As the NBA Draft draws closer, the Magic brain trust knows that they have an opportunity to build the franchise into a playoff contender – as opposed to championship contender – if they are successful on Thursday. With the number 6 overall pick, they are going to get, in the words of general manager John Hammond, a player that can help them win.
No one can argue that the Magic have some talent to build around and build upon. Hammond has been with the team for only one month, but believes he understands the talent level and the needs.
“It you look at our roster, you can say that there are players that can help an NBA team win games,” he told Dante Marchitelli on Pure Magic. So, with players we think we can move forward with, it’s our responsibility now to add players to help build that.”
Hammond is not talking about someone available who will lead them to a championship as greats like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson did. Instead, he referred to a player who can help them get to the next level.
He was asked about someone like Giannnis Antetokounmpo, who helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks from sub-par years to the 2017 NBA playoffs. As the one who drafted the Greek star for Milwaukee, the Magic organization and fan base can only hope Hammond and the front office are just as successful on Thursday.
Hammond mentioned building a roster with a team full of “givers” as opposed to “takers,” meaning those who play to make their teammates better as opposed to piling up statistics. This describes Antetokuonmpo in Hammond’s eyes.
“I’m proud to be the guy that drafted Giannis because of what he stands for as a player, but also what he stands for as a person,” Hammond said.
So, who will be available when the Magic choose at number 6? Hammond wisely offered no clues, but the mock drafts are beginning to narrow the choices.
There seems almost zero chance Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, Kansas small forward Josh Jackson or Duke small forward Jayson Tatum will be available to Orlando. The Lakers are projected to take the flamboyant point guard Lonzo Ball from UCLA, but even if available, the Magic should pass on him at any cost. The drama centered around his father is not worth it.
That leaves the Kentucky duo of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, point guard Dennis Smith of North Carolina State and small forward Jonathan Isaac of Florida State.
Hammond, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman, Assistant General Matt Lloyd (who Hammond thankfully kept on) and the scouts know the physical capabilities and mental attitudes of these players. In the end, the Magic may select someone who may not be as flashy, but will fit into the type of team they and coach Frank Vogel envision.
It must also be remembered Orlando holds four of the top 35 picks. One thing is for certain; many new faces will dot the roster when training camp opens.
It won’t be long until everything starts coming together.