1. Amen Thompson – PG
6’7”, 200 lbs, 6’9 wingspan
Amen Thompson is an electrifying athlete and a natural playmaker with impeccable vision. Shooting struggles be damned, Thompson has one of the highest ceilings of any player in this draft class. If Thompson is available for Orlando at pick six, they need to jump at the opportunity to land him.
The Magic have a stellar young core that is hungry to win games in the 2023-24 season. They boast a bounty of young talent, draft capital, and cap room to make moves, and this offseason may be the final and most significant domino to fall in their latest rebuild. Amen Thompson may not be as seamless a fit as some of the other prospects in this class, but he has the highest ceiling of anyone who might fall to pick six.
With James Harden likely to return to the Rockets, and the Pistons unlikely to draft another guard after taking Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey in back-to-back years, it is possible that Amen could fall to Orlando. The Magic may not have a pick in the lottery for a long time after this year, so executives John Hammond and Jeff Weltman would be wise to take one last home run swing on a potential superstar.
2. Taylor Hendricks – PF
6’9, 210 lbs, 7’3 wingspan
Taylor Hendricks is a tantalizing prospect that could kill two birds with one stone if the Magic choose to take him at pick six. He would fill Orlando’s two biggest needs: three-point shooting and rim protection. It is also worth mentioning that Hendricks is a UCF alum who would fit right in as a hometown product.
Hendricks has serious star potential, standing 6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan, his versatility as a defender and shooter could make him an ideal replacement for the fledgling Jonathan Isaac experiment. His rim protection and quick-twitch ability on defense make him a nightmare for opposing ball-handlers, and he is a great three-point shooter as well. Hendricks has also flashed the ability to put the ball on the floor and create for himself, so if he can continue to work on that he could take his game to a whole other level.
3. Ausar Thompson – SF
6’6, 218 lbs, 7’0 wingspan
Ausar may be the most NBA-ready of the Thompson twins. While Ausar may not have the same guard-like versatility that Amen does, he is a fantastic player and surely the better shooter. Ausar also excels as a help defender and on-ball defender, where he is better equipped for the NBA game than his brother who is a bit raw as an on-ball defender. Amen may have the higher ceiling, but Ausar has a safe floor as a lethal scoring and defending wing with freakish athleticism.
With Ausar or Hendricks, the Magic could trot out the biggest starting lineup in the NBA. The Magic could run a big lineup consisting of:
PG – Markelle Fultz (6’4, 201 lbs.)
SG – Franz Wagner (6’10”, 220 lbs.)
SF – Ausar Thompson (6’7”, 218 lbs.)/Taylor Hendricks (6’9”, 209 lbs.)
PF – Paolo Banchero (6’10”, 250 lbs.)
C – Wendell Carter Jr. (6’10”, 270 lbs.)
Each of these players possesses the versatility to defend opposing players on all three levels, and they can all make plays and put the ball on the floor to create for themselves. Hendricks would probably guard opposing fours and act as a help defender for Wendell Carter Jr. In this positionless NBA, he could slot in as the team’s starting small forward on the depth chart.
1. Gradey Dick – SG
6’8”, 205 lbs, 6’9” Wingspan
Gradey Dick is an underrated all-around prospect, and the ideal candidate to join the Magic at pick 11. He is a stellar shooter with a quick release, standing 6’8, and with underrated versatility as a shot creator, passer, and rebounder. Dick excels at off-ball movement, cutting, and hustling on the glass. He is a high-quality role player who would fit seamlessly into any NBA team but is an especially good fit for a Magic team that is desperate for three-point shooters. I believe Dick would quickly usurp Gary Harris for the starting shooting guard role and would endear himself to Magic fans in a heartbeat.
2. Jarace Walker – PF
6’8, 240 lbs, 7’4 Wingspan
Jarace Walker is a high-motor big man and the ideal energizer for a young team. He has work to do to improve his jumper but excels at everything else you look for in a modern stretch four. The Magic do need three-point shooters, but Walker is a physical big man who could provide them a nasty complement to Wendell Carter in the paint. Walker is a bruising offensive force in the paint, a smart passer, and he excels on the defensive end. He fits the mold of a Welt-Ham prospect to a tee, with his 7’4 wingspan and overall versatility. I doubt he falls to pick 11, but if he does the Magic should leap at the opportunity to add him to this young core.
3. Cam Whitmore – F
6’7, 232 lbs, 7’0 wingspan
Cam Whitmore is a very intriguing prospect, an explosive athlete with a solid three-point stroke hailing from a blue-blood school in Villanova. He might have a higher ceiling than Gradey Dick, but he could make a bit of a questionable fit next to Banchero and Wagner. He is not a natural post-scorer and was inefficient from the free throw line at college. If his three-point shot does not translate to the NBA, he could find himself cast aside next to shot creators in Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.
All that being said, the pros outweigh the cons with Whitmore as a prospect, and his quick first step combined with his solid three-point stroke make him a more than suitable fit for the Magic at pick 11. He could easily come off the board before the Magic’s second pick of the night, or even before their first, but he has also been mocked in this range. Given the depth of this draft class, you never know who might slip to 11.
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