Grading the Orlando Magic’s 2014 NBA Draft Class
In a surprise to many, the Magic selected Arizona forward Aaron Gordon with the No. 4 pick in the draft. That’s not to say that Gordon is not a player worthy of the fourth overall selection. But in workouts and rumors leading up to the draft, Gordon was not mentioned to be on the Magic’s radar with the belief being that if point guard Dante Exum was on the board, he would be the team’s pick. While Gordon is not a point guard, he does fit a need in the Magic’s frontcourt. Blossoming center Nikola Vucevic is an offensive talent who has a variety of moves in the post and can step out on occasion and knock down a shot from 15 feet. While Vucevic is not necessarily a slouch on defense, he is not a rim protector or a great individual defender. Vucevic is a big body who can fill the lane and make it tougher for players to finish over due to his size, but he cannot offer much more than that. Gordon, on the other hand, can.
Gordon is a spectacular defender and may be able to guard up to four different positions in the NBA which is incredible. Gordon utilizes his size, athleticism and quickness to be able to cover players one-on-one as well as switch onto another man in the help defense and play passing lanes to get steals in order to get his team out in transition. Gordon is great at stealing the ball and taking the ball up the court due to his great ball handling abilities and court vision for his size. Gordon is a tough athlete and above average rebounder who really knows how to make an impact on the court. If Gordon could learn to shoot the ball with more consistency, then he would certainly be on his way to potential superstardom in the league. Nevertheless, Gordon will be an impact player for the Magic and will be able to step in and play big minutes right away at power forward.
The Magic’s selection at No. 12 went from being Croatian forward Dario Saric to being traded along with future first and second-round picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for their No. 10 pick Elfrid Payton. Payton is a point guard who has a lot of Rajon Rondo in him. Payton is a tough, physical guard who is a great athlete and has a pass-first feel for the game. Payton also is a great defender and can score in the lane when he needs to. Like Rondo, Payton suffers shooting the ball, but his physical attributes and his skills handling and passing the ball are ultimately too much to pass up. Payton can really come in and help to run a Magic offense that desperately needs a guy who can pass the ball and create shots for others, as there are no real shot creators on the team outside of shooting guard Victor Oladipo. Payton has the chance to really be a special point guard in the NBA, and it was wise for the Magic to trade for him as he is another player who can come in and fill a need right away.
In the second round, the Magic were able to pick up scoring guard Roy Devyn Marble out of the University of Iowa. Marble is a guard who can score in a variety of ways and was arguably Iowa’s top player and prospect. While Marble has a knack for scoring the basketball, he does not have the tightest handle among guards and does not possess elite athleticism, which is one factor that limits upside in the NBA. Marble is also not a good defender, as he lacks awareness on that end of the floor at times in terms of knowing when to go over or under on screen and rolls or when it comes to switching on defense when he has to. Marble has to learn a few things and improve, but seeing as though he was able to show up and play well in some big games for Iowa, it is not out of the question he could be a rotation player years down the road.
Overall Grade: A