With the NBA playoffs nearing their conclusion, many teams are beginning to turn their attention to the offseason. One of the first pieces of the offseason was the NBA's yearly draft lottery, where teams hope the ping pong ball with their logo on it bounces their way. This year, the balls fell the Orlando Magic's way, netting them the first overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft.
The 2022 draft class is headlined by Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga, Jabari Smith Jr. of Auburn, and Paolo Banchero of Duke. These guys are the consensus top three picks, and with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets slotting in at the second and third overall picks, it seems likely that these three players and teams will be paired up with each other one way or another.
The Magic may have already decided who the top pick of the 2022 NBA Draft will be
The draft is still about a month away, but the Magic and Thunder may have already decided on who they are taking with the top two picks. According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, "most NBA teams firmly believe that Smith Jr. is all but assured to become the top pick," and there is an "overwhelming expectation" that the Thunder will select Holmgren with the second pick.
Most draft experts have said it's a toss-up between these three guys and that whichever three teams end up with them will get a fantastic prospect. While nothing was said about the Rockets, they will presumably select Banchero with the third pick. Many people believe that Banchero is the top prospect in this draft class, so that could be a massive win for the Rockets if he were to fall to them.
Jabari Smith Jr. could be just what the Magic need
Smith made a name for himself at Auburn after just one season for his fantastic shooting despite his 6'10, 220-pound frame. He's big enough to go into the paint and get points, but his ability to stretch the floor from either the center or power forward position caught people's attention. Smith shot 42 percent from behind the arc last season, which could help open up Orlando's offense.
With a backcourt trio of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Markelle Fultz already in place, Orlando needs some talent in their frontcourt. Wendell Carter Jr. is solid if unspectacular at center, but guys like Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke struggled in a starting capacity last season. Jonathan Isaac could come back after missing the previous two seasons with an ACL injury, but bringing him off the bench would be a wiser move considering all the time he missed.
Smith could come in and immediately start at power forward for the Magic. Suddenly, their starting five of Anthony, Suggs, Franz Wagner, Smith, and Carter doesn't look too bad. Combine that with guys like Fultz and Terrance Ross coming off the bench, and that's a pretty solid rotation right off the bat.
Of course, the Magic have struggled to stay healthy over the past few seasons, which has hampered the progress of their rebuild, but if they can keep this cast of players on the court, they could contend for a Play-In spot in the Eastern Conference next season. A lot has to happen for that to become a reality, but things are looking up for the Orlando Magic for the first time in a while.