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Inside the Magic luck that earned Orlando the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft – The Denver Post

Hours before their franchise changeover night, the Orlando Magic made a rare change.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s NBA draw in Chicago, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman was scheduled to be the Magic’s onstage representative.

But before the lottery started, coach Jamahl Mosley told Weltman he “felt a little lucky” and asked if he could replace him on stage – a one-time change Weltman accepted.

How did that impact the Magic eventually winning the lottery and earning the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft for the fourth time in franchise history?

As Weltman said, “it didn’t hurt.”

“I haven’t been very good at it,” Weltman said, after the Magic fell in the draft lottery the previous three times he was the rep. “It’s funny. The coach felt lucky, we let him roll the dice and tonight he’s coach of the year.

The Magic winning the top pick in the June 23 draft ended a trend of staying in or falling out of pre-lottery positioning in its previous 14 tries dating back to 1993.

After finishing the 2021-22 regular season with the second-worst record, Orlando entered Tuesday tied with three other teams for the best chance of getting the No. 1 pick (14%), but also had 59.8% of chances of falling outside the top three.

There wasn’t a singular good luck charm Mosley had brought with him that made him believe that the NBA Draft Lottery woe that had surrounded Orlando for nearly 20 years was about to end.

Rather, it’s a set of recent events that made him feel like it was Magic’s turn to get lucky.

Three people close to Mosley celebrated their birthdays on Sunday: his eldest son, CJ; Orlando assistant coach Nate Tibbetts; and magic guard Cole Anthony.

Mosley also attended a memorial service on Sunday for the father of one of his closest friends – a man Mosley said was a mentor.

“I thought we had people watching us trying to make sure we got that No. 1 pick,” Mosley said.

If there was a singular lucky charm for the Magic inside McCormick Place, it might have been Cole DeVos – grandson of former Magic owner Rich DeVos and son of Magic president Dan DeVos .

Tuesday was the first time Cole entered the draft lottery in person.

“I was giving Jeff a hard time, like ‘maybe it’s a good thing we have Jamahl up there because you were up there in the past… and we haven’t had the best of chance in recent years,'” Cole said. . “Having Jamahl up there, we had some lucky charms. I felt good. For the past few years, I was only nervous, but walking around the building felt great.

Cole wore his grandfather’s watch, which was passed down to him when Rich died in 2018, for the first time in Tuesday’s lottery.

“I was actually thinking about putting it in a case,” Cole said. “[Tuesday] felt like the right day to put it on for the first time. I know he looks ecstatic for us and happy for this organization. This team was his pride and joy.

That same joy was felt by the Magic’s on-site contingent, with Orlando’s front office remaining in Chicago for the remainder of the week for the draft which began Wednesday.

Orlando has the opportunity to control his destiny by adding another top prospect to his young core which could include several former lottery picks (Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Mo Bamba – a restricted free agent, Wendell Carter Jr., Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz) and first-round picks (Anthony, Chuma Okeke, RJ Hampton, Moe Wagner) from the past five years.

“You come into this with a group of young men who have actually gone through an 82-game season,” Mosley said. “They can talk about that experience and help the new group take it to the next level.”

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Prize to khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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