Orlando Magic NBA Draft Picks, Needs, Targets: Jabari Smith Jr The Best Fit?

Despite only having a 14% chance (as do the other two of the three worst teams), the Orlando Magic successfully secured the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The last time the Magic had the first overall pick, they selected Dwight Howard, who became a franchise and NBA legend. Howard eventually landed in Los Angeles, where his career started to deteriorate, but those years in Orlando were all-time; he even led the Magic to an NBA Finals appearance despite a roster far from elite. Orlando drafted Howard in 2004; it has been far from smooth sailing on draft night since for the Magic. They have drafted some successful players, but those players have mostly found that success outside of Orlando. Perhaps, that is more of an indication of an organization that can’t maximize talent than one that struggles to draft quality basketball players. Still, the journey continues, and hopefully, the Magic can get lucky enough to choose the next NBA legend with their top pick.

Orlando Magic Draft Picks

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  • 2 (35)

Orlando Magic Draft Needs

There are really only three players that the Orlando Magic would realistically take with the first overall pick: Jabari Smith Jr, Chet Holmgren, or Paolo Banchero. Most reports covering the Magic have insisted that they lean heavily towards Jabari Smith Jr with the first pick. Smith’s combination of pure shooting, tough shot-making, and versatile defense had catapulted him up draft boards throughout the collegiate season. Smith would be a solid addition to a team with no identity on either end of the floor. He would instantly raise the team’s 3P% (28th in the NBA last season) and offensive efficiency (30th in the NBA last season.) Orlando has been one of the worst offensive teams since it blew up its roster and traded Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier last March. While that was arguably the most sensible thing for the organization, it still does not eliminate the ensuing offensive issues it has experienced. I project Smith to be more of a secondary scorer at the NBA level, capable of hitting catch-and-shoot three-pointers and even threes off of screens. However, Smith does not create for himself at a high level off the dribble, so someone will have to do it for a portion of his offensive looks.

Additionally, Orlando has two picks early in the second round: 32 and 35. If the Magic either take Banchero, Holmgren, or Smith with the first overall pick, then they will be pretty set in their frontcourt. They will have Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr, Jonathan Isaac, and the first overall pick (likely Jabari Smith Jr.) Franz Wagner should be the starting small forward for the future, while Orlando certainly won’t give up on Cole Anthony or Jalen Suggs just yet. Therefore, I see the Magic potentially packaging these two picks for future picks or trading up to the first round.

Orlando Magic Draft Targets

  • Jabari Smith Jr

Orlando seems fixated on Jabari Smith Jr with the first overall pick. Smith should be a terrific NBA player due to his size, length, versatility, shooting, and upside. His shooting split was spectacular in his freshman season and the level of difficulty of some of those shots was incredibly impressive. The Magic would not be making a mistake by taking Smith at No. 1, but I would work out and interview Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero for due diligence.

  • Patrick Baldwin Jr

The Magic should take a second-round flier on Patrick Baldwin Jr because of his upside as a secondary scorer and reliable pick-and-pop player. Orlando has been an atrocious offensive team, and while Baldwin is a volatile prospect, he could help its three-point shooting immediately despite a rough freshman season at Milwaukee.

  • Jake LaRavia

    Jake LaRavia, a swiss army knife on the floor, would be a great fit in Orlando because it needs high IQ and versatile players to build around. Orlando will be using the first overall pick on a high-ceiling player like Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero, so grabbing a player like LaRavia, who can do a bit of everything, would be an excellent move. LaRavia legitimately could play three different positions at the next level if he continues to develop, and that would be ideal for a team like Orlando.

    Recent Orlando Magic Draft Picks & Tendencies

    • 2021: Jalen Suggs – 5th overall, Franz Wagner – 8th Overall
    • 2020: Cole Anthony – 15th Overall
    • 2019: Chuma Okeke – 16th Overall
    • 2018: Mo Bamba – 6th Overall
    • 2017: Jonathan Isaac – 6th Overall
    • 2015: Mario Hezonja – 4th Overall
    • 2014: Aaron Gordon – 4th Overall
    • 2013: Victor Oladipo – 2nd Overall

    Orlando typically drafts on upside alone, often foregoing more well-rounded prospects for the hit-or-miss ones. The Magic love length and upside a lot, as evidenced by recent draft picks Franz Wagner, Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, and Mario Hezonka. This is not necessarily an incorrect approach, but it could use some altering. For instance, Banchero is the most well-rounded prospect in this draft and still hasn’t even come close to his ceiling, but he isn’t getting the look at No. 1 that he should because the idea of “who Smith could end up being” is more enticing to Orlando.

    Drew is a lead NBA writer at Lineups.com where he has been covering in-season basketball coverage to the NBA Draft. He is a former collegiate player who now spends time diving into NBA prospects and evaluating the analytics of the NBA.

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