ORLANDO – All eyes are now officially on the Orlando Magic.
With the 2022 NBA Finals over and the Golden State Warriors crowned champions, the basketball world has shifted its focus entirely to the draft.
Having won the lottery and received the first overall pick, the Magic are in the forefront of what will happen on Thursday night when the selection process begins.
While the team diligently pursued their research through countless practice sessions, numerous interviews, digesting hours upon hours of films, and talking to a wide range of people who were close to those prospects, Orlando will use every second leading up to a project to make the final decision about what to do with the first general choice.
“We’re going to continue our evaluation and discussion,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Veltman said Monday morning. “New information is coming in, believe it or not, still, now, all the time. So, we will continue the process and get to the point where we need to make a decision on Thursday night.”
There are a number of players in this draft class who are clearly worthy of the first overall selection. Duke’s Paolo Bankero offers a unique combination of size, skill and performance for a player who is at least 6ft 10in and weighs around 250lbs. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren lives up to the unicorn’s requirements as a 7-footer who has the potential to be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate with a wide range of offensive abilities. Purdue’s Jaden Ivey no doubt deserves a mention as an electrifying defender whose speed and athleticism will likely make him a transition nightmare for years to come. And Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. combines size, shooting and defensive versatility, skills that are in high demand in today’s NBA.
“I am very confident that we will get a player with size, talent, IQ, skills, character, whatever we want,” Veltman said.
Regardless of who Magic chooses, the player will join a core that is certainly not without talent. The group currently has several lottery members including Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac, as well as other up-and-coming young members such as Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton and Chuma Okeke .
“We are going to add (selection) to an already exciting group of young players, and we will give him the opportunity to reach his full potential,” Veltman explained. “Besides, he goes where he goes.”
The above young core is already hard at work. Many of them have spent much of their offseason in Orlando working hard to hone their skills. The dedication and dedication has been noticeable, and the number of players who choose to do so at the Magic Training Center is impressive.
The future development of this group will no doubt be in the mind of Veltman and his team as they decide what to do with the 32nd and 35th picks overall on draft night. While adding two players at the top of the second round will certainly be intriguing, they need to balance the potential of these additions with what is also best for their current young core.
“How many newbies do we need this year?” Veltman asked about the prospect of adding three rookies to an already young locker room. “We already have a young team. How can we keep the path for the development of our young players? With that comes a whole bunch of research on what to do with these two picks. You can almost forever continue with “if/then” and play it out.
Leading up to the draft, the media and fans will have no shortage of if/then about what the Magic should do with the first overall pick, as well as picks 32 and 35. But that’s what’s so exciting about owning one of the most valuable possessions. in all sports.