Memorial Day has come and gone. That puts the NBA Draft in full view. What, you thought we would talk about the NBA Finals? That comes in a few days.
The Orlando Magic have had their focus on the NBA Draft for a while now. Certainly, since the team drew the sixth overall selection in the NBA Draft Lottery. That brought some disappointment, but it still brings plenty of opportunity for the team.
The Magic will still get their crack at a player with some potential.
Don’t believe me? Then it must be time to make a quick run through the Draft. This is my first Mock Draft. It certainly will not be my last:
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, Arizona
Deandre Ayton is a strong center prospect. He has great feel offensively around the basket and supreme athleticism. That is everything you want in a center. He just does not have great defensive instincts.
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, Real Madrid
Luka Doncic is the best player in this Draft. A 19-year-old should not win the Euroleague MVP. That just should not happen. He is a great passer and has a high basketball IQ. Even with his lack of athleticism, he should make an impact.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Mohamed Bamba, Texas
Mohamed Bamba’s length is hard to ignore. His 7-foot-10 wingspan set a record for the NBA Draft Combine. Bamba’s 3-point shooting is coming along and his raw offensive game is showing some progress. If that happens, watch out.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Marvin Bagley III is a really skilled offensive player. He works well around the basket and can score in multiple ways. His defense is lacking and he is not a strong shooter. That could hold him back in the NBA.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson, Jr., Michigan State
Jaren Jackson, Jr. has a huge upside for a big. He is a great shot blocker and has a ton of offensive potential. But it is all potential for him. Jackson was often overeager defensively at Michigan State. If he can dial that back and remain effective, he could be really special.
6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, Oklahoma
Trae Young is my pick for the Orlando Magic right now. He has the potential to change the team’s outlook offensively. Young could be someone who forces defenses to pay attention to him. And he fits the Magic’s need for a shooter and a point guard. Sure, he is not a great defender or particularly long, but a creator like him makes everyone’s life easier.
7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr., Duke
Wendell Carter Jr. is good at a whole lot of things. He is a good passer and jump shooter for a big — with potential 3-point range. And he is a good defender. He never stood out with Duke, but he was good at everything to make that team go.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Mikal Bridges is going to come to the league ready to contribute. A 3-and-D player at a high level. The Cleveland Cavaliers are assuming they will keep LeBron James. And Bridges would be a great addition to the Eastern Conference champions.
9. New York Knicks: Michael Porter, Jr., Missouri
Michael Porter, Jr. might be the most talented player in this draft. If not for his back injury, Porter might be in the running for the No. 1 pick.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Knox, Kentucky
A do-it-all forward who is still a bit raw offensively. But he is talented and can make a big impact.
For the rest of my mock draft, check out Orlando Magic Daily!
Who is Steve Clifford with Walker Mehl of Locked On Hornets
The Orlando Magic hired Steve Clifford as their new head coach earlier this week.
His reputation seems to precede him. He had a somewhat successful run with the Charlotte Hornets, making the Playoffs twice in five years and resurrecting the franchise to respectability at the very least.
Charlotte was always a team that played strong defense and committed to that end. They were disciplined and limited mistakes on offense. That was enough for Clifford to gain plenty of respect around the league.
But what does he really bring to the table? Can he develop players on the Magic? Is his offense or lack of results a concern?
These are questions only Charlotte Hornets fans can answer. I brought on Walker Mehl of Locked On Hornets to discuss Clifford’s five-year tenure with the team.
Mehl praised Clifford for establishing a culture and developing the players on the team. He believed players reached their ceilings under Clifford. The problem with Charlotte was more injury circumstances and an inability to hit big on draft picks.
That can hamper any team. Charlotte though grew to be a respected team even with a record that was not much to write home about. He is still well thought of around the league.
And so the Magic get a coach with that kind of reputation and with the ability to take a team from the bottom of the league and get them into the Playoff conversation. What more could Orlando ask for today?
The story for Clifford is still yet to be written, of course. There is a lot of work ahead for the Magic. But Clifford seems like a coach capable of getting the job done.
Steve Clifford’s clean slate
The Orlando Magic finally have their first foundational piece of the summer in place. They finally have a coach.
The team introduced Steve Clifford as the team’s new head coach, putting in that all-important piece in place for the team to begin building again. Clifford is someone who helped establish a style of play and a culture with the Charlotte Hornets.
They jumped from a bottom-rung team to a perennial Playoff contender in Clifford’s five years. And while the Hornets only made it twice, their expectations were always high and their defense was always good.
Clifford’s teams played with discipline defensively and rarely turned the ball over. This is part of who Clifford is. He is a serious coach with very little frills, it seems. But someone who works with his players to improve.
While the Hornets never accomplished all of their goals, they still were a team that was much improved. Like Orlando, Charlotte fought its way back to relevancy. Clifford helped establish those standards to get there.
But Clifford will also get a clean slate with this roster it appears.
He said during his introductory press conference that he approaches each season with a clean slate. Everything has to start from scratch each year. Every fundamental reinforced and rebuilt.
Clifford would not comment on the current roster, saying he needed time to get to know them and study their games. It is his job to become an expert in his own players’ games.
That is his approach to coaching.
But he should also see a clean slate on the roster too. The Magic need to flip things over and make their roster new, giving Clifford a blank slate to lay his foundation. And more importantly bring in the players that will better fit his defensive-minded, disciplined style.
The Magic’s foundation though got a major piece Wednesday. Now comes the rest of the building blocks.
The Orlando Magic’s star search
Now that the Orlando Magic have their head coach, the team’s attention will turn fully toward the NBA Draft and putting the pieces together on the team to take that next step as an organization.
There is no doubt that the sixth pick in the Draft is an important piece to this team’s puzzle. It will bring a player who figures to be a core part of the team moving forward. Along with, at least, Jonathan Isaac.
Orlando needs to find that key piece with this pick. And so everyone has looked to the players with the most star potential as their salvation.
Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr., especially. That is if the first five picks go the way everyone expects.
That is the kind of weight that these picks hold. The question is exactly how will the Magic use it and what exactly will the team target as this foundational piece?
There are plenty of options. The two I mentioned before, then Wendell Carter Jr. and maybe even Mikal Bridges. Fans are not as high on those two players’ potential to bust out as star players. And so the focus remains on Young and Porter most of all.
What is clear though is the Magic need to get that piece in place. No team will go anywhere without its star player in place. And that is what fans hope can come out of this draft.
Orlando seems willing to take a swing to find that star in this run through. The only question that remains is whether they will get it and who that will be.