Once again, the Dwight Howard trade churns out yet another valuable piece for Orlando; the gift that keeps on giving. The latest reward is the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft, giving the Magic a second lottery selection in what many consider a loaded draft. Thanks to awful seasons by the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets, the Magic walked away with their second pick, and what should ultimately be another young talent to add to their embryonic young, growing core. There will be plenty of players drafted in the late lottery range that could come in and be contributors and fill holes right away for the Magic. If they can hit on both of these picks, the Magic could find themselves on the cusp of returning to the playoffs. General Manager Rob Hennigan, a product of the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, has properly emulated both of their models by building through the draft and not rushing things.
Let’s talk about that draft pick.
With the Magic potentially looking at point guards and post players with the fourth selection, the prevailing thought around the 12th pick is a shooter at either wing position. Last season, the Magic finished 21st in the NBA in three-point percentage, finishing the season with a mediocre 35.3 percentage from beyond the arc. Excluding Arron Afflalo’s 42% from three last season, Orlando saw just three guys shoot an above average rate from three — Doron Lamb (40%), Maurice Harkless (38.3%), and E’Tawun Moore (35.4%). While Harkless didn’t attempt many threes, finishing the season with a mere 154 attempts, his three-point shooting is interesting because of his style of play. Harkless is a wiry wing, who could fit in the Trevor Ariza mold, and the three-point shot could open his game up right away. As for Lamb and Moore, both are fine shooters, but neither are efficient players, and in the case of Lamb, he’s too one-dimensional to play long stretches of minutes.
In today’s NBA, spacing the floor is the magic (no pun intended) elixir to success. Orlando, who attempted 459 corner threes last season, finished 14th in that category. The leaders in that area? Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, and San Antonio Spurs. It’s a valuable shot for the right teams, and while you can’t become a three-point juggernaut overnight, supplanting the roster with capable shooters is a wise thing to do in today’s NBA climate.
The Suns are probably the best example of that. Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe were two of the 20 best players in basketball last season, and the team thrived on fancy pick-and-rolls, immaculate drive and kicks, and worthwhile slip screens. That, plus elegant ball movement, allowed Phoenix to discombobulate opponents and find one of the litany of great shooters on the roster. In the 80’s and 90’s, this was considered gimmick basketball, but today? It’s smart basketball.
If Orlando does decide to go with a shooter with their second pick, who they go with is going to be interesting. The Philadelphia 76ers seem to be the area where the wing run will start with the 10th pick — last season, Philadelphia finished last in the league in three point-shooting at a woeful 31.2 percent. While there are a handful of other good and capable shooters in this draft, four names bring very interesting skill sets to the table. These four are: Kentucky’s James Young, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas, Duke’s Rodney Hood, and Michigan State’s Gary Harris. While three of them should be there at twelve (personally I’m holding out hope for Stauskas, though he’d be a perfect fit in Philadelphia), the Magic will have their options. Let’s look at some determining factors to separate the four contenders.
Nik Stauskas: 6’6.5 w/shoes, 6’7.75 Wingspan, 35.5 Max Vert, 20.6 years old
James Young: 6’6.75 w/shoes, 7’0’ Wingspan, 35.5 Max Vert, 18.8 years old
Rodney Hood: 6’8.5 w/shoes, 6’8.5’ Wingspan, 36.0 Max Vert, 21.6 years old
Gary Harris: 6’4.5 w/shoes, 6’6.75 Wingspan, N/A Max Vert, 19.7 years old
Just to give you a small idea of what the prospects are in terms of size, athleticism/explosiveness, and age. At first glance, James Young jumps out. Monstrous wingspan- second-tallest of the group- and the youngest of the four by far. Gary Harris isn’t the most intimidating athlete, but he’s stout with just under 6’5” size. Both Nik Stauskas and Rodney Hood are solid athletes, with Stauskas being just a bit younger. While Hood’s age may be a negative factor for others, Orlando might be enticed by the age and ability to help Orlando right away.
Three point shooting
Nik Stauskas: 44.2% 3FG%, 5.8 attempts
James Young: 34.9% 3FG%, 5.9 attempts
Rodney Hood: 42.0% 3FG%, 4.8 attempts
Gary Harris: 35.2% 3FG%, 6.6 attempts
Since the team is in need of a three-point shooting boost, looking at how each faired seems like a no-brainer. Don’t be alarmed at Harris’ shooting percentage; Harris finished with 42.5% shooting from three on 4.6 attempts as a freshman, and was knocking them down regularly at the end of this season. Taking it a step further, I went to hoop-math.com, just to check out some differences in their three-point attempts. All four were heavily assisted on their three point attempts, with Hood at the lowest percentage of assisted three-point attempts (70.4%). Stauskas, Young, and Harris all shot over 50 percent of their total shot attempts from three. Young, just a freshman, was assisted on 96% on his three point attempts last season.
Nik Stauskas: Ballhandling
James Young: All-Around Game
Rodney Hood: Uhh?
Gary Harris: Defense
While shooting ability is number one for Orlando, it would be advantageous for them to select a more well-rounded prospect; someone that can offer you a multitude of things. If I was in a position to draft one of these prospects, this would ultimately be what separates one from another. In my opinion, Hood is the most concerning. It’s unfair to believe a 21 year old is done developing, but there’s nothing outside of great shooting and size that intrigues me. He was a lackluster rebounder in college, and he showed nothing defensively. He’ll move the ball and be an efficient guy offensively, but I don’t know if that, and only that, is worth the twelfth pick.
Young is interesting. Again, just a freshman and one of the youngest players in the draft, so his game still has a lot of growing to go though. Not being a monster athlete limits some of his game, but the things you want from a developmental prospect are there. He has the size and frame to be a solid defensive player, he was a good rebounder as a freshman, and an underrated passer, those tools could develop and shape Young out to be an interesting prospect in two or three years. Getting with the right coach to mold him will be key, something Orlando will have to decide on before taking him.
Harris and Stauskas are more refined as players, and because of that, their secondary skills seem more apparent. For Stauskas, he seems like a respectable ball handler, probably not enough to run an offensive from different points in an NBA game, but enough to run some pick and rolls, some drive and kick, and other inside-out offensive plays, and with Victor Oladipo, that matters. As for Harris, he’s going to be great defensively. He may be slightly undersized, but he has all the tools and would create an interesting backcourt combination with Oladipo for Orlando.
The Magic have a ton of options with the 12th pick, especially if they choose to go with a shooter. Personally, I’d rank the four as such: Stauskas, Harris, Young, and Hood. All four should be off the board in that top-20 range, with the backend of the lottery as their ceiling. No matter what happens here, the Magic will win because they’ll add another shooter to the roster, and fill a glaring need. It’s just a matter of which shooter will they add that will determine if they hit a home or a double; either way, Orlando will end up in scoring position.
*Thanks to hoop-math.com and Draftexpress.com for the information*