ORLANDO – In yet another move that should greatly fortify their defense and length, the Orlando Magic selected high-flying shooting guard Melvin Frazier Jr. with the No. 35 pick of Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Orlando then traded its second pick of the second round (Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt at No. 41) to the Denver Nuggets and ultimately nabbed Maryland small forward Justin Jackson with the No. 43 selection.
Orlando picked shot-swatting center Mohamed Bamba with the No. 6 pick of the night and then selected Frazier – the American Athletic Conference’s Most Improved Player in 2018 – with its first of two second-round selections.
``We had Melvin rated much higher than 35, so when he was there, we were a little surprised, but we felt it was trending that way in the last couple of days for whatever reason,’’ Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said. ``We didn’t expect him to be there at 35, but we consider ourselves fortunate that he got that far. He’s a very talented player and it’s our job to develop him the right way.’’
Jackson, a 6-foot-7, 225-pounder, was limited to just 11 games this past season for Maryland because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Like Bamba, Frazier and Jackson have expansive and impressive wingspans and pride themselves on their defensive abilities. Frazier has a 7-foot, 2-inch wingspan, while Jackson’s wingspan was measured at 7 feet, 3 ¼ inches at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
``There are so many things that you need to be successful in the league, but length is a huge element of floor coverage and it has to go along with all the other elements you need,’’ Weltman said of drafting lengthy and rangy players. ``If you can have (length) and maintain skill level and all the other intangibles that you can list, you’d always rather have it. And when you start adding it up with a lot of players it starts to become kind of a forced multiplier.’’
Frazier, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound shooting guard, led the AAC in steals in 2016-17 (1.9 spg.) and ranked second in 2017-18 (2.2 spg.). His maximum vertical reach (12 feet, 1 ½ inches) was the highest measured at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago in late May.
Frazier, who will turn 22 years old in August, averaged 15.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists this past season for Tulane University while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from 3-point range.
Jackson went into this season as a Julius Erving award Watch List choice, but his season was cut short by the injury to his shoulder. He averaged 9.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists for the Terrapins in 11 games.
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