Jan 15, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) passes the ball against Tennessee Volunteers forward Jarnell Stokes (5) in the first half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 75-65. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NBA Draft: Orlando Magic Face Tough Decisions


May 16, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Trey Burke is interviewed during the NBA Draft combine at Harrison Street Athletics Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic are at a crossroads as they approach the 2013 NBA Draft.  They’re likely to land a top-three pick, but the player who best fits their needs is Trey Burke of Michigan. Burke has done nothing but increase his stock since the midway point of the 2012-13 NCAA season, but the 6’0″ floor general is still not expected to go until the 7th overall pick according to NBADraft.net. The Magic’s oldest starter is 31-year-old Jameer Nelson, and ideally Rob Hennigan would like to grab Burke for Nelson to mentor.

Their games are similar, but Burke’s high upside should be the peak Nelson was never able to prolong. If the Magic aren’t able to work a suitable deal to move down, an entirely different direction could be taken. Nerlens Noel was originally slotted by Chad Ford, NBADraft.net and Draft Express as a No. 1 overall pick prior to his horrible ACL injury.

The thing is, we’ve now seen guys come back from this, and though Noel’s injury was particularly gruesome, he was the only one in this draft with perennial All-Star type talent. He showed far more skill offensively than most expected he would, particularly in passing the ball out of double teams and moving without the ball.

Noel is still very raw, but with some hard work and instruction he could be the best player in the draft. There is more, though: Noel further enhances the Magic’s chances of tanking for another high pick in the much more lucrative 2014 crop of rookies.

Whether the Magic trade down for Burke, select Ben McLemore for another team and trade him, or take Noel with a

high selection — It won’t make or break this rebuilding process. Hennigan already landed his major chip when he acquired Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless are looking like great acquisitions from the Dwight Howard deal.

The trio could be the Magic’s frontcourt of the future, but Noel is an intriguing prospect who could potentially play both the 4 and the 5. Burke could be the guy that Hennigan sees leading his team into the next era. While Burke and Noel may be entirely different players, it seems Hennigan will be wisest to consider the best two talents in the class. Marcus Smart had been the Magic’s coveted one, but he didn’t enter the draft, which makes the Burke scenario a pretty attractive one for Hennigan.

Tags: 2013 NBA Draft Kentucky Wildcasts Michigan Wolverines NBA Draft Nerlens Noel Orlando Magic Rob Hennigan Trey Burke