The Orlando Magic just completed one of the worst seasons in franchise history, finishing a league worst 20-62 one year removed from (barely) surviving the franchise altering nightmare that Dwight Howard put them through. The Orlando fans no doubt expected an awful season from this band of misfits, but it certainly didn’t help that a slew of injuries hit multiple players expected to play key roles headed into the season. Hedo Turkoglu missed 71 games, Glen Davis missed 48 games, Jameer Nelson missed 26 games and Arron Afflalo missed 18 games. The team also shipped out a good player in JJ Redick for young pieces expected to pay future dividends and were not able to receive any contributions of worth from washed up veterans such as Josh McRoberts and Al Harrington. But given that the front office was fully committed to the rebuild after having to trade a superstar in Howard for unknown quantities, creating more minutes for the young players on the roster was exactly the right answer to infuse some excitement back in the city. Nikola Vucevic appears to be one of the most promising players in the league, and the forward trio of Andrew Nicholson, Moe Harkless, and Tobias Harris has all shown significant flashes of potential. The Magic did fall a spot from their projected draft order to #2, but there is once again hope just a season after their second NBA ‘Superman’ left them reeling in despair.
With the frontcourt solidified and no standout big man really available after Nerlens Noel (expected to go #1 to the Cavaliers), the Magic have the option of picking from a buffet of talented guards. They need help on both sides of the ball, finishing 27th in the NBA in Offensive Rating and 25th in Defensive Rating. A guy like Victor Oladipo or Ben McElmore make a lot of sense at this spot, but the route that Orlando will take in the upcoming draft is with PG Trey Burke from the University of Michigan. With Nelson now on the wrong side of 30 and no real successor in town, Burke would instantly be able to plug in and learn how to run an NBA offense from a true professional. He himself possesses leadership qualities that will be important down the line and has shown the clutch gene repeatedly over the last two seasons in college. He led the entire country in the Win Shares and Points Produced, and was at the top of the leaderboard in the Big Ten in a slew of other categories including Assist %, PER, and Usage Rate. And did I mention he collected 5 Player of the Year honors along the way and a 1st team All-America selection?
Yes, this pick is a little high for Burke, who really was being slotted into the middle of the lottery until the NCAA tournament came around, in conjunction with scouts accepting that this was the worst draft in over 10 years. Ideally, Orlando was expecting Marcus Smart to declare for the draft as he offers a little more size and versatility at the PG spot but he decided to head back for another year at Oklahoma State. Burke measures out at just 6’0” and needs to improve his outside shooting and turnover frequency. Although he moves the ball around well, he has a tendency to get trigger-happy at times when he believes he has to take over. And although the Wolverines ended the season with a National Championship appearance, the team faded down the stretch of the regular season. But in a draft with no guarantees and a possible decade-long floor general ready to contribute, I believe the Michigan Man is the right guy for the Orlando Magic.