DimeMag

2021 NBA Draft Grades: Orlando Magic Get An ‘A’ For Jalen Suggs At No. 5, ‘A-‘ For Franz Wagner At No. 8

The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery wasn’t a disaster for the Orlando Magic, but it also wasn’t an overwhelming success. The Magic (finally) kickstarted their rebuild in advance of the trade deadline, sending Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier to the Bulls, Nuggets and Celtics, respectively. That allowed Orlando to position itself favorably before the ping-pong balls began to bounce, and Orlando came away with the No. 5 pick (their own) and the No. 8 pick (from Chicago) as a result.

Those two selections should certainly help Orlando to develop their roster for the future, but the Magic didn’t jump into the top four to provide a path to a more sure-fire prospect. Beyond that, this is a roster that does have intriguing young talent, but Orlando is void of a lead option on the offensive end, and health issues, particularly with Jon Isaac, played a significant part in the team’s cratering performance in 2020-21. All told, this is a familiar position for a team that has seemingly been rebuilding for a long time, but Orlando does have options, and they begin with Thursday’s draft.

Roster Needs: A No. 1 (and maybe No. 2) offensive option, health for Isaac and Fultz, at least one more wing

Jalen Suggs (No. 5 Overall), Grade: A

Suggs would’ve been my pick at No. 4 overall and the Magic benefit from his (small) drop. Orlando does have a few interesting pieces in the backcourt with Markelle Fultz, RJ Hampton and Cole Anthony, but Suggs is a better prospect than any member of that trio. Moreover, this is a “best player available” pick that also fits a need, as Orlando still doesn’t have a primary creator that they can feel good about at this stage. Suggs may not have a sky-high ceiling, but he projects to be a very good player for a long time.

Franz Wagner (No. 8 Overall), Grade: A-

The Magic emerge with fantastic value at No. 5 and No. 8. Suggs brings a more dynamic element on the perimeter with two-way ability at the point of attack. Wagner is more of an on-brand choice for Orlando, as he makes his money defensively. There is a lot to like about Wagner’s offense, though, especially as a cutter, ball-mover and decision-maker. His offensive game will likely swing on his aggression and jump-shooting, but Wagner is one of the better team defenders in the draft and he is highly versatile.

2021-22 Roster
Gary Harris
Jonathan Isaac
Jalen Suggs
Franz Wagner
Markelle Fultz
Terrence Ross
Mohamed Bamba
Wendell Carter Jr.
Cole Anthony
Michael Carter-Williams
Chuma Okeke
RJ Hampton
Dwayne Bacon (non-guaranteed)

2021 Free Agents
Ignas Brazdeikis (RFA)
James Ennis (UFA)
Otto Porter Jr. (UFA)
Chasson Randle (UFA)
Sindarius Thornwell (RFA)
Mo Wagner (UFA)

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