The Orlando Magic’s 2020 season could be described as a story in two parts. On defense, the Magic ranked fifth in the NBA, allowing just 108.3 points per game. However, on offense, Orlando ranked 24, scoring a measly 107.3 points per game. As the team heads into this year’s offseason, adding scorers will be key.
When it comes to their 2020-2021 roster, Orlando is poised to lose role players in D.J. Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams and Wesley Iwundu. James Ennis (player) and Michael Frazier (team) both have options and their futures are yet to be determined.
All except for Frazier played major minutes in the bubble due to injuries and could be brought back. While those four are decent bench players, the Magic’s biggest potential departure is that of Evan Fournier. The shooting guard has a $17 million player option. And while he struggled in the playoffs, Fournier averaged 18.5 points per game this season while shooting 39% from three. Going on 28, he could be looking for one last payday.
If Fournier leaves, the Magic will be in even bigger trouble when it comes to offense production. Orlando would need players like Terrence Ross, Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon – barring any trades – to step up even more offensively. It’s also important to consider where the Magic are right now. Yes, they made the playoffs, but despite a shocking Game 1 win, they didn’t look like a team that could compete with the Milwaukee Bucks, let alone the Los Angeles Lakers. Perhaps, the Magic hit the reset button and move players such as Gordon, Ross or even Nikola Vucevic.
On the flip side, maybe the team expects Fournier to opt back in and for Gordon, Ross and Fultz to have bounce back seasons. If the Magic’s only first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft is No. 15 overall, they’ll need to find a scorer and facilitator who can help bring the offense into the future. It’ll be hard for any rookie to replicate Tyler Herro’s success through the playoffs. But for Orlando, that’s exactly the type of player they need.
Aaron Nesmith, Small Forward, Vanderbilt
2019-2020 Aaron Nesmith stats: 23.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, .522 3P%
Vanderbilt sophomore Aaron Nesmith might just be the best shooter in this year’s NBA Draft class. At a 52% clip from behind the arc, Nesmith would’ve ranked first in all of the NCAA had he not suffered a foot injury that cut his season to 14 games. Teams around the NBA have to to be intrigued with Nesmith’s scoring ability.
Orlando’s team three-point shooting percentage last year was 34.3%, putting them at 25 in the league. If Fournier leaves, adding a prolific scorer will be crucial to the team’s offensive success. With or without Fournier, the former Vandy product could be an immediate contributor during his rookie season due to his shot.
The biggest critique on Nesmith is that he needs to work on creating his own shots. With Fultz, who averaged five assists per game last year, the small forward would have an improving passer at his disposal. If he can continue his lethal stroke, Nesmith would be a dangerous offensive weapon for Orlando.
The Magic need scorers. There might not be a better one in this year’s class than Nesmith. While it’s unlikely he shoots over 50% from three at the NBA level, there is no denying that his shot making ability would immediately boost any team in the league’s offense in year one.
Cole Anthony, Point Guard, North Carolina
2019-2020 Cole Anthony stats: 18.5 PPG, 4.0 APG, 5.7 RPG, .348 3P%
North Carolina’s Cole Anthony entered his freshman season dripping with potential and a top-10 selection in the 2020 NBA Draft seemingly locked up. However, due to injuries, scoring droughts and the Tar Heels losing to teams such as Wofford, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Pittsburgh, Anthony enters the 2020 NBA Draft as one of the more controversial prospects.
With the Magic selecting at 15, it’s hard to say any pick they make is a surefire, “sure thing.” The former North Carolina point guard showed more than enough in his one and done season for Orlando to take a chance on him.
Shoot-first point guards like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook have taken over the league. Having a strong facilitator at the point who can also shoot from deep could revitalize in a team’s offense and strike a scoring run. Despite his cold streaks, Anthony has the potential to be one of the best shoot-first point guards in this year’s draft.
While Fultz took a step forward as a passer in his third season, he averaged just 12.1 points per game. His 47% field goal percentage was promising, but Fultz is still just a 26% three-point shooter for his career. Sure Anthony could be a risky pick, but he could also return to the player everyone expected him to be at the beginning of his freshman season. If that becomes the case, the Magic could get an absolute steal at 15.
Saddiq Bey, Small Forward, Villanova
2019-2020 Saddiq Bey stats: 16.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, .477 FG%, .451 3P%
Of all the players on this list, Villanova’s Saddiq Bey might be the biggest pipe dream for the Magic in this year’s draft. The small forward is currently flying up draft boards with Bleacher Report’s newest mock draft having him go to the New Orleans Pelicans at 13.
When it comes to scoring, Bey can do it all over the court. His 45% three-point percentage ranked fourth in the NCAA last season. He has shown the ability to both drive to the basket or shoot over defenders due to his 6’8″ frame. Bey is the type of player who can make a difference immediately for NBA teams and for the Magic, he could be the team’s starting small forward come 2021 tip off.
Outside of his offense, Bey also shines on the defensive end of the court and was a unanimous selection to the 2019-2020 All Big East Team. His sophomore season saw him not only double his points per game, but take home the Julius Erving award as the nation’s top small forward. NBC Sports has compared him to Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Khris Middleton.
Related: 2021 NBA Mock Draft
Depending on how the lead up to the draft goes, Bey’s stock could continue to rise, pricing him out of the Magic’s range. However, if he is there at 15, Orlando has to be intrigued by the overall growth and scoring ability Bey has shown in his two years with the Wildcats.
Tyrell Terry, Guard, Stanford
2019-2020 Tyrell Terry stats: 14.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, .408 3P%
While Bey might be a draft riser, Stanford’s Tyrell Terry might be one of the more underrated players on this list. Terry burst onto the scene in his first year with the Cardinals, proving to be an offensive playmaker and earning a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
Terry is one of the better ball-handlers in this year’s class. He excels out of the pick and roll, which could add another weapon to the Magic’s offense with Gordon. As a shooter, Terry’s 41% from behind the arc would’ve been good for 26th in the nation. As both a strong passer and scorer, the former Stanford standout is continuing to develop as a dynamic play maker.
While Terry’s 6’2″ height is solid in terms of point guard, his 160 pound frame has a lot to be desired. He would need to hit the weight room to defend against NBA level guards. Terry might not be as NBA ready as the first three players on the list, he has shown the potential to be a true difference maker down the line.
Stanford surprised a lot of people when they went 20-12 last season prior to the shutdown. They earned an impressive win over Oregon, who was ranked 11 at the time. A lot of that success could be credited to Terry, who showed strong potential in his freshman year. It might take a year or two, but if the Magic are willing to wait, they could have the hidden gem in this year’s draft.
Desmond Bane, Small Forward, TCU
2019-2020 Desmond Bane stats: 16.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, .442 3P%
TCU’s Desmond Bane has been a name slowly creeping up draft boards as we approach the big day. In CBS Sports’ most recent mock draft, the senior guard/forward is projected to go at 16 to the Portland Trailblazers. Bane would give the Magic a strong two-way player who would be able to contribute offensively from anywhere on the floor.
Bane stands 6’6″ with a 215 pound frame and a 6’4″ wingspan. As a four year player for the Horned Frogs, the guard/forward was credited for his heart on both ends of the floor. NBA.com calls him, “a scrappy, competitive defender who is energetic on and off the ball.” While it may be awhile until Magic fans see Jonathan Issac again, pairing him with Bane would give Orlando two strong defenders willing to battle on any possesion.
When it comes to offense, Bane has improved all four years on campus. As a senior he grew as a spot up shooter while developing into more of a play maker. At the small forward position, having someone who can both score and dish the rock would make the Magic’s offense much more well-rounded.
Bane might not be a household name – at least not yet – but as a senior, he has had amble time to prepare for the NBA. He is continuing to grow as a shooter and has already proven to be a strong defender. If he continues to develop his play making skills on the offensive end, the Magic could look to move Issac to the four, putting Bane at the three and giving Orlando a lethal defense core in the middle.