The Orlando Magic aren’t too far away from competing for a position in the play-in tournament. Given the development of young players like Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, as well as the rock-solid play of Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz at the core of their squad, the Magic will have plenty of weapons on both ends of the floor.
To make matters worse, the Magic have two more high draft picks to add to their already impressive young core. They received the sixth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft as a result of the Nikola Vucevic deal, and they also received the 11th pick.
With the sixth overall pick, it’s difficult to see the Magic being too sweet; one of the Thompson twins, Cam Whitmore, and Jarace Walker should still be available by then, and the Magic won’t pass up on any of those players, especially Amen and Ausar Thompson.
However, the Magic’s plans for #11 are fraught with ambiguity. Their squad could use some reinforcements at shooting guard and small forward right now, so they might utilize that choice to pursue a wing. Or maybe they choose the best player available or take a chance on a late NBA Draft climber. Whatever the case, the Magic are in a prime position to strengthen their roster.
With that in mind, here are three intriguing players the Magic might pursue with the 11th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
1. Kobe Bufkin
The Magic don’t really require guards; Markelle Fultz is holding down the fort there, and if the end of the 2022-23 season is any indication, he looks like a competent starter for the Magic for years to come. Meanwhile, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony can both run the offense — Suggs, in particular, has been a solid defender at the point, while Anthony is more of a microwave bench scorer.
As a result, picking Kobe Bufkin with the 11th overall pick may not be the best idea. There are better options for the Magic to take with this selection. Bufkin and Suggs could wind up occupying comparable locations and duties on the court, making one or the other obsolete.
Bufkin’s poise, undeniable feel for the game, and defensive prowess, on the other hand, make him such a promising prospect. The cream always rises to the top, and Bufkin, with his great work ethic, should have plenty of potentials to grow. At 6’4, he also has good size, and if he bulks up, he might be able to compete with other 3s.
2. Dereck Lively II
Outside of Victor Wembanyama, this draft class is notoriously low on centers; only two centers were anticipated to be picked in the first round in ClutchPoints beat reporter Brett Siegel’s most recent mock draft. You can probably guess who the other person is.
Apart from the scarcity of centers, Dereck Lively II has a lot of merit on his own. He is an excellent diver, but it is his defensive versatility at his size (7’1 with a 7’7 wingspan) that makes him such an intriguing prospect on that end of the floor.
Sure, Wendell Carter Jr. already plays the position for the Magic. However, Carter is surrounded by a rotating door of centers. Carter isn’t the most durable center in the league.
3. Jett Howard
Jett Howard is coming off one of the worst seasons in his lone year at Michigan. Howard hit the ball well enough from long on a regular basis (36.8 percent on 7.3 tries per game), averaging 14.2 points — but he doesn’t do much else on the court other than let it fly.
Of course, athletes like these will always have a place in the NBA; it’s not every day that a potential three-point rover stands at 6’8. Because of the potential mismatch problem, he poses at the position, Howard should be able to get his shots off at any moment if he continues to improve his outside shooting.
Unfortunately, every other aspect of his game requires improvement. His defense, both on and off the ball, needs a lot of work. Howard isn’t the fastest on his feet, nor is he the most focused away from the ball.
Jett Howard, on the other hand, hasn’t even turned 20 yet, so if the Magic decide to take a chance on him, he’ll have plenty of time to develop those facets of his game. In reality, he should have an easy time in Orlando. Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, and Paolo Banchero will set the table for him, allowing him to do what he does best: make it rain from afar.