By Dan Savage
June 26, 2015
ORLANDO – There might not be a more ridiculous analysis in all of sports than post-draft grades, but let’s face it, it’s an extremely popular guilty pleasure.
Few things are worse for a fan than turning on First Take, hopping on to the front page of ESPN.com or for those old-schoolers out there, flipping open the paper the morning after the NBA Draft and seeing your team’s top pick get blasted.
But fear not Magic fans, from ESPN to Yahoo Sports to Sports Illustrated, the consensus among the analysts – including this one right here – is that Orlando made a sensational selection in the No. 5 overall slot.
Mario Hezonja is the prospect the Magic targeted all along and provides an ideal balance of shooting and athleticism to complement an Orlando roster filled with athletes, top-notch defenders and players who excel at attacking the rack.
Please, don’t just take my word on Super Mario. Here’s additional evidence from writers around the web:
SI.com’s Chris Mannix: A-
I love Hezonja. He has star power written all over him. Much has been made of Hezonja’s shooting—and it’s a strength—but Hezonja is the total package. He can take it to the basket, he can finish at the rim; he wants to dunk on opponents. He will need to work on his ballhandling and his defense needs work, but Scott Skiles will get a lot of use out of a player with this kind of natural talent. Bottom line: He was the most talented player on the board. Read More
Yahoo.com’s Marc J. Spears': A
He did not play much for European power Barcelona this past season, but the headstrong 20-year-old flashed immense offensive potential when he did get on the floor. He's athletic enough to blow by a defender off the dribble, yet a deadly enough shooter to force opponents to guard him out to the 3-point line. If the Magic are patient, this could be a high-value pick. Read More
The Magic wanted a three-point shooter who can stretch the floor and open driving lanes. They got that in Hezonja, a player who doesn't lack confidence.
The Magic needed a shooter to compliment their athleticism, and Hezonja adds that, as well as a bit more athleticism. He’ll fit right in with Orlando’s rebuild. Read More
ESPN.com: Thumbs Up
Considering the logjam at point guard, grabbing the Croatian wing, who shot 38 percent from deep last season, was an easy pick for general manager Rob Hennigan, who could have gone with point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Read More
Henzonja may have the biggest superstar-or-bust potential in the lottery. He has the perfect build for a 2 guard at 6-8 and has all the skills to bolster a backcourt. For a team that needs offensive firepower after drafting defensive specialists in recent years, Henzonja is perfect for Orlando. Read More
Hezonja is the best shooter in the draft, with the ability to hit threes from all over the court, off screens, off the catch and off the dribble. Few players have the level of confidence that Hezonja possesses, and Hezonja uses it to his advantage. As he develops as a ball handler, he may develop into a go-to scorer at end of games. Read More
The Magic landed a perfect fit in Mario Hezonja, who can step in right away and give the lineup a knockdown shooter on the wing. He's also a spectacular athlete, which plays to the identity of the team. At 6'8", Hezonja offers mismatch potential at the 2 or 3 positions, where he can handle the ball, pass, attack and score on the perimeter. Having played against pros in the best league (Spanish ACB) outside the United States, Hezonja is considered one of the more NBA-ready prospects. Oozing with swagger, confidence and competitiveness, don't be surprised if he quickly becomes a favorite of new head coach Scott Skiles. Read More