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2021 SB Nation NBA Blogger Mock Draft: Magic nab Kuminga, Moody with pair of top ten picks

G League Ignite v Iowa Wolves Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

I was asked earlier this month to make Orlando’s two lottery picks in SB Nation’s annual Bloggers Mock Draft. Given the current anticipation and overall excitement surrounding the Magic and what they will ultimately do on draft night (July 29th), naturally I was happy to participate in the fun.

When the actual mock draft commenced last week, I was in fact at Universal Studios with my family. Not to fret, the lines at the theme park were plenty long enough to allow for me to multi-task: husband, father, mock draft nerd. I had it all covered.

Before I get into my selections for Orlando, I thought I would provide a little bit of context. Trades were not allowed as part of this exercise; so basically, don’t rip me for not trying to move Orlando up into a more favorable position in the lottery.

My initial thought process, knowing I was going to be making my first of two picks at number five, was simply to just wait and see if any of the perceived ‘top four’ prospects fell into my lap. That would have made my first decision that much easier to make.

Well, they did not. Here is the way the draft played out prior to the Magic being ‘on the clock’:

1) Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham
2) Houston Rockets - Jalen Green
3) Cleveland Cavaliers - Evan Mobley
4) Toronto Raptors - Jalen Suggs

5th overall pick in the SB Nation NBA Blogger Mock Draft:
Jonathan Kuminga, forward (G-League Ignite)

Like I previously mentioned, my Plan A was to mindlessly snag one of the top guys if they were to fall. In reality, I didn’t think this was a very likely outcome, but it certainly wouldn't have been unheard of nor impossible for Toronto to have gone with a Kuminga or Scottie Barnes (which would have left Orlando with Jalen Suggs).

To be transparent, I gave Barnes a long look here at number five. And I think the Magic will have Barnes near the top of their board as well. Barnes possesses so many attributes/traits that Orlando’s front office has valued in the recent past. He’s 6-8 with a plus-six (7-2.5) wingspan, he can defend a number of positions, he’s versatile and unselfish. Yet most importantly, I think Barnes could potentially be Jeff Weltman (President of Basketball Operations) and Jeff Hammond’s (General Manager) guy at five because he’s a young man of extremely high-character, something the Magic franchise values more than any skill or physical attribute.

But for me - and for whatever reason - I just couldn’t pull the trigger on Barnes for the Magic. His lack of any semblance of a consistent jump shot really scares me, and I’m just not sold that Orlando is a great fit for him. The Draymond Green archetype (switchable defender, above-average vision, energy) is a player that can be really valuable in this league, there’s no question about that. Still, the Magic already have Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke on their roster. The things Barnes does really well are skills/traits that Okeke and Isaac already provide to a certain extent (of course, both Isaac and Okeke have suffered significant knee injuries in the recent past), so there could be some redundancy there.

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel great about taking Jonathan Kuminga. And yes, as a forward, it might appear taking him could create another situation of position redundancy. But I think Kuminga (or at least the best version of what Kuminga could be) could potentially provide the Magic with an element they don’t have in their frontcourt moving forward: someone that can create isolation offense.

Like Barnes, Kuminga suffered from some miserable shooting inefficiencies last season. However, Kuminga’s numbers occurred over a much smaller sample-size, and against players much further along in their careers than the opponents Barnes squared off against at Florida State. It’s also important to remember that Kuminga re-classified relatively late in the process last year, effectively skipping his senior year of high school in favor of the NBA G-League.

He’s a big-time project, one that Magic would be taking considerable risk in drafting. Kuminga has gotten away with being the biggest, strongest, and most athletic player on the floor since he started playing basketball. He’s got a long way to go as far as gaining overall basketball/floor awareness. I think he can be a bit of a ball-stopper at times, and at other times he tries to force passes/action that is simply not there. I would have also liked to see him use his plus-physical attributes (6-8/220) to attack the basket more often than he did inside the G-League bubble. Too often he settled for contested jumpers off the dribble, or wild three-point attempts without properly getting his lower half squared.

But he was a kid playing against men. There was (or should have been) a learning curve with Kuminga last season - and he was playing through a knee injury as well.

Kuminga is as raw as they come, but there’s still a lot to like here. He’s a mammoth wing who could grow into a legitimate two-way player. Kuminga possesses shot-creation ability off the dribble, he can find cutters and potentially initiate pick-and-roll offense, and he’s got the athleticism/length to be a plus-defender in the NBA (if he can find a way to play with more consistency).

We shall see...

Alabama v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

8th overall pick in the SB Nation NBA Blogger Mock Draft:
Moses Moody, wing (Arkansas)

So, I wasn’t completely feeling my pick at five, but I think I hit this one out of the park.

Moody is exactly the type of prospect Orlando should be looking to pair alongside their stable of combo-guards and bigs. I love his range shooting upside and defensive potential moving forward. I wrote at length about the 19 year-old SEC Freshmen of the Year earlier this summer.

For context, Barnes (Oklahoma City - sixth overall) and Davion Mitchell (Golden State - seventh overall) were picked prior to my second selection, and I considered a couple of other prospects (other than Moody) at this spot as well.

James Bouknight was in play here, but I favor Moody’s superior length, strength, individual/team defensive aptitude, and perimeter shooting efficiency over the sophomore guard from Connecticut's volume scoring ability (and more advanced handle). I also considered emerging Australian lead guard Josh Giddey with the eighth pick. He’s the best passer in this draft class. And even though his lack of athleticism, strength, and perimeter shooting consistency worries me, I think his vision alone could be enough to positively impact many of the other young players on the Magic roster.

Here are my scouting reports for Bouknight and Giddey from last week.

I stuck with Moody, and I’m sure some draft pundits would consider picking him at eight a slight reach. He may not possess the overall ceiling that some others at this point of the draft potentially have, but I think his floor is rather high (he’s a safe, 3 & D projectable rotation piece).

Here is what SB Nation NBA Draft expert Ricky O’Donnell wrote about both Kuminga and Moody in his most recent mock draft (from June 22nd):

On Kuminga:
“Kuminga was the No. 1 player in the high school junior class before deciding to reclassify and join Green in the G League rather than attend college. He arrived as a mystery box wing who had impressive physical tools but limited data on how he actually used them. After 13 games with the Ignite, it feels like Kuminga created more questions than answers.

Kuminga’s shooting touch looked brutal in the G League, as he hit under 40 percent from the field, under 25 percent from three, and under 65 percent from the foul line. He often appeared overwhelmed when he needed to make quick decisions with the ball that were more complicated than putting his head down for straight line drives. He didn’t showcase outlier lateral quickness to guard the perimeter, either. While Kuminga is undoubtedly rough around the edges, his combination of size, straight line speed, and strength gives him upside as a downhill attacker who can get to the foul line and mix in a poster dunk every few games.”

On Moody:
“Moody brings length, perimeter defense, and projectable shooting to any team looking for a complementary wing. While the 6’6 freshman isn’t the most explosive natural athlete, he’s able to leverage his 7’1 wingspan to bother opposing scorers on one end while also shooting over the top of smaller defenders on the other. Moody’s defense should play anywhere as he continues to fill out his frame, but his offense is more of a wildcard. Moody likely isn’t going to be a high usage wing who creates for himself and others, but he can space the floor with a 36 percent mark from three-point range. For a limited athlete, Moody is also good at attacking closeouts with pump fakes and jab steps to set up his mid-range game.

If you think Moody is a safe bet to shoot it from deep, he warrants consideration as early as the fifth overall pick as the type of player who can have a positive impact on any game without needing to hold the ball for long stretches.”

So Magic fans, how did we do? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.