The Orlando Magic will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary as a member of the National Basketball Association during the upcoming 2018-2019 season.
Some festivities have already started to begin. The organization revealed earlier this month that the team will be periodically wearing their “iconic, legendary, classic” blue pinstriped uniforms next season. Of course, these uniforms were sported by some of Orlando’s most iconic players in the 1990’s. The Magic also unveiled a new commemorative 30th anniversary logo for next year.
Here at Orlando Pinstriped Post, we thought there was no better time than now to do our part in celebrating the Orlando Magic franchise’s thirty year history. It’s a history that has seen a lot of “up’s”. But early on, and especially in the last six years, the organization has also experienced a lot of “downs”.
As I began to embark on this task of ranking Orlando’s all-time great contributors, I came across some bumps in the road.
How do I compare the numbers put up by role players that played on some of Orlando’s greatest teams with guys that contributed (often in larger roles) amidst losing seasons? Also, how do I account for how much the game has changed in the NBA in the last thirty years (more of a premium on outside shooting, pace, etc.)?
It wasn’t easy; I often felt like I was comparing apples to oranges, so to speak. Some guys won in Orlando, many lost. Some guys were in town for just a couple seasons, others played the majority of their careers for the Magic.
As a general guideline, I tried to set a baseline of 120 games as a minimum that someone would have to play as a member of the Magic to qualify for this list. For example, I did not include Vince Carter (even though he’s a hall of fame player, and arguably the best player to ever come out of Central Florida). Carter is a legend, but for me, he didn’t spend enough time in Orlando to make sense for this activity.
So without further explanation, enjoy this trip down memory lane as I run-down the next ten players (11-20) that I’ve ranked as the best in franchise history. You can find the first article with players 21-30 here.
I also highly recommend checking out Mike Cali’s recent article which profiles Orlando’s Top-30 games in team history.
20. Steve Francis
2 seasons in Orlando, 123 games
38 MPG, 19.4 PTS, 6.5 AST, 5.4 REB
“The Franchise” wasn’t in Orlando for very long. If he would have suited up for the Magic for an extended period of time, he probably would be higher on this list. Francis was Orlando’s lead guard at the beginning of the Dwight Howard era. He was ultimately traded to New York in an effort to clear the way for Jameer Nelson (traded for Trevor Ariza, as well as the corpse that was Anfernee Hardaway coincidentally enough).
Francis makes this list because he got numbers in pinstripes. It wasn’t always efficient; it rarely was ever pretty (who could forget his one-on-zero fast-break alley-oops to himself). But playing 38 minutes per game for the Magic, he filled the stat sheet.
Francis’ 19.4 points per game ranks third all-time in Magic history. He also ranks second all-time in assists per game, fifth in assist percentage, seventh in steals per game, eighth in player efficiency rating, and seventh in Offensive Box Plus/Minus.
19. Ryan Anderson
3 seasons in Orlando, 188 games
22.9 MPG, 11.4 PTS, 5.5 REB
Anderson was one of the most effective and efficient bench players in franchise history (started 81 games, came of the bench for 107). He was acquired by the Magic, along with Vince Carter, in a deal that sent Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee to New Jersey.
Anderson was the perfect stretch-four in Stan Van Gundy’s “four-out, one-in” offensive system alongside Dwight Howard and/or Marcin Gortat (on/off of +8.5 per/100). Anderson was recognized as the NBA’s Most Improved Player in the ‘11-’12 season, his final year in Orlando (and only season as a regular starter). He finished his Orlando career with per/36 numbers of 18.0 points and 8.6 rebounds.
The California native sits second all-time in Orlando franchise history in Offensive Box Plus/Minus, Offensive Rating, and Win Shares per/48 minutes. He’s also top-10 in the following categories: free throw percentage (6th), player efficiency rating (5th), true shooting percentage (5th), offensive rebounding percentage (8th), and Box Plus/Minus (5th).
18. Evan Fournier
4 seasons with the Magic, 262 games
31.7 MPG, 15.6 PTS, 2.9 REB, 2.7 AST
It may seem a little puzzling that I have Fournier this high on the list, or even on the list at all. I realize that; again, finding a spot for some of the more modern Magic players was the most difficult part of this task.
Fournier has enjoyed some fine offensive seasons playing in Orlando. If he wasn’t such a one-way player, he would probably be even a few spots higher. Fournier has made a home for himself in Orlando after coming to the organization via a draft day trade involving Arron Afflalo in ‘14 (career 38% three point shooter).
Like I mentioned with Aaron Gordon in the earlier edition of this list (Gordon came in at #24), my inclusion of Fournier here has a lot to do with where I project he finishes as a member of the Magic, not necessarily where he currently finds himself.
Fournier, who currently sits tenth in Orlando history with 496 career three-point field goals, will likely pass Tracy McGrady and JJ Redick on that all-time list this upcoming season. Barring injury or a trade, Fournier (who is under contract for possibly three more seasons) is on pace to approach top-5 all-time in Magic history shooting from behind the arc, as well as top-7 in total points scored.
17. Mike Miller
3 seasons in Orlando, 194 games
32.7 MPG, 14.1 PTS, 4.6 REB, 2.5 AST
Miller, who played at the University of Florida, was selected by the Magic fifth overall in the 2000 NBA Draft. The South Dakota native served as Tracy McGrady’s sidekick, helping the Magic reach the playoffs in each of his first two NBA seasons.
The organization elected to shake things up at the Trade Deadline during the ‘02-’03 season and traded Miller to the Memphis Grizzlies for Gordan Giriceck and Drew Gooden.
Miller and Shaquille O’Neal are still the only two players in franchise history to ever be recognized as the NBA Rookie of the Year (Miller won the award in 2001).
Fun fact: Orlando selected Miller with one of the first round picks they received from the Golden State Warriors in the Chris Webber/Anfernee Hardaway trade.
16. Victor Oladipo
3 seasons in Orlando, 224 games
33.2 MPG, 15.9 PTS, 4.4 REB, 4.0 AST
Oladipo was not the player in Orlando that he’s become now with the Indiana Pacers. But he was still a really solid player, and if you ignore his rookie season (when Jacque Vaughn played Oladipo at point guard, something he wasn’t ready to do), he had a pretty nice career with the Magic. Unfortunately, it abruptly came to an end before it ever had a chance to get going. Oladipo was traded by then general manager Rob Hennigan on draft night in ‘16 for Serge Ibaka (who was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the following season).
The Magic drafted Oladipo second overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Maryland native often suffered from inconsistent play during his time in Orlando, but still displayed modest improvements in his game in each of his first three seasons. Oladipo was Orlando’s best perimeter defender from ‘13-’16, scored over 30 points in a game on nine separate occasions in his Magic career, and recorded two triple-doubles to boot.
The DeMatha High School alum sits 3rd all-time in Magic franchise history in steals per game (1.6), 3rd in steal percentage, 5th in usage percentage, 10th in points per game, and 10th in assists per game.
15. Terry Catledge
4 seasons in Orlando, 224 games played
29.5 MPG, 15.3 PTS, 6.8 REB
The best years of Catledge’s NBA career were spent as one of the inaugural members of the Orlando Magic. The “Cat Man” was Orlando’s third selection (fifth overall) in the 1989 NBA Expansion Draft. The power forward from Mississippi led the Magic in scoring during the ‘89-’90 season (their first year as an NBA franchise) at 19.4 points per game.
Catledge was a typical power forward for his era; he rarely ventured out of the paint, he regularly made his way to the free throw line, and he was a fairly consistent contributor on the glass. On January 13th, 1990, Catledge scored 49 points on the road against the Golden State Warriors. He went on to score 30 or more points in a single-game five times in the ‘89-’90 season.
Catledge is top-10 in Magic franchise history in rebounds per game and offensive rebounding percentage.
14. Nikola Vucevic
6 seasons with the Magic, 405 games
31.6 MPG, 16.0 PTS, 10.4 REB, 2.4 AST
This is where I’m going to lose some people, I get that. Vucevic is about as polarizing as anyone that’s ever suited up for the Magic (in the eye’s of fans of the team). The post-Dwight Howard big man has played major minutes (and served a major role) for the Magic over the last six seasons. Those seasons have been some of the worst in Magic history, thus Vucevic’s ultimate legacy as an all-time Magic player is quite cloudy.
By the numbers, Vucevic absolutely belongs on this list (223 double-doubles in a Magic uniform). In reality, you could make an argument (based solely off production) that he could even be listed higher.
Yet Vucevic hardly comes without his warts. For a big man, it’s been maddening how rarely the Montenegrin has made his way to the free throw line during his Magic career. While his overall defensive positioning and awareness has improved since his first few seasons in town, Vucevic still can never really be considered an elite defender.
What he has been for the Magic is consistent, always. Vucevic is a skilled big man who has thrived on the glass for the last half decade in Orlando. The USC product has also transformed himself into one of the elite passing centers in the NBA.
While his presence on many of Orlando’s all-time lists is impressive, his numbers really should be taken with a grain of salt. The organization has been a mess, there’s no denying that. It certainly hasn’t been Vucevic’s fault alone, far from it. Still, all the losing forced me to penalize him on this list a few spots. This upcoming season will more than likely be Vucevic’s last in Orlando, his contract is set to expire at the end of the year.
Vucevic ranks in the top-10 all-time in Magic franchise history in the following categories: games, minutes, field goals made, offensive rebounds (3rd), total rebounds (2nd), blocks (5th), total points, field goal percentage, points per game, rebounds per game (3rd), blocks per game, player efficiency rating, defensive rebounding percentage (2nd), defensive win shares, and overall win shares. Yes, he belongs.
13. Grant Hill
6 seasons in Orlando, 200 games played
32.2 MPG, 16.4 PTS, 5.0 REB, 3.1 AST
This might be cruel, but I thought it was appropriate to have Hill here - unlucky #13. That’s what his Orlando tenure was, “unlucky” for all parties involved.
The Magic acquired the former Duke All-American in the summer of 2000 from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins. That same summer, the Magic signed Tracy McGrady and nearly nabbed Tim Duncan in the process. Hill, who was an all-star in five of his six seasons with Detroit, only managed to play four games during his first season with the Magic (was voted as an all-star by the fans). He actually had originally broken part of the bone in his left ankle with the Pistons the season prior to signing with the Magic.
Hill only played in 47 total games through his first three seasons in Orlando, and missed the ‘03-’04 season entirely (ankle surgery). The Virginia native, at 32 years old, returned in ‘04-’05 in a big way. Hill appeared in 67 games, averaged just under 20 points per game, and made his seventh (and final) all-star appearance.
Hill played off-and-on with the Magic for two more seasons before signing with the Phoenix Suns in 2007. Shockingly enough, Hill found a fountain of youth of sorts with the Suns. He played in 70 games or more in each of his first four seasons in Phoenix. Hill played in the NBA until he was 40 years old.
Hill, one of the serious NBA “what-if” candidates of all-time, was never really that same guy in Orlando that he was in Detroit. Still, on one good wheel, Hill was one of the smartest and most efficient players to ever play for the organization.
And he was by far the most unlucky.
12. Scott Skiles
5 seasons in Orlando, 384 games
31.1 MPG, 12.9 PTS, 7.2 AST, 2.9 REB
Skiles took over as Orlando’s starting point guard during his second season with the Magic. The Michigan State product played with the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers before being selected by the Magic in the 1989 NBA Expansion Draft.
Skiles started 285 games for the Magic. He was traded in ‘94 in an effort to make way for then franchise point guard Anfernee Hardaway.
“Scotty” was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 1991. His gritty/hard-nosed play on the old parquet floor helped Skiles become one of the most revered players in team history. Skiles ranked 3rd in the NBA in assists per game (2nd in total assists) in ‘92-’93. He also finished top-5 in the league in three-point percentage twice with the Magic (‘91, ‘94).
Of course, Skiles is best remembered for his historic night on the 30th of December in 1990 at the old Orlando Arena. Skiles remarkably dished out an NBA single-game record 30 assists (Magic defeated the Nuggets 155-116). It’s probably safe to assume that Skiles’ record will continue to stand in the NBA for a very long time.
Skiles is second all-time on Orlando’s franchise assist leaderboard (behind only Jameer Nelson). He also ranks top-10 in franchise history in free throws made, free throw percentage (1st), assists per game (1st), assist percentage (2nd), and offensive win shares.
11. Darrell Armstrong (9 seasons, 502 games: 28.4 MPG, 11.7 PTS, 5.1 AST, 1.7 STL) & Bo Outlaw (8 seasons, 360 games: 26.8 MPG, 6.3 PTS, 6.0 REB, 2.2 AST, 1.5 BLK)
During their time in Orlando, Armstrong and Outlaw both exemplified the moniker “heart and hustle”. While they combined to play 17 seasons and over 850 games in pinstripes, Armstrong and Outlaw are probably best remembered by Magic fans as a couple of the mainstays during that memorable ‘99-’00 season. After moving on from Anfernee Hardaway, Nick Anderson, and Horace Grant, those lovable misfit players (many who had gone undrafted) in ‘00 won 41 games, missing out on the playoffs by just one game.
Armstrong, who played his college basketball at Fayetteville State University, signed with the Magic very late in the ‘94-’95 season as a then 26-year old free agent. However, Armstrong never really had a consistent role with the team until the ‘96-’97 season. Armstrong became Orlando’s starting point guard in ‘99 and went on to start 259 games from ‘99-’03. Armstrong currently ranks in the top-5 in Magic history in both games and minutes played. He also ranks in the top-10 in field goals made, three-point field goals made, free throws made, total offensive rebounds, total defensive rebounds, assists (3rd), total points, free throw percentage (2nd), assists per game, player efficiency rating, assist percentage, offensive win shares, defensive win shares, offensive box plus/minus, box plus/minus, and overall value over replacement player (6th).
Armstrong’s endless hustle on the floor often led to a lot of steals. Armstrong ranks 1st all-time in franchise history with a steal percentage of 3.0%. He also ranks 2nd all-time in total steals and steals per game in a Magic uniform. His most memorable steal came on March 15th, 1999, when Armstrong stole a Philadelphia inbounds pass with 3.3 seconds remaining in the game, raced to the other end of the floor to lay the ball in to beat the buzzer, and ultimately down the Sixers by a score of 74-73.
Armstrong was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year during the ‘98-’99 season, as well as the NBA’s Most Improved Player (‘99).
Outlaw, a San Antonio native, played his college ball for two years at South Plains College before transferring to the University of Houston for two seasons. At 6-8, Outlaw was a versatile defender who primarily played power forward for the Magic, but was capable in a pinch defending multiple positions.
After playing four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Outlaw signed with the Magic in the summer of ‘97. The hustle, defensive mentality, and constant activity that Outlaw displayed on the court quickly helped him develop into the organization’s starting power forward. He led the NBA in Defensive Box Plus/Minus in both the ‘97-’98 and ‘99-’00 seasons. Outlaw started 222 games for the Magic from ‘97-’01.
Outlaw’s two strongest qualities as a player were that he was dependable (played all 82 games in a season twice with the Magic, at least 80 games three times) and that he could do a little bit of everything on the court. Outlaw recorded 35 double-doubles in a Magic uniform (two triple-doubles), pulling down 15 or more rebounds in a single contest five times. He also recorded 10 or more assists in a game three times, five or more steals in a game six different times, and five or more blocks in a game on 22 separate occasions.
Outlaw is the all-time franchise leader in Defensive Box Plus/Minus and overall field goal percentage. He also ranks in the top-10 all-time in Magic history in the following categories: offensive rebounds, total rebounds, steals, blocks (3rd), steals per game, blocks per game, true shooting percentage (2nd), steal percentage, block percentage, defensive rating, defensive win shares, box plus/minus, and overall value over replacement player (7th).
So there it is, my next ten (actually, eleven) all-time Magic players. Feel free to start the debate below in the comments section. Tell me everything I did wrong!
Please plan on returning to our site in a couple of weeks when I reveal the final ten guys on my list.
*Credit - Statistical information used in this piece was acquired through Basketball Reference.