It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Orlando Magic, as they drafted a superstar-in-the-making with their surprise first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in Paolo Banchero.
Banchero, along with former Michigan Wolverines standout Franz Wagner, are players that the Magic should be able to lean on for years to come.
Young players like Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter Jr. are also quite talented, although they have an injury history that’s somewhat concerning when projecting their future outlook.
That being said, in the upcoming NBA Draft, the Magic have one position that they need to focus on above all others: shooting guard.
Said wing doesn’t have to necessarily be the prototypical archetype; a high-flying athlete that can pour it on teams from all three levels. In fact, considering the most glaring weakness in Orlando’s starting lineup, the Magic might be best served finding — quite literally — the best shooting guard in the draft.
Here are three early targets for the Magic with the sixth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
3 early 2023 NBA Draft targets for Magic with No. 6 lottery slot in first round
Gradey Dick might be the Orlando Magic’s primary draft target heading into the summer because the former Kansas Jayhawks wing could be the best shooter in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Just 18-years-old, the Kansas native averaged 14.1 points per game in his lone season with Jayhawks while shooting 40.1 percent from 3-point range.
With a great build at 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, an easy NBA comparison for the sharpshooter might be former NBA wing Kyle Korver. Like Korver, who’s 11th all-time in the NBA in career 3-pointers, Dick has a lightning-quick release. When he shoots, the ball just feels like it’s going in.
Like former NBA guard JJ Redick, Dick is not just an efficient shooter though, as he’s capable of coming off of any number of screens in a variety of actions and sets. Due to his projected off-ball gravity, Dick is a player that Magic coach Jamahl Mosley can also use as a decoy or to create space for players like Paolo Banchero in the post.
He’ll be a high-level catch-and-shoot no matter what though, and that’s simply exactly what the Magic need as they continue to build their roster.
Not to be forgotten though is the defensive end, where Gradey uses his length, awareness, and energy to make a number of winning plays for a basketball team.
Plenty of teams likely see UConn Huskies guard Jordan Hawkins as a lottery-level talent after his performance in the 2022-23 season, especially in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
However, picking Hawkins sixth overall could be a surprising move nonetheless, as he’s not a player that’s really expected to grow into anything more than what he already is.
Not that Hawkins won’t be able to make an impact from Day 1.
Built like a track athlete at 6-foot-5, the long-legged Jordan Hawkins has a bit of UConn alum and three-time All-Star Rip Hamilton in his game in that he’s in constant movement, ready to catch and shoot the ball.
That said, while he does plenty of damage from 3-point land with 38.8 percent shooting on 7.6 attempts per game, Hawkins is a player that can be weaponized to score from all three levels. He didn’t average 16.2 points per game last season because he only took threes after all.
On the other end of the floor, Hawkins is a pesky defender, a trait that will keep him on the court even in games where his shot happens to not be falling. Not that the Magic should expect that to happen often, as Hawkins made at least three 3-pointers in 23 of 37 games last season. Hawkins only failed to knock down a single three in two games, contests that he wasn’t healthy for.
With the ball often in Paolo Banchero or Markelle Fultz’ hands, Hawkins will be an important weapon for the Magic.
Ausar Thompson isn’t truly a catch-and-shoot player so much as he’s a 6-foot-7 basketball phenom that can probably do everything the Orlando Magic ask him to do, including make spot-up threes.
The 20-year-old Ausar forms one-half of the popular Thompson Twins, who both play for the Overtime Elite City Reapers. To that point, while Ausar can make plays for his teammates like his brother Amen, Amen is more of a true point guard prospect while Ausar is more of a true wing.
The Oakland natives are both also excellent athletes with prototypical NBA frames, a natural feel for scoring the ball, and outstanding defensive potential as well.
Ausar, also in his second season with OTE, averaged 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 2022-23 while shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range in the OTE playoffs.
While his level of competition may not be as impressive as a high-major college athlete, it’s still worth noting that he and his brother led the City Reapers to two consecutive championships. So even if people believe they aren’t playing against the cream of the crop, they clearly still take care of business. Furthermore, it takes a certain amount of confidence to believe that you can elevate an upstart league, and both twins seem to have that as well.
Both of these traits — competitiveness and confidence — will matter plenty at the NBA level as well.
All that aside, with the Magic, Thompson can expect for a hands-on coach in Jamahl Mosley to bring out the best in him as a player. Especially as Ausar may have as much star potential as any player on the roster.
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