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There’s little debate the top 10 players are among the very best in Magic franchise history. But how exactly do you order them? If #ORLrank must split hairs at this point, so be it. Rage on, debate, rage on.
Which players deserve their spots in the top 10? Who should be bumped up or back? Magic Basketball weighs in on the best of the best.
Who was ranked too high?
Nate Drexler: Dwight Howard. And really just barely. Looking back at the raw data, Shaq was just pound-for-pound better in 1994 than Dwight was in 2011. If we’re looking at only the pinnacle of that player’s career, than I have to put Shaq ahead of Dwight.
Sean Highkin: Ryan Anderson. I generally don’t think we overrated anybody, but if I have to quibble, he doesn’t have the longevity most of the other guys did. But I’m fine with him being where he was, given his production was outstanding during his tenure with the Magic.
Noam Schiller: Dwight Howard. It’s almost ridiculous to say that a player who won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards and was the consensus best player at his position is overranked. That said, dominant as he was, I can’t place any Dwight season above T-Mac’s 2002-03 campaign or the insane two-way beast that was Orlando Shaq.
Who was ranked too low?
Drexler: Hedo Turkoglu. Again, I’d flip flop him and Rashard at the very least. When he was good, he was really pretty great. You can’t say enough about his tools and the bigger thing you get out of Hedo is a long list of intangibles. He was a big game player, and a big moment guy with ice in his veins and confidence pouring out of his ears. I’d take 2009 Hedo on my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Highkin: Tracy McGrady. I had him third on my ballot, which is where he ended up, but I think I’d put him ahead of Shaq in second place if we got to redo it. His 2002-03 campaign is the best individual season any Magic player has ever had.
Schiller: Tracy McGrady. I had T-Mac at second place in what amounted to a coin flip and he finished third. It’s not a huge difference, but I still feel it does him a disservice. McGrady may have had the worst teammates throughout his Magic tenure as anybody who finished in the top 10 and still played at a level that rivaled anybody in the league at the time. I’m not sure what else he could have done.
Who was ranked just right?
Drexler: Tracy McGrady. At first I thought he needed to be higher, but there was no way I could justify moving him above Shaq or Dwight just based on the sheer impact of their game. McGrady was awesome and there’s no one on this list below him that should be higher. I love where he fits just behind two of the most dominating centers to play the game.
Highkin: Dwight Howard and Bo Outlaw. When you combine longevity, numbers, and team accomplishments, it’s pretty clear Howard is the best player in Magic history. And something about Outlaw sneaking in at No. 10 feels like a perfect encapsulation of who he was as a player.
Schiller: Darrell Armstrong. I was pleased to see him finish first outside of the obvious top four. We were instructed to go with singular excellence of career-long achievements, but Armstrong was a combination of both — with nine years in Orlando peaking during the “Heart and Hustle” campaign.