The Orlando Magic went back to the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday night for the sixth straight year and were not able to defy the odds. They will pick sixth in this summer's upcoming NBA Draft, which is the selection they had the highest odds of receiving.
After the announcement, one could hear the collective groan from Magic fans. Throughout the course of this current rebuild, the team has never gotten a better-than-expected pick and three times finished one place worse than the projected odds originally indicated.
Reading that fact may depress Orlando fans even more, but there is also ample reason for optimism. There is always talent to be had in the NBA Draft, no matter where you are picking.
With more guys jumping earlier to the NBA than ever before, the parity of the draft order has become even more pronounced. One needs to look no further than the case of Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell to understand that hope could be just right around the corner.
The Jazz lost their franchise player, Gordon Hayward, this offseason and many expected the team to take a big step back into rebuilding mode. Instead, they found a transformative player in Mitchell at the 13th pick, he averaged over 20 points per game and led Utah to the second round of the playoffs.
There have been other names in recent years in similar situations like Damian Lillard (6th pick, 2012 Draft), Kawhi Leonard (15th pick, 2011 NBA Draft) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th pick, 2013 Draft) that have become stars and franchise leaders. It is all about finding the right guy, no matter where a team picks.
While no players drafted at or below the sixth pick in the last four years have become All-Stars yet, 11 guys chosen in that same situation from 2010-13 have made at least one All-Star team. Some of those more recent drafts have been particularly weak, but everyone agrees that there is depth in the draft this time around.
Most agree the top eight players available this year in no particular order are in DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Luca Doncic, Mohamed Bamba, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr., Michael Porter Jr. and Michael Sexton. That means the Magic will get the opportunity to choose between two of those guys.
Orlando's decision likely comes down to choosing either the athletic wing player left on the board or the point guard of the future that Orlando fans have long clamored for. They may very well get the chance at point guard Trae Young, the first player to ever lead the NCAA in points and assists in a single-season.
Clearly, there will be a player at six available for the Magic that is coveted by talent evaluators. They are in an even better position than last year when they chose Jonathan Isaac with the sixth pick over other names that were discussed like Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk.
I understand the frustration on behalf of those who have stayed loyal and watched this team over the last several years. I am also asking Magic fans to have just a little more faith because the answer may be right around the corner.
Photo courtesy of the Orlando Magic