For the Orlando Magic, there is hope that Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery will serve as a reversal of fortunes as a franchise.
Orlando won the NBA Draft Lottery and will have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. In the past, getting the top overall selection has paid dividends for the Magic.
Here’s a look back at the Magic’s previous top overall picks:
Shaquille O’Neal, LSU Center (1992)
The Orlando Magic struck gold in 1992 with LSU center Shaquille O’Neal. The 7-foot-1 Goliath wasted little time developing into a star and made the NBA All-Star Game in each of his four seasons with Orlando. During the 1994-95 season, O’Neal led the NBA in scoring at 29.3 points per game and led the Magic to the NBA Finals for the first time.
After leading Orlando to its only 60-win season the following year, O’Neal departed for the West Coast and signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s a moment that still haunts Magic fans. O’Neal would go on to win three championships with the Lakers and another with the Miami Heat. O’Neal remains the Magic’s all-time leader in blocks per game, player efficiency rating and win shares per 48 minutes.
Chris Webber, Michigan Forward (1993)
The Orlando Magic had the top pick in consecutive years. In 1993, they again selected a big man. Unlike O’Neal however, Chris Webber never played a game for the Magic. On draft night, Webber was dealt to the Golden State Warriors for Memphis guard and third overall pick, Anfernee Hardaway. Webber would go on to win Rookie of the Year and make five All-Star Games, but Orlando was hardly disappointed in the move.
Hardaway would team with O’Neal to form one of the NBA’s best young duos. In six years with the Magic, Hardaway made four All-Star appearances and served as one of the league’s best all-around players. Injuries ultimately derailed his career, but he remains one of the best players in team history and its all-time leader in steals per game.
Dwight Howard, High School Center (2004)
In fashion similar to Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard became the cornerstone of the Orlando franchise and evolved into one of the NBA’s best players. Over his eight seasons with the Magic, Howard appeared in a franchise record six All-Star Games and became the first and only player in NBA history to earn Defensive Player of the Year in three straight seasons.
Orlando reached the playoffs in each of Howard’s final six seasons with the team, including the NBA Finals in 2009. Although injuries derailed the end of his tenure, Howard played in all 82 games five times. As a member of the Magic, Howard led the NBA in rebounds per game four times, blocks twice and field goal percentage once. Arguably the greatest player in franchise history, Howard remains the Magic’s all-time leader in points, minutes, rebounds, blocks, defensive rating and win shares.