The 2000’s saw the Orlando Magic recover from the departure of Shaquille O’Neal and the injury bug that kept Penny Hardaway down. They ushered in a new crew of stars like Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill. Now their franchise rests on the huge shoulders of their new man of steel, Dwight Howard and partners in crime Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter. The Orlando Magic made seven playoff appearances in the past ten seasons and were crowned Eastern Conference Champions in 2009. Here are the best five Orlando Magic from 2001-2010. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Orlando Magic from 2001-2010 were considered.)
1. Dwight Howard
There is no doubt about who is the best Orlando Magic player of the 2000’s. Howard is the most dominant center in the NBA right now and the sick part about that is he still has room to grow on the offensive end. Since being drafted by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 NBA draft, Howard has averaged 17.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. In his six seasons with the Magic, he has made four All-Star teams and won Defensive Player of the Year honors twice. With huge seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Howard became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounds and blocks in consecutive seasons.
2. Tracy McGrady
T-Mac spent four seasons with the Orlando Magic starting in the 2000-01 season. They are easily considered his best four seasons in the NBA, as his lowest scoring output in any of those seasons was 25.6 points per game. His best season came in 2002-03, when he led the league in scoring with 32.1 points per game. McGrady holds the franchise record for most points scored in a game with 62 points.
3. Grant Hill
Hill is one of those what could’ve been stories. What could’ve Hill done if he had stayed healthy? His time with the Pistons in the 90’s showed that he could’ve been one of the greatest players in NBA history. Injuries robbed us of knowing what would’ve happened, but what we do still know about Hill’s time with the Magic is he was still a pretty good player. He played with the Magic for 6 injury-riddled seasons, posting 19.7 points per contest in his best season with them in the 2004-05 NBA season.
4. Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo spent five seasons with the Orlando Magic and was a perfect fit to their puzzle. He reached his peak in the 2007-08 season when he provided match-up problems for every team in the East during the regular season and the playoffs. He posted a career high 19.5 points per game in the regular season and then followed that up with 17.5 points per contest in the playoffs.
5. Jameer Nelson
Nelson was one of those big conference college stars that were thrown on the scrap heap in the NBA Draft. I remember seeing pick after pick made in the 2004 NBA Draft and wondering when somebody would finally have faith in the six-foot point guard. The Magic were the team to make that plunge, doing so with the twentieth pick in the draft and Jameer has been rewarding the Magic for their decision ever since. They are expecting him to make an even bigger impact in the next decade as Nelson will be building off a nice 2009-10 season that saw him average 16.7 points per game while dishing off 5.4 assists.