Drafting Dennis Smith Jr Makes Sense For the Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic need roster rehabilitation. It’s a bit difficult to be excited about a team who regressed in nearly every statistical NBA category available including the win column. At some point the bleeding has to stop. The Magic need to dress their wounds and get serious about turning the franchise around into a winning team.

The Orlando Magic will select at number six in the 2017 NBA draft– a place they have never selected before. Luckily for the Magic, they will be able to find value at that selection. The 2017 draft is a very deep draft.

The team has many decisions to make regarding the roster this off-season. The one thing that needs to happen is drafting NBA prospect Dennis Smith Jr if the opportunity becomes available.

NBA Draft prospect Dennis Smith Jr at North Carolina State

It’s clear the Orlando Magic need to find a future fixture at the small forward position.

Unfortunately, the top two prospects at that position in Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum may not be available when the Magic are on the clock. And that may actually benefit the Magic.

The position that should be filled immediately is a combo guard spot.

And that’s where Dennis Smith Jr becomes the best available player. The Magic’s new general manager, John Hammond, has spoken vastly about drafting the best player available.

At selection six, if Smith is available, he will be the best player available and the Orlando Magic should be ready to take him.

The Case:
The Eastern Conference 

The Eastern Conference proved a strong backcourt is key to making the postseason – the Orlando Magic’s current goal. The top four teams of the eastern conference possess the strongest rated backcourts of the conference.

Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, and Kyle Lowry all belong in the annul all-star conversation. Each player comes along with the playmaker and scorer labels.

The Orlando Magic know what they have in guard Elfrid Payton and now it’s time to bring in an explosive guard who can complement Payton. They need to create a more dynamic backcourt. This move should not be a replacement move but more of a team cohesiveness move.

Payton has displayed he is capable of running an NBA offense and getting players in their spots. Smith should be able to show he is capable of being a leading scorer in that offense.

Scoring Threat

Whether Dennis Smith Jr can become an all-star is undetermined at the moment. What is clear is he is a capable scorer and can make plays on offense, which is what the Magic desperately need. Taking a look at Smith Jr’s body of work in his lone season at NC State, indications are he will be a triple threat scorer.

Just behind fellow classmate Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith Jr is ranked as the second best isolation scoring guard available this draft and number three overall behind Fultz, and forward Jayson Tatum.

Smith has been able to demonstrate his three-point range last season as he converted at a rate of 38 percent.

Putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim will be his niche. He will be able to keep defenses honest and make them guard him if they choose to go under screens.

Team Fit

The signals from the Magic are to find players who are versatile and of high character. But at some point, team needs have to be taken into account.

Breaking down this team, the Magic struggle significantly with point guards D.J. Augustine and C.J. Watson running the floor. By drafting Smith Jr, the Magic instantly have an upgrade over both veterans. Smith Jr can spark the second unit and take pressure off the starters. While doing so, the Magic get another year to analyze starter Payton’s value and growth. If they become unsatisfied with his play, they will have a replacement player in the system. If they remain confident in Payton, then Smith remains the backup threat and occasionally spells the two guard role.

With his ability to score, he could take over as the starting shooting guard should Orlando choose to move on from guard Evan Fournier or not resign shooting guard Jodie Meeks. This move essentially gives the Magic options they currently don’t have.


The Probable:

As the NBA draft approaches, Dennis Smith Jr is the only prospect who has met with the Orlando Magic on two occasions. Usually that is a great sign that a team is interested in a prospect. With a flurry of pre-draft trades throughout the NBA, it’s possible Smith Jr, is high on other teams list and could be taken as early as pick five, to the Sacramento Kings. If Smith Jr, becomes available at pick six, the Orlando Magic will more than likely draft him. If he is not available expect the team to quickly shift focus to prospect F Jonathan Issac out of Florida State. The objective is to keep position versatility going forward and to keep pushing all the current players to continue to progress.

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The Twist:

The Orlando Magic have been quiet on the NBA trade winds but expect they are listening to calls from other teams. Come draft day, the Magic will make a draft day trade with the Sacramento Kings for the 10th pick in this years draft centered around Nikola Vucevic and the 25th pick.


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