ORLANDO – The notion that very few of this year’s top prospects are alike is one of the more interesting aspects of the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft.
On Friday, the Orlando Magic got an up-close look at Wendell Carter Jr., arguably the most versatile of all the big men projected to be selected in the top 10. When compared to the other premier centers, the 19-year-old from Atlanta seems – on paper anyway – to have a much different repertoire than his closest competitors, notably DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mohamed Bamba and Jaren Jackson Jr.
The same idea goes for the top prospects who play in the backcourt. Trae Young, known for his unlimited 3-point range and passing artistry, plays a much different style than, let’s say, Collin Sexton, who is debatably the fastest and most dynamic point guard available.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, another one of this year’s most intriguing floor generals, is vastly different than, for instance, Anfernee Simons, who has more of a scorer’s mentality.
The preference each club’s talent evaluators have in playing style will likely determine this year’s draft order. For the franchise’s eyeing a potential transformative playmaker, those teams will have to decide which set of skills they value most.
Last week, the Magic took a good look at Young and Simons. Young worked out in Orlando last Thursday and Simons did the same two days later. Now a week since then, it was Sexton’s turn to showcase his abilities in front of Magic personnel and give them something different to review.
“I felt like I was out there doing my thing,” he said after Saturday’s workout at Amway Center’s practice facility. “I was in a whole lot of shape, and that was the biggest thing to keep pushing when tired. Everything that led up to my workouts by running and getting extra shots up helped today.”
“Leadership, whether it’s on the court, off the court,” Sexton added about what else he feels he can bring to an NBA team besides his basketball talents. “I feel like I lead off the court by leading by example and also being able to talk to others. Communication is big.”
At 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, Sexton believes his archetype will translate to the next level. Some of his confidence comes from the fact that his strengths and physical tools compare heavily to current NBA stars such as Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe and Donovan Mitchell.
What has also boosted the 19-year-old from Marietta, Georgia is the extraordinary finish he had during his one season at Alabama. Sexton connected on a game-winning floater at the buzzer against Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC Tournament and then erupted for 31 points in a win over rival Auburn the next day.
“I felt like the whole year led up to that,” he said. “I feel like I got better. Once it was win or go home, everything just started picking up.”
Playing in college under a former NBA player and head coach is definitely an advantage for Sexton, who learned a great deal from Avery Johnson about what it’s going to take to succeed at the professional level.
“I feel like it helped a whole lot just because he can tell me what I need to work on,” Sexton said. “His guidance and him helping me helped me go out there and perform.”
The Knicks, Cavs and Hornets were the other three teams besides the Magic that Sexton worked out for during this pre-draft process.
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