Jeff Veltman had a point to make,
The point was not defending the Magic’s selection of Paolo Banchero at No. 1 in last Thursday’s NBA Draft.
It was not necessary. Banchero entered the draft viewed as a top-three prospect. The most respected media mock draft boards had him drafted at No. 3 by the Houston Rockets, who wound up with Jabari Smith Jr. – likely with most mock drafts going to No. 1.
Instead, Magic’s president of basketball operations was trying to make it clear that he had the information he needed to make Banchero feel more than comfortable drafting despite not coming to Orlando for a pre-draft workout.
“I know there’s a lot to be done that Paolo didn’t come to visit,” Veltman told reporters in his opening remarks on Thursday. “I want to tell everyone that we have many touch points. There is a lot of strategy that goes into the draft. There is a lot of secret-keeping and misdirection.”
Part of that misdirection was Magic not commenting on whether they had made a pre-draft trip with Banchero leading up to the draft. Orlando’s secrecy during the drafting process could have long-term benefits.
The Magic’s basketball operations may not have received a formal visit to Orlando with Banchero, but he was not lacking in intelligence.
He had 39 college basketball games Banchero played for Duke to Scout. It doesn’t take long to see why he was the unanimous Second Team All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.
Banchero had several live and Zoom meetings and frequent conversations with his agent, Mike Miller, the former NBA player who was drafted by The Magic in 2000 with the No. 5 pick out from the University of Florida.
Veltman told the Orlando Sentinel that The Magic spent time with Banchero during the NBA’s mid-May Draft Combine in Chicago.
According to Veltman, Paolo submitted all of Magic’s pre-draft protocols, including medical, personality profiles, and anything Orlando needed.
“We’ve seen Paolo several times,” Veltman told the Orlando Sentinel. “We have a lot of contact points with him. We got to spend a lot of time with him in different aspects. We have got all the data points that we asked them to provide for us. We had everything we needed to feel like we were making a good decision.”
According to Veltman, Magic didn’t lock themselves into Banchero early on.
He worked on several prospects leading the draft, including Chet Holmgren., Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey and Smith. Orlando eventually drafted what Veltman referred to as “the best player in college basketball.”
It’s not unusual for Orlando not to host a future draft pick for a pre-draft workout. 5 pick in the 2021 draft, Jalen Suggs, didn’t work out for Magic last summer.
Why Banchero didn’t work for Magic in Orlando may not be known to outsiders, but Veltman also knew that Banchero wanted to be a part of what he’s building with coach Jamal Mosley.
“Paolo has always expressed a great deal of interest in us and he has spoken extensively with us – me, Coach Mosley and various staff members,” Veltman said. “We were super comfortable with the process, and most importantly, thrilled to have him on the team.”
This article first appeared on orlandosentinel.com, email at cost firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @khobi_price,