With the fifth pick in the NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Willie Cauley-Stein from the University of Kentucky.
From Orlando Pinstriped Post: Last year the Magic selected Aaron Gordon with their first pick thinking he might be their power forward of the future, but he had issues defending the fours in the NBA. Thus the pick for Cauley-Stein makes a lot of sense. He already has the size in both height and weight that should help him translate to the low post game of the league. He will also compliment Nikola Vucevic and take some load off of him. Vucevic won't be required to grab every rebound or pretend that he can defend the paint. That can now be Cauley-Stein's job. Gordon can make the move out to the three and the Magic will have the start of something really, really special.
Taylor: Are we ready to give up on Nik Vucevic? This is another pick I don’t really understand. Can Cauley-Stein play the 4? It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Tobias Harris is going to leave in free agency. If that’s the plan, then I get it.
Kevin: I think Cauley-Stein is going to play the four in Orlando and either Gordon switches to a sixth man type role or he moves down to the three spot and uses his freak athleticism to become a wing stopper. This isn’t a replace the man in the middle type situation. Vucevic is probably the Magic’s best overall player and no way they are going to give up on him. If anything they are probably prepping a max offer for him.
Taylor: If the Magic are going to trot out a front line of Vucevic, WCS, and Aaron Gordon, good lord that’s a lot of size. WCS and Gordon are athletic enough to still give team fits, though. That could spell trouble for opponents.
Kevin: This will hide Vucevic’s defensive inefficiencies. The guy only blocks 1.1 shots per 100 defensive possessions he’s on the floor. Cauley Stein will allow him to do what he does best, rebound. Then he’ll be fresher on the offensive end and we could legitimately see the guy push for a 25 point and 20 rebound average for the season.
Lucas: Stein at number 5 to the Magic makes a lot of sense. Opponents converted 61.6% of their shots within six feet against the Magic last season, per NBA.com stats, only the Lakers, Kings, and Timberwolves surrendered more shots iin that range last season. Cauley-Stein should help curb that trend for the Magic next year, as he is likely the best defensive player in this years draft, and possibly in any draft since fellow Kentucky alum Anthony Davis went number one overall to the New Orleans Pelicans back in 2012. Not only can Stien protect the rim,- he averaged 3.6 blocks and 1.8 steals per 40 minutes during his three year career at Kentucky, per sports reference. Not only can Cauley-Stein protect the rim, but he also showed an uncanny ability to guard perimeter players during his time at Lexington. Players, primarily big men, who can switch the pick and roll are increasingly desirable in today’s NBA (here is a great piece from Zach Lowe for more on this), Cauley-Stein seems to fit this new mold of NBA players perfectly, as he should be able to switch on to perimeter players, possibly even point guards, with relative ease for someone his size. Cauley-Stein and Vucevic won’t be a perfect fit, neither is a threat to from the three point line, though Vucevic does have a reliable mid range jump shot and experimented with corner threes last season, but they are both young, talented players that on paper compliment each other nicely.
Dontae: Perfecto. The Magic just had the correct player fall into their lap. The Magic need defenders badly (28th in eFG%, 24th in Def Rtg). Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard can testify to how much a defender in the middle can change the trajectory of a team’s defense.
Willie Cauley-Stein is the best defender in the draft. Now, can Cauley-Stein and Nikola Vucevic play together, not at this moment, but a rotation of those two and Tobias Harris can be a winning trio with time. Shooting on this team is going to have to come at some point, but there isn’t any lights-out shooter worth a pick this high (unless you favor Mario Hezonja like I do, but I digress).
The concern I do have, is that Cauley-Stein is so one-dimensional after three years of college that he may turn into a 25 minute a night, can’t play on offense, Hack-A-Cauley-Stein liability. In today’s game, teams are going to exploit that. See what has happened to Tiago Splitter, Andrew Bogut, any Miami Heat center outside of Chris Bosh, who are all better offensively than Willie can even dream of, in the Finals these past few years. You can’t be a one trick pony, even Tyson Chandler can pass out of a pick-and-roll when tossed the ball on the roll.