Jeff Weltman, President of Basketball Operations for the Orlando Magic, introduced their new players to the media Friday. It was a good day for him and his team.
“We went into this draft looking to add skill and size, shooting, I.Q., integrity, (and) positional versatility.” Weltman said Friday. “And with these young guys, I think we checked all of those boxes – and we are really excited about that.”
The Magic used the first overall pick on 6-10 forward Paolo Banchero, taking him despite reports that Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. was their top target. Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in his lone season in Seattle.
Jamahl Mosley says, “From day one, we’ve constantly talked about IQ, character, versatility and a winning mindset with our guys.” Jalen Bancroft is the newest addition, and he fits all of those qualities as well.
NBA fans and media members got fooled by who the Orlando Magic were targeting with their first pick. After the draft, Banchero told media members that he didn’t know about Orlando’s intentions to draft him until just before they made the pick.
“I knew there was a chance,” Banchero told reporters, when asked whether he knew he was going to be the first overall selection. “Me and Mike (agent) kept in good communication throughout the day, and he was just telling me to stay ready and just be prepared. So that’s what I was doing, and then as time went on, he was just keeping me updated on what was happening. So yeah, like thirty seconds after they called my name.”
Kim English was a former five-star forward’s agent, who is none other than 17-year NBA veteran Mike Miller, who won two championships with the Miami Heat and was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2006. He also received NBA Rookie of the Year in 2001 for being an Orlando Magic alumni.
“I want to win with Orlando,” Banchero replied confidently when asked about his agent Friday. “Mike has just told me what a pleasure it has been living in Orlando, how much he likes the people here, and how much he likes the town (and he still has great relationships guys). Mike enjoyed it here and I’m just glad that he’s happy.”
The Orlando Magic have traditionally been a very successful franchise, so the expectations for Banchero growing into an eventual number one overall pick are high, considering the team has drafted two of the league’s most notable players (O’Neal and Howard) in their history.
What it’s like coming into the NBA? “Definitely, there’s going to be high expectations for myself. I’m going to hold myself to them, and everyone else is going to hold me to them. But I feel like it’s nothing I’m not (already) used to. It was the same thing for me attending college, throughout high school, just a lot of expectations for me (my) whole life. So, I’m just going to approach it the same way I’ve always approached it.”
The Magic selected Michigan wing Caleb Houstan with the 32nd overall pick (second round), making him their first second round pick since 2019. The native of Ontario, Canada averaged 10.1 points and 4.0 rebounds as a freshman in Ann Arbor, MI this past season. Houstan led the Wolverines in made three-point field goals (60 3PTM’s, 35.5 percent) in 2021-22 and is on his way to being a franchise player for the Magic.
Houstan discussed Friday his excitement to join the young players the team has already developed and his eagerness to work with them.
At the end of the day, Friday was all about introducing the future of the Orlando Magic to an excited and eager fanbase.