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The Great Debate, Part II: Orlando Magic NBA Draft roundtable

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On the eve of the NBA Draft, the OPP crew discuss what the Magic should do and what makes the night a success or failure

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Alabama
Trae Young and Collin Sexton
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Members of OPP have been debating various aspects of the Magic’s offseason in a rapid-fire Q&A session to show the wide range of opinions on the moves being made by the front office. Last week, Mike and Zach discussed the hiring of Steve Clifford. This week, the crew debate what the Magic should do on Draft night, and next week we will dive into free agency.

Be sure to join the conversation below....

Who are you realistically hoping to see fall to the Magic?

Long Beach State v Michigan State
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Zach Oliver: I think having the choice of some combination of Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter and Trae Young would be the best case scenario for the Magic. Of course, if the Kings go full on Kangz and draft Michael Porter Jr second overall, then it’s entirely possible someone like a Jaren Jackson Jr could be available for the Magic, which would be a major win. If I’m picking there, and Bamba, Carter and Young are all on the board, I’m taking Bamba. His combination of size, and athleticism is tantalizing, and he’s going to be a major force on the defensive end for a long time, which the Magic desperately need in the middle.

Aaron Goldstone: Jaren Jackson Jr. falling into Orlando’s lap would be a really nice position to be in. I have Jackson Jr. as a top-3 player in this draft class. And if teams ahead of Orlando reach for Michael Porter Jr. and/or Trae Young, then it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. I think Jackson has the best defensive instincts out of all the top big-men in the lottery. He’s also a full year younger than the other freshmen in his class (I believe he’s the youngest draft eligible player in the class). Jackson fits the mold of the modern NBA center; a two-way player with defensive presence, mobility, and the ability to stretch defenses. It would also be very positive if Young is still on the board when the Magic pick. For the Magic, Young seems to be a prospect at #6 who would fit both a team need AND could easily be considered the best player available at that point in the draft. Orlando desperately needs more shooting, scoring, and play-making on their roster. Young checks all those boxes and then some.

Mike Cali: I want the Magic to draft a guy who is going to immediately make them relevant again. A guy who will generate a sense of excitement within a tortured fan base. A guy who will give fans a reason to watch a team that had the second lowest local television ratings in the league. And I know what many will say to this: relevancy, excitement and watchability don’t equal wins. And that would be true. But what does equate to wins is a guy who can put up 20+ points and 10+ assists on any given night, shoot from Curry territory with a Curry-like quick release and get to the free throw line, all while bringing relevancy, excitement and watchability. And that guy is Trae Young. He’d be my pick over Bamba and Jackson Jr. if they are still on the board.

What is your mock draft for the first six picks?

NBA: Deandre Ayton Press Conference
Deandre Ayton
The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

Zach Oliver:

1. Deandre Ayton -- This pick seems pretty safe. I think he’s the consensus top pick now.

2. Luca Doncic -- I think Doncic is the best player in the draft, and a sure fire bet to be a superstar. Of course, the Kings might Kangz here...

3. Trae Young -- I don’t think Young is the third best player in the draft, but I think the Hawks want a point guard to really start their rebuild. It lets them move on from Dennis Schroder as well.

4. Marvin Bagley III -- I think Bagley could be the third best player in the draft, and would be a steal to put next to Marc Gasol here.

5. Jaren Jackson Jr -- This would be a nice get for the Mavs to move on from Dirk Nowitzki which is coming very soon.

6. Mo Bamba -- The Magic get their man in the middle, and form a terrifying defensive trio of Bamba-Aaron Gordon-Jonathan Isaac.

Aaron Goldstone: This is tough. I’m 99.9% confident Phoenix goes with Ayton at #1, no suspense there. I’m just having trouble reading what Sacramento is going to do at #2 (possibly because they’re Sacramento). I just can’t fathom they would pass on a talent like Luka Doncic, even though there’s legitimate buzz for guys like Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. in that spot. I’ll go with Doncic at #2. I’m going on a limb here at #3; I’ll buy into the Trae Young to Atlanta chatter and mock him to the Hawks. At #4, I’ll send Marvin Bagley III to Memphis. I’m not as high on Bagley III as most, but he would bring athleticism and bounce to an aging Memphis team (and buckets). A Bagley III/Gasol fit somewhat works. At #5, the Mavericks get their man in Mohamed Bamba. I’ve couple Bamba with Dallas throughout the entire draft process, I think it’s a perfect fit for both player and organization. And that would leave for the Magic their choice of Michael Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., Kevin Knox, Collin Sexton, and Jaren Jackson Jr.. I think Porter Jr. represents just too significant of a risk for Orlando’s new management team of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond to consider. They HAVE to get a guy in this draft that will contribute, that will not bust. Porter Jr. may have a high perceived ceiling (I would very much argue against that notion), but his back issues are a legitimate concern long-term. If the draft were to play out like I mocked above, I think the Magic would confidently select Jaren Jackson Jr (they would run to turn in that pick in fact). He would be a huge get at the sixth position and represent tremendous value.

Mike Cali:

Suns - Deandre Ayton (Why would Phoenix pass on a local collegiate product who is arguably the best player in the Draft and fills a need? Though the link between Luka Doncic and new Suns coach Igor Kokoskov makes me wonder)

Kings - Luka Doncic (For the same reasons the Magic need Young, the Kings need Luka. And Vlade Divac has been keeping a close eye on Doncic for quite some time)

Hawks - Marvin Bagley III (I’m not buying into the Hawks’ Trae Young smokescreens. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe it. But Young at three is a reach)

Grizzlies - Jaren Jackson Jr. (Surprised to see Jackson Jr., a prototypical big in today’s league, dropping in some mocks)

Mavericks - Mo Bamba (That wingspan.....

Magic: Trae Young (Michael Porter Jr. is tempting but I’ll gamble on the undersized, defensive liability over a potential redshirt rookie)

Which player slated to be drafted around the sixth pick do you want the Magic to avoid?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Alabama vs Villanova
Collin Sexton
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I think there’s a couple of guys that I avoid here. I’m not the highest on Trae Young mainly because of his short comings on the defensive end. Michael Porter is someone I don’t touch. Yes, he could end up being a major hit, but the back injury worries me a lot. I know medicals could be fine, but back surgery at that age is concerning. The third is Collin Sexton. I think Sexton could be a nice point guard, but I think he has moments where he’s too relaxed on defense, and the Magic have already been burned by that the past few years by Elfrid Payton.

Aaron Goldstone: For whatever reason, I’ve had a really uneasy feeling about the Magic and Collin Sexton since November. I don’t want to be too negative about Sexton; to be fair, Sexton would be a fair pick (although I still wouldn’t be thrilled, I like Gilgeous-Alexander and Okobo a bit more) if the Magic traded back into the 12-15 range. But at #6, Sexton would be a huge reach. I haven’t really sweated this sixth pick, because I’ve always felt the Magic are going to get a good player whoever it is (and can’t really screw it up per se). Picking Sexton sixth would be not ideal. By the way, I think Sexton’s reputation as a defensive player is massively exaggerated. He had a Defensive Box Plus/Minus metric of 0.0 last season, same as Trae Young. Sexton snagged 1.1 steals per/40, nothing special. And he measured at the combine a bit smaller than I had anticipated he would (6-1.5, 185 lbs.), although the 6-7 wingspan is nice.

Mike Cali: The Magic just rid themselves of Elfrid Payton. I do not want to see them draft a point guard that even slightly resembles him. So if Adam Silver says the words Orlando Magic and Collin Sexton within three seconds of each other, I will not be happy. I understand he is a better scorer than Payton, but his shooting mechanics and defensive shortcomings concern me (Young I think will be productive enough on the offensive end that it will compensate for what will be poor defense). And even Sexton’s hair is a little to Elfrid-ish.

Do you draft best player available or build around Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: I think you still have to draft best player available here. After sixth or seventh I think you can start to look more towards drafting a player that might fit with what you have already, but a team that’s so barren of young talent, the Magic have to take the best player available. Add in the talent at the top of this draft, I think it’s pretty easy to take the best player and run; you figure out how pieces fit together down the road.

Aaron Goldstone: The Magic have lost 335 games in the six seasons since Dwight Howard last played for them. The organization has no business doing anything other than drafting “BPA.” Now, if a guy like Trae Young (in the opinion of Weltman and Hammond) is on a similar tier or spot on their board as another guy who plays forward, then picking the guard makes sense. The team certainly needs a guard or two who can make things easier for everyone else on the team. Then again, the organization needs everything.

Mike Cali: Best player available. Drafting based on need is not a luxury the Magic have when they’d be basing it around 29 games of Isaac and the hope that Gordon will take a leap. When Jeff Weltman and John Hammond make their selection, they should do so as if the pick will be the first piece of the puzzle for the Magic’s roster. Worry about making the pieces fit together when the time comes.

Do you think the Magic should trade up? Trade back?

Basketball: Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic
Sipa USA-USA TODAY NETWORK

Zach Oliver: If Luka Doncic slips some, I’m on the phone with Memphis at four trying to get him. Take back Chandler Parsons’ horrendous contract, and figure it out later. Getting a player of Doncic’s caliber at four would be the jump start that this franchise desperately needs. I think that’s the only instance that I would trade up. As for trading down, I think I avoid that. I think six is the spot where you have to stay if you want to get that real potentially franchise changing player. There’s not much that makes sense for the Magic to trade down for, unless someone absolutely blows them away with an offer.

Aaron Goldstone: That’s a difficult question to answer at this point. I think they need to be prepared to move up or down if need be. The Magic just have to wait and see how things play out. Like I mentioned above, if a prospect like a Luka Doncic or Jaren Jackson Jr. begins to fall, it’s probably worth it to look into what it takes to move up one or two spots. I’m not crazy about trading down, but if Orlando’s leadership team is married to the idea of a Kevin Knox or Collin Sexton, then I would be more willing to accept that decision if it came in the late lottery (with other assets attached) than at #6.

Mike Cali: The only player I’m trading up for is Luka Doncic. As Zach said, the most realistic way for the Magic to move up would be to take on Parsons’ contract, which I wouldn’t totally be against considering the Magic have no salary cap flexibility as is and don’t really need it for the next year or two of their rebuild. If the Magic had the first pick in the Draft this year, I’d be sweating it out on hoping they’d take Doncic, so I’d gladly move up to four to get him if available. But I do not envision Doncic being on the board at four, and the Magic don’t really have a feasible trade partner in the top three....Under no circumstances should the Magic trade back.

What makes Draft night successful for the Magic? What makes it a bad night?

NBA: Orlando Magic-Press Conference
Steve Clifford and Jeff Weltman
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Oliver: This is a fun question. I think there’s a lot of things that could make it a successful night. If they were somehow able to get off of Bismack Biyombo’s contract, that would be a massive win. I don’t think that would be likely to happen without taking back an equally as bad contract (see: Parsons, Chandler), or giving up another asset to move him. Obviously getting a cornerstone would make it a successful night, but I think that getting a second first round pick would also. There’s a lot of talent in the mid-to-late first round, especially on the wing, which would help the Magic who desperately need more depth there. A bad night... I think seeing the team reaching for someone would make it a bad night. Taking someone like Collin Sexton could make it a bad night as well, because, even though he can light it up, I think he’s going to fall short defensively some. It could come around, but it would be rough early on. Also taking on more long-term salary (read: past the the 2019/20 season) would be a big hit. I don’t think they’ll be major players in free agency before then, but after that season, they could try to make their big splash.

Aaron Goldstone: What hasn’t been mentioned yet is the fact that Orlando also owns the 35th and 41st picks. For me, a successful night will entail the Magic picking their best player available at six, as well as a guy later in the draft that can help contribute right away. If that means the team trades both picks (35, 41) to move back into the late first to get a guy they like, so be it.

Mike Cali: A successful night for the Magic and their fans would consist of shutting off the television after the Draft feeling satisfied. Knowing that a building block has just been put in place, a need has been filled, a baby step has been made by a team that for years has taken one step forward and eight steps back. A successful night for Orlando ends with either Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, Young, Bamba or Jackson in a Magic hat. A bad night? It has been said that this draft is top heavy enough that it would be hard to make a mistake in the top-10. Well, with the decisions the organization has made, the Magic would have to be the odds on favorite to be the team that finds a way to make that mistake. If they reach on a player, if they trade back, if they bring in Elfrid Payton 2.0, if they gamble on a 19-year-old with back and hip issues....yeah, any of those will make for a bad night.