The Orlando Magic have long settled into having one of the worst records in the league. The team has been bouncing between the worst record in the league and the second-worst record in the league for about a month now, and that is even with this relative surge of winning of late.
It is safe to say much of this season has been about growth and development on the floor for the team’s young players, but also about setting up the team’s future. And part of setting up that future is undoubtedly about being in a good position for the Draft Lottery.
For the second straight year, Orlando seems to be in line to have the top odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery. And for a rebuilding team, the Magic certainly need to get another hit in the draft to help the team begin to inch forward.
To be sure, the Magic should hope this is the last year they are in this situation.
The NBA Draft hits a big point in the evaluation period as players get their last chance to impress at the NCAA Tournament. It’s time to assemble the Orlando Magic’s big board.
That is even with this upcoming NBA Draft largely viewed as a good but not franchise-changing draft. The players at the top are all capable players with All-Star potential. But this is not seen as a deep draft like the 2021 Draft was or a potentially franchise-changing one.
Still, there are good players to get. And this is the time many NBA fans turn their attention to the college prospects with the NCAA tournament set to take place.
It seems like a good time to take a look at the draft prospects in a more formal way.
So to get you ready for the NBA Draft and the NCAA Tournament, it is time to come out with our first big board of the draft season.
This board is a mix of my evaluation of the player along with how they would ultimately fit with the Magic:
NCAA Tournament First Round: vs. Jacksonville State (Fri., 12:40 pm)
Nobody probably had Jabari Smith as the No. 1 pick at the beginning of the season. Nobody probably thought there would be much of a debate for the top spot. But while there is still certainly some debate between who is the top prospect, it is also pretty clear that Smith is nudging ahead.
To me, Smith is the clear-cut top guy in this draft. He offers the most complete package in the Draft and someone who can clearly both fit in and create offense for any team that drafts him.
Smith averaged 17.1 points per game and grabbed 7.0 rebounds per game. He shot 42.8-percent on 3-pointers and 81.6-percent from the foul line. He projects as a skilled shooter – gaining player comparisons to Orlando Magic legend Rashard Lewis with his 6-foot-10 frame.
He had some explosive games too, scoring 20 or more points 13 times this season including five games of 25 points or more.
He also stands out defensively where his fluid movement enables him to lock in on opponents both in the post and on the perimeter.
The concern, if there is one, is that he may not be the best player at creating his own shot consistently. He might top out as a perfect complementary or secondary player on a good team. That is not exactly screaming No. 1 overall pick.
But Smith is a very good player. He is fairly complete and should be able to contribute on both ends at the very least.