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The Magic franchise is starting to form what will be its core group for the foreseeable future. A few veterans, such as Luke Ridnour and Willie Green, will be interchanged for others like them in the next few years.
But other than the occasional tinkering, there isn’t room on the roster for much more young talent. The current squad must develop for the Magic to be successful, or else they will be floundering in mediocrity for years.
As such, there is a great amount of focus being placed on Orlando’s rookies — namely Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton (sorry, Devyn Marble). Magic fans will want to see Gordon and Payton take the NBA by storm, but what’s reasonable to expect from them? How will they actually do?
In any sports league, one thing is true surrounding the hype around drafts: they are entirely forgotten months afterward. In Payton’s case, this means you should forget about him being drafted after Gordon because he’s almost certainly going to have a bigger impact for the Magic this season.
Remember a couple of key facts about Orlando’s acquisition of Payton. Everyone knew that point guard was the most immediate need for the team, so naturally the expectation was that the No. 4 pick would be used to select Dante Exum, the highest-rated point guard in the draft. But the Magic shocked everyone by passing on Exum with the No. 4 pick and trading a future first round pick to move up two spots (from No. 12 to No. 10) and acquire Payton’s draft rights.
The takeaways? Orlando really wanted Payton. The front office felt comfortable enough to leave better-known names in Exum and Marcus Smart on the board in order to target Payton. This allowed them to draft a player with limitless potential in Gordon with the No. 4 pick, while still getting their point man later.
The trading of a future first round pick to acquire Payton tells me that the Magic are starting to put their energy into now instead of later. They are all-in on this guy. Will their faith in him be justified?