The Orlando Magic will enter the 2013-14 season poised for the next phase of their rebuilding project in the post-Dwight Howard era. After the trade that netted them Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic, Magic GM Rob Hennigan was widely panned for not getting enough in return for the superstar center. A season later, Hennigan is the one looking like a genius, as Vucevic was a top-five rebounder in the NBA and Harkless took strides forward. Meanwhile, Howard played poorly for the Lakers, Andre Iguodala never got comfortable in Denver and has since opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent and Andrew Bynum didn't play at all for the 76ers.
The Magic will be able to add another huge piece to the future of the franchise on draft night with the No. 2 overall pick. This is the first time the Magic have drafted in the top ten since 2004 when they took Howard No. 1 overall. Since then, the highest they've picked has been No.11. They've done so twice, taking Fran Vasquez in 2005 and J.J. Redick in 2006. Although there is no Dwight Howard available in the 2013 draft, Magic fans will relish the opportunity to root for a talented "clean slate" player.
The Magic have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and would have had the No. 31 pick as well, but they traded it to the Cavaliers for Justin Harper (don't blame yourself if you've never heard of him). They acquired the No. 51 pick in the draft from Denver in the Howard trade, a pick that was originally Golden State's, but was sent to the Knicks in the David Lee sign-and-trade, then sent to Denver for Carmelo Anthony. Isn't NBA draft trade history fun?
Point guard: Jameer Nelson, Beno Udrih (free agent), E'Twaun Moore
Shooting guard: Arron Afflalo, DeQuan Jones, Doron Lamb
Small forward: Moe Harkless, Hedo Turkoglu (player option)
Power forward: Tobias Harris, Glen Davis, Andrew Nicholson, Al Harrington
Center: Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O'Quinn
The Magic have Hedo Turkoglu, Beno Udrih and Al Harrington all coming off the books, with Harrington and Turkoglu having non-guaranteed contracts for 2013-14 and no one expecting them to renew. They also could re-sign Kyle O'Quinn, DeQuan Jones and E'Twuan Moore, who have non-guaranteed contracts at under $1 million each for 2013-14.
Based on the players on the roster, the Magic are truly in a "best player available" position. Other than Vucevic, the Magic wouldn't be reluctant to push any starters to the bench in favor of a better player, and Vucevic could play the 4 if the Magic needed him to.
Point guard is their biggest need. Jameer Nelson declined last year and he's under contract until the end of next season with a team option for 2014-15. The Magic, according to ESPN's Chad Ford, would have leaped at the chance to draft Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart, but he decided to stay in school.
If the Magic believe Nicholson and Vucevic can be a frontcourt foundation, with Harkless and Harris capable of being smallball or stretch 4s, the need becomes apparent for a swingman, preferably a three-point shooter. This is especially true if they trade Afflalo to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, as rumored.
It's hard to look at any mock draft that doesn't have the Magic taking Kansas' Ben McLemore (scouting report). He fits the shooter/slasher role to a T and is a high-character player with a seemingly low floor. He also could bring the added benefit of not having a major positive impact right away, positioning the Magic for next year's lottery, with Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart in the picture. Orlando could also take Indiana's Victor Oladipo (scouting report).
Otto Porter (scouting report) of Georgetown is another player Hennigan has to be looking hard at, if only to keep his options open. Porter can serve as a point forward at times and is incredibly versatile, something you can't say about Harris and Harkless, who, although talented, already have the look of classic "tweeners."
The Magic would likely take Nerlens Noel (scouting report) if he did not go No. 1 overall to Cleveland.