SEATTLE SPORTS PIT

NBA Draft: Will Magic make Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero top pick?

Jun 21, 2022, 10:53 AM

              Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren (34) reacts as he walks to the bench after fouling out next to head coach Mark Few during the second half of a college basketball game against Arkansas in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament in San Francisco, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
            
              FILE - Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates during the first half of a college basketball game against Arkansas in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men's tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Houston, Detroit and Orlando share the best odds to win the draft lottery on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. All three are already loaded with young players, even before the possibility of adding someone like Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero or Jabari Smith. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
            
              FILE - Auburn forward Jabari Smith (10) reacts after making a 3-pointer against Alabama during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. Houston, Detroit and Orlando share the best odds to win the draft lottery on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. All three are already loaded with young players, even before the possibility of adding someone like Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero or Jabari Smith. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
            
              FILE - Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren brings the ball up against Georgia State during the second half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game March 17, 2022, in Portland, Ore. Holmgren is one of the top forwards in the upcoming NBA draft. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File)
            
              Duke forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks against Texas Tech during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament in San Francisco, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
            
              Auburn forward Jabari Smith (10) shoots a 3-pointer over Vanderbilt guard Jamaine Mann (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — College basketball season ended almost three months ago, the NBA draft lottery was more than a month ago and the draft itself is later this week.

Seems like the process should be winding down.

Orlando Magic President Jeff Weltman sees it differently.

“I tell you, it’s still early in the process,” Weltman said Monday.

Translated: The Magic haven’t decided yet what they’ll do on Thursday night, when the draft rolls around and they have the No. 1 pick. Other teams have called to gauge what the asking price would be if they want to trade for that selection, and the Magic have evaluated all the top candidates.

But Weltman sees no reason to decide anything before it’s absolutely necessary, especially given the opportunity Orlando has by holding this No. 1 pick.

“Dialogue is always ongoing,” Weltman said. “But, most importantly, we get to do what we want. That’s the real benefit of having the No. 1 pick.”

The top candidates for the pick are well-known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. worked out for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met with the Magic for multiple days last week and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, who starred in high school at Seattle’s O’Dea, has been working out with former Magic guard Mike Miller.

Holmgren said he came away convinced that “great people” are leading the Magic.

“They’ve got a vision for what they’re trying to put together in Orlando,” Holmgren said.

Weltman wouldn’t say that those are the only three candidates Orlando would consider at No. 1.

“It’s confirmed that there are a lot of talented players at the top of this draft, that’s for sure,” Weltman said.

This is the fourth time that Orlando will be making the No. 1 pick. The Magic took Shaquille O’Neal with the top selection in 1992. Chris Webber was the No. 1 pick by Orlando in 1993, and he got traded that same night for Penny Hardaway and a package of future picks that were eventually turned into Vince Carter and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic selected Dwight Howard with the first pick.

The No. 1 pick on Thursday will join a young core in Orlando that already includes 2017 top pick and UW Huskies product Markelle Fultz, a pair of top-eight picks from the 2021 draft in Franz Wagner and former Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony — the No. 15 pick in 2020.

Orlando also has the No. 6 picks from the 2017 and 2018 draft, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. It’s possible that when next season starts Orlando could have as many as six lottery picks, nine top-16 selections and 12 first-rounders on its roster.

This is all part of the challenge for the Magic — who also have the No. 32 and No. 35 picks this year — going into Thursday: Finding more youth that fits with the current core, finding ways to be better next season and sustainably better for years to come.

“We do want to get better but not at the expense of rushing back to mediocrity,” Weltman said. “And we do want to have something sustainable. But you have to elevate the standard to do that. You can’t just stay at the basement level, you know, interminably. So those are conversations that we’re having, which players do that for us.”

Noah Williams transferring from WSU men’s hoops to UW Huskies

Seattle Sports Pit

Paul Silas...
The Associated Press

Paul Silas, 3-time NBA champion including with Sonics, dies at 79

Paul Silas, a member of three NBA championship teams as a player including the 1978-79 Seattle Sonics, has died. at the age of 79
2 months ago
XFL Seattle Dragons...
Brent Stecker

Seattle Sea Dragons reveal uniforms for 2023 XFL relaunch

The relaunch of the XFL got a little bit more real with the reveal of the uniforms for all eight teams, including the Seattle Sea Dragons.
2 months ago
World Cup...
The Associated Press

US knocked out of World Cup after 3-1 loss to the Netherlands

The Netherlands eliminated the United States from the World Cup with a 3-1 victory Saturday that advanced the Dutch to the quarterfinals.
2 months ago
World Cup US Iran...
The Associated Press

Pulisic goal advances US in World Cup with 1-0 win over Iran

Christian Pulisic scored while crashing headfirst into the goalkeeper in the 38th minute and the United States advanced to the knockout round of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran.
2 months ago
World Cup US England...
The Associated Press

US frustrates England again at a World Cup in 0-0 draw

The United States frustrated England in a 0-0 draw on Friday in the latest occasion in which the Americans have defied the odds against the Three Lions.
2 months ago
Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup, group B s...
The Associated Press

Wales converts PK, US settles for 1-1 draw in World Cup opener

Gareth Bale converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute to offset Tim Weah's first-half goal and give Wales a 1-1 draw with the US in a World opener.
2 months ago
NBA Draft: Will Magic make Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero top pick?