Terrence Ross, No. 19 (Mock)
The Magic go with the safe pick as their future hangs in limbo.
by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
The Orlando Magic find themselves walking on thin ice following a disappointing ‘11-12 season. While the team has a slim chance to bounce back if all goes accordingly this offseason, Orlando currently finds themselves with one foot in NBA purgatory and the other firmly planted in basketball hell and will be fully immersed in one or the other by the ‘12-13 season.
On the purgatory side lays a team that looks like it will end up as either a late lottery pick or an early Playoff exit for the next few seasons as veterans like Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson become “expiring contracts” in trade talk. They will hopefully end the Dwight Howard soap opera and re-sign him to a long-term deal and attract a high-profile free agent either this or next summer.
The Magic are also banking on one of their few bright spots from last season, Ryan Anderson, continuing to develop into a prominent stretch 4 and provide them with offensive firepower.If everything goes by the books, which few believe it will, Orlando could find themselves well on their way to contending in the East and escaping from purgatory and on to greener pastures.
Compared to the hell Orlando may face next season, purgatory seems like paradise.
At the moment, the Magic are a team in absolute disarray. We all know of Dwight’s tortuous ‘10-11 season and who knows what he is thinking; how he is healing from his recent back surgery; or who is in his ear offering advice about what to do next. Until earlier this week, they had no GM and won’t name a head coach until after the Draft, which is ludicrous in its own right.
Jameer Nelson doesn’t know what the hell to do and finds himself in quite the precarious situation: He can either opt-out and leave $8.7 million on the table and likely sign a lesser contract elsewhere or re-sign to a team with no offensive gameplan or concrete roster. The aforementioned Anderson is a restricted free agent and will field some nice offers thanks to his play last season.
Even if all three return, a Howard-Anderson-Nelson triumvirate doesn’t strike fear in any legitimate contender’s heart. If all three of these players walk, the Magic will be left with a new GM, no coach and a starting five combination from the following: Chris Duhon, JJ Redick, Richardson, Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Quentin Richardson and Earl Clark—yikes.
So what do you do on Draft night? They have a few options: Make a blockbuster trade, move Howard for a high-profile package that includes a top pick, shoot up to the top of the Draft and select what hopefully will turn out to be the next big thing (unlikely but possible). Trade their pick or a current player for either another draft pick or a chance to move up to the lottery to help convince D12 to stick around (unlikely but also possible).
Or, select the best player available—someone who can also contribute right away—and begin an anticipatory rebuilding process with a new GM in place (the most likely situation).
With the 19th pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Orlando Magic select…
Terrence Ross from Washington.
This was a tough pick due to the fact that the Magic need help everywhere and have no real direction at the moment. I flip-flopped for a day over Tony Wroten, Moe Harkless and Arnett Moultrie but ultimately decided on Ross, who is the most NBA-ready talent left on the SLAMonline Draft board.
The urge to pick a big man is hard to ignore, but until Dwight is gone—and if he does leave, Orlando will probably get a big man in return—the Magic will look to free agency for another big-time player and the Draft as bait to keep Dwight, which eliminates Moultrie.
After an underwhelming season, there’s a slim chance Nelson would leave that much money on the table and take a chance in free agency, which eliminates Wroten (who also has rumored character issues—a factor that will undoubtedly come into play considering what has transpired over the last year).
Harkless is an intriguing prospect, and one I am very high on, but his game is limited to the post at the moment and is more of a project while Orlando would like someone to come in and contribute immediately.
At 6-7 Terrence Ross has the ability to play either the 2 or the 3—spots on the floor where Orlando has aged quickly and could use a significant upgrade. The athletic swingman has a beautiful stroke, NBA range and at his size, can shoot over smaller defenders at the guard position.
With his size and athleticism, he has the ability to create his own shot either off the dribble or off a pick, which is attractive to an Orlando team that needs firepower. When he’s “on,” he is one of the better scorers in the Draft and ended the season strong, averaging 25.0 ppg during the NIT.
Offensively, Ross will need to get to the rim more often as he shot just over 3 free throws a game, but that part of his game will improve as he works on his handle and gets in the weight room. He has a habit of falling in love with his jumper, as nearly 70 percent of his field-goal attempts last season were on jump shots, but again, this is a fixable problem.
What I like most about Ross as a prospect is his ability and willingness to contribute defensively. He is a lockdown defender who allowed opponents to shoot just 21.7 percent in isolation situations. He is a solid rebounder who boxes out and can out-jump players on the block, making him one of the best rebounding swingmen in the Draft. He reads passing lanes well, averaging 1.3 steals per game and his contributions on defense will keep him on the floor even if his shot isn’t falling.
Ross may not be the sexy pick or have the same “upside” as some of the players mentioned earlier, but he will be able to come in, play right away and stuff the box score, which is exactly what the Magic need. Is he a star in the making? Probably not. But at pick No. 19, he’s a steal.
|2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|1||Hornets||Anthony Davis||16||Rockets||Tyler Zeller|
|2||Bobcats||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||17||Mavs||Fab Melo|
|3||Wizards||Brad Beal||18||TWolves||Dion Waiters|
|4||Cavs||Thomas Robinson||19||Magic||Terrence Ross|
|13||Suns||Perry Jones III||28||Thunder|