Last week, I broke down the events that have lead us to this year’s draft. If you missed that post, click here to catch up. This week, I will break down all the players that will be available for the Orlando Magic for their top two picks, #4 & #12 in this year’s NBA Draft. As clear as the draft is at the top, there are still a lot moving variables that could send any player to the Orlando Magic at #4. Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia hold the top 3 picks in that order, but neither team has yet to tip their hand on who they are looking to select. So until the top of the draft becomes more clear, all players will remain an option.
So to be perfectly clear, I’m by no means a basketball expert. I didn’t play high school or college basketball. I’ve never coached or done advanced scouting. I’m just a die hard fan, that watches A LOT of basketball wether it be live games or infinite amount of Youtube clips. All my evaluations are based on what I see in live games and what I’ve viewed in clips. My basketball knowledge is purely based on my 29 years of die-hard fandom and nothing more. I’ll begin the player evaluation process with my Draft Board. This is a pure rankings list of players without accounting for the actual teams drafting spots which will surely affect where guys are taken.
1. Joel Embiid
2. Andrew Wiggins
3. Jabari Parker
4. Dante Exum
5. Noah Vonleh
6. Aaron Gordon
7. Julius Randle
8. Marcus Smart
9. Gary Harris
10. Dario Saric
11. Doug McDermout
12. Nik Stauskas
13. Zach LaVine
14. Rodney Hood
15. Tyler Ennis
16. James Young
17. Elfrid Payton
18. Jusuf Nurkic
19. Adreian Payne
20. TJ Warren
21. Cleanthony Early
22. Shabazz Napier
23. Kyle Anderson
24. PJ Hairston
25. Glenn Robinson III
26. Jarnell Stokes
27. Jerami Grant
28. Jordan Adams
29. K.J. McDaniels
30. Mitch McGary
Joel Embiid (C – Kansas)
Joel Embiid is the top flight Center of this class. He’s got an interesting story in that he just started playing basketball 2 years ago, and to see where he is at today is very impressive. He’s a 7 footer that can run the floor like a forward but still displays a great ability to play as a low post player. He’s such a fluid player that I often forgot he’s a 7 footer. You watch guys like Hibbert and its painful to watch them run…Embiid is the exact opposite. He’s got the size and quickness down low that hasn’t been seen in the NBA in some time.
– Speed. You just don’t see 7 footers that move like him. He runs transition so well. In half court sets he’s very active moving from side to side very well.
– Defense. He has great instincts on help defense. He fills the lane well and does a great job altering and blocking shots. He moves his feet well and isn’t afraid to bang with big centers.
– Potential. The growth he has shown from the start of the season up until his injury was great. You can only assume/hope that type of level continues
– Good Jump Shot Range. He displayed a very capable jump shot that even stretched to the 3pt line. NBA 3pt range is a stretch, but a corner baseline 3 is not out of the question.
– Inexperience. I saw a lot of plays where he’s caught out of position or gambles on defense. Makes the wrong pass out of double teams. Makes alot of dumb fouls.
– Back. There are HUGE question makers about the stress fracture in his back. He skipped the Combine so no one knows how it is doing. Reports weeks ago say it is doing fine, but mum is the word.
This is a tad bit of a reach. Hakeem was definitely one of the fastest centers I’ve witnessed so they are similar in that sense but Joel still has a long road to become Hakeem. He’s not as polished or as strong as Hakeem was coming out of U. Houston but he does show the offensive fire power that Hakeem possessed. Mainly great low post moves along with a very capable jump shot with a knack for blocking shots on the other end.
Another tough fit. We have Nik who’s a very good center…but he will likely never be elite on both ends of the floor. Joel has the potential to be top level talent on both sides. The thing I like about him is he is good where Nik is weak; shot blocking, running the floor, low post offense. Which leads to the question…can the play together. I think they can…but I’m not sure that style of play can win in the NBA today.
Andrew Wiggins (SG – Kansas)
Andrew Wiggins has proved to be an athletic freak. He didn’t come to the draft combine, but did release some testing numbers that were amazing. He’s got top level speed, can jump out of the ceiling, and has great height and length for a SG. His frame is a little small but expected for a college freshman. He is easily the most scrutinized player coming into the draft, but I feel had a very strong season at Kansas. He probably isn’t the smartest or most mature kid in the draft but doesn’t show any signs about being a locker room issue.
– He has a very nice looking jump shot, that really doesn’t need much work at all. He has NBA range. Does very well of both catch & shoot situations and off the dribble shooting.
– Amazing fast break player. Uses speed and height to finish well at the hoop.
– Very good defender. For such a young player, he shows great defensive ability. Stays in good stance, uses his quick hands to generate steals, and does a decent job crashing boards.
– Has a great first step moves that allows him to easily get to the basket with his quickness.
– Proved to be timid at times and ball watch. Lacks the “killer instinct”. But I equate this to being a Freshman gaining experience, he became much more aggressive later in the season in conference play.
– Loose handle. Doesn’t really have elite ball handling abilities right now, ala Kobe or McGrady. Great going North/South, but when he tries to go East/West he got very loose with the ball and was prone to Turnovers.
– Struggled to finish at rim against size. He needs to put on muscle to be able to absorb the shock so he can be stronger at the rim.
He’s the closest player I could find. A guy that can shoot very well outside, but has ability to finish off the hoop, generally plays off the ball, and defends very well. The benefit to this comparison is Andrew looks like Paul George TODAY….not Paul George coming out of Fresno ST. Andrew is skipping the 4 years it took Paul George to become the player he is right now and both player have so much more room to grow.
He is a perfect fit for the Magic at SG. He gives us quickness and size that we haven’t had at the SG position in some time. He helps our defense out immensely and now gives us a go to offensive player late in games. Only issue it bring us, is we are now pot committed to Oladipo as our PG of the future, a route that would cause me to keep Jameer for his final year to teach Oladipo a little more.
Jabari Parker (SF – Duke)
Jabari Parker is an elite offensive force and easily the most NBA ready player in this draft. He’s got great height…but is a tad “fluffy” (could probably lose about 20lbs) and doesn’t really have great speed but can flat out score. He proved to be a go to weapon for Duke from day one. He did see a lot of double teams late in the year and tournament play that caused his numbers to dip a little, but there is no question his offensive game is ready for the NBA today……his defense is another story.
– Offensively versatile. He has a very smooth jump shot with NBA Range. He posts up well. He drives both left and right to the basket ver well. He shoots off the dribble well. He can catch and shoot very well. He is great in transition.
– Good Rebounder. Uses his height and size well to get boards on both ends.
– Great ISO player. You can give him the ball, ask him to get a bucket, and he often does it.
– High BBall IQ. His parent are players, he’s competed at high levels of Pre-college ball, and has 1 year of Coach K experience.
– Lazy defender. He was pretty decent on the ball but outside of that he often would lose his man through cuts. He gets caught ball watching an awful lot.
– Black Hole. He definitely has the ability to pass, but more times than not, I saw the ball go into him and not come out when there were easy passing options available.
He really is a spitting imagine of Melo. An absolute elite offensive player that will likely win scoring titles, but will he learn to defend and will he learn to share the ball effectively. Melo still struggles with these two but its not to say Jabari won’t. Like Melo, you could use in both forward spots creating mismatches to both sides. He’s bigger than most SF, but quicker than most PF.
This one is tough. We need a go to scorer like Jabari but we currently have three very capable SF options in Tobias, Harkless, and Aaron. Mo, and Aaron could be be traded away to make room, but Tobias has proved himself, so letting go of him would be tough. I just don’t see a way Tobias and Jabari could work together. Leads to the question of taking talent…or taking need. If you go with talent and take Jabari what do you do with the rest? Likely package them up in search of a true PG….Aaron and Tobias for Rondo?
Dante Exum (PG – Australia)
Dante Exum is the man of mystery in the draft. He has very limited game tape. I was only able to watch 3 full games; US vs the World Game, U19 Europe Challenge, and the Nike Hoop Summit from last year. The Nike Hoop Summit is the best comparison because he went against the top flight talent; Jabri, Wiggins, Randel. Not only did he perform well in this game, he was probably the best player on the floor at times. He’s the rare PG prospect with great size, 6-6, and speed. He also seems like a very mature 18 year old kid (turns 19 soon).
– Natural playmaker. He has great natural PG abilities. He steps up Pick/Rolls well, he drives and kicks well, He is great at dribble penetration. Always seems willing to find the open man.
– Strong defender. His size and speed automatically put him on another level against most PG, but he shows good instincts like filling the lane, crashing the board and knowing when to gamble for steals.
– Solid jump shot. His shot seemed a little flat, but was very effective. Does a good job of squaring shoulders for his shots and has NBA 3pt Range.
– Gets to the basket/Draws fouls. He does such a great job of breaking his defender down and getting to the basket and gets to the foul line.
– Inexperience. He has limited experience against top flight talent, so it is hard to gauge how well his talents will translate when playing against stronger defenses.
– Finishing at the basket. He is skinny (though has already put on 15lbs of muscle) so he often had a hard time finishing once he got to the basket and got fouled hard.
– Tries to do to much. Saw him at times try to do a little to much; make the extra pass when the shot was there, tried to go to the basket when the defense was set.
He likes to compare himself to Westbrook, but I think this way more fitting. Penny like him can play both guard positions but naturally is best with the ball in his hands. Penny was such a good player in transition that I can’t help but see that when I watch Dante. Penny played with just a very smooth, natural tempo that often made it look effortless for him to break down much slower PGs. I see all of that in Dante.
He would be an instant fit four our team. His ability to play both guard positions is a huge plus. You could play him along side Victor and have two very capable ball handlers. You’d also have the ability for them to switch on defenders and not be at a mismatch. His ability to create plays is exactly what we needed last season. He could allow Victor to play off the ball a little more which is more of his natural instinct.
Noah Vonleh (PF – Indiana)
Noah has to be the high rising person in the draft right now. He’s a smooth playing power forward that has insanely big hands…like freakishly big. He palms the ball like it’s a tennis ball. He seems like a great two way player. He’s super aggressive on offense with a lot of options, but also is very engage on defense. He’s got good size and speed for the PF spot that I think he’ll be an instant impact type player.
– Offensive Versatility. He’s got low post moves which include both a left and right hand, he faces up players very well, and can hit an NBA three. His shooting percentages are very impressive.
– Excellent Rebounder. A basketball player that actually boxes out! He’s a beast on the boards. He battles for everything in his area. He’s great on the offensive boards.
– Great Size. He’s got a good PF size for the NBA today…meaning he’s not bulky and slow but isn’t’ a stick. He’s very mobile, and is super long. 6ft 9in, with a 7ft 3in wingspan
– Defense. Really a strong defender. He showcased really good defensive fundamentals…keeping his hands up, moving his feet, and really uses his size to push people out of the block.
– Inexperience. He plays like a freshman. Saw a lot of plays where he just forces things. Doesn’t make the right move….and leads to some bad turnovers.
– Black Hole. He was clearly the best player Indiana had….but even that, he simply wouldn’t pass it to anyone if he was mid move. Needs to learn how to read double teams and find open men.
He reminds me of the Toronto Chris Bosh…not the passive 3rd wheel Miami Chris Bosh. Where Chris displayed great low block moves, along with a great ability to face people up and hit the mid range jumper and be a go to scorer. Chris used to be a very good rebounder as well, especially offensive rebounder. Noah shows these things but with just a slightly bigger frame which I think will allow him to be more physical than Bosh.
I think Noah could be a very good fit for us. We struggled at the PF position this year. Tobias is decent there, but that isn’t his every day position. He needs to float between 3 and 4 depending the lineup. Noah would bring the size and the added rebounding that we desperately needed to give Nik a little break off the boards. Of the 3 PF’s, I think he has the biggest upside and wouldn’t be outraged to take him at #4 if Exum was somehow taken at 2 or 3.
Aaron Gordon (PF – Arizona)
I LOVE Aaron Gordon. He is the exact style of player that we need. He’s strong, fast, and can jump out of his shoes. He’s the team first player that every coach would love to have. He’s got a great attitude and all the interviews I see with him, he always says the right thing. The only problem with him, is he doesn’t scream featured player. He’s a great player to stick next to another star.
– Athletic Ability. He’s so fast and can jump so high, that he’s the best fast break player in the draft. His ability to finish at the hoop is very Blake Griffin-ish.
– Solid Defender. He’s not the biggest PF around but plays a gritty style on defense that allows him to hold his own but also has the speed to slip down and guard 3s.
– High BBall IQ. Plays very smart basketball. Never seemed lost on the court. Plays within the offense but knows when to strike when defenses collapse.
– Offensive Ability. He can hit a jump shot but with no consistency. Doesn’t really have any goto moves or plan on offense.
– Free-throws. He simply can’t make them. He averaged in the 40% this year. He claims he’s worked and fixed it…but that will have to be seen.
Kenneth Faried/Shawn Marion
Aaron I see as the mix of the two. He has that amazing fast break ability that Marion had for the Phoenix Suns and also has the gritty get it down nature of Faried. Faried doesn’t need the ball, but will go out there and play hard and get his points through hustle. Marion was able to develop a 3pt (though ugly) shot, and Faried has started to get a jump shot which will be Aaron Gordon’s challenge. Can he develop an offensive move that will allow him to be a weapon.
I think Aaron would be a great fit for the Magic. A team first player that never needs the ball. He’d play very nicely along side Vuc. As much as I LOVE Gordon, he can’t be our first pick. We need more of a goto threat or offense creator with our first pick and he’s not that. But if we can some how land him with our second pick either with him sliding or trading up. 12th & Afflalo to the Lakers or Kings who are looking for win now players?
Julius Randle (PF – Kentucky)
Julius is a very interesting player. He’s not physical beast, he’s not crazy athletic, and he’s not an elite talent….but he seems to get it done. He plays hard and always seems to be productive. He’s that gritty/bully style player that you don’t see to often anymore. He was extremely effective against high level competition and looks like an instant impact NBA player.
– High Intensity. When he’s on the court he plays hard. He always seemed engaged on the offensive end. He’s always battling for position to get the ball or battling for position to rebound.
– Bully Ball. He’s got that Zach Randolph, Charles Barkely aspect where he can’t beat his man off the dribble so he’ll just out work you for the bucket with his strength.
– Good Jump Shooter. He’s got good range. He says he can shoot the 3, we’ll have to see.
– Good Rebounder. He battles hard, and really does a great job on the offensive boards.
– Bully Ball. As good as he was in college playing Bully Ball. It can get him in trouble in the NBA, where he won’t be as able to over power NBA PFs.
– Has no right hand. You might as well cut if off, because he doesn’t use it. He needs to develop it, or he’ll be an easy scouted player.
– Foul prone. I saw a lot of over aggressive play and bad gambles that led him to get into foul trouble alot.
Paul Milsap/David Lee/Charles Barkley
I picked these three players because I think that shows the possibilities for Randle. They are all/were gritty players that got it done with hustle. He could be a decent/good player like Milsap. Be a notch up in production like (the always under appreciated) David Lee. Or be an allstar/mvp over achiever like Barkley. That’s the ultimate gamble. He will definitely be good…but will he be great.
He fills two needs for us. A goto scorer and a rebounding PF. I think he will be a ROY candidate because he’s an instant impact type player, but I worry about it high end potential. I’m not sold he’ll be elite, so with that I wouldn’t take him at #4…but like Gordon, if we could find a way to trade up and get him, I’d be way more interested.
Marcus Smart (PG – Oklahoma State)
What a year for this kid. If he comes out last year, we easily take him at #2 over Victor. He stays a year, doesn’t really do anything wowing, and gets in a fight with a fan. Now he sits at the fringe of a top 10 player on most boards. What he didn’t lose was the intangibles that made him a high prospect last year…his on the floor leadership, tenacity & intensity.
– Leadership. He looks like that bonafide leader on the floor. He talks to his teammates, and stays very vocal on the floor.
– Very Good Defender. He went against some really good players…Andrew Wiggins included and did very well. He’s strong and physical in the way he defends. He gets his body into your and presses very well.
– Scoring mentality. He wasn’t the most efficient scorer but had to shoulder a lot of the scoring responsibilities on the team. I think the efficiency numbers will increase when he’s around more capable teammates.
– Shooting Accuracy. He got slightly better this year, but still needs to work on the consistency of his jump shot.
– Handle. He isn’t a natural point guard, so he can get kind of loose with the ball when trying to break guys down on the dribble.
– Forces Offense. I saw a lot of bad shots, or drives into the lane with double team. Very well was the product of him having to be the man at OK State, but needs to make sure that doesn’t become a habit.
– Emotional. He’s very vocal on the court but needs to learn when to check his emotions and not get out of control.
I like Kidd as his comparison because they both bigger guards that aren’t the fastest or most athletic players, but are smart and can command a team. Kidd had more passing abilities that Marcus does right now, but I see that changing once he gets on a team and isn’t asked to score the ball as much as he did at Ok State. Like Kidd, I see him as a floor general.
I think he’s a good fit for the Magic. He can play both guard positions, so he and Victor can play off each other. Those two together would be a great defensive backcourt. He’s in a funky draft slot though….if Exum some how goes 2 or 3 and we’re left with a potentially injured Embiid, the PF trio, or Smart; I could see the Magic reaching and taking him at #4 just to secure that PG of the future. I don’t mind that move because the PG spot is so important in the NBA, but I’d much prefer to take a Vonleh type at 4 and then trading up for Smart, who likely won’t be there at #12.
Gary Harris (SG – Michigan State)
There’s a lot to like about Gary Harris but for some reason he isn’t getting as much attention as many of the other players in the draft. He’s a sophomore….which makes him one of the few “old men” in the draft. Harris is a very complete player. He has a solid offensive game that features great range on his jump shot. He can catch and shoot, shoot off the dribble, and play very effective pick & roll basketball. He is also a very solid defender that showed the ability to really be a great lock down isolation defender. A couple of knacks on him are his lack of size (only 6′ 4″) and lack of elite athleticism. He also has some questionable shot selection that clearly cause his shooting percentages/efficiency to be low.
No matter who we take with our #4 pick, I think Gary Harris would have a great slot on our team. If we got PF at the top, he’d be an excellent SG solution if Afflalo finds his way out. If we go PG at the top, Harris would be a great 6th man off the bench. He has decent ball handling skills and good scoring abilities that he could lead the second unit very effectively.
Dario Saric (SF/PF – Croatia)
Here’s another great player not getting a lot of play mainly because he’s been on the fence on actually coming to America next year. He claims there are only a few teams he’s willing to come to, but that list has yet to be seen. Despite that, he’s a very good basketball player. I like to think of him as the European Lamar Odom or the Eurpean Hedo Turkoglu….wait a minute. He’s that tall, skilled point forward type player. He’s great at handling the ball either diving to the basket or finding the open teammate. He’s got a pretty accurate jump shot, though I find it to be a tad flat. He’s a definite tweener that will need to slide between the SF and PF positions depending on who’s playing that night. His great ball handing skills and ability to create offense for himself and others makes him a real gem.
He’s definitely a player we could use, because we lacked ball handlers and players that could create offense. However, his spot would be a duplicate of Tobias Harris who is a valuable player on our team. We definitely are in need of talent on our team, but I think there are other positional needs and other talented players available that I would likely pass on him. His status for next year is also another huge concern….no need for another Fran Vasquez.
Zach LaVine (PG/SG – UCLA)
Zach is a bit of a wild card. I may have him a little to high on my board but I think he’s this year’s Michael Carter Williams in the draft. He’s that tall Guard that is becoming a standard in the NBA. He tested very well at the combine as far as athletic ability and looked very strong in the drills portion. He thinks he can be a point guard but wasn’t really given the chance at UCLA. He really could have used a couple of more years of college to grow, so if you take him, you know you’re getting project that will need a couple of years to develop. If you have an established guy to mold him for a year a two I think you’ll be getting a steal. Love the upside potential.
I really don’t see a fit here. He’s too raw and would need to much work to really find a place on our team. Youth teaching youth never works well. He’d be great for a Boston, Chicago, or San Antonio type team that has a guard but wants to add depth and an heir to their current stars.
Doug McDermout (SF/PF – Creighton)
Doug is one of the greatest offensive players in college basketball history…so how could you go wrong, right? I love his natural scoring ability. He’s got unlimited range on his shot and can get it off so quickly that it is so hard to guard. He’s a giant mismatch for so many teams because he’s faster that most PF but bigger than most SF. He showed a great ability to also put the ball on the floor and drive, so he’s just not a one dimensional player. The big concern is his defensive ability can he guard bigger PF…can he guard faster SF. I see him being much like JJ Redick, until he can prove to play defense, he won’t get to play to much at the next level.
He definitely fits a need for us in the shooting department. We were such an awful 3pt shooting team last year outside of Afflalo it wasn’t even funny. However, I’m not sure his shooting abilities are worth his defensive short comings because we were also one of the worst defensive teams last year. Doug needs to be surrounded by guys that will lift him up, I don’t know if we have that crew yet.
Nik Stauskas (SG – Michigan)
I have Nik just a smidgen below McDermout but not by much. Nik is another absolute pure shooter. His game is very JJ Redick-ish. Michigan used him in a very similar way. They used an endless amount of screens, back door cuts, and streaking jumpers for him. He surprisingly had pretty good athletic numbers at the combine that show he can get up there with most SG and finish at the rim. There is no question about his shooting but like Doug, he will have to prove he can defend in the NBA. He will desperately need to be drafted to the right team in order to succeed.
I like Nik’s fit on our team a little more than McDermout only because he plays a position we need a little more than SF/PF. While he has the same defensive concerns, we could surround him with players that could help him out, like Kyle O’Quinn and Harkless. McDourmet would be playing the same position as either one of them so that same help wouldn’t be there.
Rodney Hood (SF – Duke)
Another shooter that can’t play defense….it’s like a trend of the draft. I really like Rodney after watching a bunch of Duke games this year. He’s very aggressive on the offensive end and can rain 3’s from any spot on the floor. The fact that he was able to get 12 shot off a game with Jabari Parker on the floor is a feat on itself. Unlike the previous guys who’s defensive deficiencies I think stem from a lack of knowledge, his appears to stem from a lack of effort. He would let much weaker players slide by him with ease, so all the offense he brings gets null in-void with the amount of points he gives up. If you can teach this kid defense, I think you’ll get a steal because he can certainly play offense.
I think he’s a tough fit. Maurice Harkless shooting is as inconsistent as it gets, but the kids hustles on defense. I just don’t see how you can put Rodney over him because of that fact. If the team thinks that you can play Mo and Rodney together and have a defense/offense tandem then maybe take a flyer on him, but that’s still a big if.
Tyler Ennis (PG – Syracuse)
I like Ennis a lot. He’s the typical point guard that you don’t see to often. He’s got a knack for passing and really seemed like a team first player. Syracuse leaned on him a lot for scoring which doesn’t seem like his strongest aspect (probably why they got ousted early). He seems like a good guard that can come in and be a game manager. His combine numbers weren’t amazing but I think he’ll be able to handle most NBA point guards. If you surround him with shooters and slashers, I think he’ll be a great team mate for them. The big knack on him is probably his ceiling as a player; I just don’t see All Star potential but more likely a fringe NBA starter or great backup point guard.
I think we could definitely use Tyler as a starting PG if we somehow get Jabari or go PF with the #4 pick. Tyler won’t be elite but could service as a nice main ball handler and take a lot of pressure off of Oladipo to set up the offense and allow him to be a more goto wing scorer.