Instant Reactions to the Orlando Magic Drafting Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner

Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner
by Dan Savage

ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic were in a rare position on Thursday to add not one, but two top eight players in an extremely talented 2021 NBA Draft class. They capitalized on that opportunity by adding Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs with the fifth overall pick and then Michigan’s Franz Wagner with the eighth overall selection.

Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman expressed his enthusiasm that the organization was able to add two “high-character, team-oriented players” to their group as they set forth on their journey to cultivate a young roster that features nine players under the age of 24 into a perennial contender.

But what are others outside of the organization saying? We scoured the internet and picked up some of the top notes, quotes and tweets from draft analysts, scouts, coaches, and former players and placed them below:

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton: (On what lottery pick fit do you immediately like?) Jalen Suggs in Orlando. More than anything, the Magic are starved for the perimeter star they haven't had since Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson. Orlando has some interesting young guards in former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz and 2020 first-round picks Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton, but none have as much upside as Suggs to become the kind of dominant playmaker contending teams usually have. Read More

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony: I love that Orlando took advantage of Jalen Suggs' surprising slide, but in getting Franz Wagner, they have two of the best defenders in this draft. Wagner can make teammates better without needing the ball or requiring plays to be called for him. He's a high-level off-ball defender blessed with elite instincts in protecting the rim, closing out on shooters or digging down on the post and mucking up opposing offenses. There's a simplicity to his game on both ends of the floor, as he keeps the offense flowing with intelligent touch passes, bounce passes to the post or by pushing ahead in transition off the defensive glass. With Wagner and Jonathan Isaac as the forwards along with Suggs and Markelle Fultz in the backcourt, the Magic could have one of the better defensive units in the NBA. Read More

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman: Winners - The Orlando Magic – Scottie Barnes going No. 4 made Orlando's decision easy by allowing Jalen Suggs to be there at No. 5. And though Cole Anthony had a promising rookie year, he's not as complete as Suggs, a better passer and more active defender. Aside from drafting a potential stud point guard, the Magic also landed Franz Wagner, Bleacher Report's No. 6 overall prospect who gives Orlando a versatile wing who can shoot, play-make and defend. This should wind up being the biggest draft for Orlando in recent memory, and the one that helps expedite their rebuild. Read More

Forbes’ Sean Deveney: Coming out of the draft, the Magic have that. Orlando now has a roster loaded with potential, combining young guys like Suggs with Gary Harris, Hampton and Fultz in the backcourt and Wagner with Jonathan Isaac, Chuma Okeke and Wendell Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. Read More

Yahoo! Sports’ Ben Rohrbach: The Magic lucked into Suggs at No. 5, and then snared another high-floor prospect three picks later in Wagner, a more versatile big than his brother Moe. Instead of taking a chance on a raw talent like Jonathan Kuminga, Orlando drafted a pair of players who should positively contribute right away. It is a welcome change of speed from the gambles that landed them Mo Bamba and Mario Hezonja in recent drafts. Grade: A+ | Read More

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish: When Jalen Suggs is available at 5, you take him at 5. We talk a lot about how he was a high school quarterback, and I think that helps him see and make passes that other point guards can't make. He also has incredible athleticism and can guard and run fast breaks. He's a tremendous two-way player, and if he figures out his jumper, he's going to be tremendous. Grade: A+ | Read More

SB Nation’s Ricky O'Donnell: Orlando likely never thought Suggs would still be on the board when they were picking at No. 4. This feels like another home run pick given that Suggs was both the best player on the board and a perfect fit for a Magic team that needs help in the backcourt. Grade: A

While he may not be a star, Wagner could be an excellent role player. We had him at No. 5 overall on our draft board. It feels like the Magic aced this draft. Grade: A | Read More

SI.com’s Jeremy Woo: The addition of Suggs strongly enhances Orlando’s backcourt, and while it’s unclear how they sort out all the young guards on the roster, the dynamic he brings adds a different dimension to their personnel. A stellar, physical athlete, Suggs was one of college basketball’s top players as a freshman and has one of the best competitive motors in the draft. Grade: A

After winding up with Jalen Suggs instead of Scottie Barnes at No. 5, the Magic still get a supersized, versatile forward here in Wagner. He’s a highly versatile, smart player who’s still scratching the surface of his ability, with room to grow as a jump shooter. Wagner is also a stellar team defender who understands positioning and covers ground effectively, and that flexibility should allow the Magic to play a variety of combinations when he’s on the floor. Grade: A | Read More

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie: Few things are more valuable in the NBA than a star lead creator. Suggs has potential to be just that given his athleticism, power, vision and basketball IQ. It’s not easy to find players with this blend of tools who also have this much of a productive track record. He has an undeniable history of winning games, from high school championships to his run with Gonzaga. And that mentality showcases itself in his game, too, with Suggs typically stepping up in a big way in the biggest moments.

Wagner is slightly different in that he’s a defense-first 6-foot-9 wing. There aren’t really many of those around the league. He’s not as long and as disruptive as a Robert Covington, but his feel for the game defensively is similar, especially with his off-ball IQ. Ultimately, where Wagner settles in will be determined by his shooting. Read More

The Rookie Wire/USA Today’s Cody Taylor: Suggs falling to No. 5 was the first surprise of the night, but the Magic certainly won’t complain. He brings toughness to the roster as a player that is highly competitive and willing to do whatever it takes to win. He said afterward that he can’t wait to get to work, and Magic fans everywhere can’t wait until he arrives in Orlando. Grade: A+

Wagner was highly coveted by several teams in this range given his ability on offense and versatility as a defender. Magic president Jeff Weltman said the team received calls about Wagner after they selected him but they ultimately wanted to keep him. They value his basketball IQ, character and intangibles on the court. Grade: A | Read More

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