NBA Draft Profile: When Magic Pick at 18, Purdue's Edey Could Be Giant Option

The Orlando Magic ranked near the bottom of the league in several rebounding categories. Zach Edey, the 7-foot-4 two-time player of the year, filled up the stat sheet in college, but there are concerns that he will struggle in the pace and space of today's NBA.
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) attempts a shot during the Men's NCAA national championship game against the Connecticut Huskies at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on April 8, 2024.
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) attempts a shot during the Men's NCAA national championship game against the Connecticut Huskies at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on April 8, 2024. / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY

ORLANDO — With the NBA Draft, the tension between betting on a teenage player's upside or a 20-something's established skill set often differentiates the great franchises from the ones who experience constant turnover. It won't be any different for the Orlando Magic when they're on the board with the No. 18 overall pick.

While the Magic could swing for the fences on a player who has only scratched the surface of his potential, choosing an established college star has its merits. Consider Jaime Jaquez Jr., a four-year college starter, who gave the Miami Heat 28 minutes and 12 points a game as a rookie.

Which brings us to 7-foot-4 Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey, who could be available when the Magic make their first-round selection.

Edey has a packed resumé of accolades from his four-year college career. Those awards include two-time Naismith Award winner, two-time consensus All-American, two-time John Wooden Award winner, two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, and two-time AP Player of the Year. Across his final two seasons at Purdue, he averaged at least 22 points with 12 rebounds and two blocks.

On Purdue's run to the 2024 NCAA Championship game, Edey averaged 29.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.83 blocks per game in the tournament.

But while there's no disputing Edey's production, opinions on his NBA potential and where he'll get drafted vary. Edey is ranked No. 16 on ESPN's draft board and No. 17 for the Ringer, while CBS Sports ranks him No. 27 and Yahoo Sports puts him at No. 29. Edey's range in mock drafts goes from a late lottery pick to No. 30 to the Boston Celtics.

Edey's athletic tests at the NBA Draft Combine could be one of the causes for concern. Among the centers that participated, Edey ranked in the top six only in lane agility and shuttle run. In a league that emphasizes players who can spread the floor and shoot, Orlando may have to choose between Edey's production or another center who better fits the pace and space of the NBA game.

With center Goga Bitadze set to hit free agency this offseason, Orlando could have a need at the position. Orlando ranked 25th in rebounds and tied for 25th in contested rebounds.

The first round of the NBA Draft is 8 p.m. June 26. Round 2 begins at 4 p.m. June 27.

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  • MAGIC'S BEST DRAFT: Twenty years ago this month, the Orlando Magic drafted a high school star named Dwight Howard with the No. 1 overall pick and then Jameer Nelson, the college player of the year, with the 20th pick. Five playoff seasons would follow. CLICK HERE

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Nathaniel Marrero

NATHANIEL MARRERO