The Magic joined the league in 1989-1990. Over the last 30+ years, Orlando has been home to a few great players and many good ones. Below, we’ve selected the best Orlando Magic players of all time. These players were selected after considering their Magic production (statistics from other teams don’t count), their longevity with the team, and what they represented for the Magic in general.
PG – Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal were the NBA duo for a brief moment. Together, they put Orlando on the basketball map and briefly made the Magic a major force in the NBA, including a Finals appearance and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 1994-1995 and 1995-1996, respectively.
Penny was a huge, skilled point guard who made four straight All-Star teams in the mid-90s while averaging roughly 20 points and six assists per game. He was equally comfortable attacking the rim or dropping dimes to Nick Anderson and O’Neal.
Penny brought style and cool to a young team. He was even the namesake of the Lil’ Penny marketing campaign, the greatest shoe ads ever. Injuries derailed a promising career, but there can be no other choice for the All-Time Magic starting point guard spot.
SG – Nick Anderson
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, Nick Anderson missed four straight free throws in Game 1 of the 1994-1995 Finals to cap a 20-point blown lead for Orlando. Houston summarily swept the Magic, and Anderson’s reputation never fully recovered.
But the Magic would never have made it to the Finals without Anderson. This is a guy who crashed the boards like a big man, bombed away from deep, and played tough defense, including a game-clinching steal of Michael Jordan in the last seconds of Game 1 against the Bulls in a second-round series that year:
Although he barely missed out on an All-Star berth a couple of times, he did represent Orlando in the Dunk Contest and the 3-Point Shootout in two separate seasons, one of only eleven players to do both events in league history.
His best season in a Magic uniform came in 1992-1993, when he averaged 19.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals (plus a half-block!) per game.
Anderson played ten seasons with the Magic, and upon his retirement, owned many of the franchise’s records. It’s a shame people often can’t get over his lowest point to remember all of the highs he brought to this expansion franchise.
SF – Tracy McGrady
Although he played just three seasons with the Magic, McGrady led the league in scoring twice and single-handedly kept a weak supporting cast competitive. His balletic movements and effortless ability to put the ball in the basket made McGrady must-watch television in the early 2000s.
Imagining T-Mac, a healthier Grant Hill, and Tim Duncan together on those Magic teams is one of the great NBA what-ifs, but instead, McGrady became a one-man show. He could pass with flair, score from all three levels, and handle the rock with startling grace for a 6’8” player. He is one of 34 players ever to have a season with at least 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.
McGrady never found much playoff success with the Magic, but it’s hard to imagine him doing much more when Orlando’s second-best player for his tenure was a mid-30s Darrell Armstrong.
PF – Dwight Howard
This is cheating a little bit, but Howard did play a lot of power forward in his days with Orlando next to Kelvin Cato and Tony Battie in his rookie and second seasons, so it still counts!
Dwight is inarguably the best Magic player ever. People have a negative view of Howard on a personal level, for reasons both justified and not, but it’s indisputable that late 2000s/early 2010s Dwight was one of the apex players in the league.
He finished top-5 in MVP voting for four straight years for Orlando while racking up three consecutive DPOYs. He led the league in blocks twice and rebounds four times. He even won the dunk contest!
Howard’s eight-year tenure with Orlando saw the Magic become a perennial playoff force. Though they lost their one Finals appearance to the Lakers, they were a healthy Jameer Nelson or a missed Courtney Lee tip-in away from potentially upsetting LA in Game 2 and making it an entirely different series.
Dwight’s defensive dominance was so absolute that the Magic could start offense-first players at almost every other position. His widely-maligned post moves were actually brutally efficient (if not pleasing to the eye), and the Magic were the first team to truly embrace the four-out spacing structure that the entire league would soon adopt.
C – Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq is known for his success with the Lakers, but he grew into his game in Orlando for four years first. The league had never seen a player with Shaq’s combination of size, quickness, and skill, and he averaged 29.3 points per game while leading the NBA in FG% in just his second season!
Shaq was an All-Star all four years in Orlando and was All-NBA for three of them, even coming in second in MVP voting in 1994-1995, when Orlando made it to the Finals. His pairing with Penny Hardaway quickly became an iconic duo.
Like a pirouetting, chiseled mammoth, O’Neal would perform a lightning-quick baseline spin followed by a slam dunk over a helpless defender. He was no slouch defensively, either, and surprised many an opponent with his length and fast-twitch reaction time.
A winning personality complemented his All-World talent, and Shaq’s oversized persona made him an instant fan favorite worldwide. Orlando became known as a basketball town during his tenure, no mean feat for a city primarily interested in college football.
SF – Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo spent almost eight unforgettable seasons across two stints with the Magic. The point-forward could do it all on offense and often did.
Need a late three? Sure, Hedo shot over 40% from deep several times over his Orlando tenure. Looking for a steady hand to initiate the offense? Yep, Hedo was dishing five assists per game while often bringing the ball up the floor in crunch time. Just want a bucket? Turk led the team in scoring in their 2009 Finals appearance with 18.0 points per game.
Hedo won Most Improved Player in 2007-2008. He was robbed of an All-Star berth in 2007-2008 (in favor of a past-his-prime Rasheed Wallace averaging a whopping 12.7 points per game), when Turkoglu averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and five assists while shooting 40% from long range.
PG – Scott Skiles
Quick – who holds the record for most assists in an NBA game? Well, since I put that question here, you probably know that it’s Scott Skiles, who dropped $3 worth of dimes (plus 22 points) against the Denver Nuggets in 1990.
It was a rare bright spot in the second season for the Magic, and it set the tone for what fans could expect from Skiles going forward. Spunk was the steady hand at the wheel for the Magic up until 1993-1994. He won a Most Improved Player award in 1990-1991, and he even returned to coach the team for one season in 2015.
Besides the assists, Magic fans will remember Skiles primarily for his toughness. He played through copious injuries in his Orlando career and expected no praise for it. “I’m not particularly gifted…my main gift is my ability to persevere,” Skiles once remarked. It’s as good a way as any to sum up his Orlando time.
PF – Rashard Lewis
A Magic for just 2.5 seasons, Rashard nonetheless made his mark on the franchise. A prototypical stretch-4 when that buzzword was just becoming en vogue, Lewis was the rare big man with truly superb accuracy at volume.
Many stretch-fours claim that title by being accurate on just a couple of attempts per game. Lewis bombed away like a shooting guard, peaking at 39.7% accuracy on 7.0 attempts per game in his 2008-2009 All-Star campaign for the Magic.
Lewis was the perfect fit next to Dwight Howard for coach Stan Van Gundy’s up-tempo spread offense, and he set the blueprint for the modern shooting big man.
SG – Dennis Scott
“3D” was one of the first high-volume three-point specialists in the league. He dropped bombs alongside Penny and Shaq during the Magic’s mid-90s run. At 6’8”, he was tall for the position, which let him get his shot off against any defender.
Dennis is still the team record-holder for most threes made (nobody is close to catching him). He also was the first NBA player to hit 11 threes in a single game.
SF/PF – Aaron Gordon
Gordon was a defensive ace who might’ve been a bit overtaxed as the late-2010s Magic’s best perimeter player. However, he is most well-known for his incredible dunking abilities.
He memorably dueled against Zach LaVine in the greatest dunk showdown of all-time, the 2016 dunk contest, which led to what might be the best slam ever done by an NBA player:
Any man who does something like that in a Magic uniform has a reserved place of honor on this list.
C – Nikola Vucevic
From 2012 to 2021, big Vooch anchored the Magic with solid passing, voracious rebounding, and a feathery touch. He made the All-Star game as a member of the Magic once (and a second time the same season he was traded to Chicago).
Along with Gordon and Evan Fournier, Vucevic ended the Magic’s playoff drought and led them to two playoff berths from 2018-2020.
PG – Jameer Nelson
The bowling-ball point guard played in Orlando for a decade, making one All-Star team and shepherding the Magic’s most sustained run of success.
Few remember that the Magic’s five-game loss to the Lakers in the Finals was partly due to Jameer Nelson laboring through a torn labrum that caused him to miss four months. He rushed back for the Finals but was a shadow of his All-Star form.
Nelson is the Magic’s all-time leader in assists, and he dots the top-five of virtually every Magic career statistical leaderboard.
- Grant Hill – decimated by injuries, the highly-touted Hill never lived up to the hopes Orlandoans had for him. He played just 200 games for the Magic over a seven-season period (although he did make two All-Star appearances, one of which was deserved)
- Evan Fournier – spent years getting buckets in Orlando but left with no real highlights or team success to speak of
- Horace Grant – the begoggled big man epitomized toughness and grit while knocking down mid-ranges from all over the floor next to Shaquille O’Neal and Rony Seikaly as an ideal 90s-era power forward
- Steve Francis – Only played a season and a half with Orlando but put up stellar numbers as a tough, do-everything point guard
- JJ Redick – sharpshooter who spent his first six and a half seasons with Orlando before finding greater success elsewhere
- Darrell Armstrong – athletic, defensive-minded point guard who bridged the gap between the post-Shaq years and the T-Mac years