The Orlando Magic did something Tuesday night that the franchise hadn’t succeeded in accomplishing since 1993.
Well, they didn’t technically do anything. But for the first time in a long-time, the ping pong balls bounced Orlando’s way.
The NBA Draft Lottery was held in Chicago Tuesday night - prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals - and the Magic came away with the top overall selection. Orlando had either held or dropped from their pre-lottery positions in their last fourteen opportunities (1998-2021). The last time the Magic improved post-Lottery is when they jumped ten spots in ‘93.
The Magic will be picking first overall for the fourth-time in franchise history, and the first time since 2004 (Dwight Howard).
“Just excitement, just happiness,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman told reporters when asked to describe his initial reaction to Tuesday’s lottery results. “We’re going to enjoy it tonight, we’re going to have a big exhale. Honestly, we haven’t caught a whole lot of breaks over the last couple of years. And the way this system is set-up, you need breaks to be able to build. Tonight we caught one, and we are just going to enjoy it. Our whole basketball operations staff is out here in Chicago grinding, and the work begins immediately.”
Weltman acknowledged to reporters after the lottery was complete Tuesday that controlling the top of the draft will come with sets of circumstances his group has not been accustomed to in previous draft processes, such as more access to players’ medical information, more prospects willing to visit/workout with the team, and potentially even phone calls from other organizations.
But one thing is for sure. The lottery is over with, the Orlando Magic are officially ‘on the clock’, and it’s time for the scouting department to get to work.
Three big men have presumably separated themselves in a tier of their own at this point of the pre-draft process. And while things can certainly change over the next month, it has long been assumed that the top three selections in this year’s NBA Draft will result in some combination of (alphabetically listed) Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr.
Here at Orlando Pinstriped Post, we will be putting together detailed scouting reports of all three prospects over the next month which will include measurements, film observations, resumes, ‘talking points’, and potential fit(s) with the Magic.
Paolo Banchero, 6-10/250
Banchero is an elite-level prospect who many NBA fans are probably already familiar with, likely due to the fact that the big man played at Duke (lots of national television exposure) and led his team further in the NCAA Tournament than his counterparts did. The Seattle-native possesses an NBA-ready body, and projects as the most league-ready of the three top-tier potential picks. Banchero is a high-volume offensive force who could potentially help the Magic in a multitude of ways: on the offensive glass, in the paint (advanced post-moves, utilizes spin-move well), and facilitating offense from the elbows (advanced vision for a big).
Orlando Pinstriped Post Banchero Scouting Report: Monday, May 23rd
Chet Holmgren, 7-0/195
Holmgren may not have a lot of meat on his bones, but he has plenty of meat to his game. The seven-footer was the premiere defensive player in the nation at Gonzaga last season, averaging 3.7 blocks per contest. The Minneapolis-native is no slouch on the offensive end either (61% from the field, 39% from beyond the arc this past season), capable of finishing in the painted area, knocking-down shots from the perimeter, and even initiating fast-break opportunities off his own defensive rebounds. And it just so happens, Holmgren was also high school teammates with Orlando’s fifth overall selection from last year’s draft, guard Jalen Suggs.
Orlando Pinstriped Post Holmgren Scouting Report: Tuesday, May 31st
Jabari Smith Jr., 6-10/220
Smith Jr. is an absolute sniper. The son of a former NBA player, Smith Jr. has legitimate two-way potential. On the offensive end, the Georgia-native possesses unlimited range to go along with a seemingly unblockable jump-shot. The big man shot 42% from beyond the arc over his freshmen season at Auburn (5.5 3PTA’s per game). On the defensive end, Smith Jr. is an intelligent and versatile defender who showed promise on the boards, despite playing alongside another NBA-level big man (in Walker Kessler).
Orlando Pinstriped Post Smith Jr. Scouting Report: Wednesday, June 8th
Additional scouting reports will likely be compiled in case of an unlikely Orlando trade-down scenario (you never know). The Magic also hold two valuable second round picks (their own, and Indiana’s second round pick), so a second round ‘deep-dive’ piece will also be put together as we move closer to June 23rd (NBA Draft).
“More than anything, (I’m) excited for the fan base,” Weltman added Tuesday following the lottery. “When we went through the rebuild last year (dating back to the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline), we took on all that comes with that. All the youth, all the mistakes, all the excitement, all the enthusiasm.”
“Part of that process is going into the lottery and hoping that you come out in a good place,” Weltman continued. “So we’re excited about tonight, and I’m really excited that the fans have something to fire (them) up. They’ve been so supportive of our team, and we’ve received so much positive feedback about the way (our fans) feel about our young team. Knowing that we got this pick, I hope they’re having a good night tonight.”