Orlando Magic get their look at Chet Holmgren, draft intrigue follow

The Orlando Magic invited Chet Holmgren for an interview — and likely practice — this week as the team continues preparations for next week’s NBA draft.

An NBA source told Orlando Magic Daily that Holmgren spent Wednesday and Thursday directing Magic’s basketball operations and became the second of the three consensus top pick options to find his way to Orlando (Jabari Smith visited Orlando last week).

What the magic did to Holmgren is still somewhat unknown. But what is known is that the noise around Holmgren increases as the Magic becomes embroiled in its own design intrigue.

The Orlando Magic held their second major practice as they prepare to be the top pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Behind him, the noise around Chet Holmgren and the top pick is getting louder.

Holmgren should definitely be in the running for top pick. He’s an incredibly gifted player, despite all the hand-wringing that comes with the tedium of waiting between the lottery and the NBA draft.

Holmgren averaged 14.1 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, and 3.7 blocks per game. He was a consensus All-American and West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The 7-foot center has many defensive abilities that went somewhat hidden on Gonzaga’s offense. He shot 39.0 percent from beyond the arc. He also showed some ability to attack the dribbling. In high school, he would snag rebounds and start the quick break and finish the transition or work the boys off the dribble with behind-the-back dribble moves and quick cuts.

The question with Holmgren usually revolves around his weight – he was reported to be 190 pounds. There are many people who wonder if Holmgren can physically withstand the rigors of the NBA.

And that adds to the question of how to use a player with Holmgren’s unique abilities and limitations? That was probably what was the focus of the Magic’s interview and training. Test to see Holmgren on the pitch and how he might fit into what the Magic want to build – or if it’s worth building him outright.

Holmgren is considered a strong worker in his favor. And he never shied away from physicality in the collegiate game, even if it overwhelmed him at times.

Holmgren trained at P3 Science Labs and impressed the people there:

At this point, no one should question Holmgren’s willingness to work and cover up some of these perceived weaknesses. But it will be a question that will haunt him.

But there’s also a lot of noise about what teams are trying to learn about him when judging whether to make that big investment in him as one of the top picks in this draft.

Matt Babcock of The Basketball News reported that Holmgren has not provided teams with his medical information and has not undergone the NBA’s heart screening (which has certainly been a bigger deal league-wide lately).

Information is certainly power and it makes sense that a player who is likely to be second choice would try to manipulate information into the best situation for them. The Magic probably got the medical info they needed with the first pick and the presence of Holmgren in their building.

But even with the first pick, there’s no escaping the noise and fuss of the NBA draft. And no one seems to be striking a more pose at the moment than Holmgren and his camp. Although perhaps it’s more about the fascination and debate surrounding Holmgren, perhaps the most contentious of the top three prospects.

Holmgren has done some work to make his statement clear. Always confident, Holmgren was publicly pretty cool saying he’d be happy to play anywhere. But Ryen Russillo said on his podcast he’s heard Chet Holmgren and his agent Bill Duffy prefer to end up in Oklahoma City because the Thunder have made a list.

Who knows if any of this is true or what is real. The Magic are simply here to do their job, evaluate the prospects, and make the best decision for them to move forward. You hold the first choice and have to make the final decision.

The rumor has it that most executives believe Smith will be the first choice. That has been the most consistent and persistent thought since the drawing lottery took place.

But the main thought of the day revolves around the noise about the top picks. In fact, the noise is getting loud enough that betting markets have shifted quite dramatically.

As of Friday at 11:30 am the consensus odds from BettingPros.com (our partners at WynnBet do not provide best pick odds) have Smith as the favorite at No. 1 at -250 (odds of 2/5), but Holmgren has shut it down recently to +170 (odds of 17/10). A week ago, Smith was -450 (odds 2/9) and Holmgren was +425 (odds 85/20), according to DraftKings.

There can be several reasons why this is so.

Boredom with the same narrative is a common drive for people to think about alternatives. Holmgren has long been considered the prospect with the greatest upside potential. And even Magic fans have joked that the team never releases the player it actually picks to the media (Holmgren wasn’t released to the media after his practice).

There are many more reasons ranging from the legitimate question to the ridiculous and random. But as always, when there is no new information or a lack of information about what a team is going to do, the noise starts to fill the vacuum.

That’s certainly what happened when Magic picked #1. A lot has certainly happened in the conversation about Holmgren.

The noise just keeps going until the pick is made – and we don’t even get to the growing noise about the magic trying to play the Thunder’s interest in Holmgren to try to swap the first and second picks.

So it seemed fitting that Holmgren came through Orlando fairly quietly.

The Magic, as they always do, do their work quietly to complete their draft profiles and gain a pre-draft understanding of all the options before them. You come into crunch time to end these things.

As expected, they got the man they wanted and were able to select in their building with the first choice to complete this profile and learn more about him as a person.

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