The NBA draft lottery was held Wednesday night and the Orlando Magic will pick sixth in the 2017 Draft on June 26th. That collective groan you heard around 8:50 pm was from the central Florida area.
The disappointment is from early projections coming into the lottery expecting the Magic would get the fifth pick, where they’ve had some past success.
The sixth pick may have some Orlando fans doubting if a transformative player will be available. But with “experts” saying this is the deepest draft in several seasons, and the Magic having several needs–most notable an efficient shooting small forward that can be a versatile defender–hopefully there will be one available that can change the fortunes of the franchise.
For those fans that don’t think this 2017 pick will do much to help end the worst period in Orlando Magic basketball, I’ll be honest, I don’t blame them. There’s a dramatic difference, historically, in the one pick between fifth and sixth.
If you need evidence, here’s a look at some of the all-time greats, All-Stars, All-NBA performers and Champions that have been chosen fifth overall in the past thirty years.
- 1987 – Scottie Pippen (Seattle Sonics; traded to Chicago Bulls)
- 1988 – Mitch Richmond (Golden State Warriors)
- 1991 – Steve Smith (Miami Heat)
- 1995 – Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- 1996 – Ray Allen (Minnesota Timberwolves; traded to the Milwaukee Bucks)
- 1998 – Vince Carter (Golden State Warriors; traded to the Toronto Raptors)
- 2003 – Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)
- 2008 – Kevin Love (Memphis Grizzlies; traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves)
- 2010 – DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Now look at the notables that were selected sixth overall in that span of time.
- 1987 – Kenny Smith (Sacramento Kings)
- 1993 – Calbert Cheney (Washington Bullets)
- 1996 – Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics)
- 1999 – Wally Szczerbiak (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- 2001 – Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies)
- 2003 – Chris Kaman (LA Clippers)
- 2006 – Brandon Roy (Portland Trailblazers)
- 2008 – Danilo Gallinari (New York Knicks)
- 2012 – Damian Lillard (Portland Trailblazers)
- 2014 – Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)
See the difference?
Outside of Antoine Walker, Brandon Roy and presently Damian Lillard, those other sixth overall picks didn’t achieve their peak success with the team that drafted them. Majority of the players selected sixth in the last thirty years didn’t have more than a cup of coffee in the league and were nothing more than role players or all out busts. Remember these names?
- 1988 – Hersey Hawkins (LA Clippers; traded to the Philadelphia 76ers)
- 1989 – Stacey King (Chicago Bulls)
- 1990 – Felton Spencer (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- 1991 – Doug Smith (Dallas Mavericks)
- 1994 – Sharon Wright (Philadelphia 76ers)
- 1995 – Bryant Reeves (Vancouver Grizzlies)
I think you get my point. You can see how falling that one spot can set a franchise back even longer or propel it to greatness.
The Magic really needed to get the fifth pick, which they had two other times. In 2015, they selected guard/forward Mario Hezonja out of Croatia. In 2000, they selected Florida University guard/forward Mike Miller, who eventually went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year.
While the jury is still out on Hezonja’s career, Miller made an immediate impact helping the Tracy Mac-led Magic get back into the playoffs before being traded to the Grizzlies in his third season. Miller is still thriving in the Association in his eighteenth season.
Orlando hopes they can get some Magic and a reversal of fortune with the 2017 number six selection, and turn this franchise around to end its longest playoff drought in team history. Otherwise, this night will be remembered for sinking the franchise into a deeper sea of despair.