The Orlando Magic’s front office, led by president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, have shown an affinity for certain types of players in drafts.
They’re well aware of the reputation.
“We’ve always liked long, lanky guys,” Hammond said during a recent appearance on the Bart & Hahn podcast. “In today’s game, multi-positional players are so important. The game today, defensively in particular, is all about switching. Switching ball screens and screens off the ball. On the other end of the floor, it’s kind of the same way because the floor is so spaced. Multi-dimensional players are really important in today’s game.”
There are no shortage of examples of a Weltman-Hammond-led front office prioritizing length when evaluating players in drafts.
The most obvious example is Hammond and Weltman spearheading the Milwaukee Bucks front office that drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the No. 15 pick in 2013.
Weltman, who was Milwaukee’s assistant general manager from 2008-13, left the Bucks shortly before the 2013 draft to become the Toronto Raptors’ executive vice president of basketball operations.
They also led the Bucks in drafting Larry Sanders (6-foot-9 without shoes with a 7-foot-5 wingspan) in 2010 and John Henson (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan) in ‘12. Hammond, who was the Bucks’ general manager from April 2008 through May 2017 before joining the Magic, drafted Thon Maker (6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) in 2016.
That appreciation for lankier players carried over to Orlando, with the Magic drafting Jonathan Isaac (2017) and Mo Bamba (2018) in back-to-back years.
Will their fondness for lankier players continue to show in their selections for the 2022 draft?
Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren, one of the players the Magic are considering taking with the No. 1 pick, fits the mold.
Although Holmgren wasn’t officially measured during the NBA’s scouting combine this week, he’s been listed at 7-foot and is believed to have a 7-foot-6 wingspan. This helped him become an elite shot-blocker (3.7 blocks with the Bulldogs) and rim deterrent in college.
Orlando also has two second-round picks for the draft at Nos. 32 and 35.
A player to keep an eye on is Santa Clara guard/forward Jalen Williams.
Williams, who averaged 18 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals, was measured for the 11th-longest wingspan (7-foot-2) at the combine despite being 6-foot-4 without shoes.
Williams told the Orlando Sentinel that the Magic were one of the 15-16 teams he’s spoken with this past week.
While the Magic have a history of trading out of the second round, they’re expected to use at least one of their picks this year. They could also try to console those picks and trade them to get into the back end of the first round.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.