For the Orlando Magic, who have the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, it would seem as if the pre-draft process should have been winding down by Monday.
The college basketball season ended more than 2 1/2 months ago and almost five weeks ago, the Magic won the draft lottery that secured them the top pick in Thursday night’s draft.
Most pre-draft workouts and interviews wrapped up early this week, with many of the top prospects traveling to New York City for the draft.
But as Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman sees it, “it’s still early in the process” and there’s plenty of time for Orlando’s organization to mull over what it’s going to do.
“My dad used to tell me if the paper is due on Friday, don’t turn it in on Monday,” Weltman said when speaking with reporters on Monday. “We’re going to continue to evaluate. New information comes in all the time.”
This “paper” is due Thursday evening, but the sentiment remains — the Magic are going to use all the time they can before deciding what they’ll do with the draft’s No. 1 pick.
Weltman said he expects the Magic to use the No. 1 pick.
It’s rare for the top pick to be traded. Since the draft lottery started in 1985, the No. 1 pick has only been traded three times on or before draft night (1986, 1993 and 2017).
But Weltman wouldn’t rule anything out. Deadlines create movement, options and offers that weren’t previously on the table until the last possible moment.
“It’s our job to explore any avenue to get our team better,” Weltman said. “We’ll take as much time as we can to do that.”
Former Duke forward Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren and Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. have been considered the three prospects expected to draw consideration for the top pick since before the college basketball season ended.
Many rival executives and scouts have believed the No. 1 pick will come down to two players — Holmgren and Smith — since the Magic won the draft lottery.
But the Magic have brought in various players throughout their draft board for workouts in Orlando to get a closer look at them ahead of Thursday.
“The conversation doesn’t just stay on that pick because we have to be prepared to jump around,” Weltman said. “We have to be prepared for conversations to become real. It’s not like we’re just talking about the top two or three guys.”
The Magic also have two second-round picks, Nos. 32 and 35.
Weltman acknowledged they’ve considered consolidating those picks by attempting to trade into the back end of the first round or other avenues.
There will be limited playing opportunities for an Orlando team that could have around 10 players under the age of 25 on the roster for next season.
“How many young guys can we get through the woods? They’re not all going to make it through maybe, but they have to have a chance,” Weltman said. “We do pay attention to that. We are having discussions with teams. Because we’re a team that has two early second-round picks and those are treated differently financially in the salary cap, especially to tax teams, it puts us in a position to have some conversations.”
NBA Draft 2022: Ivey, Daniels headline list of point guards
The Milwaukee Bucks capitalized on a rare opportunity to pick in the first round of the draft by taking NBA G League Ignite wing MarJon Beauchamp with the 24th overall selection. The 6-foot-6 Beauchamp averaged 15.1 points for the Ignite this season. That was the latest step in a circuitous path to the NBA that included stops at four different high schools and Yakima Valley College. Beauchamp shapes up to be the first opening-round pick the Bucks have kept beyond draft night since taking Donte DiVincenzo 17th overall in 2018.
Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren, Auburn's Jabari Smith and Duke's Paolo Banchero are set to make it a forward-heavy start to the NBA draft. The three top the list of players at the position and overall draft prospects, though it's unclear which might go No. 1 overall. All three possess size and open-floor potential with the ability to step outside. Iowa's Keegan Murray is another key name who is unlikely to have a long wait to be picked after the top three. Other names to watch include Baylor's Jeremy Sochan, Ohio State's E.J. Liddell and Wake Forest's Jake LaRavia. There's also a preps-to-pros prospect in Dominick Barlow from the Overtime Elite developmental program.
The Denver Nuggets selected Kansas guard Christian Braun with the 21st pick of the NBA draft. The 6-foot-6 Braun averaged 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. His 12 points and 12 rebounds helped Kansas beat North Carolina in the national championship game on April 4. He played the entire game. This is the first draft with general manager Calvin Booth as the primary decisionmaker for Denver. The Nuggets also acquired the rights to the 30th pick and final pick of the first round, UCLA freshman Peyton Watson from Oklahoma City.