Denton: Magic Will Pick Second in 2013 NBA Draft

By John Denton
May 21, 2013

NEW YORK – The Orlando Magic have become so synonymous with having lottery luck that when their number wasn’t called for the top pick in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery, it was a surprise for almost everyone in attendance at the NBA’s Times Square Studios.

The Magic went into the lottery process armed with the best odds at winning the top selection at 25 percent, but they fell to the No. 2 spot in the draft order for the June 27 NBA Draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of the lottery three times since 2003, captured the lottery and will pick first overall. The Magic will be second, while the Washington Wizards (eighth-best odds) were the big movers of the night and will select No. 3.

Cracked Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams, who on the stage Tuesday night and has presided over three Orlando lottery victories: ``I think (NBA executives) were shocked when we didn’t win it again.’’

Magic GM Rob Hennigan, who assembled a promising young core over the last year with some deft trades for Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Arron Afflalo and others, is confident that Orlando can still get a difference-maker in the draft. Hennigan and his staff and Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn spent last week in Chicago evaluating and interviewing several of the top prospects for the upcoming draft.

``We’ll have to decide who to pick, when to pick and if to pick and we’re confident that we’ll an answer to that well before the 27th (of June),’’ Hennigan said. ``(The lottery) was exciting. There was some suspense and some drama involved, which was a good thing. Honestly, we just wanted to come out and learn where we were picking. We knew it could be one or no lower than 4. We’re happy with No. 2.

``We know that we’ll be able to improve our team (with the No. 2 pick),’’ Hennigan continued. ``That’s the mantra we’re going to take and we’re excited for the draft to get here.’’

Orlando owned 250 four-digit combinations to win the top pick, but when the ping pong balls came up 8, 3, 6, 7 the lottery victory went to the Cavaliers, which entered with the third best odds (15.6 percent) at the No. 1 selection. The team with third-best odds has now won the lottery seven times, most of any spot among the non-playoff teams.

The selection for the No. 2 pick produced the combination of 9, 12, 3 and 1, meaning that the Magic would follow Cleveland in the draft. The Magic have never selected second in the draft, but will do so in June. Magic Senior Vice President Joel Glass represented the franchise in the room where the actual lottery took place earlier in the night on Tuesday and he had to sweat out the Magic’s No. 2 pick.

By rule, the Magic could have fallen no lower than fourth, and Orlando CEO Alex Martins joked that Glass would have been in big trouble if the franchise had tumbled on Tuesday night.

``All I know is that 1, 3, 9 and 12 are my new favorite numbers,’’ Glass said minutes after the draft order was determined and before the picks were revealed on television. ``It was nerve-wracking when we didn’t get the No. 1 pick and we only had two more shots (at getting in the top three picks). But we’re happy with the pick that we got.’’

Unlike in years past – especially when the Magic won lotteries and sat atop the drafts – there is no consensus top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. University of Kentucky center Nerlens Noel tops most mock drafts, but he is two months removed from tearing the ACL in his knee and he most likely won’t be ready for NBA training camps in October. Other potential top picks such as Ben McLemore, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo will be jockeying for draft positioning as individual workouts over the coming days.

Martins and Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn, both of whom were also in attendance at the lottery, said they have the utmost confidence that Hennigan will draft a difference-making player for Orlando.

``Any time you can pick with one of those top spots in the draft you’ll get a good player,’’ Martins said. ``We’ll be looking for somebody who is interested in being a part of something bigger than themselves, someone who will work hard and will be a part of the teamwork atmosphere that Rob and Jacque have created. It will be another piece toward helping us get back in contention.’’

Added Vaughn: ``The one thing that Rob has talked about is our staff will do its due diligence and be thorough and systematic in their approach. We feel that’s the best way we can continue to be good for years to come. I have no qualms at all that Rob and his staff has done their jobs in terms of research and we’ll pick the best fit for us at No. 2.’’

Orlando won draft lotteries in 1992, 1993 and 2004 – victories that it used to acquire superstar players Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Dwight Howard – but they were unable to repeat the feat on Tuesday night. Orlando earned the best odds in the draft lottery by going 20-62 during a season of transition following the trading of Howard last August, but it failed in its bid to capture another lottery victory.

It was the ninth straight year that a team with the worst record/best lottery odds has failed to win the top overall selection. In fact, the Magic were the last team to do so when they won the 2004 lottery.

Williams, who has presided over the Magic’s lottery wins in 1992, ’93 and 2004 and was on the stage for the televised draw on Tuesday, said he truly thought Orlando was about to stun the basketball world and win the top selection once again.

When the Magic made it to ABC’s commercial break, the Magic were still alive for the top pick along with Cleveland and Washington. The 72-year-old Williams stood in a grouping with Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal and 16-year-old Nick Gilbert, son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Williams said his pulse rate and excitement level were as high as ever and he really thought Orlando was headed for a fourth lotto victory.

``We wanted to win it and we came to win,’’ Williams said. ``When we were standing up there with the final three, I just knew that we had it. And then when they turned Washington over at (number) three, I thought, `We’re in there (at No. 1).’ But how about Cleveland? They’ve had a good run up here.

``The best thing is we didn’t tumble to four. Charlotte did and they took a real shot today,’’ Williams continued. ``So we were pleased. So now the in-depth scouting and interviewing starts and trying to figure out who the guy is to pick. But the good news is that we’ll come away with a really nice, young player to mix in with our other young group.’’

Despite their lack of lottery luck on Tuesday night, the Magic still have won the second-most lotteries in NBA history. The Magic’s three wins are second only to the Los Angeles Clippers, who have won five NBA Draft Lotteries.

Charlotte, which had the second-best odds, took a serious tumble to No. 4. Phoenix fell to No. 5, while No. 6 New Orleans, No. 7 Sacramento and No. 8 Detroit all dropped one spot from the odds when Washington climbed to No. 3.

Rounding out the lottery, Minnesota will pick No. 9, Portland will select No. 10, Philadelphia is 11th, Oklahoma City (traded from Toronto) will pick No. 12, Dallas is No. 13 and Utah is 14th.

Vaughn, who stated his appreciation all season of the support provided last season by Magic fans, said Orlando’s fanbase can be excited about the franchise snagging the No. 2 pick in the June Draft.

``Hopefully all of our fans were tuned in tonight and hopefully this gives them more understanding that we’ll do the right thing, pick the right guy and move forward as an organization,’’ Vaughn said.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.




Follow John Denton on Twitter here