Sunday, August 7, 2011

Top 10 Orlando Magic Shooting Guards in Franchise History

Figuring out the Top 10 Magic Point Guards in franchise history was gruesome because of the drop in quality. Anfernee Hardaway took the PG crown. Shooting guards gets a tad bit better quality wise, but not by much. You'll see a lot of controversy in this list. Plenty of 1-year wonders as well. Feel free to stone me to death.

Missing the cut:

Gerald Wilkins

1996-1999; 155 games played; 42 starts; 18.1 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 25.0% FG percentage.

Gerald almost made it, somehow. Don't let my unorthodox statistical calculations fool you (Stupid 3-game season outlier), the man was a great contributor at the end of his career. It's specifically for his '96-'97 season that I almost slipped him into the top 10. Wilkins played a big role in that special Game 3 comeback against the Miami Heat. We acquired Gerald at quite a bargain too, the veteran minimum for 2 seasons of fairly solid play.

Then John Gabriel got dumb and signed the then 35-year-old to a 3-year $7 million deal that he wouldn't even come close living up to. Maybe the appeal of also bringing in Gerald's crippled brother Dominique Wilkins blinded Gabriel's already poor judgement.

Jason  Richardson

2010-Present (for now); 55 games played; 55 starts; 34.9 mpg, 13.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 43.3% FG percentage, 38.4% 3-point percentage

It's more of an incomplete grade for J-Rich, who unfortunately will most likely be in a different jersey whenever the season begins. Richardson will be sought after hard by other teams looking for a scorer. 55 games and an injured playoff run, that included a brave confrontation with Zaza Pachulia, just isn't enough to judge a man of such talent. In a package that also brought back Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark, we traded a dunk champion in Vince Carter for another one in J-Rich.

The results may not necessarily show it, but I'll gladly take Jason over Vinsanity any day of the week right now. Carter is on his last legs and Jason has already been more clutch than Carter was in a Magic jersey. GM Otis Smith got desperate and rolled the dice. Can't say much more than that. At the right price, we really should bring J-Rich back. He'll be healthy and more time with the squad should do wonders for him. Alas, I don't see Jason in pinstripes next season (whenever that may be). The man put up some impressive highlights in a short period of time.

Cuttino 'Cat' Mobley

2004-2005; 23 games played; 21 starts; 31.6 mpg, 16.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 43.2% FG percentage, 46.4% 3-point percentage

The Cat Man would have easily made the bottom part of the top ten had he played anywhere close to a full season. Pure shooting machine. The guy was his own 3-point barrage. He put up 34 points off the bench against the Knicks for God's sake. That was after he missed 3 weeks of action.

Unfortunately, injury worries forced GM John Weisbrod to make a huge mistake and trade Cuttino to Sacramento forDoug Christie, his bone spurs, and his extremely annoying wife. Steve Francis cries in a corner and the '04-'05 season collapses into a disaster after, for a long time, it looked like we may make the playoffs.

Others missing the cut but not worth going into detail over:

Maurice 'Mo' EvansKeith BogansTariq Abdul-Wahad, and Ron Mercer's scrub self.

10. DeShawn Stevenson

2004-2006; 163 games played; 133 starts; 29.3 mpg, 10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 42.4% FG percentage

I still love how DeShawn leaps for that alley oop along with Dwight. Right up until the very end, I was shuffling players around on this top 10 list. One of them on the bubble was DeShawn. Maybe I give him the benefit of the doubt now that he's an NBA champion. Statistically, the guy actually didn't do that horribly. Problem? He did it mostly in obscurity. People forget he started and played the entire 2005-2006 season, and shot a career best (at the time) 46% from the field.

He was buried in Utah at the start of his career, then the Magic made a fairly good deal and traded Gordan Giricek for Stevenson and a wasted second round pick. This was towards the end of our 21-win season where the organization knew rebuilding was coming. DeShawn proved to be a fairly solid bench player and starter immediately.

Stevenson had a knack for being extremely inconsistent on offense. It was during those turbulent performances when his cockiness and swag were seen as a detriment to himself and the team. But, his defense is what got him court time. Eventually though, it was better that both sides parted ways as DeShawn went to Washington in the summer of '06. Though I do still immensely enjoy DeShawn's posterization of Gerald Wallace.

9. Anthony Bowie

1991-1996; 350 games played; 79 starts; 20.1 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 47.9% FG percentage

I think your average Magic fan will mostly remember Bowie for his controversial triple-double that left Brian Hill and Doug Collins wanting to kill him. A.B. came to Orlando, his third team in 3 years, and started a fair chunk of his games those first 2 seasons in Magic pinstripes when there just wasn't enough talent to keep Anthony off the court. Bowie had few faults as a Magic man. He knew his limitations on offense (check out that awesome field goal percentage) and proved a more than worthy spark off the bench when the Magic were contending for championships.

A.B. was fast as lightning as well for his size. Anthony was never an ego guy, which is why his only triple-double comes as a surprise to me. Bowie took pride in playing hard-nosed defense and just plain showing up to work. Bowie thrived in minor and European basketball leagues and the Magic were fortunate to get his prime years.

Bowie never questioned jumping overseas, which is why he basically dropped off the face of the Earth after 1998. Although, Bowie is a EuroLeague champion from the '98-'99 campaign with Zalgiris Kaunas. Check out a fairly recent (and awkwardly hilarious) interview with the soft spoken Anthony Bowie.

8. Reggie Theus

1989-1990; 76 games played; 71 starts; 30.9 mpg, 18.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.4 apg, 43.9% FG percentage

Theus is a tough guy to list. There's no doubt he was the 'star' of that '89 expansion draft and our inaugural season. He knew how to put numbers up, I'll give him that. His mediocre at best shooting percentage is why his huge point outputs never won the team any games. That and he wasn't exactly a defensive juggernaut. No, it wasn't just Michael Jordan who was doing that. Theus gave up on defense what he put up offensively on most occasions.

Reggie did enjoy playing the role of court general on occasion (as his assists show). At the end of the day, I can't highly commend one season on an 18-win team. He put up some ridiculously good game logs. I'll give Theus his props there. The front office knew though that the team would be better off without Reggie, and traded him to New Jersey for two future 2nd round picks just after acquiring Theus a year before.

7. J.J. Redick

2006-Present; 281 games played; 19 starts; 17.6 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 42.5% FG percentage, 39.2% 3-point percentage

That ball is still spinning. Lucky numbers 7 seems to be a proper spot for the worshiped Duke man, and it's not necessarily because it's on the front of his jersey. 'Redickulous' has had a lot of up-and-downs, yet here he still is in a Magic jersey. Though he is almost an icon at Duke, he's hated literally everywhere else. The intriguing thing about J.J. is that he was always able to shake off whatever brutal treatment over ACC fans were giving him and still torch them from anywhere on the court.

For a while, it looked like Redick would fail at transitioning to the NBA like Adam Morrison (and Pornstache was at least being given minutes in Charlotte to fail). Then again, Brian Hill didn't inject confidence into Redick when it was most needed.

Redickulous worked hard at becoming a fairly decent defender and working on his dribbling and passing to be able to divert well to his teammates. Slowly but surely under the Stan Van Gundy reign, it's all paid off it appears as he very well could be a J-Rich departure away from finally being a starter in the Association. Redickulous is more than capable of starting and being clutch.

The guy also has a huge knack for making 4-point plays. He was a key factor in our most recent Finals run. The 2010 playoffs showed that when J.J. plays well, odds are we would win. Redick needs to continue having good playoff performances. J.J. is already preparing to make dunk reels.

If Dwight Howard were to leave, Redick would be the most beloved Magic man on the roster as he makes half the females in Orlando scream whenever he checks into games. J.J. is one of the few shooting guards on this list that actually makes everyone around him better, whether that's playing with the starters or the bench players. The front office views Redick as part of the core they want to surround Dwight Howard with, and that's quite a feat in it of itself. 

6. Vince '1/2 Man, 1/2 Retired' Carter

2009-2010; 97 games played; 96 starts; 30.5 mpg, 15.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 44.9% FG percentage, 35.7% 3-point percentage

You know your career is about over when Brian Cook rejects you. That Clippers game was Vince's second to last contest in a Magic uniform. Double trouble at this #6 spot with Steve Francis covering the point guard list. Vinsanity. The risk that backfired. I'll be honest, I was skeptical as hell from the start when we made the trade to get Vince. Part of it was because Rafer Alston wasn't going to be happy sharing the point guard duties with Jameer, the other part was Hedo Turkoglu was going to walk.

I was more enthused about getting Ryan Anderson since we had to hand them over Courtney Lee. I figured we at least got some potential back. But, Otis Smith took a risk solely for Carter that he can now fully regret. Since that trade happened less than 2 weeks after our '09 Finals exit, myself and the rest of Orlando had months to think about and eventually build ourselves up into being content with the trade going into the '09-'10 campaign.

Always go with first instincts. Don't get me wrong, we were all begging that the Daytona boy would prove all his critics wrong and hoist a championship trophy. It was evident early that we were getting very little of the Vinsanity from Toronto and New Jersey. Very sluggish and fragile (even though he didn't sit out many games) most of the time.

He did have that special 48-point game that got him out of his January 2010 abomination of a month. Vince's clutch moments were few and far between of what we were expecting. Vinsanity has the best internet fan support in basketball, no denying that. Some of the highlight mixes created can turn a terrible outing into a classic performance.

Looking just purely at game logs, V.C. was fairly impressive offensively in the 2010 playoffs, but couldn't defend worth a damn. I will say, that he was stellar in the 2nd round series against the Atlanta Hawks. However, you're a definite defensive liability when J.J. Redick is a lockdown defender in comparison to you. Looking at that final Boston series, we lost when Vince shot well and won when he played like crap. Just odd like his entire stay in Orlando.

Even though we had a good win-loss record in the first few months of last season, it was evident that there was no way the current roster could contend for the title and changes had to be made knowing that uncertainty that lay ahead. Farewell Vince, you did provide us with some entertaining moments.

5. Otis Smith

1989-1992; 195 games played; 79 starts; 22.1 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 43.6% FG percentage

Not a bad way to finish a playing career with 3 solid seasons in Orlando. The original #32, and current Orlando Magic general manager showed All-Star type glimpses from time to time. We won't talk about his path to the front office. I'm pretty surprised myself Otis cracked the top five, but you can't deny the man's talents and passion to compete at a time where losing became the norm. Smith was effective both as a starter and bench spark plug. Otis played a massive role in our few 'special' wins during his span in pinstripes. Crunch time was Otis time.

His first stops in Denver and Golden State were each 2-year stays and though he put up fair numbers, he never found a niche on those teams. Had his legs held up, Otis could have been in a Magic jersey for quite a long time. The Jacksonville native was chosen 9th overall by the Magic in the '89 Expansion Draft, which we can now say was a steal when you see some of the players that went in front of him. Problems with both of Smith's knees cut his career short and he retired from the NBA at a young 28-years-old, having his prime robbed from underneath him.

4. Mickael 'Air France' Pietrus

2008-2010; 148 games played; 49 starts; 23.0 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 41.2% FG percentage, 37.6% 3-point percentage

Yes, I'm sane, I think. Then again, we are in the midst of a Lockout. Then again, Pietrus made every Magic fan yell at him (live or at their television sets) for all the good, the bad, and sometimes ugly things he did. In all seriousness, Pietrus has been one of Otis Smith's (*insert Warriors connection here*) best free agent signings to date. Full of energygood vibes, and plenty of hops. Did I allude that he can dunk? The proud Frenchman out of Guadeloupe is probably the craziest character on this list.

A bench guy at #4? Yep. It's mostly because Peaches was one clutch as hell S.O.B. Like I always say, you can't teach clutch. Pietrus is a fairly underrated athlete. It's also beneficial when you have fantastic timing.

His defense was superb as well during our Finals run. Mike just knew how to up his game in the playoffs. He wouldn't shut down guys like Kobe and LeBron, but he'd make their lives a living hell. Pietrus would guard anyone and do it with a smile. The only problem you can truly have with the man is that Mike progressively depended more and more on his 3-ball. That's mainly because every time he'd go up for a dunk he'd get injured.

When the man caught fire, there was no denying him. Call it skill or luck, Peaches could torture opponents. Even in the 2010 playoffs, Mike was an efficient shooter where that wasn't the case in the regular season. Playoff contributors are tough to come by. He was beloved by fans because Pietrus showed them he really cared both on and off the court.

3. Courtney Lee

2008-2009; 77 games played; 42 starts; 25.2 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 45.0% FG percentage, 40.4% 3-point percentage

Ah yes, our fearless Leesus. Statistically, Courtney has no right being in the top 3. However, the kid was never about numbers. Undersized and ill-equipped, Courtney proved that you can win games with a 5th scoring option starting at shooting guard, especially when you have the heart and intensity that Leesus possesses. Shutdown defending and superb leaping ability are a bonus. His top notch finishing at the basket is second to none.

His speed alone caused matchup problems. For the most part, Courtney would knock down the open look. You couldn't ask more of the guy. As if a rookie's first playoff series wasn't intense enough, he competed with a fragile face after a phenomenal Sixers series. Courtney would take more of a defensive role after the 1st round, but he was still a great contributor despite his injury.

If Game 2 of the 2009 Finals ends differently, Orlando may have a championship banner in Amway Center right now and Courtney is still in a Magic jersey. Period. 2 possessions changed his future and this franchise's forever. Leesus basically got unlucky on both of his shots late in regulation. He draws back iron on a great drive to the hoop, then the refs screw up twice on the backdoor out-of-bounds alley oop.

Let's just ignore the fact that most of Courtney's body is behind the backboard when he releases the ball. First, Kobe is holding Courtney while Lee is going around the screen. Then, Pau Gasol somehow gets away with basket interference. Overtime comes, we lose. We win one game of the rest of that series. 11 days later Lee gets shipped off to New Jersey.

Even now while he hasn't developed that well with the Nets and now Houston, all of us Magic folk would love to have the Western Kentucky product back. We still love Lee, and Courtney still loves us. After all, he does still live in Orlando during the offseason. 

2. Nick 'The Quick' Anderson

1989-1999; 692 games played; 564 starts; 32.5 mpg, 15.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 45.2% FG percentage, 32.5% 3-point percentage

Nick would play some small forward later on in his career, but we all know he thrived as a 6'6" shooting guard. The very first Magic draft selection and a man who spent 10 seasons in Orlando. Longevity is a big reason why he's ranked so high in several franchise record categories. Nick's tenure with this organization just epitomizes all the ups and downs we've gone through in 22 seasons.

From trying to survive in the league, to being a championship contender, to trying to remain a playoff contender, Nick's been through it all. He averaged 19.9 points per game in back-to-back seasons, but was never viewed as an All-Star talent. Once the 1993-1994 season had arrived and Orlando became legitimate contenders, Nick had no issue being more of a defensive guy than a go-to scorer. Don't get me wrong, Nick still got his. There's no denying that for the majority of his career Anderson had a more than respected all-around game. Not many NBA players can say they've dropped 50 points in a game.

Injuries and putrid free throw shooting accompanied Nick for the rest of his career after the '95 Game 1 NBA Finals debacle. Even when Shaq did leave though, Nick was a key factor in helping the Magic reach the playoffs and staying relevant. Anderson is still very relevant in this community thanks to his smart decision in accepting a high community relations position with the franchise. Mr. Magic is still doing work. 

1. Tracy 'T-MAC' McGrady

2000-2004; 295 games played; 294 starts; 39.4 mpg, 28.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 bpg, 44.6% FG percentage, 36.1% 3-point percentage

In Toronto, Tracy was Vince Carter's cousin. In Orlando, McGrady was only known as the bestExplosive and electric at the same time. Love him or hate him, T-MAC was godly for about 2-3 seasons. He should have always been an SG, but with Grant Hill always being out, Tracy saw some time at small forward as did just about everyone on this list.

There wasn't anything McGrady couldn't do. T-MAC put up 62 points for God's sake, and I had the full pleasure of being at this game. McGrady had no problems torching anyone, and it appeared like he was doing it against the biggest of names on a nightly basis and on the biggest of stages. 4 seasons in Orlando, 4 All-Star Game selections. Tracy also should have been MVP of the 2002-2003 season.

If only in the 2003 playoffs we didn't choke away that 3-1 lead on a Detroit Pistons team that would quickly become a powerhouse. Never getting out of the 1st round of the playoffs is what always has kept McGrady back as far as greatness goes. Of course, his tumultuous final season in a Magic uniform almost entirely erased what he did in his first 3 seasons in Orlando. Now as his body continues to fail him, Tracy may never earn that playoff prestige.

He's still the best shooting guard this franchise has ever seen though, and that definitely should mean something to all Orlando Magic fans. Despite the rough exit, Tracy kept Orlando relevant in the basketball world for 4 exciting seasons. He carried this city on his back for so long that it's no wonder injuries have constantly hampered T-MAC since his departure.

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