I’m a firm believer that late in the Draft, whether it be the late first or early second round, team’s should draft for need. Swing for the fences in the lottery; go for the “best player available” if that’s what the organization needs to do.
However, outside of the Top-20 picks or so, completely different story. Positional need, skill-set need, and situation are determining factors that should be weighed before selecting a young prospect.
As we all know, the Magic were awarded the sixth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft last Tuesday night. Regardless of what the Magic decide to do with that pick, one fact remains.
Heading into next season, the Magic have one point guard on their roster with a guaranteed contract. Of course, Orlando’s new management team decided to trade former Magic starting point guard Elfrid Payton at the NBA Trade Deadline last February. That created an opportunity for Shelvin Mack to earn some regular minutes for the Magic to close the year out, but his contract next season is only partially guaranteed.
The Magic own the 35th and 41st picks in this draft, they need to use one of those picks to add some point guard depth to the roster.
And I think the lead-guard depth in this class is most plentiful in the 25-45 range, so the Magic are in a great situation to have a look at guys like Jalen Brunson, Jevon Carter, Elie Okobo, Devonte Graham, and others.
I believe the Magic should take an opportunity in this spot to target their guy who can become the team’s back-up point guard. If he’s not going to be there at #35, they can try packaging their two picks in an effort to move up (into the 25-30 range for example). The Magic also have Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, two players with expiring contracts, to work with.
I’m going to provide pieces that take a deeper look at the kind of lead guards the Magic should be targeting in an effort to rebuild their point guard depth.
First in this series, a prolific and efficient West Coast guard out of UCLA has caught my attention.
Aaron Holiday, Point Guard (21 years old)
6-1, 185 (6-7 wingspan)
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There are quite a few things I love about Aaron Holiday. Oh, and none of those things have to do with his first name, I promise.
First of all, it’s hard to ignore Holiday’s lineage. Having two older brothers already in the NBA (Jrue Holiday and Justin Holiday) is pretty impressive. It’s impossible to not have a great deal of basketball intelligence growing up in that kind of family of hoopers. Holiday’s vision on the court, his advanced ability to run the pick-and-roll, and his slippery ability to finish at the rim has assuredly developed from games in the driveway against his older siblings.
I also respect the consummate teammate Holiday has shown he can be during his time at UCLA. Holiday started all 32 games for the Bruins his freshmen season (32 MPG). But his sophomore season, Holiday took a backseat to eventual lottery pick Lonzo Ball. He came off the bench in ‘16-’17 and saw his minutes drop to 26.4 per game. This past season, with Ball leading Los Angeles’ other team, Holiday shifted into yet another role; a high-usage ball dominant lead guard.
Holiday delivered in his expanded role in ‘17-’18 for the Bruins. The junior point guard scored 25 or more points seven times this past season, including four games in which he scored over 30 points. He shot just under 43% on his three-point attempts (5.9 attempts per/36). In fact, Holiday shot over 40% from downtown in each of his three seasons at UCLA (career 42% 3PT%). His ability to shoot the basketball when open on the perimeter, off the dribble, and coming off screens is a skill that will play at that next level. This is a young man that posted a True Shooting Percentage over 60% the last two consecutive seasons.
O’Connor uses words such as “dynamic” (shooter), “slippery” (getting to the rim and finishing), “intelligent” (navigating the pick-and-roll), and “unselfish” (his vision) to describe Holiday in his draft guide.
O’Connor is higher on Holiday than most. Many draft gurus are projecting that Holiday will be selected in the mid-second round. The obvious concern with Holiday is his defensive ability. He appears on film to be plenty long enough to provide resistance when defending opposing guards.
But unlike his brothers, Aaron doesn’t possess a ton of quick-twitch speed and athleticism. He was never a defensive factor for the Bruins over his three seasons at UCLA, but his lack of defensive resistance this past season is especially concerning (-0.2 DBPM).
When considering drafting Holiday, a team must realize they are likely getting a one-way player. Perhaps doubling as a human turnstile on defense is something that will limit Holiday’s NBA ceiling.
Still, I think he can be a dynamic back-up point guard in the NBA for a long time. He will help stretch the floor right away for a second unit. Holiday is more than capable of coming in, running the offense, effectively operating the pick-and-roll, and occasionally getting in the lane. I would like to see Holiday take care of the basketball just a little more (3.6 TO’s per/36 is not great for a player of his experience); keeping the ball moving while mitigating turnovers is one of the primary responsibilities of a back-up point guard.
Holiday’s defense is not up to par at an NBA level at the moment, there’s no denying that. But he can be hidden on a second unit. The Magic currently have just two point guards on their roster (only one with a guaranteed contract). They also have two picks in the second round within the range of where Holiday could reasonably be selected. In the second round, teams should draft for depth and need.
Aaron Holiday’s best film: March 3rd at USC
Holiday’s line: 34 points (11-16 FGA’s, 6-9 3PTA’s, 6-8 FTA’s), 7 assists, 5 rebounds
Shooting, scoring, experience running an offense at a high-level. Yes, the Magic can use some of that (all of that actually). I expect Holiday will be brought in by Orlando management for a pre-draft workout at some point between now and late June.
And if everything works out, Holiday could potentially be stretching the floor for the Magic next season.