The Orlando Magic got the first big piece of information for their upcoming summer of likely change. Tings did not go ideally in the NBA Draft Lottery. Two teams jumped into the top three, and neither were the Orlando Magic.
That pushed the Magic down a spot from fifth to sixth. And while that will likely leave the Magic taking one of the better players in this draft, it also leaves them with more limited options. They are at a place where the draft likely makes a turn from very good to just OK.
It will be an interesting month for the Magic as they begin to sort through the draft candidates.
Will they take the scorer in Trae Young? Would they look to the defensive-minded big like Mohamed Bamba? Would they take the gamble on the injured Michael Porter Jr.? Or look to more secure role players like Mikal Bridges, Wendell Carter or Collin Sexton? Will they get lucky and see Jaren Jackson Jr. fall to them?
There are still endless possibilities for the draft to explore. The Magic will have their work cut out for them to weed through these prospects before the big day on June 21.
As I have done the last several years, I gathered a panel of Magic writers to discuss the season that was and the direction the Magic will head as they look to remake the roster and find a new coach.
We look back at the NBA Draft Lottery in our NBA Draft Lottery Live show:
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.