Dwight Howard opens up on potential Magic return

If ever an opportunity arises for him to join the Orlando Magic and play for the franchise where everything started, Dwight Howard is more than open for a potential return.

Howard is still looking for a way back to the NBA, and sure enough, suiting up for the Magic as he ends his career would be a storybook ending. However, the eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t intend to go back just for the feels. He is confident that he can still bring something to the table for Orlando, including being a veteran presence that has championship experience.

“I would definitely want to come back and be a part of the Magic, their team and what they’re trying to accomplish in Orlando now. … Would be a great [thing to be] in Orlando to finish out my career where I started it, and for the young and upcoming and promising team who I feel would need some type of veteran leadership. … I think it’ll be very beneficial to the players, to the city, to the organization,” Howard said on Twitter Space when asked about potentially rejoining Orlando, per ClutchPoints.

Dwight Howard recently worked out for the Golden State Warriors and seemed to be on his way to joining the Dubs. Surprisingly, though, GM Mike Dunleavy and the front office decided to take a different route and didn’t sign the big man.

It’s unknown if the Magic have any interest in Howard, however. He doesn’t really fit their timeline considering how young they are. Not to mention that it doesn’t look like they are going to contend for the title in 2023-24.

If not with the Magic, though, here’s hoping that Howard gets one final shot at the NBA.

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Warriors’ real reason for Dwight Howard rejection, refusing to sign center, per Mike Dunleavy

In recent weeks, it appears as though Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors entertained the idea of signing Dwight Howard to serve as additional depth for a thin frontcourt. The Warriors even brought Howard in for a workout, leading many to believe that a signing was just around the corner. In the end, however, the Warriors brain trust, led by general manager Mike Dunleavy, decided against doing so. Instead, they preferred to keep the roster spot open entering the season to maintain flexibility.

However, beyond maintaining flexibility, the Warriors have enough trust in the frontcourt pieces they already have on the roster, making it not quite necessary for them to pluck Howard from the bargain bin.

“I think looking at it going into training camp right now, we have five guys who can give us minutes at the five position,” Dunleavy said in an appearance on The Athletic NBA Show, referencing the recent addition of former first-round pick Usman Garuba on a two-way deal.

In addition to Garuba, the Warriors, indeed, have five players who can play at center in a pinch. Those players are Kevon Looney, Dario Saric, Draymond Green, and rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis. However, none of those players stand above 6’9; even though Looney is an assured presence on the glass, the Warriors may be in need of a bigger presence in the paint when matching up against the likes of Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis.

The Los Angeles Lakers, in particular, may be difficult for the Warriors to deal with, as we came to see in the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs. The Lakers punished the Warriors on the glass and in the paint, leading to many trips to the charity stripe as the Dubs were unable to cope with such physicality.

Nonetheless, Mike Dunleavy is hoping that the pieces they already have on the roster get enough reps in the position come training camp to help for the season that awaits.

“We wanna make sure there’s enough reps in camp and early on in the season. We will constantly be evaluating and keeping flexibility open,” Dunleavy added.

Only time will tell if the Warriors end up being in need of a more bruising presence on the interior, such as Dwight Howard, especially as the season progresses.

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3 reasons signing Dwight Howard is a good move for the Warriors

The Golden State Warriors may be closing in on making a decision on signing Dwight Howard. The free agent center reportedly just completed a two-day interview process with the Warriors, sources told Jason Dumas of KRON4. Golden State’s veterans including Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have reportedly signed off on the team bringing in the future Hall of Famer.

The last we saw of Howard in the NBA was in the 2021-22 season, where he played 60 games for the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, he played with the Taoyuan Leopards in Taiwan and spent the majority of the campaign jokingly looking to lure in other NBA players to play with him in Asia. Nonetheless, while Howard seems to have enjoyed his stay in Taiwan, it seems like the big man is trying to work for one more hurrah in the NBA.

While the Warriors have yet to make an official decision, signing Howard makes a ton of sense for Golden State considering their lack of frontcourt depth. With that said, here are three reasons signing Dwight Howard is a good move for the Golden State Warriors.

1. Dwight Howard addresses the Warriors’ biggest need

Dwight Howard addresses arguably the Warriors’ biggest need: a big body who can provide them with much-needed depth and size up front. Kevon Looney is the lone true center on the team and even he is undersized for his position. Looney stands just 6-foot-9 and though he gets by with his strength, effort, and hustle, his lack of size won’t provide the Warriors an answer to some of the league’s elite big men, such as reigning NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, who will undoubtedly be in the way of Golden State’s quest for another title.

Howard’s presence will give Steve Kerr more flexibility with the five-man units he can put out there. He gives the Warriors a player they can match up against teams with bigger lineups.

Nonetheless, by no means will the Warriors suddenly change their bread and butter of small ball with Howard coming to town. That is still their meal ticket to winning a championship. But the 37-year-old will give guys like Looney and Draymond Green, who cover a bulk of the center minutes, a lesser load to carry throughout the course of the regular season.

2. Dwight Howard is aware of his role

One important thing about Dwight Howard at this stage of his career is his awareness of his role. As much as some people sour on his reputation, the 37-year-old is actually a role model for former stars who need to learn how to transition into a smaller role during the later stages of his career.

We saw Howard deal with that first-hand during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. He played a vital role as a backup big that helped LeBron James and Anthony Davis bring a title to Hollywood. Howard didn’t gripe about his role or about coming off the bench. He was a star in his role as a rebounder and defender inside the paint and brought the toughness and energy the Lakers needed to win.

And if that wasn’t enough, the fact that Howard, an eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, went to Taiwan to continue his basketball career should be enough proof that this man does not have an ego.

Howard will likely play the same role when he comes to Golden State. The Warriors will need his size and toughness inside the paint and provide rim protection whenever he is in the game. More importantly, they need a no non-sense player who will just come in and play his role. Howard is the perfect player to bring that.

3. Dwight Howard will bring a positive energy on and off the floor

Dwight Howard did not have the best reputation through much of his career. Many viewed him as a locker room headache with all his antics and unserious behavior. Nonetheless, it seems like fans have grown to love Howard’s personality, especially when he went to play in Taiwan last season.

Howard’s presence in the locker room should help ease whatever tension, drama, and changes this Warriors franchise has gone through over the past couple of years. NBA players have said that defending a championship and that, along with other things that transpired during the 2022-23 season, clearly took its toll on Golden State.

Howard should be able to help bring a positive energy for the entire organization. His infectious personality may not be for everyone, but he is certainly someone who could lighten the mood. The Warriors have placed a lot of pressure on themselves with their desire to win another championship. Sometimes, adding a guy like Howard who can bring in good vibes to ease things a bit can make a ton of difference.

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Warriors’ Draymond Green calls out reporter over Dwight Howard-Dubs leak

The Golden State Warriors are rumored to be deciding on whether to add free agent Dwight Howard to the team, just days after cold water was thrown on the rumors. Holdover forward Draymond Green is not happy about the news that has been leaked to the social media world.

In a tweet released Wednesday night, Green lamented a report from Jason Dumas on X that Golden State’s veterans have approved of Howard joining Coach Steve Kerr’s Warriors roster.

Fans in the comments section were in a playful and contrarian mood on Wednesday as the Warriors star Green was engaged on his surprising comments that had been viewed nearly one million times in a little over an hour. One fan referenced his preseason punch of teammate Jordan Poole last year that was leaked to the media quickly.

One commenter appeared to be a Jordan Poole fan as he joined Green in lamenting the leak.

“Signing 10 team, year 18 vet Dwight is big?” another fan mused. “It’s been touted for weeks.”

Green stuffed the stat sheet with 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists on 52.7 percent shooting last season for the Warriors. Howard last played with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021-2022 before playing in Taiwan last season.

The Warriors’ pre-season depth chart lists Green as the starter at center, a surprise considering his height (6-foot-6) compared to other centers around the league, most of whom are 6-foot-10 or taller.

Six-foot-nine Kevon Looney could also start at the position, and Dario Saric is expected to log minutes as a 6-foot-10 backup center. Howard’s former team the Los Angeles Lakers knocked the Warriors out of the playoffs last season. Howard averaged just over six points and nearly six rebounds in his 2021-2022 season with the team before heading to Taiwan last season.



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NBA rumors: Steph Curry, Warriors’ vets endorse Dwight Howard as Dubs’ decision awaits

The Golden State Warriors have one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, but critics say their championship window is in the process of closing. The Warriors’ are in need of a big man to snag rebounds for a team loaded with top notch shooters, and former Lakers champion Dwight Howard could be their man.

Warriors fans were shocked to find out Damian Lillard of the Blazers called himself a better point guard than Stephen Curry. A rival with the Lakers explained from a first-person perspective why Curry is so incredibly difficult to guard.

The Warriors open training camp on October 2 in the Bay Area. According to reporter Jason Dumas on X, the team’s veterans have signed off on the idea of bringing Howard home to the NBA from Taiwan, where he played last season.

The rumor has been viewed nearly 40,000 times after being posted in the wake of Howard’s two-day interview process with GM Mike Dunleavy and Coach Steve Kerr’s team.

Last season the Warriors finished 53-29, good for third place in the NBA’s Western Conference. They were eliminated by a bigger, more physical team in Anthony Davis, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA postseason as Jordan Poole struggled and Klay Thompson wasn’t quite able to return to his championship form from years gone by.

The Warriors’ regular season begins against Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns on October 24 at 10 p.m. ET. If Howard is able to play, he could log major minutes for a team lacking in true centers following the trade of James Wiseman to Detroit last season.

“That’s all I need now, sign him. If we don’t sign him Steve is allergic to bigs,” one fan said on NBA Twitter.

Howard last played for the Taoyuan Leopards of Taiwan’s T1 League and played for the Lakers in 2021-2022, averaging 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. He is 37 years old.


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Dwight Howard-Warriors free agency hype gets cold water thrown on it

Don’t go buying those Dwight Howard Golden State Warriors jerseys just yet. Shams Charania reported last week that the Warriors are planning to meet with Howard, leading a lot of fans to believe the eight-time All-Star’s return to the NBA was a done deal.

The Warriors don’t see it that way and still need Howard to prove he can hack it in the Association.

“I’m told that the Warriors are looking at this just as another workout, just another guy they’re bringing in to get a look at,” Kendra Andrews said. “That doesn’t mean he is a member of the team.”

Howard did not play in the NBA last season, instead taking his talent to Taiwan where he quickly became a star despite dealing with injuries. He last played in America for the Los Angeles Lakers, appearing in 60 games with 27 starts in 2021-22.

Howard is five seasons removed from being a full-time starter in the NBA, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year still showed value coming off the bench later in his career. The Warriors have experimented with veteran big men before, perhaps most notably with DeMarcus Cousins.

The Warriors are gearing up for potentially their last run at a championship, making each roster move just as crucial as the next. Golden State wants to be absolutely certain they think a 37-year-old Dwight Howard can help the franchise capture another title.

Howard can likely still play in the NBA, but can he be a viable option for a contending team?

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Dwight Howard’s net worth in 2023

Dwight Howard’s net worth in 2023 is $140 million. Howard is a professional basketball player that was one of the best big men in the NBA during his heyday. In this specific post, though, we’re looking at Dwight Howard’s net worth in 2023.

As such, Howard has amassed quite a fortune throughout his colorful NBA career. As of this writing, the 6-foot-10 center has played 16 seasons in the NBA. Throughout his tenure, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has pocketed quite a hefty sum in salaries — be it on or off the court — and below we take a closer look at Dwight Howard’s net worth in 2023.

Dwight Howard’s net worth in 2023 (estimate): $140 million

Dwight Howard net worth, Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard net worth 2023

Celebrity Net Worth lists Dwight Howard with an estimated net worth of $140 million as of 2023. No wonder he could afford to plunk down $2.3 million for a penthouse for his one season with the Washington Wizards.

Howard’s net worth is quite a substantial amount for a role player that barely hit 20 minutes on a nightly basis before Howard signed with a Taiwan team for the 2022-23 season. It’s even more surprising for those who are not able to appreciate just how dominant Howard was during his prime.

Dwight Howard was born Dec. 8, 1985, in Atlanta. He attended Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy where he played basketball and ended up receiving every major award for national player of the year his senior year of high school in 2004. With all the accolades, Howard chose to skip college and declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft back when the rules still allowed this.

Dwight Howard is drafted by the Magic

Howard was the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, with the Orlando Magic snagging him from the board as their next cornerstone big man. He was touted as the next big thing — literally — in Orlando following the departure of Shaquille O’Neal nearly a decade earlier.

Howard made a huge impact on the league early on in his career, and by Year 3, he was already a bona fide All-Star. His reward for this was his first substantial contract, with Orlando signing Howard to a five-year rookie extension worth $83.2 million. Howard’s Magic career reached its pinnacle in 2009, when he led the team all the way to the NBA Finals only to lose to a Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers squad.

Dwight Howard is traded to the Lakers

As fate would have it, Howard ended up joining Kobe in L.A. some three years later, with the Magic pulling the trigger on a blockbuster four-team deal that saw an end to the Howard era in Orlando.

In L.A., Howard had an infamously disappointing single-season stint, clashing heads with Bryant on multiple occasions. Howard became a free agent by the end of the 2012-13 campaign, and at that point, there was no chance he was re-signing with the Lakers.

Howard signs with the Rockets

This led to Howard taking his talents to Texas, as he put pen to paper on a four-year max deal with the Houston Rockets worth $87.5 million. At 28, Howard was one of the premier big men in the league at that time, and the Rockets dug deep into their pockets to bring him to Houston.

After three years with the Rockets, however, Howard opted to decline the final year of his contract amounting to $23.3 million. He entered free agency and eventually penned another huge contract with the Atlanta Hawks for $70.5 million for three years.

Howard becomes a journeyman

Howard then had an up-and-down journey over the next four years, bouncing from team to team — and collecting a few million here and there — before finally landing back with the Lakers in 2021-22 on a minimum deal. After spending a year in Taiwan, Howard appears to be ready to return to the NBA as Howard will be meeting with the Golden State Warriors looking for an opportunity to sign with them for the 2023-24 season.

In terms of endorsement deals, though, Howard was not exactly a very marketable individual despite being one of the best players in the entire league at one point in his career. Nonetheless, he did sign a massive deal with Chinese sneaker brand Peak in 2015, which is estimated to be in the range of $15 million to $30 million.

Nevertheless, were you at all stunned by Dwight Howard’s net worth in 2023?

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Dwight Howard shockingly expected to meet with Warriors ahead of training camp

Eight-time All-Star and 2020 NBA champion Dwight Howard is eyeing a potential NBA return with the Golden State Warriors. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Howard will meet with Warriors officials next week as the team looks to add an experienced big man to their frontcourt for depth.

Howard, 37, spent the last year in Taiwan after failing to earn himself another contract in the NBA. The veteran big man has been very outspoken about playing overseas and he’s even tried to recruit other stars to play in the same league as him.

The Warriors currently have Kevon Looney as their only center on the roster ahead of training camp. Both Draymond Green and Dario Saric figure to hold significant roles in the frontcourt as well.

More details to come shortly.

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Dwight Howard’s hilarious Team USA ‘voicemail’ to Lakers superstar LeBron James

Three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard sent to an interesting “voicemail” to former Los Angeles Lakers teammate LeBron James about his availability for the 2024 Olympics.

In a video posted on TikTok, Howard and his friend look at a photo of the “Redeem Team,” the iconic USA squad—starring Howard and James, among others—that won Olympic gold at the 2008 games in Beijing. After his friend lets Howard know that James is recruiting for a new “revenge team” in wake of USA Basketball’s FIBA World Cup letdown, he picks up an imaginary phone and mock dials The King.

“LeBron, how you up there man, hey, listen, listen, I need to be on the team,” Howard says. “I’m dropping 85 points in Taiwan, you need me.”

Team USA failed to win a World Cup medal for the second straight FIBA cycle, also left off the podium in 2019. After an undefeated run in the tuneup games, Team USA lost to Dennis Schroder and Germany in the semifinals 113-111. They even went on to lose to northern neighbors Canada, falling 127-118 in the bronze-medal game.

Not many expected the Americans to return from the World Cup without a medal, but it’d be truly shocking if the same fate befell them next summer at the Olympics. James has reportedly committed to play in Paris, bringing Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green along with him. Other superstars like Devin Booker and Damian Lillard have expressed interest in wearing their country’s colors at the 2024 Games, too.

As for Howard? Let’s hope he doesn’t hold his breath waiting on a return call from James.

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10 best draft picks in Magic history, ranked

Until very recently, the Orlando Magic were on a shameful run of NBA Drafts. Year after year, they either reached on raw prospects, selected specialist-type players or traded away the rights to a future All-Star (Domantas Sabonis).

The franchise has been mired in obscurity for over a decade, with a couple of lackluster postseason appearances from 2018-20 serving as the highlights of this exhausting era of Orlando basketball. Brighter days might soon be ahead, though, following the addition of multiple promising talents. And with this newfound optimism, comes the opportunity to revisit the organization’s biggest draft-day triumphs.

Fans know the biggest names to ever wear a Magic jersey, but it’s important to contextualize their lasting impact on the team. Moreover, there are talents who were not fully appreciated in their time and deserve their flowers. You might deem it frivolous to dissect the history of one of NBA’s most embattled franchises, but Orlando has a richer history than is often acknowledged.

Our goal is to bring it into light with this following list. Get ready to relive the glory days, the ugly ones and everything in between, as we rank the 10 best draft picks in Magic history.

10. JJ Redick (2006 NBA Draft)

Although he is best known for the shade of blue he wore in college, the former Duke star was a key contributor on the late-2000s and early-2010s Magic teams that contended for titles and consistently enjoyed 50-game seasons. JJ Redick saw the humble beginnings, rise and fall of what is the last proud era of Orlando hoops.

While the No. 11 pick of the 2006 NBA Draft was never a star player throughout his six-and-a-half years with the team, he helped push the game towards a 3-point heavy attack. Redick never dipped below 37 percent from distance and consistently made defenses pay for leaving him unattended on the perimeter.

Sure, there have been many snipers before and since, but it is not easy to make the transition from college deity to professional role player. Redick played to his shooting strength and endured in the NBA for 15 seasons. He is in the top 20 all-time for both 3-pointers made and 3-point field goal percentage.

9. Paolo Banchero (2022)

Yeah, I’m going to be that guy. There have only been three Magic players ever to be named NBA Rookie of the Year. Only two of them are on this list. While Mike Miller deserves his due for two-and-a-half seasons of highly efficient offensive basketball, the two-time champion (Miami Heat 2012-13) did not have to contend with the deep draft class that Paolo Banchero did last season.

The No. 1 overall pick quickly validated the Magic’s faith in him. Despite not yet being the most capable shooter at 42.7 percent, he regularly led this struggling but scrappy squad. Banchero took on top-guy responsibilities right away and helped Orlando earn 12 additional wins than it had the year before.

His 20 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game were enough to hold off other strong candidates like Walker Kessler, Jalen Williams and Keegan Murray for ROY honors. It might seem too premature to place him on this list, but the 20-year-old deserves this privilege after vaulting himself into franchise history.

How he performs hereon after will determine exactly where the new face of the Magic ultimately lands on this all-time list.

8. Aaron Gordon (2014)

It is kind of crazy to think that recently-crowned NBA champion Aaron Gordon was drafted by Orlando as a top-five selection almost a decade ago. His ranking is a bit tricky because we are now seeing the best version of him with the Denver Nuggets. A growing pains-laden Magic career, and a successful start to his second act, slots him in at No. 8.

To be sure, there were plenty of highlights in those first six-and-a-half years before the front office traded Gordon. The former Arizona Wildcat faced a difficult transition to the NBA, taking quite a while to develop a serviceable outside jumper. The game was evolving, forcing the 6-foot-8 forward to adjust.

Much like JJ Redick, Gordon played to his strengths and was a fixture on the only winning team fans have witnessed since the rebuilding 2010s. Gordon’s athletic gifts and defensive tenacity was on full display by 2017. He averaged 17.6 points and nearly eight rebounds per game that season, while also taking a massive leap in his perimeter shooting (29 percent-34 percent).

Because the on-court product was still not pretty, Magic fans needed a reason to invest beyond just the win-loss column. Aaron Gordon answered the call by putting on one of the greatest performances in NBA Dunk Contest history. How he didn’t dethrone defending champ Zach LaVine in 2016 is still a mystery to many fans. Especially to those residing in the 407.

7. Victor Oladipo (2013)

Another player who did not reach his full potential until after his Magic days were in the rear-view mirror, the Indiana Hoosiers alum could have been a legitimate All-Star player for the team that drafted him No. 2 overall. That is, of course, if the organization had exercised more patience.

Victor Oladipo was included in the aforementioned 2016 deal that sent over Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka. He eventually blossomed into a two-way star with the Indiana Pacers, but the embers of that spark were present in Orlando.

Showcasing a well-rounded game, Oladipo averaged nearly 18 points while also exceeding four rebounds and four assists per contest in the 2014-15 campaign. One cannot forget his active hands, as the 31-year-old recorded 1.6 steals or more in all three seasons with the team. While injuries derailed his prime NBA years, Victor Oladipo’s departure remains a sore spot among fans.

6. Dennis Scott (1990)

Dennis Scott is perhaps the most unheralded key member of the great early 1990s squads. Magic fans remember and appreciate 3-D, but his contributions to the rise of the franchise cannot be understated.

Although his career numbers might not be what many conventionally hope for from the No. 4 overall pick (12.9 points on 42 percent shooting), Scott provided Orlando with essential offensive balance on the perimeter. He shot 39 percent or better from 3-point range in five of his seven seasons with the team.

Finding ways to score with Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson on the floor is a daunting task, but luckily for them, Scott could not be silenced. As one of the first NBA Draft picks the organization ever made, the NBA TV analyst will always hold a special place in Magic history.

5. Nick Anderson (1989)

While Dennis Scott was nearly with the franchise since its inception, Nick Anderson was the literal foundational piece of the Orlando Magic. The No. 11 pick of the 1989 NBA Draft was a stabilizing force on this team for a decade. Without him, fans may have never been able to enjoy such a rapid ascent in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately, Anderson is also remembered as one of the reasons the city never got to enjoy a championship parade. The two-way guard/wing missed four consecutive free throws near the end of Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. If he had made just one, then victory against the defending champion Houston Rockets would all but be guaranteed.

Orlando does its best to block out the rest of that painful night and the rest of the series. Kenny “The Jet” Smith nailed a 3-pointer to send the contest into overtime. The Rockets prevailed and went onto sweep the Magic. A promising group destined for multiple titles never recovered and eventually dissolved, while Anderson’s NBA career would be defined by a couple moments of weakness.

Again, though, such blissful dreams could not even be envisioned without this inaugural building block. The versatile Nick Anderson scored 15.4 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 36 percent from distance, to go along with 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game for Orlando. His 692 games played remains a franchise record.

4. Jameer Nelson (2004)

There will be many fans who believe this is Nick Anderson’s spot. This was admittedly the hardest decision to make on this list. How do you choose one resilient fan favorite over another? Usually, the tiebreaker would go to the more well-rounded player, but in this case, it is going to the heart and soul of one of the more improbable NBA Finals teams of all time.

Jameer Nelson was technically drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the No. 20th overall pick in 2004 before the Magic promptly acquired him via trade. The Saint Joseph’s point guard made up for his six-foot frame with crafty ball-handling, efficient 3-point shooting, and underrated playmaking.

While Orlando was definitively Dwight Howard’s team, Nelson was a vital maestro who ensured that the offense flowed as head coach Stan Van Gundy intended. He was recognized for his efforts with a 2009 Eastern Conference All-Star selection, and a billboard, per Legion Hoops.

Like Anderson, Nelson excelled in the playoffs. But also like Anderson, he is arguably best remembered for his struggles on the biggest stage. During the 2008-09 season, No. 14 suffered a torn labrum that caused him to miss half the regular season and almost the entirety of the postseason. Nelson valiantly, and also probably misguidedly, worked his way back in time for the NBA Finals.

You know the rest. Van Gundy used Nelson in a limited role, but the results were ugly just the same. Nevertheless, his Magic legacy must be forever revered. He did not produce eye-popping stats (12 points, 5.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game in 10 seasons for Orlando), but Jameer Nelson was a critical piece of the last great basketball squad this city has known.

3. Penny Hardaway (1993)

With the center position already filled, the front office completed a draft-day blockbuster deal that traded the rights of “Fab Five” star Chris Webber (No. 1 pick) tot he Golden State Warriors for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway (No. 3). The Memphis Tigers star guard, and now head coach, joined Shaquille O’Neal to form one of the most exciting duos in NBA history.

Of course, injuries, tension and contract disputes prevented it from lasting as long as NBA fans desperately wanted. Before the sad end, however, Hardaway helped put on quite the show. He was the backcourt force that head coach Brian Hill needed to really unlock the full potential of his young, promising group.

Hardaway made the jump to stardom in his second year, which coincided with the Magic’s first trip to the NBA Finals. Although they were swept by the Rockets, he left everything on the court. His 25.5 points on 50 percent shooting, 8.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 43 minutes per game is still one of the greatest Finals showings ever by a losing player.

The last part of that sentence is what prevents the four-time All-Star from being a true legend of the game. That, and the aforementioned injury issues. Multiple knee injuries greatly diminished his explosiveness, something Derrick Rose would also experience many years later.

But we will remember the Penny Hardaway who gave the then-Orlando Arena countless thrills in such a short period of time.

2. Dwight Howard (2004)

Before the organization scooped up Jameer Nelson, it selected its cornerstone with the No. 1 overall pick. While Dwight Howard has been used as a punchline in recent times, he was a two-way beast inside for the Orlando Magic who gave opponents endless fits during his prime.

Howard was a rarity as soon as he stepped onto an NBA court. He played 82 games for five of the first six seasons of his career and led the franchise back towards the top of the standings in short order. Arguably the last true old-school dominant big man, the eight-time All-Star averaged more than 20 points and 13 rebounds in four separate seasons.

The juggernaut was at full force during the 2009 postseason, as implied by NBA Memes. Howard led the Magic past both the defending champion Boston Celtics (Kevin Garnett was injured) and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers to earn an NBA Finals meeting with the Lakers.

Orlando fell in five games, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year deserves his flowers for arguably guiding the team closer than it has ever been to hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. It is terribly unfortunate that some of the goodwill he built up in this city is tainted by the rough way he left.

1. Shaquille O’Neal (1992)

There is really only one choice for the best Magic draft pick of all-time. While Dwight Howard had to carry a bigger burden on the court, Shaquille O’Neal launched a still-fledgling organization into relevance almost immediately after his arrival.

With Michael Jordan switching to baseball in the wake of his father’s tragic death, fans were hopelessly searching for his successor. Diesel was a star on and off the court, making this small-market team must-watch television. Of course, he did not do it alone. Orlando boasted a talented and versatile starting five that was once tapped to be the next great basketball dynasty.

Needless to say, that prophesy faded along the way. But O’Neal was every bit the phenomenon that was promised when he was drafted No. 1 in 1992. He was an All-Star in each of his four seasons with the Magic, averaging a sensational 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks during that stretch. Most importantly, though, the Big Aristotle’s impact was reflected in the standings.

Orlando nearly doubled its win total in O’Neal’s rookie season (21-41). The addition of Penny Hardaway opened things up even more for the Hall of Fame center and brought the team to new heights. Shaq claimed his first of two career scoring titles in 1995. Fans were not accustomed to seeing that type of dominance and superstardom at such a young age.

But none of it ultimately resulted in a championship parade. At least not in O-Town. After O’Neal and company fell short of realizing their supposed destiny in both 1995 and 1996, O’Neal decided that LA was the place where he would truly morph into a megastar. And the rest is history.

The Magic are still chasing the level of excitement that the former LSU product infused in Orlando. Maybe Paolo Banchero or another player to be named later can recreate that atmosphere. But for now, drafting Shaquille O’Neal stands alone as the Magic’s most important moment.

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