On Thursday night, the Orlando Magic selected, forward, Chuma Okeke, from Auburn. Okeke was part of one of the Tiger’s best teams ever, playing inspired basketball under coach, Bruce Pearl, and making it to the Final Four.
Unfortunately, Okeke suffered an ACL injury in the tournament and his future with the Magic for next season in unclear. He joins Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz as high profile Magic players that are recovering from injuries.
I said the Magic should take a chance in last night’s draft (story HERE), this certainly qualifies. Analysts believe he was the best player on the board, but he’s not ready “out of the box” and that’s a problem for an Orlando team that is trying to get to the next level.
Instead, the team should have gone with a player, whether through the draft or trade, that can be ready to contribute to the team immediately. The fans are hungry and are looking for another star to cheer for.
The team does deserve the benefit of the doubt. They went conservative last year and made it to the playoffs. They were also able to win some games despite their best players all missing some time during the regular season.
There is also the chance that former number 1 pick, Fultz, could tap his true talent here in Orlando and become the star many believed he could be. Perhaps last night’s pick is an indication that they’re optimistic about his recovery after an unfortunate start to his career in Philadelphia.
My concern is that some of the other teams in the Eastern conference got better last night. It’s no certainty that the Magic did so as well, especially when their first round draft pick might not play next year. We didn’t breeze into the playoffs last season, it was a fight and the team has to remain aware of that when looking at it’s roster while trying to repeat that success.