning to waive, gets a fresh start in Orlando, and brings forth tools and assets the team desperately needs.
Still looking for more shooting, and with Jodie Meeks’ recent foot surgery, adding Wilcox for cheap made sense for the Magic. They were able to turn a player they had no interest in keeping into an asset who could help them.
Q: C.J. played sparingly in his two years with the Clippers, was that mainly due to the depth ahead of him, or a lack of talent? A mix of both?
A: It's hard to say for certain that it was due to lack of talent, because the depth ahead of him was so extreme that he never got a chance for us to see him--only people on the inside of the organization have an accurate read from seeing him all the time in practice and workouts. That said, you'd probably get mixed reviews: he was just promising enough in his brief playing time to make me wish I could see him in a larger role, and frankly sub-par enough in competitions like Summer League to make me terrified of the prospect of relying on him for real minutes. The most NBA opportunity he got was in three of the final five games of the regular season when the Clippers rested their stars--I'll let you be the judge of this minuscule sample size:
@ Lakers, 25 minutes, 2-9 FG, 2-5 3PT, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 rebound
@ Utah, 18 minutes, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2 points, 3 rebounds
@ Phoenix, 29 minutes, 8-13 FG, 3-6 3PT, 19 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Q: Wilcox had a good career at Washington, and can clearly score the ball. Is he a good addition for a team that needs shooting anywhere they can find it?
A: Wilcox isn't a dynamic scorer at the NBA level--I have seen nothing to show me that he does much consistently but shoot threes. He shot well in college, he's been decent in a small NBA sample size, and he has good percentages in the D-League. Hitting a good rate of threes in a decent sample size and staying on the floor for consistent minutes over the course of a season (or even a few weeks while someone is hurt) would be a big step in his NBA career before we can talk about anything more.
Q: After staying four years at Washington, do you think Wilcox has plateaued development wise like a lot of four-year guys are, or does he still have some upside?
A: I reject the notion that older prospects don't have "upside". We've seen plenty of guys get better in their mid-to-late 20's, although I think it largely depends on the guy. J.J. Redick took a long time to come around--I don't see Wilcox turning into J.J., but I'm not sure anyone ever thought J.J. would turn into the player we know now.
I will say this--I don't think Wilcox's ceiling is a 12th man. I think he has a chance to be a solid fourth or fifth guard in this league. He's obviously hurt by being a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who doesn't have playmaking skills to cover for point guards or size to cover for small forwards. Maybe a favorable comparison of what he could turn into is late-career Willie Green. It's not sexy, but Green was a solid SG who played his role, made shots at a good (but not great) rate, and defended passably without ever being a stopper.
Coincidentally, Willie Green and J.J. Redick join Wilcox as Magic/Clipper shooting guards. Maybe they should form a club.
Q: Do you think Wilcox has the chance of turning into a rotational player, or is he likely to continue to be an end of the bench guy for his entire career?
A: I think Wilcox has a chance to be a rotation player, and I think his situation is evidenced by the reasoning of both teams in this trade. The Magic see a guy who has upside (even though it isn't "he could be a perennial All-Star" upside), and the Clippers saw a guy who wasn't going to help them in his third-year, and decided to clear a roster spot for a win-now piece.
Both teams are probably right. Wilcox wasn't going to be able to make his mark on the 2017 Clippers, especially after they returned both Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, and then signed Raymond Felton as their fifth guard. He became expendable and it made sense for them to move him to create a roster spot and a TPE (and pick up a future second round pick). But that doesn't mean Wilcox can't help the 2017 Magic, especially given Jodie Meeks' recent injury setback. He should at least get more opportunities in Orlando than in Los Angeles, and I'd say that he's more likely to make a contribution than a future second round pick.
Essentially, it's easy to buy in on the trade as a win-win-win for the Clippers, Magic, and Wilcox. Of course, it's always interesting with deals like this--between Wilcox, Marble, and the 2020 second, it's entirely possible that after a D-League resurgence Devyn has the best career of the three. It's a minor trade but I'll be sure to keep my eye on the fallout for the next decade.