Dante Exum will work out for Rob Hennigan and other Orlando Magic officials on Tuesday, which could be one of the most crucial tests of the NBA pre-draft evaluation period. With Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid as the consensus picks for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers, although the order among the big three remains open for debate, the Magic’s pick in the fourth slot remains the biggest mystery and could have the greatest repercussion among the other teams in the top 10. Compounding the mystery over Orlando’s intentions is the lack of live scouting on Exum. NBA executives have extensive scouting reports on all the top-level prospects, but their dossiers for Exum are thin. How well Exum performs on Tuesday could have a major impact on the way the NBA Draft plays out after the top three picks.
Hennigan and the Magic scouting staff try to leave no stone unturned when evaluating prospects. Although the Magic and every other team with a poor record denied tanking games, the Orlando club did hold back productive veterans from extensive minutes in games down the stretch of the season. Orlando’s team building strategy is heavily dependent on selecting the best players in the fourth and twelfth overall picks of the draft. They have not seen much of Exum in person; therefore, assessing his skill level in Tuesday’s work out is crucial for the team’s NBA Draft strategy to unfold. A poor workout could make the team lean toward Julius Randle, Marcus Smart or Aaron Gordon. By all accounts, the Magic would have selected Smart last year with the second overall pick if Smart made himself available for the draft.
Tuesday’s meeting with Exum will also give Hennigan an opportunity for an extensive interview. The Magic pride themselves for bringing in high character players. Making sure that Exum can fit in with the rest of the team is important. One of Exum’s biggest proponents is his potential running mate Victor Olidipo, who spent time with Exum when he was recruited to play for Indiana University. Selected with the second overall pick by Orlando in the 2013 NBA Draft, Olidipo enjoyed a solid season for the team. If teamed with Exum, the squad could potentially have two multi-faceted guards in the backcourt, perhaps even taking turns running the point.
Of course, all the Magic’s plans could fall by the wayside if the Sixers are swept off their feet by Exum. If the Aussie is selected by Philadelphia, they could likewise pair him with Michael Carter-Williams to have two long and athletic backcourt mates. The Magic clearly would not be upset if one of the big three fell in their laps for the fourth pick, but Exum’s work out for the Orlando club on Tuesday could play a crucial role in governing how the NBA Draft will settle out. NBA fans are curious to see what happens at Exum’s work out, the evaluation by the Magic could have a ripple effect in the draft.
Commentary by William Costolo