The Orlando Magic have quietly built a mighty strong foundation for their future, and they will evolve into a real threat in the East in the coming years. With the Magic sitting sixth in odds for the top pick, as well as owning the Bulls’ projected 11th pick, they are more than likely to land two high-quality players in this year’s draft class.
For argument’s sake, I have chosen to exclude Victor Wembenyama, Scoot Henderson, and Brandon Miller from this list, as I view them as the consensus top three players in the class. Any team in the lottery would benefit from adding one of those three guys, so it is a moot point to frame any of them as the “ideal fit” with the Magic, considering they would be a great fit anywhere else too.
5. Amen Thompson – PG, Overtime Elite (G-League)
6’7, 200 lbs, 6’9 wingspan
Pro Comparison: Taller, bouncier version of Markelle Fultz
I love almost everything about Amen Thompson’s game, and I expect him to become a top-tier starting point guard in the NBA – whether his jumper comes together or not. Magic fans have grown to love Markelle Fultz, and I believe they will find very similar things to love in with Amen if they are lucky enough to land him. The only problem is that Thompson and Fultz might struggle to co-exist in the same backcourt given their similar playstyles.
Thompson has the type of athleticism that scouts drool over. We are talking about Jalen Green, Ja Morant-level verticality. He gets to the rim and finishes with ease, and his ability to break down opposing defenses with silky dribble moves is a sight to behold. Above all else, however, Thompson is a phenomenal floor general, making high-IQ passes with accuracy and touch.
If he could shoot the basketball Thompson would be second only to Wembenyama in this class. However, the shooting woes are there and they are not pretty. Thompson’s form is wonky, to say the least. I’m sure Magic fans are groaning at the thought of adding yet another athletic guard with shooting struggles. However, Thompson plays such a smooth, intelligent style of basketball; when you combine that with his absurd height and athleticism he profiles as a prospect who is destined to be a star.
If the Magic do end up pairing Amen Thompson with Markelle, they would probably have the worst shooting backcourt in the NBA. However, they would also possess the smartest, most versatile, and most athletic backcourt duo you could imagine. Fultz and Thompson would lock down opposing guards, and their combined court vision, finishing, and flash could create magic on the floor.
4. Jarace Walker – PF, Houston
6’8, 240 lbs, 7’4 Wingspan
Pro Player Comp: Julius Randle
Jarace Walker is perhaps the most NBA-ready prospect in college basketball, and his game translates in ways that would benefit almost any team in the lottery. The Magic already have plenty of size, and obviously filled their power forward role with reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero, but Walker offers the energy, instincts, and grit that Orlando is lacking in their rotation.
With Walker, the Magic could presumably run a starting lineup of:
PG – 6’4 Markelle Fultz
SG – 6’10 Franz Wagner
SF – 6’10 Paolo Banchero
PF – 6’8 Jarace Walker
C – 6’10 Wendell Carter Jr.
The Magic already possess a unique mix of size, floor spacing, and skill with the lethal duo of Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero. Walker could help them add to that overpowering size even more. Walker is an instinctual player with a high motor, who makes the right passes, plays elite defense, and bullies in the paint. He also possesses the handle and shooting form to develop into a deadly offensive weapon, which could make him a fantastic two-way threat for Orlando for years to come.
What I love most about Walker is not his ceiling, but his floor. To me, Walker profiles like a supercharged Draymond Green with a cleaner offensive skillset. His presence on the Magic would do wonders for a young team that is beginning to learn how to win games but could benefit from more high-energy, physical big men. The only reason he is not higher on this list is that Orlando desperately needs elite shooters, something Walker has not quite figured out yet.
3. Cam Whitmore – PF, Villanova
6’7, 232 lbs, 7’0 wingspan
Pro Comparison: Miles Bridges
Cam Whitmore is an electric offensive force, and his sheer athletic ability will make him a blast to watch once he steps foot on the NBA scene. Whitmore is a strong and physical driver with a quick first step. He may need time to adjust to the length and quickness of NBA defenders, but his explosiveness should translate immediately.
On top of that, Whitmore has shown flashes as a shot-creator and three-point shooter, which is always an alluring sign for a player with his natural athleticism. Whitmore has also demonstrated excellent cutting and off-ball movement, which would make him an ideal complement to players like Fultz, Wagner, and Banchero, all of whom can operate as the Magic’s primary ball handler at any given time.
The Magic desperately need more high-upside scoring wings like Franz Wagner, who seems to be their only elite three-level scorer right now. Whitmore could provide them with an instant offensive spark in that department, with the upside to develop into even more. Magic executives John Hammond and Jeff Weltman have shown time and time again that they salivate over players with length and two-way versatility, and Whitmore fits that billing to a tee.
Much like Keegan Murray did for Sacramento this year, I think Whitmore would excel in the catch-and-shoot while displaying flashes of his shot creation. He would also flash an all-around ability throughout the year for the Magic, all while packing a punch with his natural cutting and finishing ability.
2. Taylor Hendricks – PF, UCF
6’9, 210 lbs, 7’3 wingspan
Pro Comparison: Jerami Grant/Jonathan Isaac (hopefully without the health concerns)
There is a lot to love about Taylor Hendricks as a prospect, as he profiles as a premier wing, to say the least. Hendricks possesses a freakish 7’3 wingspan, which only adds to his tremendous defensive instincts. He is a natural help defender in the paint, blocking shots with perfect timing and hand-eye coordination.
He has also demonstrated elite lateral quickness, as well as a knack for creating deflections and disrupting passing lanes. Hendricks is the most tantalizing defensive prospect in this class outside of Victor Wembenyama. His length pairs naturally with elite defensive abilities that are reminiscent of current Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac.
Hendricks also boasts a stellar three-point stroke, as he shot nearly 40% from three on this year. His shot creation is not stellar, but certainly not a negative either, and he can definitely put the ball on the floor when he has to.
All in all, if Hendricks can stay healthy he would provide the Magic with a hometown product, elite defensive versatility, size, and floor spacing. He fits the mold of the ideal WeltHam draft pick, and it does not hurt that he played his college ball just a half an hour away from Amway Center.
1. Gradey Dick – SG, Kansas
6’8”, 205 lbs, TBD Wingspan
Pro Comparison: Taller, more athletic Kevin Huerter
Taylor Hendricks is certainly a close second, but Gradey Dick to Orlando is a match made in basketball heaven. Dick is an underrated all-around prospect who fills the Magic’s most dire need – a three-point shooting two-guard. Dick is easily the best three-point shooter in this class, and should fill right in as one of the best in the NBA out the gates.
His form is impeccable, and his release is as quick as they come. Dick excels most as an off-ball mover, where defenses are forced to constantly key on him not only as a shooter, but also as a cutter. However, do not let that fool you into thinking his game is one-dimensional.
Dick stands 6’8, with the length and size to ensure that he will not be a negative on the defensive end. He has proven that he is capable of creating his own shot and maneuvering around closeouts to create space and get off that quick-trigger three-point stroke, and he can finish at the cup with solid athleticism as well.
Not only that, but I found myself consistently impressed with Dick as a willing rebounder and smart passer, skills that do not normally accompany your prototypical quick-trigger two guards. Dick may not scream All-Star, but he would be the perfect player for Orlando to target with the Bulls’ pick.
In the NBA, he is sure to make the right passes, hustle on the glass, and shoot the lights out of the ball without sacrificing Orlando’s commitment to a lineup of size and versatility. His game translates directly to the NBA, which makes his floor as safe as they come, and he would provide an instant offensive boost to a team that desperately needs one.