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Colorado Standout headlines Magic’s Predraft Workouts

The Orlando Magic could bring in a player from the snowy regions of the mountainous Midwest to solve their scoring woes.

While Jalen Suggs had a career season in 2023-24, they could improve both backcourt positions given the team’s needs. That said, Colorado guard KJ Simpson headlined a group of prospects the Magic hosted for predraft workouts on Sunday, according to Rookie Wire’s Cody Taylor.

Simpson averaged 19.7 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game in 2023-24, numbers that were all top three in the Pac-12. The two-time All-Pac-12 selection also shot 47.5 percent from the field and a conference-high 43.4 percent from 3.

KJ Simpson is headlining Magic’s Predraft workouts

Simpson has also worked for the Denver Nuggets. Here’s why that’s important.

The Magic have the No. 18 and No. 47 picks in the 2024 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, the Nuggets have the No. 28 and No. 56 picks. Like Orlando, Denver needs a scoring boost, ranking 14th in points per game (114.9) in 2023-2024. Until that point, the Nuggets were able to get Simpson long before Orlando. Simpson’s play in 2023-2024 was special. However, the expectation is that he won’t leave the board until the late first round at the earliest.

This is partly because he is a 21-year-old prospect. The NBA has yet to restore the prep-to-pro pipeline, but teams certainly prefer to draft younger prospects. While a veteran player could be more NBA-ready, he is typically considered to have lower ceilings and shorter careers.

However, Simpson’s draft projection is also a reflection of his pre-2023-2024 play. In his first two seasons, the California native made 39.0 percent of his field goals and 26.9 percent of his 3s. The result is that his oeuvre is disappointing. When he tries to project Simpson’s future, those two years diminish confidence in his abilities.

Options at No. 18

If Orlando really believes in Simpson, they can still draft him with their No. 18 pick. In that draft range, there will be expectations that he will break into the rotation, but not necessarily be a major contributor. However, there are a number of scoring options the Magic could target midway through the first round.

Of these players, USC guard Isaiah Collier may have the biggest upside due to his age and skill. He was the top-ranked high school recruit in the class of 2023 and averaged 16.3 points per game while shooting 49.0 percent from the field in 2023-2024. Still, Collier needs to tighten the screws to become a franchise point guard.

Providence guard Devin Carter, Marquette guard Tyler Kolek, Illinois wing Terrence Shannon Jr. and California wing Jaylon Tyson are older prospects. Anyone can work as Suggs’ defensive partner, whether he started at point or as a shooting guard. Plus, they’re more refined than a prospect like Collier. Of this quartet, Tyson seems to be the best option.

Averaging 19.6 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game for the Golden Bears, Tyson’s two-way edge, consistency and length make him a strong candidate for the Magic. If they take a wing at No. 18, they can still add a guard like Simpson at No. 47.