Ever since the Orlando Magic traded disgruntled all-star Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, they have been in search of a new face to build their franchise around.
Having gone 20-62 and finishing dead last in the NBA, Orlando now finds itself in a position to potentially win the draft lottery for the fourth time since their inception and draft a new core piece for their future. The best-case scenario is that the lottery holds to form and they win the #1 overall selection. At absolute worst, Orlando will slip three spots and draft 4th overall.
The exact lottery order will not be known until May 21st. However, here are some names Magic fans should keep an eye on as the 2013 NBA Draft approaches.
If Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart entered the NBA Draft this year, then there would not be much to speculate because Smart would have without a doubt been Orlando’s pick. Smart fits everything the Magic want and and everything the Magic need as an organization. However, Smart recently shocked the basketball world and decided to remain in school for another year.
Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Ben McLemore of Kansas are by far and away the two most highly touted prospects available in the 2013 Draft. Although this Draft seemingly lacks that blue chip, perennial all-star prospect at the top, the talent available in the lottery will help the teams that need it the most.
Standing 6’11 and projected as a center in the NBA, Noel has been widely regarded as the consensus #1 pick since the college basketball season started. However, Noel suffered a torn ACL midway through the season and some draft analysts question his offensive potential as an NBA player. Despite injury concerns and lack of an offensive game, Noel’s defensive prowess is why he is a highly coveted prospect. During his brief tenure at Kentucky, Noel demonstrated flashes of brilliance and dominance on defense and many believe that aspect of his game will translate well at the next level.
Shooting guard Ben McLemore out of Kansas has a very high ceiling in regards to his athleticism and is an extremely gifted shooter. With that being said, at times McLemore has looked a bit lost out on the court and this has caused some to question his basketball IQ and decision-making. McLemore seems to have all the tools at his disposal, but no tool box. However, if he figures it out and puts it all together, he could end up being the standout of this class.
If Orlando loses the lottery and falls out of the top two, they may consider looking at either Michigan point guard Trey Burke or Lehigh shooting guard C.J. McCollum. Make no mistake about it, going forward, point guard is Orlando’s biggest need and Trey Burke is pretty much the man who stands alone as the top point guard available in this draft. Burke, the 2013 Naismith College Player of the Year, spent two years at Ann Arbor and put up 18.6 points per game and 6.6 assists during his 2013 campaign. Burke is an excellent shooter and is very creative at the position. Although Orlando missed out on the aforementioned Marcus Smart this year, Burke could become a very formidable starting point guard for the Magic for years to come.
Not only did Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum average 23.9 points during the 2013 season, but he also perfected his jump shot and constantly demonstrated his ability to create offensive for himself. McCollum is also very formidable at grabbing rebounds and plays a solid defensive game. He could be a nice piece to the puzzle Orlando is trying solve going forward and, if Orlando really wanted to, they could trade back a few spots in an attempt to not only get McCollum, but also accumulate another asset to use going forward.
An interesting name to keep an eye on for Orlando is German point guard Dennis Schroeder. Schroeder is extremely athletic, has a phenomenal wingspan, has incredible speed, and is a very good shooter. Although Schroeder is not an ideal candidate to be selected with Orlando’s top draft pick, the Magic could very well trade back into the first round in order to obtain his rights.
In a perfect world for any Orlando fan, the Magic will win the lottery, select Nerlens Noel #1 overall, and cling to the hope of getting a chance to draft coveted point guard Marcus Smart or take Canadian Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 NBA Draft. All Magic fans can do now is wait while their fate, and the fate of 13 other NBA teams, is decided by the bounce of a few simple Ping-Pong balls.