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Colorado standout makes headlines at Magic's pre-draft workouts

The Orlando Magic could sign a player from the snowy mountain ranges of the Midwest to end their scoring drought.

Although Jalen Suggs had a career season in 2023-24, they could use an upgrade at both backcourt positions given the team's needs. With that in mind, Colorado guard KJ Simpson headlined a group of young players the Magic invited to pre-draft 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 all rank in the top three in the Pac-12. The two-time All-Pac-12 player also hit 47.5 percent of his shots from the field and 43.4 percent of his three-pointers, which is a conference record.

KJ Simpson headlines Magic's pre-draft workouts

Simpson has also coached for the Denver Nuggets. Here's why that matters.

The Magic have the Nos. 18 and 47 picks in the 2024 NBA Draft. The Nuggets have the Nos. 28 and 56. Like Orlando, Denver needs more points and ranks 14th in points per game (114.9) in 2023-24. Up until this point, the Nuggets were able to snag Simpson long before Orlando. Simpson's play in 2023-24 was special. However, he is not expected to go off the board until late in the first round at the earliest.

That's partly because he's a 21-year-old rookie. The NBA hasn't revived the pro-to-pro pathway yet, but teams definitely prefer to sign younger rookie players. While a veteran player may be more NBA-ready, they're usually considered to have lower potential and a shorter career.

Simpson's draft projection, however, is also a reflection of his play ahead of 2023-24. In his first two seasons, the California native made 39.0 percent of his field goals and 26.9 percent of his 3s. As a result, his production is underwhelming. When trying to predict Simpson's future, those two years diminish confidence in his ability.

Options at No. 18

If Orlando really believes in Simpson, they could still draft him with their No. 18 pick. In this draft range, he's expected to be in the rotation but not necessarily a key contributor. However, there are a number of scoring options the Magic could target in the middle of the first round.

Among those players, USC guard Isaiah Collier may have the most potential due to his age and skill set. The top-ranked high school recruit in the class of 2023, he averaged 16.3 points per game on 49.0 percent shooting from the field during the 2023-24 season. Still, Collier will need to tighten the screws to become a franchise point guard.

Providence's Devin Carter, Marquette's Tyler Kolek, Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. and California's Jaylon Tyson are older prospects. All of them can serve as Suggs' backcourt mate, whether he started as a point guard or shooting guard. They are also more mature than prospects like Collier. Of those four players, Tyson seems to be the best option.

Tyson averaged 19.6 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game for the Golden Bears. His two-way potential, consistency and length make him a strong addition for the Magic. If they take a wing player at the 18th spot, they can still add a guard like Simpson at the 47th spot.