9:55 PM EDT, June 27, 2013
You might have heard that the Magic have lost a couple star big men in their history. Did they just lose another? Or did they avoid Grant Hill: The Sequel?
Only time and physical therapy will tell if they'll regret passing on Nerlens Noel.
If it's any consolation, four other teams avoided Noel, and the one that drafted him couldn't get rid of the former Kentucky shot-blocker fast enough.
Noel fell to New Orleans at No. 6 on Thursday night. He then was traded by the Pelicans to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Sixers figuring that Noel has one less bad knee than Andrew Bynum did.
All the draftniks had figured Cleveland would select Noel with the No. 1 pick. The Cavs spun the wheel of unpredictability on this night out of the gate, shockingly picking Anthony Bennett (Google him), blowing up every internet mock draft.
That left the Magic with the chance to take Noel at No. 2 and stash him in the Himalayas while he recovers from a torn ACL, and now, a broken heart.
So instead of picking the best big-man defender, the Magic picked the best small-man defender in Victor Oladipo.
They chose Oladipo over another Magic candidate, Ben McLemore, the purest shooter.
Yeah, how crazy is it to second-guess picks in a draft in which nobody thought was very good to begin with?
The draft was a box of chocolates. One expert wrote that Oladipo was "overrated" and another compared him to, gulp, Dwyane Wade.
A 6-foot-3 1/2 junior shooting guard out of Indiana, Oladipo fits the Magic parameters: Good kid, solid citizen, team guy. He's explosive and specializes in hustle.
He said he'll bring a work ethic to the Magic "they've probably never seen before," a Darrell Armstrong throwback.
Great for the culture that GM Rob Hennigan is trying to instill, post-Dwight Howard.
Victor led the Big Ten in steals and floorburns. He makes things happen on both ends of the floor and for the other team as well, speaking of his turnover rate.
His shooting is not there yet, and he'll need to be introduced to the 3-point line. But he gets to the rim – a skill the Magic lack – which allowed him to lead the conference in field-goal percentage.
He was a decent scorer (13.6 ppg) and averaged just 2.1 assists, not the gaudy numbers you'd expect from a No. 2 pick. Timing is everything, and Oladipo benefited from being in this pedestrian field. He'd probably go 10th in next year's star-studded draft.
But he'll be fun to watch, although you don't want Oladipo helping win too many games and ruin the Andrew Wiggins 2014 lottery.
Taking Oladipo doesn't necessarily mean the Magic trade Arron Afflalo. They are in need of another two-guard after J.J. Redick was dealt to Milwaukee last season.
But the Magic already have shopped Afflalo, offering him to the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade to net point guard Eric Bledsoe. Arron is probably doing cartwheels, hoping he can wind up back home in L.A. and with a contender.
The Magic, in passing on Noel, steered clear of yet another player with an injury history.
Hennigan made the correct call each time. Bynum's MRI scared off the club in any Howard trade scenario as did Jared Sullinger's in last year's draft. They didn't even bother to bring in Alex Len, who has a stress fracture in his foot.
And yet Len and Cody Zeller both were chosen ahead of Noel.
No one is saying – not even Dick Vitale, college's carnival barker – that the Magic are missing out on the next Shaq or Dwight.
Noel lacks bulk and a polished offensive game. Yet these 6-11 freaks of nature who can block shots and run the floor are rare. The Magic's recovery continues after losing their last one.
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