A Look At the Orlando Magic's "Franchise Five" | Magic Basketball

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Sep 22

A Look at the Orlando Magic’s “Franchise Five”

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On Thursday, ESPN.com gave fans the opportunity to determine the five ultimate players for every franchise in the NBA. Voting commenced for several days and for the Orlando Magic, the players chosen were Penny Hardaway at point guard, Tracy McGrady at shooting guard, Grant Hill at small forward, Rashard Lewis at power forward, and Shaquille O’Neal at center.

However, are these the correct choices?

We can find out.

Utilizing linear metrics like statistical plus/minus, PER, and Win Shares/48, it is easy to determine which players for the Magic should have been chosen based on their production. Hardaway and McGrady were no-brainers, so there’s no need to go over their statistics.

It’s a little difficult to quantify a player’s impact and influence on the team since there are a number of variables involved, but these are some things be taken into account on a smaller scale since those intangibles do matter.

So without further ado, let’s begin.

________

Grant Hill v. Hedo Turkoglu

Grant Hill GP MP PER stat. +/- Win Shares/48
2000-2001 4 33.3 18.1 +2.11 .126
2001-2002 14 36.6 16.7 -1.48 .108
2002-2003 29 29.1 20.8 +0.63 .144
2004-2005 67 34.9 20.0 +0.99 .136
2005-2006 21 29.2 19.0 +1.53 .130
2006-2007 65 30.9 16.3 -0.11 .123
Hedo Turkoglu GP MP PER stat. +/- Win Shares/48
2004-2005 67 26.2 16.0 -0.90 .092
2005-2006 78 33.5 16.7 +1.87 .140
2006-2007 73 31.1 14.2 +0.96 .105
2007-2008 82 36.9 17.8 +1.92 .143
2008-2009 77 36.6 14.8 +0.96 .125

Hill: NBA All-Star (2005) | Turkoglu: NBA Most Improved Player (2008)

If we’re comparing the totality of both players’ careers, there would be no debate about the choice since Hill — at his absolute best — was a top 10 player in his prime with the Detroit Pistons before injuries derailed his career. However, we’re strictly looking at Hill and Turkoglu during their tenures with the Magic and that’s where things get interesting.

Hill was an All-Star in 2005 and deservingly so, given that he put up All-Star caliber numbers in 67 games but the problem is that there’s little else on his resume, given that he missed so much time due to issues with his ankle. Turkgolu’s stats don’t jump off the page, but he rates as the superior player to Hill even if it’s not a clear-cut comparison.

Also, Turkgolu get bonus points for his durability.

It certainly doesn’t help Hill’s cause that he was only able to play for two extended seasons with Orlando before he departed for the Phoenix Suns, where he’s still a member of the team and still going strong at the age of 37 thanks to their excellent training staff.

It’s unfortunate because Magic fans were robbed of seeing two of the most dynamic players in the NBA in their primes play together (the other being Tracy McGrady).

Turkoglu, as weird as it may seem, should go down as the best small forward in franchise history. Not only because Turkoglu was slightly better than Hill, but also because he had a greater impact on the Magic. Turkoglu won the Most Improved Player Award in 2008 and helped lead Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009, all while developing the moniker as “Mr. Fourth Quarter.”

________

Horace Grant v. Rashard Lewis

Horace Grant GP MP PER stat. +/- Win Shares/48
1994-1995 74 36.4 16.9 +1.68 .169
1995-1996 63 36.3 17.9 +1.46 .169
1996-1997 67 37.3 17.3 +2.04 .148
1997-1998 76 36.9 15.4 +0.65 .122
1998-1999 50 33.2 13.3 -0.24 .118
2001-2002 76 29.1 13.9 -0.76 .122
Rashard Lewis GP MP PER stat. +/- Win Shares/48
2007-2008 81 38.0 16.7 +3.06 .153
2008-2009 79 36.2 16.8 +2.95 .160
2009-2010 72 32.9 14.0 +1.72 .132

Grant: All-Defensive Second Team (1995, 1996) | Lewis: All-Star (2009)

This is a tough one.

Lewis is probably a teeny bit better when comparing skill-sets and taking into account his tenure with the Seattle SuperSonics, but this one is too close to call.

Likewise, Grant had the benefit of playing with the Magic for a lengthy period of time. And their impacts as well as their roles with their respective teams mirror each other. Grant was brought in as a free agent to help complement O’Neal and Hardaway, while also being seen as the final piece of the puzzle for Orlando in their quest for a championship.

Same song and dance for Lewis, who was signed by general manager Otis Smith to be the ying to Dwight Howard‘s yang offensively.

Both players were key cogs on the two teams that made it to the NBA Finals.

Again, the only thing that Grant has on Lewis is longevity. Should longevity usurp superiority?

To be frank, there’s no wrong answer.

A convincing argument can be made for either player.

The choice here is to go with Lewis because he’s the better player even if his production doesn’t entirely bear this out, while also having a greater hand in shaping Magic history. Lewis’ tour de force in the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers will go down as legend, and he defines the current era of Orlando by playing at the stretch four.

Grant, best known for his trademark goggles and punctuating “The Steal” with a slam dunk in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls, can not quite equate Lewis when looking at all the factors despite having the benefit of playing more games and producing eerily similar statistics.

Plus, Lewis still has more years ahead of him in the City Beautiful to cement his status.

_______

Shaquille O’Neal v. Dwight Howard

Shaquille O’Neal GP MP PER stat. +/- Win Shares/48
1992-1993 81 37.9 22.9 +5.63 .163
1993-1994 81 39.8 28.5 +8.93 .252
1994-1995 79 37.0 28.6 +8.53 .230
1995-1996 54 36.0 26.4 +5.67 .171
Dwight Howard GP MP PER stat. +/- Win Shares/48
2004-2005 82 32.6 17.2 +2.08 .131
2005-2006 82 36.8 19.3 +3.11 .137
2006-2007 82 36.9 21.1 +4.11 .154
2007-2008 82 37.7 22.9 +6.09 .200
2008-2009 79 35.7 25.4 +7.85 .234
2009-2010 82 34.7 24.0 +7.42 .223

O’Neal: NBA All-Star (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996), NBA Rookie of the Year (1993), All-Rookie First Team (1993), All-NBA Third Team (1994, 1996), All-NBA Second Team (1995)

Howard: NBA All-Star (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2009, 2010), All-Rookie First Team (2005), All-NBA Third Team (2007), All-Defensive Second Team (2008), All-NBA First Team (2008, 2009, 2010), All-Defensive First Team (2009, 2010)

There’s no debate here, actually.

O’Neal should be regarded as the franchise’s best center for now.

That is something that can change, given that Howard’s career with the Magic is still being written and some of his best years remain in front of him.

Unlike the other choices on the ballot, this is one that could switch in the future.

22 comments
Frankie Buckets
Frankie Buckets

In reference to my age Ive been watching/addicted to basketball since around 85 and have seen all of Shaqs career. He was my favorite player when he was drafted and for several years after, but my feelings changed somewhere around the 2nd laker championship when Shaq seemed to take the game for granted. To be more specific in meaning not working on your game in the offseason and coming to camp out of shape is unprofessional for an athlete and is required to remain elite.

Also while O'neal is physically gifted he has relied on brute force and disloging for most of his career instead of basketball skill. Consequentely I just read an article on true hoop that describes how poor officiating lead to shaqs dominance due to all/most of his post moves should have been considered offensive fouls.

While you cant take anything away from O'neals accomplishments as basketball player he isnt very skilled or dedicated to his craft. He has always relied on his god given talent to get him by and while I fully admit He had a ton of talent, but that doesnt give him the right to disrespect the game by taking it for granted.

To counterpoint the idea that he never lead the league in rebounds because of Rodman and other great rebounders of that era doesnt hold water. If he cared about out rebounding a 6'8 Rodman than he wouldve put the work into learning what makes a great rebounder as Dennis did by studying film of his teamamtes shots and how they come off the rim from various spots on the floor. To picture Shaq doing this is almost laughable. He did what came easy to him and that was to score alot of points. My thought on the matter is dedication makes greatness. If MJ was 7'3 he wouldnt let rodman out rebound him in practice let alone for a season.

As i said in my first comment I dont beleive that Shaq was ever the best center in the league because a c defends the rim with verosity as his teams last line of defense, and goes for every missed shot like the ball belongs to him(Think Bill Russel, Chamberlain, or Spencer Haywood). What he was and still is to some point is a 7'3 physically gifted scoring machine.To put it simply in my opinnion Shaq could always score with the best of them but never put the work in to be an elite rebounder, shot blocker, or defender and I would rather have Dwight Howard on my team than him any day. And lets not even mention free throws.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Snoopy2006

Yup. That's the quote. Thanks!

@Oldtimer

I think many people would want Shaq over Dwight in their respective primes.

@Laker fans perspective

There's a lot of things that Dwight does better than Shaq, and vice-versa. It's not THAT egregious of a choice. Howard's offensive game doesn't suck, either. That's a misconception about him that's not true.

Shaq and Penny may have put the Magic on the map in the 1990's, but that era came and went. It's not just about them.

Laker fans perspective
Laker fans perspective

Orlando Magic fans make me sick. I'm a Laker fan that grew up watching ball in the 90's. Shaq may be a washed up chump in 2010 but in the 90's Shaq & Penny were beasts. Dwight Howard couldn't sniff Shaq's jock. It's amazing that so many so called Magic fans put Dwight infront of Shaq. It's not even close. Dwight is a one dimensional big for nothing beefcake. For someone one big as him his offensive game sucks. A young Shaq would make mince meat out of Dwight. I think some of you Magic fans need to remember who even made you relevant as a team.

Penny & Shaq made the Magic!

Oldtimer
Oldtimer

D-12 can move better I'll give you that truth, but I would rather have Shaq on my team in his prime than D-12 in his.

Snoopy2006
Snoopy2006

Eddy - here ya go:

"If I can't beat you, I'll be a man and say I can't beat you. I'm not going to [cry about it] ... I'm the first guy to say that somebody is better than me. I was the first guy to say Hakeem Olajuwon beat me in the [1995] NBA finals. He killed me. He dominated me. I didn't go, 'Oh, he's traveling. They had experience. Wah-wah-wah.' I'm a man. Hakeem Olajuwon dusted my butt."

-Shaq

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@derekk

There's no debate at point guard. Nelson doesn't come close to the type of production Hardaway put up in his prime. Even in the playoffs.

@tha truth is…

Howard's free-throw percentage won't increase. Trust me. He is what he is, and that's a 60 percent free-throw shooter. Nothing more.

@Oldtimer, @tha truth is…

Shaq's titles with the Lakers are irrelevant to this discussion.

@Snoopy2006

Thanks for the quote. I swear I'm not making this up but I vividly remember reading somewhere in which Shaq said Hakeem 'dominated' him in the Finals.

tha truth is...
tha truth is...

@Oldtimer

Yes, Shaq is better but D-12 not holding his jock strap is a bit 2 far. Each of them have talents that surpass one another such as sheer power, offensive dominance and footwork favoring Shaq, while D-12 is more athletic, better in rebounding, conditioning and running tha floor on fast breaks. Last time I checked winning championships doesn't totally define individually talent. If that was tha case Bill Russell would be considered tha G.O.A.T. and not Michael Jordan. Derek Fisher has 6 rings and is he tha considered one of tha best PG's in tha history of tha game....NO!

P.S. George Reeves is Superman not Shaq nor D-12

Snoopy2006
Snoopy2006

I should have been clearer; I took that from Hakeem's biography, so Shaq is referencing Hakeem in that quote.

Snoopy2006
Snoopy2006

Eddy, I believe you're looking for this quote:

"Orlando's Shaquille O'Neal felt the same way after going down in a Finals sweep . "He's got about five moves, then four countermoves," said a stunned O'Neal. " That gives him 20 moves."

Oldtimer
Oldtimer

Until D12 wins an nba title or as matter of fact 4 nba titles he can't hold shaq's jock strap. D12 calls himself "Superman" but even Kobe Bryant laughed at the remark and said shaq will always be SUPERMAN! @tha truth is…

tha truth is...
tha truth is...

@ Eddy

I had 2 check tha Finals game stats between Shaq Vs Hakeem and man lol, lets just say they owned each other. Ill give Hakeem that.

I agree with u far as D-12's ability 2 become better than Shaq. He's far more athlethic and jumps highger than Shaq could ever dream of. Shaq has tha advantage of being extremely gifted with foot work and using his size. All said and done, dominant as D-12 is he has 2 become even more dominant from tha offensive standpoint 2 be better than Shaq. If his FT% increases teams can't have tha luxury of Hack-A-Shaq/Howard.

derekk
derekk

Great list but I have a quip. If Grant Hill was debateable at SF over Turk because of one good season, Then there should be a debate at PG. Jameer had an incredible season in 09. And his career playoff stats are more efficient than Penny's I think (percntages I mean here). I'm not trying to win the debate for Jameer, but to not even be debateable is a big gap.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@tha truth is…

Well, Hakeem owned Shaq in the 1995 NBA Finals. Shaq even admitted that after the fact -- don't remember where specifically.

That being said, I do think Dwight has the potential to be a better player than Shaq. Statistically, Dwight is very close and I think his continued development on offense may be able to put him over the top when it's all said and done.

@Ryan the Magic Fan

I don't really care much about what the team has accomplished with Dwight as opposed to Shaq. I'm looking at their accomplishments as individual players.

Despite Shaq not being the better defender and rebounder than Dwight, there's no question that he's the better player because he was so dominant offensively.

@Palvati

Dwight's offense isn't that horrible.

In terms of stats, 14 percent of his points came off of offensive rebounds last year. That's it. And the number is less when it comes to his points that are assisted.

@Luke – Magic fan in ATL

Regardless of how Shaq left and his popularity in Orlando (or lack thereof), it's hard to argue against him. For now, at least.

@Frankie Buckets

Shaq never led the league in rebounds because he played in an era with some of the most prolific rebounders in NBA history. Dennis Rodman anyone?

And his block totals compare very close to Dwight, so the difference between them in that category is small.

Shaq has never been the best center in the league? What are you talking about? For five seasons if not more during the early-to-mid 2000's, Shaq was arguably the best player in the league.

Can't say I know what you've been watching.

@tha truth is…

Shaq was definitely far more dominant.

tha truth is...
tha truth is...

@ Ryan

I need 2 kno how old u are and how u seen Shaq in his prime vs D-12 now? D-12 is a better overall rebounder but overall as a player NO. Shaq was a far more dominant.

Frankie Buckets
Frankie Buckets

shaq never lead the league in rebs or blocks to me that says it all, he is way over hyped due to his scoring. i would take howards defense and blocks over shaq any day. shaq has never even been the best center in the league just the laziest. his scoring domination comes from size not skill. its sad really i was a big shaq fan until i figured out he didnt care about basketball enough to work on his game and stay in shape through the offseason.

Luke - Magic fan in ATL
Luke - Magic fan in ATL

Two thoughts about the ESPN selections - and why it resulted in the wrong "Franchise Five" for Orlando:

1) Fan poll results almost always overvalue certain aspects of a player's game.

For one thing, offensive profiles, numbers, and awards always draw more attention from the public (and thus more votes) than their defensive equivalents. That seems true for comparisons between particular seasons, as well as careers. ESPN's Orlando "Franchise Five" selections illustrate this well - in the selections of Rashard Lewis over Horace Grant, and (to an extent) Shaquille O'Neal over Dwight Howard.

Another reason for this: casual fans and readers do not evaluate players based on particular seasons played for particular teams - even if that's what the poll asks them to do. Instead, players are almost always evaluated on career. Again, the "Franchise Five" for the Magic provides great illustrations in the selections of Grant Hill and (to an extent) Shaquille O'Neal. I love and respect Grant Hill. But given the injuries and limited play time while in Orlando, he really shouldn't have been on this ballot. And with all due respect to Shaq - I have to wonder how many of the voters actually ever saw him in an Orlando jersey.

2) It makes no sense to select the "Franchise Five" of every team in a national poll.

Regardless of how voters judge between players, why does everybody get a vote? I don't mean to suggest that Magic fans in Atlanta, Alaska, Angola, or Kazakhstan shouldn't be able to vote for their favorite players - but it simply can't help that just any voter (and potentially every voter) in L.A. or Miami also gets to vote on Orlando's squad.

Given the history of Shaq's departure from Orlando, I'm more than a little skeptical that Shaq wins this contest with 77% support from the *Magic* fanbase. As far as the franchise itself is concerned, I'd be much more interested in which players the locals select for their "Greatest of All Time."

eltharion_doa
eltharion_doa

@Palvati

You could say the same about Shaq's "defense" compared to Dwight.

How many made FG has Shaq averaged outside of 3 ft from the basket? I don't recall him exactly being a strong jump shooter!

Palvati
Palvati

When D12 develops a consistent post game, we can talk about Shaq vs Dwight over their career or their career as Magic

D12's offense is so horrible that Shaq still have better offensive skill than Dwight.

How many points does Dwight get that isn't assisted on or off offensive board?

How many made FG does Dwight average outside of the 3 ft radius of basket?

Ryan the Magic Fan
Ryan the Magic Fan

Lewis and Turk to me are both a yes.

But I can't agree with Shaq over Dwight. The Magic have been more successful with Dwight here. As a team it has accomplished more. And for all the advantage Shaq had as an offensive player over Dwight, he was lazy as a defensive and rebounding player, where as Dwight is the best at both currently in the game by a long shot.

tha truth is...
tha truth is...

@ Lawrence

I have Turk ova Hill so what exactly are u talkin bout? Can u please clarify?

Comparing Hill and Turk in Orlando, Turk takes tha cake. If were comparing careers it's not close.

Lawrence
Lawrence

@tha truth is…
So you're disregarding context, disregarding what actually took place, in taking Hill over Turkoglu.

tha truth is...
tha truth is...

I gotta go with Grant ova Lewis, Turk ova Hill and Shaq ova D-12. Lewis has a better overall shot, while Grant has mid-range game and is a better in terms of post play, defense and rebounding.

Turk vs Hill is a bit unfair due 2 Hill's ankle problems. If not injured tha comparisons not close. Injured or not, Hill is one of tha best SF in NBA history.

Even if D-12 wins a ring, I still don't see him being better than Shaq. Shaq averaged more pts and rebounds and was a more dominant player. There was no center that could guard Shaq one-on-one, period. Despite gettin swept in tha Finals, look at what Shaq did 2 Hakeem Olajuwan. I bet he periodically has nightmares about him.