Magic Draft Profile: Indiana Center Kel'el Ware Addresses Multiple Needs for Orlando

With Goga Bitadze set to hit free agency, the Orlando Magic have a potential need at center. Indiana's Kel'el Ware is an interior presence who also can help space the floor.
Mar 14, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) shoots as Penn State Nittany Lions forward Qudus Wahab (22) defends during the first half at Target Center.
Mar 14, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) shoots as Penn State Nittany Lions forward Qudus Wahab (22) defends during the first half at Target Center. / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO — The Orlando Magic's need for players who can shoot and space the floor is priority one this offseason.

Adding a guard who can do both could be atop Orlando's wish list in free agency and the draft, but the backcourt may not be the only position the Magic has to address. Center Goga Bitadze is a pending free agent. If he signs elsewhere, there is a vacancy for a big man.

Could Orlando boost its spacing and interior presence by taking Indiana center Kel'el Ware with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft?

Ware has flown under the radar in a center class that features Purdue's Zach Edey and UConn's Donovan Clingan, but the Indiana product was one of the NCAA's most productive big men.

After playing sparingly as a freshman at Oregon, Ware transferred to Indiana for his sophomore season and averaged nearly a double-double with 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Ware had 15 games with double-figure points and rebounds and scored at least 20 points in 10 games for the Hoosiers.

His play landed him on the All-Big Ten Team and the conference's All-Defense team.

Beyond his ability to score around the basket and protect the rim, Ware has flashed potential for scoring from beyond the arc. The 7-foot center shot 42.5 percent on his 3-point attempts, though he only averaged 1.3 attempts per game.

Ware measured well at the NBA Draft Combine, ranking No. 3 in standing reach, No. 4 in height without shoes, and No. 5 in wing span. He also graded well among centers in the athletic testing portion: second in the shuttle run and lane agility and third in the standing vertical leap.

Ware is No. 20 overall on The Ringer's big board and No. 24 for ESPN and Yahoo Sports. CBS Sports is less impressed with the Hoosiers center, ranking him No. 37.

Ware's position in mock drafts has also varied — from No. 9 overall to the Memphis Grizzlies in The Ringer's mock draft to No. 19 and the Toronto Raptors in CBS Sports' mock draft.

Ware's rebounding ability would address a secondary need for the Magic. Orlando ranked 25th in rebounds and contested rebounds.

The first round of the 2024 NBA Draft is at 8 p.m. ET on June 26. The second round is at 4 p.m. ET on June 27.

Related stories on the Orlando Magic

  • MAGIC'S TOP 1ST-ROUND PICKS: Aaron Gordon, Nick Anderson, but who's No. 1 among the Orlando Magic's 10 greatest first-round picks in the NBA Draft? CLICK HERE
  • 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
  • ORLANDO HOMECOMING FOR ANFERNEE SIMONS?: In a series of NBA trade hypotheticals, Bleacher Report connects the dots and envisions a Portland-Orlando Magic swap that would bring Anfernee Simons home to Central Florida. CLICK HERE

Published |Modified
Nathaniel Marrero