Magic Emerge From Lottery with Fifth and Eighth Overall Picks in 2021 NBA Draft

NBA Draft Lottery
by Dan Savage

ORLANDO -- In a league that leaves very little up to chance, the NBA Draft Lottery is one of the few remaining wildcards and still holds true to its name.

Although wildly unpredictable, the results of 14 ping-pong balls play a major role in dictating the fates and futures of organizations throughout the association.

Lady Luck took the Orlando Magic on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows on Tuesday, but at the end of the night, the franchise walked away with two top eight picks, fifth and eighth overall, in a deep and loaded 2021 NBA Draft.

“That’s the nature of this stuff,” said Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman, who represented the team virtually at the event. “It’s not a calculated risk, it’s just a risk, it’s just kind of dumb luck. You obviously want to win the lottery and come away with the number one pick, but I do think there were two shots for us to get lucky tonight, and we did get lucky on the other one (and) walked away with two top eight picks.”

The organization was certainly thrilled that the 2021 top-four-protected pick they acquired from the Chicago Bulls as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade not only conveyed but did so at the best draft position possible, eighth overall.

However, the Magic, which finished the season with the league’s third-worst record, experienced the other side of the night’s fickle fortune when it slid back two spots, and emerged from the evening with the fifth overall selection.

“I do believe that there are some unique, very talented candidates to become the players that outperform that position,” Weltman explained. “So, we’re very excited to be able to start to get to know those kids … and to have two (picks) is exciting for us.”

The Magic entered the night with a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick. Those odds were equal to that of the Houston Rockets, who finished the season with the league’s worst record, and the Detroit Pistons, who had the second-worst standing. Those two teams flip-flopped as the Pistons earned the top spot in the draft and the Rockets came away with the second overall pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers, third, the Toronto Raptors, fourth, and Orlando fifth, rounded out the top five.

Orlando, which has a number of representatives currently in Chicago for the NBA Draft Combine, will now start to schedule visits with players and continue to do deep dives into potential prospects backgrounds as they look to add additional talent to an already young group.

Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton and Chuma Okeke are coming off impressive rookie campaigns, while Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, who are both returning from significant knee injuries, along with Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. are all 23 years old or younger.

“We’re going to add two good young players, and I know that we will,” Weltman explained. “We’ve already got a bunch of good young players, and this is an exciting day for us in the respect that we’re going to be able to add two talented, high-character guys that fit our group as we start to go forward.”

As unpredictable as the lottery can be, the draft itself can also be a roll of the dice. Often the best players in each year’s draft class, don’t come at the number one overall position. Working in the Magic’s favor is the fact that there are a number of players selected fifth overall that have had stellar NBA careers. Charles Barkley, Vince Carter, and Dwyane Wade are among the many standouts at that draft slot.

“It’s the draft and it very seldom works out in the way that you prognosticate it,” Weltman said. “You look back on pretty much any draft and it doesn’t go that way. So, it’s our job to find the players in the draft. Now that we know where we’re picking and how many picks we’ll have, we’ll be able to get to the next layer of that.”

With a number of prospects in this draft class with immense talent, high ceilings, and unique abilities, the Magic will certainly have a number of players to pick from that will assist the organization in rebuilding their roster the right way.

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