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Adding To The German Trio

The NBA landscape is undergoing seismic changes already, league altering moves being made in a blink of an eye. Fresh faces are challenging teams trying to maintain their grip on the league. New contenders are emerging as once-dominant franchises fade from title contention. That trigger-happy approach hasn't applied for Orlando as they stood pat once again despite external speculations of trading the pick.

As early as Monday, June 24, Orlando had "zeroed" in on a slew of players they believed would be available to them with the 18th overall pick. Among them, Tristan Da Silva, a 23-year-old forward from Colorado. Da Silva had been on Orlando’s radar in past seasons. His play in the tournament and draft interviews helped him climb the Magic board. Early on in the draft process, he was identified as someone Orlando was comfortable selecting at #18 overall despite his age.

The senior stuffed the stat sheet in all four seasons, with the Buffaloes averaging 16 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.15 steals. He shot 39.5% (64-162) from 3-point range and 83.5% (86-103) at the free-throw line and was an All-Pac-12 second-team selection. There aren't many 6-foot-9 players who can do as many things as Da Silva can on both ends of the floor. He checks every box Orlando sought in a high-quality role player.

In his Zoom interview post-draft, Da Silva seemed confident in transitioning from college to the NBA, describing Orlando's system as "pretty similar" to that of his alma mater he spent four seasons at.

“Tryna dictate the game with our defense — and then playing through those big wings. Getting the ball in the right people's hands,” he said.

As riveting as it is knowing Da Silva understands the pecking order of touches in a state of daze after being drafted, it will benefit Orlando when that ball eventually does find him. His ability to spread the floor on offense separates him from many players with his size and speed. Da Silva is a smooth sailor from behind the arc, a threat that defenses can’t leave open to blitz Orlando at the low block.

The German and Brazilian mixed forward is one of only five prospects 6’8 or taller with strong shooting indicators: 80%+ from the free throw line and 37%+ from 3 on high volume. Furthermore, this archetype is so rare that only 19 players (since 2008) have been drafted fitting this criteria.

It’s too easy to pack the paint against a team with non-shooters on the perimeter. That’s what happened to the Orlando Magic. Their offense has been stuck in the mud because they have drafted many prospects who have needed to improve as shooters. Luckily, Silva won’t add to that trend. He improves every lineup he’s in. It’s not just his shooting. He uses the threat of his shot to attack closeouts, find the open man, and move the ball. He’s a smart player whose feel for the game jumps off the screen:

There aren’t many holes in his game, either. Da Silva can do a little bit of everything, from scoring to shooting, passing, and rebounding. The biggest knock on him is his defensive awareness. Colorado's defense was never less effective than when he was in the game. Some of that’s bad luck and tough shot-making. But, more significantly, Da Silva seems disengaged if he isn't guarding on-ball, clearly exposing one of his few problematic shortcomings.

This isn’t a hopeless situation for the Magic or Da Silva. The Colorado senior has shown his defensive instincts sporadically, it's just about the effort on that end of the floor flourishing into consistency. One game never tells the whole story on a prospect, but one of his better defensive outings came a few months ago vs. California.

In the clip below, you'll see Da Silva be a few steps ahead anticipating plays develop, a trait that suggests his high basketball IQ Jeff Weltman alluded to last night. Combined with patience for "firing" at the nail, he disguised himself in an array of defensive stances —allowing him to register steals and getting stops.

Da Silva possesses all the necessary tools physically to be astute in Jamahl Mosley's defensive scheme. Nearly 6'11 wingspan with close to ten-inch hands. Playing for one of the premier defensive masterminds the NBA has to offer, if anyone can mold a young player to buy in on that end of the floor, it's Mosley. His players don’t resent their coach’s fetish for hard work—rather, they’ve bought all the way in. They refuse to give up on any game or play, and seem genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to ruin somebody else’s night. We witnessed it for two consecutive seasons now.

The playoff taste this year from the Magic shed light on how valuable players like Da Silva can be. He features waves of a 3-and-potential D wing who can defend multiple positions and spread the floor on offense. Those are essential pieces for a young team. Especially given the demons in the East standing atop in New York and the defending champion Boston Celtics. The best-case version of Da Silva is someone who can play good defense at both forward positions while knocking down 3s and moving the ball. Players like that are worth like gold in the NBA. He doesn’t have to be a star to have a star-like impact, not when sharing the court with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

Though the Magic had every intention of sending their 18th overall pick down to Osceola in a Jett Howard-like situation, the possibility of that hasn't negated itself despite drafting a 23-year-old rookie. It will depend on how the remaining roster spots shake out this off-season. Da Silva won't be waiting too long to make his Magic debut either. He will be joined by former lottery picks Jett Howard and Anthony Black in Las Vegas at the annual NBA Summer League. A roster constructed around that formidable trio will likely hoist Orlando as a front-runner to win it all, something very few accomplish in Vegas.

Lionel Chalmers, to whom the Orlando Magic have assigned the summer league head coaching duties, will coach them. Chalmers has served under three separate coaches since being hired in 2017. After being promoted to assistant coach in 2019, Chalmers will step into his first head coaching gig in Las Vegas.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but expect there to be Magic in the air.

Follow Fawzan Amer on Twitter

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