Cohen: Most Underrated Players in Magic History
May 29, 2013
Josh Cohen's Analysis: We know all about the Magic’s past stars such as Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard. But what about the hidden heroes and players who never earned enough respect for their contributions in Orlando. CLICK NEXT for a collection of former Magic players who were underrated during their time in Central Florida.
Cohen’s Analysis: Terry Catledge’s NBA career didn’t last entirely long, but his days with the Magic were successful. He spent four seasons in Orlando after the Magic selected him in the 1989 expansion draft. Catledge led Orlando in scoring in the franchise’s inaugural season.
Cohen’s Analysis: Though mostly renowned for his days in Chicago and Sacramento, Reggie Theus also enjoyed an outstanding season toward the end of his career in Orlando. He was selected by the Magic in the 1989 expansion draft and averaged 18.9 points per game in his only year in Central Florida. He was pretty good on the show “Hang Time” too.
Cohen’s Analysis: If you ask anyone who ever played on his team you would learn that Scott Skiles was one of the toughest, most determined players in NBA history. His five seasons in Orlando never went unnoticed, but when you own the league record for most assists in a game (30) you probably deserve more recognition.
Cohen’s Analysis: Brian Shaw was the idyllic backup to Penny Hardaway during Orlando’s power years of the mid 90’s. He didn’t necessarily dazzle anyone, but Shaw was consistent and reliable off the bench.
Cohen’s Analysis: As soon as the epithet “Heart & Hustle” is referenced, we automatically picture Darrell Armstrong. The leader and catalyst of the eminent Heart & Hustle 1999-00 team, Armstrong inspired his teammates and everyone who adored his resourcefulness on the court.
Cohen’s Analysis: Rony Seikaly is far more of a star to Orlando’s chief adversary, the Miami Heat, but he also was a significant contributor for the Magic for a season and a half. Seikaly averaged 16 points and nearly nine rebounds a game during his short tenure in Orlando before he was traded to New Jersey.
Cohen’s Analysis: Has anyone played on more teams in NBA history than Chucky Atkins? Almost every year he was somewhere else. But in his one and only season in Orlando in 1999-00 Atkins helped the Magic complete one of the more improbable campaigns in league history.
Cohen’s Analysis: Sure, it was a rather pathetic draft class in 2000, but Mike Miller was the league’s Rookie of the Year and enjoyed three marvelous seasons in Orlando to start his career. As a result of Grant Hill’s injury problems, Miller stepped in and served as Tracy McGrady’s prime sidekick.
Cohen’s Analysis: Though he has made more headlines off the court throughout his NBA career DeShawn Stevenson was a dependable role player during his stay in Orlando for two and a half seasons. He averaged 11 points a game and played and started in all 82 games during the 2005-06 campaign.
Cohen’s Analysis: It was in Orlando when fans started to recognize Trevor Ariza as a solid pro. His length, versatility and athleticism were eye opening. And shortly after his time with the Magic, Ariza became the X-factor in L.A.’s championship run in 2009.
Cohen’s Analysis: Would the Magic have advanced to the NBA Finals in 2009 without Mickael Pietrus? Probably not. Pietrus was sensational all season long for Orlando during that epic season. He was clutch, relentless and never shied away from pressure-packed moments.
Cohen’s Analysis: Every time Dwight Howard got into foul trouble, which was often, Marcin Gortat was there to stabilize the paint. The Polish Hammer evolved when he united with Steve Nash in Phoenix, but that wouldn’t have happened if not for his continuous improvement in Orlando.
Cohen’s Analysis: J.J. Redick will forever be adored in Orlando for all of his contributions, both on and off the court. It’s remarkable when you think back to his first two years with the Magic and how he was collecting dust on the bench. But as a result of his relentless hard work and professionalism, Redick transformed into the one of the best reserves in the NBA.
Cohen’s Analysis: Rafer Alston wouldn’t be on this list or ever on the Magic for that matter if not for Jameer Nelson’s shoulder injury in 2009. But when Nelson went down, Orlando acquired Alston from Houston and he guided the Magic all the way to the Finals.