ORLANDO, Fla. — You haven't lived unless you've been stuck in Anchorage on Thanksgiving, eating at Peggy's Diner, far, far from Orlando. Just another day in the life of an NBA scout at the Great Alaska Shootout.

"You got to have the reindeer sausage," said Dave Twardzik.

Twardzik loves the reindeer and evaluating players for the Orlando Magic. The assistant general manager and his scouting staff will be in the spotlight when the Magic pick No. 22 Thursday in the NBA draft.

After some dismal outcomes in recent years with late picks, the Magic must find a gem in this draft.

Their list of players who could be available at 22 is as long as 10. Who will they pick?

Let's check the secretive Twardzik's itinerary for clues: He twice saw Rider forward Jason Thompson.

He expects this draft to be deep. "You can get somebody in the 20s who can help you," Twardzik said.

On The Spot

After some dismal outcomes in recent years with late picks, the Magic need to find a gem in this unpredictable draft. "There's always self-imposed pressure, but that's OK," Twardzik said. Their list of players who could be available at 22 is as long as 10. Who will they pick? Let's check the secretive Twardzik's itinerary for clues: He twice saw Rider forward Jason Thompson. He expects this draft to be deep. "You can get somebody in the 20s who can help you," Twardzik said. Landing a keeper would give him fond memories of that Thanksgiving Day reindeer sausage.

Glamour job?

A former ABA/NBA point guard, Twardzik, 57, has overseen the Magic's scouting department the past five years. He has five scouts under him: Sam Foggin, Tom Conrad, Bob Staak, Greg Stratton and Rudy D'Amico.

A typical season is watching more than 100 games, boarding red-eyes and taking naps in rental cars. Twardzik spent all February on the road, his trip starting in Starkville, Miss., and stretching to Istanbul.

"A glamorous profession," Twardzik deadpanned. "We see as many players as we can and see them multiple times. There's no telling where you'll pick (in the draft)."

Looking for basketball IQ

Twardzik has seen some amazing athletes, but high on his scouting checklist is "basketball IQ. We look for guys who have a great feel for the game and make right decisions," he said. "We don't put a lot of emphasis on statistics. It's more what we see on the floor."

Twardzik says the Magic "draft as if no else is drafting."

They rank their top 30 players and cross them off as they are picked. They fit a need only if the talent is comparable. Twardzik cautions fans who study mock drafts. "My list is way different," he said.


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