Dwight Howard will take on the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night as a member of the Houston Rockets. OrlandoMagic.com’s John Denton told Tuck and O’Neill that the Magic will honor and show a video highlights of Dwight Howard like they have done with other former Magic players throughout the season as part of the 25th year annivsary.
While things did not end well at the end. Howard should be acknowledge like Shaquille O’Neal should be honored in the future like Penny Hardaway recently was as they all had the biggest impact of any players in Magic Franchse History. But Who is the greatest Magic player in first 25 years? Here my list which is based on a few different criteria. I talked to people that covered the Magic since day one in newspaper, radio, TV and more. Based on what I seen since I started covering the Magic in 2005. Accomplishments the player did while in a Magic uniform. The stats are from the years the players played with the Orlando Magic. Finally I also took into consideration the impact they had on the franchise on and off the court as well as the intangibles they brought to the franchise.
1- Dwight Howard – (2004-2012) 18.4 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 2.2 BPG, 57.7 FG% – All-Star (2007-2012), All-NBA 1st Team ( 2008-2012), 3-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Winner (2009-2011), Slam Dunk Champion (2008). Gold Medalist (1998) Summer Olympics. Dwight Howard is the all-time leader in Magic franchise in points, rebounds, and block shots. Howard led the Magic to an NBA Finals appearance in 2009 and to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010, Howard’s spot near the top of the list is firmly in place, even if his departure irked many fans.
2- Shaquille O’Neal – (1992-1996) 27.2 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.7 BPG, 58.1 FG%- All-Star (1993-1996), NBA 2nd Team (1995), All-NBA 3rd Team (1994), Scoring Champion (1995), NBA Rookie of the Year (1993) Gold Medalist (1994) World Championship, (1996) Summer Olympics.
Shaq led the Magic to its first NBA Finals appearance just six years after becoming a franchise in 1995. The following year, an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals where the Magic lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Shaq’s play and personality off the court made him an incredibly likable and popular face for the NBA and help put the Magic on the NBA map.
Had it not been for injuries, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway may have been one of the best guards the game had ever seen. The 6’7″ Hardaway was gifted with excellent height and length for his position who could score, rebound and distribute the basketball at an efficient rate. Penny and Shaquille O’Neal combined to make a great duo for the Magic and led them to the NBA Finals in 1995.
4- Tracy McGrady- (2000-2004) 28.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 44.6 FG%, 36.1 3FG% – All-Star (2001-2004), All-NBA First Team (2002-2003), All-NBA 2nd Team (2001,2004, 2007), NBA Most Improved Player (2001), Scoring Champion (2003,2004 ). In two of the four seasons McGrady played in Orlando, McGrady led the league in scoring. In the 2002-03 season, he averaged 32.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 45.7 percent shooting from the field and had a three-point percentage of 38.6. More impressively, he got to the free-throw line 9.7 times per game. His years with the Magic were clearly the best of his career, and he led some mediocre teams to three-straight playoff appearances. As far as pure scorers go, McGrady is the best the franchise has ever seen.
5- Nick Anderson – (1989-1999) 15.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45.4 FG%, 36.3 3FG% -Nick Anderson was the first ever NBA Draft pick of the Magic. During the 1991-92 season—one year before Shaq’s arrival Nick Anderson averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 46.3 percent shooting from the field, proving he could score at the 2-guard position and do so efficiently.When Shaq and Anfernee Hardaway arrived meant that Anderson would change his game as he become the third man of an excellent trio.Anderson played in 692 games in a Magic uniform.
6- Jameer Nelson- (2004- Present)- 12.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.2 APG, 44.8 FG%, 38.0 3FG%- NBA All-Star (2009). Drafted 20th in 2004 in the same draft with Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson been along with Dwight Howard the face of the Magic franchise for the last decade. Nelson in 2012-13 averaged 14.7 points which was the most he posted since 2008-09, the year he was selected to his first All-Star Game. On top of that, the 7.4 assists per game were a career high.
7- Dennis Scott- (1990-1997)- 14.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 42.2 FG%, 40.3 3FG% – “3D” as Dennis Scott was known took 4.9 threes per game and converted on 39.7 percent of them. Considering the volume, that’s a very respectable percentage and it certainly helped him become one of the most prolific three-point shooters of the 90’s. Was the peremiter threat that the Magic needed in helping the Magic get to the NBA Finals in 1995. Scott ended up with 981 3’s made as a Magic the all-time franchise leader.
8- Horace Grant – (1994-1999, 2001-2003)- 11.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 50.2 FG%- Horace Grant was the missing piece for the Magic when joined in 1994-1995 season as he help Shaquille O’Neal inside and help be a leader on a young Magic roster advance in the playoffs and get to the NBA Finals in 1995. Grant ranks 6th all-time in Rebounds and in top 10 in Games played in franchise history.
9- Scott Skiles- (1989-1994)- 12.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 43.6 FG%, 38.0 3FG% – NBA Most Improved Player (1991). Skiles still has the NBA Record with 30 Asst as a member of the Magic. Skiles was the best Magic player prior to Shaquille O’Neal arrival as in the 1990-91 season through 1992-93 Skiles averaged 15.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 8.4 assists on 44.2 percent shooting from the field and 37.0 percent from three-point range.
10- Hedo Turkoglu- (2004-2009, 2010-2013)- 14.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 43.2 FG%, 37.9 3FG%- NBA Most Improved Player (2008). Turk’s 2nd act with the Magic was brutal and is a main reason why Turk is not higher in the Top 10. But Turkoglu was big part of Magic run to the NBA Finals in 2009. The 2007-08 season saw Turk average 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists (all career highs) while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from behind the three-point line en route to winning the NBA Most Improved Player award.
11- Rashard Lewis- (2007-2010) 16.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 44.2 FG%, 39.9 3FG%- NBA All-Star (2009). Rashard Lewis came to the Magic in in 2007 after a successful run with the Seattle SuperSonics. He provided the team with a 6’10” forward who could stretch floor and knock down open shots. Despite playing in just 257 games for the Magic, Lewis finished with sixth-most threes made in franchise history by the time Lewis run was over with the Magic. Lewis shot 39.9 percent from three-point range and hit two of biggest 3’s in franchise history in Game 1 and 4 of 2009 East Finals against the Cavaliers .
12- Grant Hill- (2000-2007)- 16.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 50.0 FG%- NBA All-Star (2001,2005). Grant Hill will always be remembered for all the games he missed instead of playing during his time with the Magic. He signed with the Magic to form what was supposed to be the 1-2 punch of Hill and Tracy McGrady with Hill being the face of the team. Instead Hill battled numerous injuries in only playing in just 200 games over his six seasons with Orlando. When Hill was on the court he was solid and in the end of the Magic run he help the Magic get back to the playoffs in 2007.
13- Mike Miller- (2000-2003) – 14.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 43.1 FG%, 37.9 3FG%- NBA Rookie of the Year (2001). Mike Miller was the fifth overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft and won NBA Rookie of the Year Award while a member of the Magic. With Grant Hill going through ankle injuries, Miller step in to being Tracy McGrady sidekick.
14- JJ Redick- (2006-2013) – 9.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 43.2 FG%, 39.8 3FG%- One of the all-time Magic fan favorites, JJ Redick got better each season he was with the Magic up until his last season in 2012-13 in which he averaged 15.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the 50 games he played before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. One of the best pure shooters in college history, Redick hasn’t lost much in the NBA. He’s been streaky at times, but sits at 39.0 percent for his career.
15- Ryan Anderson- (2009-2012) 11.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 43.5 FG%, 38.8 3FG%- NBA Most Improved Player (2012). Ryan Anderson arrived in Orlando in the same trade that saw Vince Carter come to town, he seemed like nothing more than a throw-in piece who might be a nice role player. But over the three seasons he spent with the Magic, he turned into a legitimate threat off the bench and eventually a very solid starting power forward. Anderson best season was in 2011-2012 when Anderson won the 2012 NBA Most Improved Player award and leading the league in three-point field goals that same year while averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds.
16-Darrell Armstrong- (1995-2003) 11.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 41.9 FG%, 34.6 3FG%- NBA Sixth Man of the Year (1999), NBA Most Improved Player (1999). Armstrong was the winner of both the 1999 Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year Award was never overly efficient on the offensive end, but he was a pesky defender who opposing point guards likely dreaded having to face. From 1998-99 to 2001-02, Armstrong averaged 2.0 steals and racked up 11.6 defensive win shares in the process.
17- Steve Francis- (2004-2006)- 19.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 6.5 APG, 42.6 FG%, 28.4 3FG% – Francis will always been remembered as part of the Tracy McGrady Trade. Francis averaged 21.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 7.0 APG in his first season with the Magic. The Magic started out the year fast in the 2004–05 season, with Francis hitting several game-winning shots early in the season. The following season, a disgruntled Francis was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.
18- Terry Catledge – (1989-1993)- 15.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 47.9 FG%- Catledge best year as a Magic was in 1989-90 season when Catledge led the Magic in scoring averaging 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist while shooting 47.4 percent from the field.
20- Reggie Theus – (1989-1990)- 18.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 43.9 FG%- In his lone season with the Magic, Theus averaged 18.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists.
21- Nik Vucevic – (2012-Present) 13.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 51.4 FG%- Nik Vucevic was part of the Dwight Howard Trade, Vucevic 11.6 rebounds per game is currently third-best, trailing only Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal. On Dec 31, 2012 , Vucevic broke the franchise record for rebounds in a game by snagging 29 against Miami Heat to go along with 20 points in that game.
22- Rony Seikaly- (1996-1998) 16.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 48.2 FG%- Seikaly arrival immediately after the departure of Shaquille O’Neal was a major reason why the team was able to make it back to the postseason at the conclusion of the 1996-97 season despite losing Shaq. Seikaly averaged 17.3 points were second that year to Anfernee Hardaway, while his 9.5 rebounds per game led the team.
23- Pat Garrity- (1998-2008) 7.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 41.3 FG%, 39.8 3FG%- 2001-03 when he averaged 10.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 41.1 percent from three-point territory. Garrity was a fan favorite and the 513 games he played for the Magic ranks fourth in franchise history.
24- Brian Shaw – (1994-1997) 6.7 ppg 4.6 asst in 23 minutes per game. – Backup to Penny Hardaway and was key 6th man on Magic run to the NBA Finals in 1995.
25- Bo Outlaw- (1998-2008) 6.3 ppg 6.0 RPG, 23 Minutes per game- Heart and Hustle player solid shot blocker, rebounder and defender. Bo Outlaw was not even drafted but was the guy the Magic can go to for some energy on the court.
Also check out an earlier ELOOnline as I ranked the 25 best Magic Home Games.
Eric Lopez host ELOOnline Podcast which airs on Sportstalkflorida.com. Eric Lopez also host 1080am Insiders Show that airs Sundays from 10-11am eastern on Sportstalk 1080 the team in Orlando. Lopez also fills in on Tuck and O’Neill on Sportstalk 1080 the Team Orlando.