Brian Schmitz Magic Insider
5:15 PM CST, January 30, 2013
Fans, here’s a page from the Magic’s Silver Linings Playbook:
They’re back in the lottery race!
Suffering Magic faithful need some good news after the club has lost 17 of its last 19 games.
By going backwards, Orlando (14-30) is catching Washington (11-32) and Charlotte (11-33) for the best shot at the No. 1 lotto pick.
Everybody says it’s a weak draft and there are no dominant players like Anthony Davis, who was the top pick last year.
I don’t know. Nobody really did cartwheels over Damian Lillard, but Portland's pick at No. 6 has become an instant star.
The kid I watched play last night – Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel – reminded me of a teenage Dwight Howard, at least defensively (and, uh, at the free-throw line.)
Noel, 6-10, blocked 12 shots against Ole Miss – something Davis never did in his one-and-done season for the Wildcats. Noel is not even close to being an offensive force and still fouls too much, but his potential in the paint whets the appetites of NBA teams.
Most of the draftniks have either Indiana 7-footer Cody Zeller or UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad as the top two picks. Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore might be the most NBA-ready player.
There seems to be some capable bigs in the draft --- Maryland’s Alex Lens, Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and Kansas’ Jeff Withey in addition to Noel and Zeller.
The Magic might have found their center of the future in Nik Vucevic, who was acquired in the Howard trade. He isn’t a great defender, nor does he have the shot-blocking presence of a Noel. Imagine having both big men at your disposal.
With the NBA playing more small ball, the Magic would love to have a bigger, defensive-minded point guard to groom under Jameer Nelson, who will turn 31 soon. Michigan PG Trey Burke is considered by some as the player of the year, but he's listed as a Jameer-sized 6-feet.
And, of course, Magic fans are well aware of the team’s porous defense. Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo is thought by some to be the best perimeter defender in the college firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@magicinsider.