As one of the two expansion teams from 1989, the Orlando Magic have been around for 28 seasons. Other than the short lived glory days of the Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway Magic however, Orlando has had one only other consistent stretch when they were a contender, which was early in Dwight Howard’s career. They have not had many big names who have stuck around during their history. The big names the Magic are known for are mainly for O’Neil, Hardaway, Howard as well as Tracy McGrady. Of the other big names the Magic have had, most of them stayed for shorter stints however, and some of these have been among the best Orlando Magic players. Of course, the Magic have also hovered near the bottom of the standings for plenty of seasons during their history and have had some duds on the roster too. Here we will look at the 8 best and 7 worst players who have played for the Orlando Magic since 2000.
15 Best: Rashard Lewis
Although he was highly recruited out of high school, Rashard Lewis was one of a few Magic players who jumped straight from high school to the NBA. He was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the 1998 NBA Draft with the 32nd overall selection in the second round. Lewis spent nine seasons in Seattle, making the All-Star game in 2005. In 2007 Lewis went to the Orland Magic in a sign and trade deal. Lewis was an All-Star again in 2009 and helped the Magic make it to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. After four year in Orlando, Lewis was shipped to the Wizards and finished his career with the Miami Heat where he won a ring in 2013. During his time in Orlando he averaged just over 16 points and over five rebounds per game while hitting almost 40% of his three pointers.
14 Worst: Jeryl Sasser
Over his career at Southern Methodist University, Jeryl Sasser was named WAC Player of the Year in 1999 and was an honorable mention All-American in 2000. As a result of his performance Sasser was selected in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft with the 22nd overall pick by the Orlando Magic. In his rookie year with the Magic he only played six games with 10 total points and seven total rebounds. He played one more season with the Magic where he did play about 13 minutes per game in 74 games. Over his two year career with the Magic he scored 2.5 points and grabbed 2.3 rebounds per game. His career continued internationally in the CBA as well as with stints in France, Israel, and Kuwait.
13 Best: Patrick Ewing
One of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Orlando Magic was probably not all that great by the time he played for them, but as one of the few players in the Hall of Fame that did play for them, Patrick Ewing probably qualifies as one of the best Orlando Magic players since 2000. At the tail end of his great career Ewing played his final season in Orlando. He only played about 13 minutes per game in his season with Orlando which was his 17th year in the NBA. He averaged six points and four rebounds per game but he only played about 13 minutes per game giving him a per-36 minute averages of about 16 points and 11 rebounds.
12 Worst: Jaren Jackson
In his last of 13 seasons wandering the NBA with nine different teams, Jaren Jackson finished his career with the Orlando Magic. Jackson started his career at Georgetown University where he played four years and helped the Hoyas make the NCAA tournament all four years including two trips to the Elite Eight. He went undrafted in the 1989 NBA Draft but ended up breaking into the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. Over the next seven years he played for seven different teams ending with the San Antonio Spurs where he landed and remained for four seasons, even winning an NBA title with them in 1999. He signed with the Orlando Magic in 2002 and played nine games plus three playoff games before retiring. He averaged 4.3 points per game in his final season.
11 Best: Jameer Nelson
Despite the fact that it was definitely not known as a big time basketball school, Jameer Nelson led St Joseph’s University to its most high profile season during his time there. He was named National Freshman of the Year in 2001 and in 2004 he was named consensus All-American, won the Wooden Award, and lead St. Joseph’s to an undefeated regular season record and a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament before falling on a last second shot in the Elite Eight. Nelson was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets but was traded to the Orlando Magic on draft night. Nelson made an instant impact in his rookie year and helped the Magic back to the playoff during his second season. Nelson played 10 seasons for the Magic, going to the NBA Finals, being named an All-Star, and becoming the fourth leading all-time leading scorer in magic history during his time there. Nelson bounced from Dallas to Boston to Denver over his final few seasons.
10 Worst: Earl Clark
After three years with the Louisville Cardinals, where he helped the team to the NCAA tournament three times making it to the Elite Eight twice, Earl Clark passed up on his senior season to enter the NBA Draft. He was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 14th overall pick in 2009. He started slow with the Suns and they soon sent him to the D-League before eventually trading him to the Orlando Magic in 2010. He played two seasons in Orlando, with a short stint playing in China during the NBA lockout in 2011. During his time with Orlando he played in 78 games and averaged 3.3 points and just under three rebounds per game.He was traded as part of the Dwight Howard deal to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012 and played for the Cavaliers, Knicks, and Nets over the next few years before bouncing around the D-League and internationally for the past few years.
9 Best: Grant Hill
Despite injuries that slowed him down and knocked him out of big chunks of a bunch of seasons, Grant Hill still managed to have an extremely good overall career in the NBA. Hill came on the season first in college as a part of the Duke Blue Devils teams that won two NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1992. Upon being drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the third overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, Hill’s career took off immediately. He tied for Rookie of the Year award and ended up remaining with the Piston for six seasons. He went to Orlando in 2000 and although the majority of his injuries plagued him while he was with the Magic he still managed to average over 16 points and five rebounds per game while also leading them to the playoffs in 2007.
8 Worst: Reece Gaines
A four year player at the University of Louisville, Reece Gaines was called “the best college basketball player he ever faced” by Dwyane Wade. Over four years Gaines helped the Cardinals to the NCAA tournament twice and was a third team All-American during his senior season in 2003. He ranks in the top five all-time for Louisville in three pointers made, free throws, and assists. In the 2003 NBA Draft Gaines was chosen with the 15th overall pick in the first round by the Orlando Magic. His career with Orlando was barely a blip on the radar as he was with the team only one season, playing just under 10 minutes per game over 38 games. He managed to put up 1.8 points, one rebound and just over one assist per game while with the Magic.
7 Best: Nikola Vucevic
After growing up in Belgium and Montenegro and being named Montenegro’s Best Young Player in 2007 Nikola Vucevic went to USC where he played three seasons for the Trojans. He was first team All-Pac 10 and honorable mention All-American in 2011. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Vucevic with the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He played in Montenegro during the lockout and after his first season with the 76ers he was traded to the Orlando Magic. So far in his time with the Magic he has steadily improved. In 2012 he averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Over the past two seasons he averaged over 18 points per game. Overall in his five seasons in Orlando, he has averaged a double-double for the Magic.
6 Worst: Don Reid
Although he managed to stick around for eight seasons in the NBA, Don Reid was only able to average just under four points and just under three rebounds per game for his entire career. Originally a star at Georgetown University, he helped the Hoyas make it to three NCAA Tournaments while he was there. In the 1995 NBA Draft he was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round with the 58th overall pick. He played for the Pistons for five seasons before playing part of his fifth season with the Washington Wizards and then heading to Orlando for two years. He averaged just over three points and just over three rebounds per game through 133 games during his two seasons with the Magic before playing one more game for the Pistons at the end of his career.
5 Best: Hedo Turkoglu
One of the less known best Orlando Magic players of the past few years was Hedo Turkoglu. Originally from Turkey, he played four years in their league before being drafted in the first round with the 16th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. Turkoglu played three seasons with the Kings before heading to the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 and then to the the Orlando Magic in 2004. Once with the Magic he stuck around for five seasons initially and returned for three more after stints with Toronto and Phoenix. He had the best years of his career in his first stint with the Magic but also did well in his first two years in his second stint. Overall in eight seasons with the Magic he averaged over 14 points per game, was named NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2008, and helped the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009.
4 Worst: DeAndre Liggins
Of all of the NBAers who have made their way through the University of Kentucky in the past few years, DeAndre Liggins was the rare player who hung around for three years before jumping to the next level. His first two years with the Wildcats he mostly came off the bench but became a starter in his junior year. The Orlando Magic chose Liggins with the 53rd overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Liggins only lasted one season with the Magic, playing in just 17 games. He scored less than two points per game and averaged less than one rebound, assist, and steal as well in under seven minutes per game. He signed with Oklahoma City in 2012 and then had a short stint with the Miami Heat in 2013 but has spent most of his career since in the D-League and internationally.
3 Best: Dwight Howard
Over the past few years the reputation of Dwight Howard has been tarnished a bit with the way he made his way out of Orlando and his less than stellar showings with the Lakers and the Rockets. Now with his hometown Atlanta Hawks he is hoping to become the team’s leader and return to the heights he reached in Orlando. His time in Orlando included his best seasons in the NBA. After being drafted with the number one overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, he immediately made a mark on the league, averaging a double-double his rookie year and making the All-Rookie team. Over the next few seasons he was an NBA All-Star, won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, won an NBA slam dunk contest, and led the Magic to the playoffs five times including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals. In his eight seasons with the Magic Howard averaged over 18 points and 13 rebounds along with over two blocks per game.
2 Worst: Devyn Marble
Over his career at the University of Iowa, Devyn Marble was a two time captain, finished his career fifth on the all time Hawkeyes scoring list, and made first team All Big-10 in 2014. Marble was selected with the 56th overall pick in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets and then traded on draft night to the Orlando Magic. Over his two years in the NBA he was shuffled back and forth between the Magic and the Erie BayHawks of the Development League. He was traded in 2016 to the Clippers who waived him. Since then, he has played internationally in Greece and Italy. As a member of the Magic he averaged 2.2 points and under two rebounds per game while playing 44 games over the two seasons.
1 Best: Tracy McGrady
Another prep-to-pro draft pick that ended up as one of the best players ever for the Orlando Magic was Tracy McGrady. Originally drafted by the Toronto Raptors with the ninth overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, he spent three years in Toronto until he signed as a free agent in 2000 with the Orlando Magic. In his first year with Orlando he was named to his first Al-Star game and led the Magic to the playoffs while averaging over 26 points per game. Over the next four years in Orlando, McGrady was one of the best players in the NBA. He won two scoring titles and was named ALL-NBA first team twice while scoring just over 28 points along with seven rebounds, and over 5 assists per game during his time with the Magic. Despite his great production in Orlando, the Magic traded him to the Rockets in 2004. McGrady continued his great career with the Rockets for six seasons before finishing with stints with the Knicks, Pistons and Hawks before retiring in 2013.