Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Majority of Mock Drafts Have Magic Picking Foreigners

We're a week away from the June 26th NBA Draft, and the picture is beginning to clear up about who the Orlando Magic are targeting with their fourth and twelfth picks.

ESPN - Chad Ford in particular - has currently settled on the Magic nabbing the 6'6" Australian guard Dante Exum at #4 and the Croatian PF Dario Saric at #12. Below is a detailed breakdown of the two prospects that include some fancy ESPN The Magazine graphics. Open the pictures in another tab to enlarge:

Scouring the web for other mock drafts I noticed Bleacher Report believes Orlando will get Dante Exum and Michigan 3-point specialist Nik Stauskas due to Saric not being available for the Magic at #12. You won't find any complaints from me if Orlando does end up with Stauskas. Nik looked outstanding at the Chicago Draft Combine and Jacque Vaughn has great use for another shooter. However, I would be stunned if Stauskas is still on the board come the twelfth selection.

The always highly respected DraftExpress currently has Orlando picking Dante Exum at #4 and the 6'11" Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic at #12. They along with Bleacher Report believe that Dario Saric will be picked by Denver at #11. Nurkic doesn't fit a need. The Magic have Kyle O'Quinn and Dewayne Dedmon to fill the center spots with Andrew Nicholson and Jason Maxiell still on the roster as well. Nurkic plays for a winner but his conditioning is spotty and his defending abilities are worse. Jusuf isn't a good fit in Orlando.

The official NBA website's most recent consensus mock draft has Orlando getting Dante Exum. They also list Dario Saric being taken by Denver at #11. That leaves quite a large variety of options at #12. Listed in a tie are Nik Stauskas, Michigan State SG Gary Harris, Duke wing Rodney Hood, Kentucky wing James Young, Louisiana-Lafayette 6'4" guard Elfrid Payton, and Creighton forward Doug McDermott.

McDermott's chances at being available at #12 are better than Stauskas'. Doug is legitimately 6'8" and he didn't disappoint in combine workouts. I'd be content with 'Dougie McBuckets'. Payton is rising on mock drafts because of his private workouts, but I don't trust a Sun Belt player who didn't impress on the court. Pass. Harris is undersized and Rodney Hood has a bad wingspan for a professional basketball player. Young's athleticism is actually worse than Stauskas and McDermott so the Wildcat is lower on the totem pole for me.

HoopsHype's mock draft has the Magic getting Exum at #4 while passing up both Saric and McDermott at #12 in favor of Duke's Rodney Hood. I value Dario and Doug ahead of Rodney and I hope Rob Hennigan and his draft crew does as well. Hood shot the ball well with the Blue Devils, but was abysmal in the Tourney once the pressure and physicality amped up.

Over at CBS Sports, Gary Parrish and Zach Harper both have Exum landing in Orlando while Matt Moore has the Magic taking Julius Randle with the #4 pick. I believe Randle is the better power forward prospect over guys like Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh, but I'd rather the Magic get Exum. If Dante's off the board at #4, then trade down and get Marcus Smart. Orlando needs a point guard and I haven't heard any interest in Tyler Ennis. Stay away from Payton and Zach LaVine.

As for the #12 selection, Parrish says Orlando takes Michigan State big man Adreian Payne. Payne could be a good pro, but even at that spot he's too risky to select. Payne is already 23 years old and he has lung issues that can limit his playing time. Pass. Zach Harper has Orlando snagging Nik Stauskas while Matt Moore sees Dario Saric being taken. I'm more than happy with either.

Finally, let's take a peek at what the Basketball Insiders crew have in their mock drafts. Alex Kennedy has the Magic taking Indiana big man Noah Vonleh at #4 while Joel Brigham, Steve Kyler, and fellow Greek Yannis Koutroupis say it'll be Dante Exum. I hope Alex is wrong because Vonleh for me is no better than Bismack Biyombo (I know Noah already has better offensive weapons) at this point in time. Looks good on paper, decent athlete, but nothing in his work indicates he'll be even a decent NBA player.

Looking at the #12 spot there's plenty of variety. Alex Kennedy thinks it'll be Elfrid Payton going to Orlando. Again, I hope Alex is wrong. Joel Brigham is thinking Adreian Payne. Payne seems to have slipped out of the lottery at this time. Steve Kyler believes it'll be Jusuf Nurkic. It just doesn't make much sense for Orlando to take Nurkic right now when there are other needs. Yannis Koutroupis rounds the mock draft out by saying the Magic will take Dario Saric.

So overall Dante Exum is the overwhelming favorite to be chosen #4 while most of the mock drafts believe the Magic take another foreigner in either Dario Saric or Jusuf Nurkic. It's funny that just last week many media members had Orlando settling on Marcus Smart with the 4th pick based strictly on Orlando liking him last year. New year, new info. Also, Dante's Orlando workout yesterday apparently went very well according to Chad Ford in an ESPN online chat.

Dante Exum is becoming such a popular prospect that media members from teams with picks just below the Magic are starting to take hacks at Exum to lower his draft stock. It's a clever tactic. I'm thrilled to see folks jumping on my Dante Exum bandwagon. Hop aboard, there's plenty of room. Now let's cross our fingers and hope the Bucks and Sixers don't pass up guys like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in order to take the Aussie.

As far as the 12th pick goes, few thought Dario Saric would drop to #12 but rumors of the Croatian not working out for teams is causing Dario to slip down draft boards. Even so I'd be stunned if the 20-year-old is available come time for the twelfth selection. I view him as a top 5 talent. If Orlando gets Exum at #4, then my top three for the 12th pick in order of preference are Saric, Stauskas, and McDermott.

One of them should drop into the Magic's hands and that right there would make for a very successful draft. If it is Exum and Saric (or Nurkic), quite a bit more international flavor will have been added to the franchise. Based on fan interaction in person and on message boards, that won't make many Magic fans thrilled.

Why the xenophobia? Why the uncertainty about drafting internationals? Otis Smith and his front office associates chose Fran Vazquez in 2005. A lot of things have changed since then. Most importantly, Rob Hennigan has proven already that he's much more thorough in evaluating talent than the previous regime. International prospects shouldn't be shunned away because they're not shown on televisions across America on a weekly basis.

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