The media’s saturation coverage of the NFL Draft unfortunately has skewed the way sports fans think about the NBA Draft.
And, perhaps as a result, some fans of the Orlando Magic are losing sight of what this draft really should be about for the franchise.
Too many fans want the Magic to draft “for need.”
The refrain goes like this: The Magic have a significant deficiency at point guard; therefore, the team must — absolutely must!!! — draft a point guard.
I hear it all the time.
On sports talk radio. When I run into strangers or friends in town. When I open my work e-mail every morning.
But that line of thinking is woefully shortsighted.
It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of where the Magic stand at this moment.
The Magic have just completed Year One of a long, potentially arduous, rebuilding project.
In the June 27 draft, Magic officials need to select the player they think has the best chance to develop into a perennial All-Star, regardless of position.
If the best high-ceiling player happens to be a center, draft him, even though the Magic already have a talented, young player at that position, Nik Vucevic.
If the best high-ceiling player happens to be a small forward, draft him, even though Maurice Harkless has the potential to be a top-notch defender.
The same goes for the power forward, shooting guard and point guard spots.
If this were the NFL, my advice would be different.
Pro football is a sport in which teams often should draft for need.
In the NFL, of course, there are far more prospects available in every draft, and the difference in quality among the top-notch players at different positions often isn’t as profound as it is in the NBA.
Pro football also is a sport in which league officials systematically have created a state of perpetual parity. Teams with awful records one season are rewarded with easier schedules the next season, while teams with great records are punished the next season with tougher schedules.
The problem with this year’s NBA Draft is that there’s no single franchise-altering talent available — no one along the lines of Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, a LeBron James in 2003 or even an Anthony Davis in 2012.
Or at least that’s what the experts think.
The question is: Is there a hidden gem out there somewhere? In 2010, the Indiana Pacers already had small forward Danny Granger when they used the 10th overall pick to select another wing, Paul George. What a brilliant move. George has emerged as the Pacers’ best player, and he was just selected to the 2012-13 All-NBA Third Team.
Many Magic fans hope this year’s gem is a point guard.
Jameer Nelson isn’t the team’s long-term answer at the position because he’s 31 years old and because the team is years away from title contention.
To be sure, there are some intriguing point guard prospects in this year’s draft, most notably Michigan’s Trey Burke, Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Wiliams and Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum.
But do any of them have a higher upside than Kentucky center Nerlens Noel or Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore?
That’s the question Magic GM Rob Hennigan and assistant GMs Scott Perry and Matt Lloyd need to answer before June 27.
Luckily for the franchise, Hennigan and his crew didn’t listen to fans who didn’t want the team to trade away J.J. Redick at the trade deadline. The Magic ultimately traded Redick and two others for a package of players that included a high-upside youngster, Tobias Harris.
Now, once again, the Magic front office needs to tune out the noise.
Magic officials finally have announced the changes they’re making to their annual pro summer league.
As the Sentinel first reported in early March, the league will crown a champion, give each team a day off and will expand to include the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat.
Why is the league adding a championship game?
There was some sentiment that, in prior years, the games held on Thursday and Friday lost their competitive edge and, therefore, weren’t as productive as they could’ve been.
After all, the goal of the league is to develop young players and to evaluate prospective free agents, so it’s in the teams’ best interests to foster a competitive atmosphere.
A point system will determine the standings over teams’ first four games.
A team will receive three points for winning a game. A team also will receive one point for every quarter it wins; if a quarter is tied, both teams will receive half a point for that quarter. Awarding points by quarter will ensure that the fourth quarter of a game that already is a blowout will have some meaning.
If there are ties after four games, teams’ total point differentials will serve as the first tiebreaker.
Orlando’s summer league will begin play on July 7, and the first-, third-, fifth-, seventh- and ninth-place games will be played on July 12.
As usual, the event will be closed to the public.
A positive for Minnesota
The Minnesota Timberwolves emerged from the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery with the ninth overall pick in the June 27 draft.
But there was some good news for T-Wolves fans: Power forward Kevin Love, the franchise’s best player, sounds pleased that Flip Saunders is now running the team and that David Kahn is out as GM. You’ll remember that Kahn ticked off Love by refusing to give Love a five-year extension.
“I talk to Flip pretty much every other day,” Love said on the day of the lottery. “I had lunch with him today. He’s very hopeful that I’ll be a big part of this team for many years to come. I don’t see why he should think otherwise.”
The media’s focus on Dwight Howard’s future plans is completely justified. But why isn’t L.A. Clippers free agent-to-be Chris Paul receiving similar scrutiny? Bravo to SI.com’s Ben Golliver for raising that question in a piece published Friday. . . . The silliest part of the draft lottery: a member of the Cavaliers’ traveling party cheering when Adam Silver announced the Cavs had won. Was it classless? Sure. But it sure was funny. . . . David Stern acknowledged that the league’s instant replay rules could be tweaked this offseason.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.