By Ryan Brock
The NBA draft is less than two weeks away and with picks No. 6 and No. 11 in the first round, the Magic are in a position to shake up the draft. I believe the most likely outcome is that they end up keeping those picks, but with the amount of volatility that surrounds the prospects in the middle of the lottery, Orlando could elect to wheel and deal to acquire a player they truly covet. I wanted to toy around with some fake trades that make sense for the future of the team, aligns with their philosophy, and also feels at least semi-realistic.
Each trade will be made with the intent to build around newly crowned Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero and his 6 '10 running mate, Franz Wagner. The sole goal of these trades is to maximize their value as they are clearly the foundation of this team moving forward. With that being said, let's get it rolling.
Trade 1: The Magic trade up for Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller
MAGIC TRADE: No. 6 Pick, No. 11 Pick, 2024 1st Round Pick (Unprotected)
HORNETS TRADE: No. 2 Pick
Sure, I would love to have the 2024 pick have top 4 protection, but Charlotte will need to be blown away to move out of the two spot and I’m not sure this trade gets done if Magic asks for protection on the pick. In the infamous Luka for Trae Young trade in the 2018 draft, Dallas swapped No.5 to No. 3 and just had to give up an extra first rounder. Here, the Hornets also receive another lottery pick that they can use to help rebuild their roster, which needs an infusion of young talent to surround LaMelo Ball with.
From a Magic perspective, they get aggressive and go get the guy they believe takes their team to the next level, selecting the best player in the draft not named Victor Wembanyama. Scoot and Miller aren’t exactly picture perfect fits with the current roster, but both make sense to varying degrees and the upside is sky high for both players.
Henderson brings supreme athleticism and a ferocious offensive game that would add a new dynamic to the young core of the Magic. But a selection of Scoot would raise questions about what to do with Markelle Fultz, as the two aren’t exactly the ideal backcourt mates to pair together. But Henderson’s talent could just be too good to pass is one the cases where you just take him and figure everything else out later.
Miller seems to be a cleaner fit, as he offers something the Magic desperately need: shooting. A trio of Paolo, Franz and Miller would be unprecedented, as Orlando would roll out three 6 '9 or taller wings who can pass, dribble, and shoot. While Miller isn’t a lockdown defender, he can hold his own on the perimeter and could probably make it work at the shooting guard position.
To be clear, Orlando should only do this deal if they truly believe one of these two players are future all-stars. With such a young team already, I wouldn't be as concerned about next year's first round pick. The 2024 draft class reportedly isn’t very strong and the Magic should be competing for a playoff spot, barring health. Scoot or Miller would be an exciting addition to the team that rounds out their young core and offers a player that could potentially become a future star in the league.
Trade 2: The Magic trade for an established player that fits the timeline
MAGIC TRADE: No. 11 Pick, Cole Anthony
SPURS TRADE: Devin Vassell
Does this need to be the No. 6 pick? Perhaps. Even so, I could see each fanbase hating this trade because of the love they have for their hometown players. If the Magic can’t reach an extension with Cole Anthony and don’t want to take him into restricted free agency, they could elect to start shopping him and look for an opportunity to add more size and shooting to the guard position.
From a Spurs perspective, Anthony would provide San Antonio with a potential point guard of the future, as I believe Cole has the talent to be a starter in this league. He probably won’t get that opportunity in Orlando as long as Markelle Fultz is still there, so playing alongside Wembanyama could actually be an enticing option for Anthony as he attempts to boost his value at the end of his rookie contract. The Spurs also add another lottery pick as they look to fill out a young roster to build around the French phenom.
As for Vassell, he too is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, so the Magic would need to feel comfortable paying him at his market value, which will surely be north of $20MM per year. Vassell was a 20 point scorer for the Spurs and would immediately help the Magic’s spacing, as he shot 39% from deep last season and 43% on catch and shoot 3s, according to second spectrum. While he would be a great fit next to Paolo and Franz, his presence could also hinder the development of Jalen Suggs, a player the Magic are still fully invested in as the two-guard of the future.
Trade 3: The Magic trade trade down and gain more assets
MAGIC TRADE: No. 6 Pick
THUNDER TRADE: No. 12 Pick, 2024 1st Round Pick (From Utah - Top 10 Protected), 2026 1st Round Pick (From Clippers)
If Orlando isn’t enamored with any of the prospects early in the draft, they could elect to move down to the latter part of the lottery, taking a complimentary player while collecting future assets in the process. The Magic already hold all of their own future picks as well as Denver’s 2025 first round pick (top 5 protected), so adding two more future first rounders gives them plenty of ammunition for a potential mega trade down the line.
Picking at No. 12 would give them back to back picks and there are plenty of players who offer skills the Magic lack at this spot in the draft. Instead of taking a risk on a high-upside player who doesn’t really fit with the current roster, they have a chance to address the need for shooting or filling the hole of a back-up big.
The Thunder seem like an ideal partner for a trade down and have reportedly been showing interest in moving up near the top of the lottery. Sooner or later, Sam Presti is going to have cash in on the extraordinary number of picks they have stored in the bank, and if they covet a player like Jarace Walker, Cam Whitmore, or one the Thompson twins, this could finally be the time to strike.
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