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And here we are — our time has come. Le moment est venu, as the French say. (I think; that’s what Google says, anyway.) It’s draft time. For Magic fans, this is the one: future top five picks cannot be considered as “part of the plan.” The plan must germinate Thursday night, and the garden must beautify.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably as excited as I am for the draft. Therefore, I end my hype here. We need to talk about what’s actually going to happen.
Before the recent foot injury to Joel Embiid, there were only about two potential scenarios for how the Magic’s two lottery picks, or at least their first lottery pick, would shape up. As I see it, there are now five scenarios to consider. Of course, there are technically hundreds, but the probability is highest for these five — and just as with the draft lottery, the percentages always win out.
(CAVEAT: I have no idea who Orlando is selecting with the 12th pick; are you kidding me? These are just five guesses. The only real confidence I have is in how the first pick will play out. But if I nail the second one, I will graciously accept praise and admiration.)
Magic draft Dante Exum (No. 4) and Doug McDermott (No. 12)
My emotions during this draft process can be summed up in the following stream of consciousness writing:
As long as the Magic land a top three pick, they’re guaranteed a stud! … They’re number four!? … You know, this Exum kid sounds pretty amazing as the point guard of the future; this might have worked out better than Orlando could have envisioned … Disaster! Disaster! Disaster has struck the city in the form of a very large broken foot! … You know, one of the top three teams might end up taking Embiid anyway; if not, do the Sixers really want to draft Exum, who is exactly the same player as Michael Carter-Williams? … You know, this Exum kid sounds pretty amazing …
As for McDermott, I’m not sure he’ll fall to the Magic at No. 12, but he certainly could. And I remember another college star who shot the lights out but had NBA question marks stamped all over him: J.J. Redick. That guy turned out alright.
Magic draft Joel Embiid (No. 4) and Tyler Ennis (No. 12)
Brace yourselves: this one could absolutely happen. Honestly, if Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were off the board and someone snatched Exum before the Magic, I think I would take this risk too. Wiggins, Parker, and a healthy Embiid are in their own tier. I see Exum as standing alone on the next level, not far behind.
Then, if I’m jumping down to the next one, you better give me some rock climbing gear — it’s not close.
That’s why, even though the Magic have a center in Nikola Vucevic that the franchise is ready to build around, you may see Embiid coming to Orlando next season. Of course, none of that will stop Magic fans from lying restlessly in their bed, with visions of Greg Oden dancing in their head.
I think Ennis would be a reach at No. 12, and I can’t say I’d be thrilled at the pick. But the Magic will need a point guard if they go for a big man. I’m not sure they’d have a choice if they want to start trying to win next season.
Magic trade Arron Afflalo and the No. 12 pick to the Jazz for the No. 5 pick
This is one of a few trades with Afflalo the Magic could make. I like it a lot. The Magic have been trying to trade Afflalo for a while, and despite dissenting voices who would like to see him stick around, I don’t know if that’s going to happen. This would be a very intriguing return for him. Maybe the best.
With the 4th pick, the Magic would select Exum or Embiid; with the 5th, they would take Noah Vonleh, who perhaps has the most potential of anyone after the top four talents.
Magic draft Noah Vonleh (No. 4) and Gary Harris (No. 12)
This might happen if Exum is off the board and Rob Hennigan has been raised to avoid gambling like a pretty field of poison ivy. If it does happen, the fears upon hearing about Embiid’s injury will have been justified. That’s no knock on Vonleh; it just seems like the Magic fanbase has fallen more and more in love with grabbing an exciting point guard like Exum, and if the team barely misses out on him just because a bone breaking a few weeks too early — well, that one’s going to hurt.
The Harris pick is conditional: if the Magic are letting Afflalo go off somewhere else, they’ll be desperate for depth at the guard position. If Harris falls to No. 12, the Magic would be wise to let him fill the gap.
Make any combination from the above scenarios
I really don’t see any other possibility for the 4th pick. Neither Wiggins nor Parker will fall to Orlando; count on that. And though I can’t really explain why, I feel strongly that the Magic wouldn’t go for Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon. Marcus Smart would be likelier, given the Magic’s long-rumored affinity for him dating back to last year’s draft (before Smart decided to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore year), but I can’t cheat and add more names to my predictions just to increase my chances of being right.
(CAVEAT: I will cheat and add more names to my predictions for the 12th pick. It’s much harder — I deserve extra guesses. The Magic need shooters badly, so it would make sense for them to go for a proven one in players like Rodney Hood from Duke or Adreian Payne from Michigan State. I think they’ll definitely go for a shooter if they get Exum at No. 4.)
Happy Draft Day, everyone. Drink, watch, and tweet responsibly.