Untested Orton Slips to Magic at 29
Apparently no one else in the first round was all that convinced.
Orton, the 6-10, 255-pound center from Kentucky, was the 29th pick in the first round of the NBA Draft, slipping lower than he imagined when he made the decision to leave school after one season.
He was the fifth player from the University of Kentucky to be chosen Thursday, the most ever from one school to be taken in the first round of the same draft.
"I expected to go a little bit higher,'' he said in a conference call with reporters after the draft. "Some people were telling me I could go right after the lottery. This (going to Orlando) is a total shock to me.''
Orton, as much as anyone taken in the first round, probably should have stayed at Kentucky for another season, giving himself a chance to prove he had more than just potential.
Orton missed his senior season in high school because of a knee injury. He didn't start a single game in his only year at Kentucky, averaging 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 13.4 minutes.
"My knee is fine. It shouldn't have been a factor where I was picked, but it probably was,'' he said. "I have passion for the game. And I'll be a great player in two, three years.''
The Magic are taking him with an eye on the distant future, expecting him to replace Adonal Foyle, their third string center behind Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat. Foyle, who didn't play in a single game last season, is expected to retire.
Orton is an intriguing front court player with an NBA body, a wide frame with room for more growth. He is deceptively athletic, but certainly untested in high-level competition.
"He's one of the kids, had he stayed in school, would have been a lottery pick for sure,'' said Magic general manager Otis Smith. "By coming out early, he slid a little bit. We didn't think he'd still be there. We don't need to put him in a game tomorrow. It's not like we need him to make us better right away. He's a guy who can make us better in the future.''