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Magic/Heat have different draft approaches

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Just five days after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, the league gathers in Brooklyn for the 2016 draft. Some of the league’s 30 teams will be busier than others.

The Orlando Magic have the 11th pick. While the top two or three slots are well-known, only the Magic brass know, for sure, who they are targeting.

A few mock drafts have them taking Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere. The lanky forward is a good shooter, but had a relatively uneventful stay with Wildcat Nation. No matter where he goes, Labissiere is loaded with raw talent, but is considered a multiyear “project.”

Other mock drafts point to Utah center Jakob Poeltl. For those immediately pointing out the Magic already have an outstanding post player in Nikola Vucevic, other factors go into draft selections.

First, they may be looking to have him learn the position from the versatile Vucevic before finally moving into the role later. Second, the NBA draft is frequently sprinkled with draft choices who are traded immediately to another team in a prearranged deal.

Other projections point to Gonzaga power forward Domantas Sabonis. If he is available and the Magic are not looking to accomplish other things through a trade, this would be a solid pick.

Sabonis has a good deal of talent for someone who just turned 20. Better yet, he would come with a package that includes a personal position coach. He is the son of former Portland Trail Blazers’ star Arvydas Sabonis.

It would not be a surprise if the Magic wind up choosing none of these players, but based on needs and likely available talent, these projections are as good as any. Whoever winds up in an Orlando uniform will need to be a fit for the new system about to be installed by first-year coach Frank Vogel.

“We’ve been active in our discussions, and we’ll continue to be active,” Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan was quoted as saying on “That’s our job — to be active. I’d say that it’s highly likely we’ll continue to have discussions up to the draft and during the draft.”

The Miami Heat, on the other hand, will be watching to see who is not selected. They have no first round pick due to a complicated arrangement that brought LeBron James to Miami in 2010.

The Heat also have no second round selection. That leaves them with waiting to see who they can sign among the non-drafted players through free agency. A trade to obtain a draft pick is always possible, but unlikely.

Among Florida’s major college programs, only Florida State has a player destined to go in the first round. Freshman guard Malik Beasley is likely to be taken anywhere from 12th to the mid-20s, according to projections. Beasley’s teammate Dwayne Bacon originally announced he would enter the draft, but later decided to return to FSU.

About the only two things certain in this draft are the top two choices. By all accounts, Philadelphia will select LSU forward Ben Simmons, and the Lakers will pick Duke freshman Brandon Ingram.

The draft begins at 7 p.m.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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