Fast 5: Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft Class, Vol. 10

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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Four deep into our team previews, it is time to look at the franchise that has been disengaged by superstars, from Shaq to Dwight. They seem to rebuild once every 10-15 years after a game-changer packs up and heads to Hollywood. How will they go about it this time?

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.


ONE: What Do We Know About The Orlando Magic?
Other than Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis, Al Harrington, Hedo Turkoglu and Arron Afflalo the Magic got it right in the rebuilding phase post-Dwight Howard. They scrubbed the roster pretty well and will be down to rookie contracts and nearly $30 million in cap space to build a new team.

Right now they have an array of complimentary bigs with Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson, Gustavo Ayon and Kyle O’Quinn. None are All-Stars, but each has a skill-set that compliments the team.

They have their young coach, a young roster, and a lot of potential despite not drafting in the top 10 over the past eight years. That will change this summer.

TWO: What Do They Need?
On the perimeter, the Magic are lacking, with modest overall production from the three in specific. They are lacking playmakers on the perimeter that can get the ball in the hoop, taking pressure off of the rest of the roster. This season they are 24th in three-point shooting, 30th in free throw attempts, and shoot the ball under 40 percent in the final four seconds of the shot clock.

Getting a playmaker on the perimeter at any position has to be the primary goal. Nelson is past his prime and Afflalo is a complementary player that would look better playing with an elite scorer to take the pressure off of him. All of the players the Magic have are in that complementary category; they just need that star to make the jump back to the playoffs again.

THREE: Stock Rising
This season Michigan State junior center Adreian Payne has stepped up against the tougher opponents in Ohio State, Indiana and Kansas, averaging 12 points, 7.3 boards and 1.6 blocks a game while shooting 70 percent (14-for-20) from the field.

With the depth at center in this years class, Payne will slip to a good team late in the first round or early second.

FOUR: Stock Falling
What made Rodney Williams a potential first-round pick early in the season was his all-around performance. Through the first nine games, he was averaging 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.9 steals a night with the team going 8-1 against fairly quality opponents. Since then, over 13 games he has averaged 10.6 points, 5.1 boards, 1.1 dimes and 1.0 steals with the team going 9-4 overall.

That kind of a drop-off could cost Williams a guaranteed contract, a spot in the first round, and the chance to play on a contender.

FIVE: Quick Hitter
As we have seen in recent years, there are great college players, and then there are great NBA prospects. At times we can be fooled into thinking a great college performer is an NBA prospect, but that is the beauty of sports and the human element of scouting.

Tyler Hansbrough was a great college player. Adam Morrison was a great college player. Jimmer Fredette was a great college player. All were taken in the lottery, and all have had average to below average NBA careers.

What makes the transition easier is the players’ mindset and work ethic. That is something to consider as Aaron Craft, Doug McDermott, Nate Wolters, and others are wowing us with amazing performances, taking advantage of the human element and becoming fool’s gold for a general manager this summer.


Top 5 Fits For Orlando Right Now

1. Marcus Smart: 6-4, 200 pounds – Fresh., Oklahoma State
Stats: 14.2 PPG, 4.6 APG, 5.8 RPG, 42.3 percent FG, 28.2 percent 3PT
A major riser nationally as an NBA prospect (NDI had him as a lotto pick from day one) because of his great size and physical build as a point. Good scorer, good playmaker, and only scratching the surface of his potential.

2. Ben McLemore: 6-5, 185 pounds – Fresh., Kansas
Stats: 16.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 50.9 percent FG, 45.5 percent 3PT
He adds a scorer on the perimeter, an elite shooter, athlete and transition playmaker, but do his ball skills limit his impact on a team like Orlando?

3. Michael Carter-Williams: 6-6, 176 pounds – Soph., Syracuse
Stats: 12.2 PPG, 8.5 APG, 3.0 SPG, 35.9 percent FG, 28.8 percent 3PT
Easily the best playmaker in the draft and potentially the second coming of Penny Hardaway mixed with Shaun Livingston.

4. Shabazz Muhammad: 6-5, 225 pounds – Fresh., UCLA
Stats: 18.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 46.9 percent FG, 42.6 percent FT
He has the same limitations as McLemore, but not the same upside as a scorer or defender. Lacks size as a three, but would be most effective there filling a void in Orlando.

5. Nerlens Noel: 6-11 216 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Stats: 10.6 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 4.6 BPG, 58.9 percent FG, 53.6 percent FT (45-84)
This would be a case of taking the best available. Noel is the best athlete and defender in this class. Not an immediate upgrade on the frontline, but down the road he could be a defensive star.

In a draft dominated by big men, the Magic have to scout better than every other NBA team to find the right perimeter threat, unless they decide to go big again. Will they go for a Nelson replacement? A scorer, a distributor or the best available prospect?

Who should the Magic draft?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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