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Who’s the best fit for Orlando Magic with No. 1 in 2022 draft? – The Denver Post



It didn’t take long for the Orlando Magic’s draft lottery celebration to turn into speculation.

Moments after the Magic won the draft lottery Tuesday in Chicago, questions quickly started to surround the winner of the No. 1 pick in the June 23 NBA draft.

What will be the Magic’s approach to having the top pick?

Will their philosophy during the scouting combine and predraft machinations change?

Are they drafting based on need?

Jeff Weltman, president of basketball operations, made it clear they’re not going into the process looking to draft based off need.

“We’re at the stage right now where we’re not a need-based team,” he said. “We’re looking for talent, character and guys who fit the way we want to play and the way we want to grow the team.”

Coach Jamahl Mosley echoed Weltman.

“It’s constantly adding the high basketball IQ, the competitiveness, the toughness, the fighter — the guy that’s willing to come in and work with this group of guys,” he said. “Jeff and those guys do a phenomenal job of evaluating the talent, getting to know these guys over time and then we’ll go from there.”

Orlando has another month to decide what they’ll do with the No. 1 pick. Here are the three best fits:

1. Jabari Smith (Auburn)

Height: 6-foot-10 | Weight: 220 pounds | Age: 19

Smith’s best offensive skill — shooting — is an area the Magic can improve.

Orlando’s 33.1% 3-point percentage during 2021-22 was the league’s third-worst mark and it’s been a bottom-five shooting team the past two seasons.

Taking Smith, who shot 42% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts during his lone season with the Tigers, would instantly help make life easier for the Magic’s playmakers in the half-court.

Smith isn’t just dangerous in spot-up situations. At 6-foot-10 with a high release point, he can shoot over defenders with ease from multiple areas of the floor without needing to create much of an advantage.

His size, length and athleticism make him a disruptive perimeter defender and someone who doesn’t have trouble switching across multiple positions.

Because of his shaky ballhandling and inconsistent interior scoring, there are concerns about whether Smith will develop into the go-to scorer/creator the Magic need. But Smith would be the cleanest fit in what Orlando already has started to build with its roster.

2. Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

Height: 7 feet | Weight: 195 pounds | Age: 20

Holmgren is arguably the most polarizing player in this year’s draft.

His combination of rim protection (3.7 blocks with the Bulldogs), handles, touch near the rim, basketball IQ and floor-spacing ability for his size make him one of the more distinctive prospects in a while.

Holmgren’s size, length and versatility — he’s light enough on his feet to guard on the perimeter — is a profile Orlando has shown an affinity for in previous drafts.

The Magic started two-big lineups with Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba, and Holmgren could be a seamless fit next to Carter in the frontcourt so they can maintain rim protection at all times, a core principle of Mosley’s defensive system.

There are significant concerns about how effective Holmgren can be in the post on both ends of the floor and as a finisher at the rim because of his skinny frame for his height. Holmgren’s outside jumper (39% on 3s with Gonzaga) would have to be consistent for him to be an offensive threat.

Holmgren’s potential is evident and he fits into what the Magic already have, but there are questions of whether he’ll maximize his skillset.

3. Paolo Banchero (Duke)

Height: 6-foot-10 | Weight: 250 | Age: 19

Banchero’s skillset suggests he can be a go-to option at the next level.

With the Blue Devils, Banchero thrived in creating opportunities for himself and others off the dribble. He’s a versatile scorer who finished well around the rim because of his strength, footwork and touch.

Banchero is one of the better passing top prospects (3.2 assists as a forward) who can serve as an offensive hub, which the Magic could use after having the league’s second-worst offensive rating in 2021-22.

His outside shooting (33.8% from beyond the arc) is an area he’ll need to improve.

Banchero also wasn’t consistently locked in as a defender at Duke and it’s not clear how switchable he’ll be at the next level.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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