- Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel explores what the Magic‘s starting five may look like next season, depending on whether the team drafts Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren. In Price’s view, floor-spacing issues mean that Cole Anthony may be a better fit alongside Holmgren, while Jalen Suggs could make more sense alongside Smith.
- The Magic have a history of trading out of the second round of the draft, but they’re expected to use at least one of the No. 32 and No. 35 picks this year, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Price notes that Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams, who has a 7’2″ wingspan despite being just 6’4″, is the type of player the Magic typically like, and he spoke to the team at last week’s combine.
Magic executives have made it clear they’ll do their homework on all their options for the No. 1 pick, even beyond Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link).
However, most NBA teams believe that process will be a formality and consider Smith to be the clear favorite to become the Magic’s pick, according to Givony. NBA executives also overwhelmingly view Holmgren as the probable No. 2 pick for the Thunder, Givony adds.
Givony and his fellow ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz shared several more tidbits based on their conversations with talent evaluators at last week’s combine in Chicago. Let’s round up a few highlights…
- NBA teams were “buzzing” about Dyson Daniels‘ performance in Chicago at his Pro Day, comparing him to NBA players like Tyrese Haliburton and Khris Middleton, according to Givony, who has moved the G League Ignite wing up to No. 6 on ESPN’s big board.
- Andrew Nembhard‘s willingness to play through a minor quad injury and his strong performance in the second game of the combine scrimmages helped boost his stock. The Gonzaga guard “leapfrogged” a handful of players who sat out the scrimmages and has a legitimate shot to be drafted near the end of the first round, says Givony.
- Croatian big man Karlo Matkovic was one of the under-the-radar risers as a result of his combine showing. He’s considered far more likely to be drafted than he was a week ago, and his agency says he’s had more requests for private workouts than he has available dates, per Givony.
- Mark Williams‘ 9’9″ standing reach will make him the longest player in the NBA, according to Schmitz, who says the Duke center has a chance to be selected ahead of Jalen Duren in the lottery.
- Canadian prospect Leonard Miller looked a step slow during the combine scrimmages and now appears more likely to attend college at Arizona or join the G League Ignite rather than staying in the draft, writes Givony.
- The Magic are eager to fall in love with their No. 1 pick, not to trade it, writes Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. Orlando was awarded the top selection in the draft at last week’s draft lottery. The team will likely choose from a consensus top three of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero.
By securing the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA draft, the Magic may finally get the impactful big man they’ve been searching for, Zach Kram writes for The Ringer. Orlando has taken chances on young frontcourt players in recent years, drafting Jonathan Isaac sixth overall in 2017, Mohamed Bamba sixth in 2018 and trading for Wendell Carter Jr. in 2021.
To this point, Isaac, Bamba and Carter haven’t been game-changers, though all of them are still 24 years old or younger. Orlando will select first in the draft, likely choosing from a consensus top three in Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero, all of whom are power forwards or centers.
Outside of their big men, the Magic also have young players Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, R.J. Hampton, Chuma Okeke and Franz Wagner. The team is clearly trying to figure out the best combination for the future, a group that could be headlined by this year’s No. 1 pick.
Here are some other notes from Orlando:
- Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel examines who the Magic should draft as they continue their rebuild, specifically with the top selection. The team is coming off a 22-60 season, which was the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the second-worst record in the league.
- Mike Vorkonuv of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the night of the draft lottery, which awarded the Magic the No. 1 pick. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman was originally supposed to represent the Magic on the lottery stage, but was replaced by Jamahl Mosley because the head coach “felt lucky.” As it turns out, Mosley had good reason to feel lucky.
- By securing the top pick, the Magic put the decade-long “Dwightmare” to an end, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel opines. Bianchi, referring to former Magic center Dwight Howard, explores how Orlando hasn’t received a No. 1 selection since drafting Howard in 2004. Howard had six All-Star seasons in a Magic uniform, with perhaps his best coming in 2010/11 (22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game). The Magic also haven’t won 50 games since then, which was one of the last years Howard played with the team.
Rival executives and league personnel view Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren as the most likely pick for the Magic at No. 1 in next month’s draft due to the front office’s affinity for length, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond have gravitated toward lanky players with huge wingspans since arriving in Orlando and did the same during their days in Milwaukee, Fischer observes, citing Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Thon Maker, Jonathan Isaac, and Mohamed Bamba as examples.
Fischer also points to Holmgren’s good relationship with last year’s No. 4 overall pick Jalen Suggs – they played together at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis – as another reason why the Magic may be leaning toward the Gonzaga star.
Whether the Magic end up drafting Holmgren or another top big man prospect like Auburn’s Jabari Smith, league personnel increasingly believe that Bamba is increasingly likely to leave the team this summer, Fischer says. Bamba is eligible for restricted free agency, but there may not be room for him in a frontcourt that would include Holmgren or Smith, Wendell Carter, and the returning Isaac.
Here’s more from Fischer:
- There’s a “strong belief” among rival executives that the Kings, who badly want to get back to the playoffs, will explore trading the No. 4 pick, according to Fischer. Holmgren, Smith, and Paolo Banchero are the consensus top three players in the draft class, but a number of prospects are in play at No. 4, so there may be a team that feels compelled to move up to snag its preferred target, Fischer writes.
- League personnel view the Trail Blazers at No. 7 and the Pelicans at No. 8 as other good candidates for trades among lottery teams, per Fischer. The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Spurs, all of whom own multiple first-round selections, are worth monitoring for possible trade-up scenarios, and there are a few teams that may want to move their first-rounders for future picks due to salary cap or luxury tax concerns, Fischer adds.
- Shaedon Sharpe is considered the wild card of the lottery and could come off the board as high as No. 4, Fischer says. Some executives told Bleacher Report that Sharpe could realistically have been a candidate for No. 1 overall if he had played at all at Kentucky. Given how little Sharpe has played in the last year, he’s regarded as a high-risk, high-upside pick.
The Magic probably won’t stray from conventional wisdom when it comes to the top overall pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to RealGM). They’ll either select Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr.
“This is the draft lottery of the power forwards and three very different players,” Wojnarowski said. “We’ll see how this shakes out, but certainly I think Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Jabari Smith of Auburn… I think the consensus right now is those are really the two players competing for No. 1 with the Magic.”
Bulls GM Marc Eversley, a former Philadelphia executive, was instrumental in pushing the Sixers to acquire him in the 2019 draft, Deveney notes.
While Thybulle’s vaccination status stirred some angst within the Sixers organization during the postseason, it was his spotty 3-point shooting that rendered him a non-factor, despite his defensive reputation.
The Sixers could try to create some wiggle room under the luxury tax but that type of trade would likely require a third team.
Here’s more from Deveney:
- The Lakers tried to package Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn in trades this past season but didn’t get an enticing offer. They could revisit that scenario, even though they’re reluctant to attach their next available first-rounder in 2027. One league exec tossed out the names of Duncan Robinson, Malik Beasley and Christian Wood as the type of player they could get in return.
- The Magic won’t trade the top pick unless they get the No. 2 or 3 pick as part of the package, but the Thunder and Rockets are open for business regarding the other top three selections.
Barnes, Cunningham and Mobley were all unanimous selections, receiving the maximum total of 200 points each. Wagner received 183 points, followed by Green with 158. Strangely, one media member left Wagner off their ballot completely, as he received 99 of 100 possible votes.
Raptors wing Barnes, who narrowly edged Cavaliers big man Mobley for the Rookie of the Year award, ranked third in points (15.3) and rebounds (7.5) among all rookies, and fifth in assists (3.5). Mobley was fifth in points (15.0) and led all first-year players in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (1.67) per game.
Pistons guard Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, was first among rookies in points (17.4), second in assists (5.6) and fifth in rebounds (5.5). Magic forward Wagner also had a great year, averaging 15.4 points (fourth among rookies), 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 79 games. Rockets guard Green finished the season strong, scoring 20+ points in 17 of his last 25 games on his way to averaging 17.3 points, second among first-year players.
Pelicans defensive ace Herbert Jones (123 votes) and Thunder floor general Josh Giddey (122 votes) headline the Second Team. Jones averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals (first among rookies) and should at least receive votes for an All-Defensive nod, even if he doesn’t end up making one of the two teams.
In addition to averaging 12.5 points, Giddey was second among rookies in rebounds (7.8) and first in assists (6.4), but he only appeared in 54 of 82 games, having missed the final 23 contests with a hip injury, which is likely why he didn’t receive more First Team votes.
Here are both All-Rookie teams in full, with their voting point totals noted in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.
2021/22 All-Rookie First Team:
- Scottie Barnes, Raptors (200)
- Evan Mobley, Cavaliers (200)
- Cade Cunningham, Pistons (200)
- Franz Wagner, Magic (183)
- Jalen Green, Rockets (158)
2021/22 All-Rookie Second Team:
- Herbert Jones, Pelicans (123)
- Josh Giddey, Thunder (122)
- Bones Hyland, Nuggets (81)
- Ayo Dosunmu, Bulls (75)
- Chris Duarte, Pacers (52)
Ten other rookies received votes — you can view the full voting results right here. Among the group that missed the cut, Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga (47) was just behind Duarte, with Kings guard Davion Mitchell (28) the only other player receiving a significant number of votes.