The All-Time Best Magic Team Devised of Central Florida Talent
How would the Orlando Magic look if you took the best pool of players from the Central Florida area that ever played in the NBA and created a 15-man roster? It’s a question of intrigue for sure. Inspired by LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the folks over at EliteDaily.com formed teams based on current NBA players suiting up for their local clubs.
Here’s what the Orlando Magic would look like:
I wanted to delve deeper and include retired NBA players into the selection pool as well. In choosing each player, we’re taking their best season. Remember, they have to have played in the NBA.
The players needed to have gone to high school or spent the majority of their youth in the Central Florida area. Now what does that area constitute? No further Southeast than Melbourne (Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale don’t count). No further Northeast than Daytona Beach (So Jacksonville doesn’t count). No further Northwest than Ocala (Gainesville doesn’t count). No further Southwest than St. Petersburg, and no further South than Barstow and Lake Wales. The entire I-4 corridor is fair game.
So with those ground rules out of the way, here’s the Central Florida talent that didn’t make the cut that we won’t be breaking down:
Below you’ll find the honorable mentions and the 15-man roster.
Marquis Daniels: 2003-2004 Dallas Mavericks – 8.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 49.4 FG%
The Edgewater High School – yeah, he went to Mount Zion Academy later – product didn’t make the cut because of two reasons:
1. Could never stay healthy.
2. There are better shooting guard and small forward options.
It’s very debatable, but the Auburn University alum’s best NBA season was actually his rookie campaign. As a 23-year-old, Daniels only played in 56 games and started only 15 contested. It was enough for him to be named to the all-Rookie 2nd team. Coach Don Nelson clearly valued Marquis’ defense though, and that led to Marquis going berserk in Dallas’ 5 playoff games. That 2004 Mavericks team hit the buzz saw of a still outstanding Sacramento Kings, but Marquis still averaged 15.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 2.0 steals per contest. Daniels never fully lived up to that potential from his rookie year. Marquis didn’t play last season, but the 33-year-old is seeking to land on an NBA roster for the ’14-’15 campaign.
Luc Mbah A Moute: 2009-2010 Milwaukee Bucks – 6.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, 48.0 FG%
This is kind of a debatable choice because ‘The Prince’ – he’s an actual prince – only spent a few years at Montverde Academy after growing up in Cameroon. The UCLA product’s best season was in his sophomore year in the league. The then 23-year-old played in 73 games, starting in 62 of them for Coach Scott Skiles. We know Skiles will respect and reward hard work over talent, and Mbah A Moute showed his full worth in the playoffs. The Bucks lost their first round series to the Hawks 4-3, but Luc averaged 9.1 ppg and 5.6 rpg on 52.0 FG%. Luc’s about to turn 28 and he hasn’t been able to find playing stability. I doubt he finds it with the Timberwolves.
Damien Wilkins: 2006-2007 Seattle SuperSonics – 8.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 43.5 FG%, 41.0 3PT%
While his dad Gerald Wilkins was having his stint in Orlando, Damien was hooping it up at Dr. Phillips High School. It must be hard to live up to your father’s and uncle’s (Dominique Wilkins) NBA legacies. Last year, Damien played in Beijing, China and now finds himself in Puerto Rico. Damien’s never been viewed as an important piece on an NBA franchise. Closest he got I’d say was when he was 27 years old and playing in all 82 games for Coach Bob Hill’s Sonics, a franchise that was really spiraling out of control to the point of extinction.
Andrew DeClercq: 1999-2000 Cleveland Cavaliers – 6.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 50.8 FG%
The Clearwater and University of Florida product is a familiar name for most Magic fans. Before Andrew spent his last 5 NBA seasons in Orlando, the then 26-year-old was enjoying a one-season stint under Coach Randy Wittman in Cleveland. ‘Drew played in all 82 games, starting in 31 of them. Yeah it was all for a 32-win team, but this was Andrew’s peak. DeClercq would never see this type of playing time again with the Magic. Andrew has been coaching in the Sunshine State for a number of years now since retiring.
Austin Rivers: 2013-2014 New Orleans Pelicans – 7.7 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.9 rpg, 40.5 FG%, 36.4 3PT%
It doesn’t hurt to be the son of Doc Rivers. The Winter Park High School and Duke Blue Devil product has not lived up to his expectations since being drafted 10th overall in 2012. Austin just became a 22-year-old, so there’s plenty of time to up his game even if it’s not in New Orleans.
C: Will Perdue: 1994-1995 Chicago Bulls – 8.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 55.3 FG%
The Melbourne native is a 4-time NBA champion, but his best season did not occur in a title hoisting campaign. The then 29-year-old was on a Bulls squad that saw the triumphant return of Michael Jordan from basketball retirement. Perdue started in 78 games that season, but saw his offensive touches decrease in the playoffs. Will still shot 51.4 FG% in the postseason, but Chicago was knocked off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Magic. The one time SEC Player of the Year while at Vanderbilt isn’t a shutdown center, but he would be a savvy veteran that knew what it was like to be a winner.
PF: Marreese Speights: 2008-2009 Philadelphia 76ers – 7.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 50.2 FG%
The St. Petersburg native and Florida Gator has bounced around the Association a bit. He just concluded decent first round with the Golden State Warriors and most likely has his best years ahead of him. Still, Speights’ best season came as a 21-year-old with the Sixers. Though he was barely much of a factor in Philly’s first round defeat in six games to the Magic, Marreese displayed outstanding promise as an efficient big man.
SF: George McCloud: 1995-1996 Dallas Mavericks – 18.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 41.4 FG%, 37.9 3PT%
The Daytona Beach native made the second-most 3-pointers in the NBA that season as a 28-year-old. Coach Dick Motta’s squad only won 26 games. Much of that was due to Jamal Mashburn missing the majority of the season, which caused McCloud to have to up his production. It’s far and away the Florida State Seminole’s best season in the Association.
SG: Eddie Johnson: 1979-1980 Atlanta Hawks – 18.5 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, 48.7 FG%
If you’re unaware of the Ocala native, that’s okay. The Auburn University product excelled at shooting guard at a time where the 3-point shot was just being introduced to the league. Along with being an All-Star and taking home All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team honors, ‘Fast Eddie’ ended up having his best playoff showing in that ’79-’80 campaign averaging 19.4 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.6 rpg, and 1.6 spg on 51.4 FG%. That’s a cool Hawks team to analyze with Hubie Brown coaching them and Tree Rollins roaming the paint. The then 24-year-old Johnson would have an outstanding career in Atlanta even with a lack of postseason success. His post-NBA career has not gone well to put it in kind terms.
PG: Nick Calathes: 2013-2014 Memphis Grizzlies – 4.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.9 rpg, 45.7 FG%, 31.1 3PT%
The 25-year-old didn’t exactly have a good NBA rookie campaign, and his 20-game drug suspension that carries into this upcoming season didn’t help as that caused the Greek-American to miss out on potentially large playoff minutes. It clearly didn’t anger Memphis’ brass enough to let Calathes join a European team though. Nick’s had a prestigious European career though already. Euroleague champion in 2011 with Greek side Panathinaikos. Eurocup MVP in 2013 with Russian side Lokomotiv Kuban. The guy can win, and his pick-and-roll play is going to prove extremely valuable in this constantly changing NBA. When Nick’s career is all said and done, he very well could be promoting himself from this 3rd-string spot. He has the talent the succeed in the Association, it’s just a matter of which side of the Atlantic Ocean will pay more for his services.
C: Matt Geiger: 1998-1999 Philadelphia 76ers – 13.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 47.9 FG%, 79.7 FT%
Another big man from Clearwater, Geiger is the only player on this list whose best season came during a Lockout year. 50 games clearly suited Geiger just fine as he played in all 50 games, starting in forty of them. But man was he most problematic against Chuck Daly’s Magic squad in that ’99 postseason. In 8 contests (including a 4-0 sweep to the Pacers), Geiger averaged 13.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 1.1 spg on 43.8 FG% in the playoffs. The then 29-year-old would never play as well again.
2001 would be an interesting year for the 7-footer. Geiger would fall under media scrutiny for steroid use, but then he’d play a small part for Coach Larry Brown‘s side that ended up reaching the NBA Finals.
PF: Jeff Turner: 1990-1991 Orlando Magic – 8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, 48.7 FG%
Born in Bangor, Maine, Turner went to high school in Brandon, FL which is fairly close to Tampa. Turner was drafted by the New Jersey Nets 17th overall in the famous 1984 Draft. After a few years there, Turner ventured to Italy for a few seasons before returning to join the inaugural ’89-’90 squad. Coach Matt Guokas trusted Turner’s range and decision making to play him in 71 contests, starting 43 of them. Injuries to Terry Catledge played a factor. As all Magic fans should know, Jeff is currently commentating Magic televised games.
SF: Chandler Parsons: 2013-2014 Houston Rockets – 16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 47.2 FG%, 37.0 3PT%
I very easily could have chosen the Casselberry native’s sophomore campaign, but I valued the now 25-year-old’s extra year of regular season and playoff experience. He’s now being paid by Dallas to be a star. We’ll find out quickly if the Lake Howell Prep and Florida Gator will live up to the huge new salary. With Dirk Nowitzki slowly approaching retirement, Parsons very well can put together a string of 20+-point seasons.
SG: Otis Birdsong: 1980-1981 Kansas City Kings – 24.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 54.4 FG%
Before Sacramento had the Kings. Winter Haven just entered the building. Like Mr. Johnson, Birdsong played in a shooting guard era where the 3-pointer was just beginning to be utilized. Didn’t bother Otis one bit as his 4 All-Star Game honors prove. I chose the then 25-year-old’s ’80-’81 campaign because his 24.6 ppg were the 6th-most that season, and he was also named All-NBA 2nd Team as he had to settle in behind George Gervin and Dennis Johnson in the voting. That Kings squad coached by Cotton Fitzsimmons finished 40-42 in the regular season, but made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before being dispatched by the Houston Rockets in five contests. Birdsong didn’t get nearly enough offensive touches as he averaged 15.5 ppg but on a ridiculous 57.1 FG%. As years progress, Birdsong becomes all the more underrated.
PG: Chucky Atkins: 2004-2005 Los Angeles Lakers – 13.6 ppg, 4.4 apg, 2.4 rpg, 42.6 FG%, 38.7 3PT%
Another guy Magic fans should be familiar with the 5′ 11″ University of South Florida product. Chucky got his big break with Coach Doc Rivers and the ’99-’00 Heart ‘N Hustle Magic side. Atkins’ best ball didn’t come until he was 30 years old as he found himself for one year on a rebuilding Lakers squad. The roster was coached by Rudy Tomjanovich and they had a 24-19 record before Rudy had to step down due to health issues. They only won 34 games total with Kobe Bryant playing 66 contests, but that didn’t stop Chucky from draining the 9th-most 3-pointers in that ’04-’05 campaign. The Evans High School student played 11 seasons in the NBA and played in regular season games for 8 different franchises.
C: Darryl Dawkins: 1979-1980 Philadelphia 76ers – 14.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.8 bpg, 52.2 FG%
From one Evans High School Orlando kid to another. I could have chosen one of Chocolate Thunder’s seasons with the Nets, but Darryl will always be tied to the Sixers. That ’79-’80 Philly side coached by Billy Cunningham won 59 games and made it to the NBA Finals before losing to Magic Johnson and the Lakers. ‘Double D’ was the second-highest scorer behind only Julius Erving for the Sixers. Dawkins was the one of the more preferred rim protectors in the Association back then as he had the 9th-most blocks that season. The then 23-year-old managed to raise his game in the 1980 playoffs by averaging 17.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, and 2.3 bpg in 18 contests on 52.9 FG%.
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire: 2004-2005 Phoenix Suns – 26.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 bpg, 1.0 spg, 55.9 FG%
The kid loved watching Shaquille O’Neal and the Magic growing up. Amar’e bounced around through numerous high schools. From Lake Wales, to North Carolina, then back down to Lake Wales, then West Orange, before graduating from Cypress Creek and immediately jumping to the NBA and being selected 9th overall by Phoenix in the 2002 Draft.
The ’04-’05 campaign was the first of six career All-Star seasons, and was the last completely healthy season before Amar’e went through that microfracture surgery on his knee back in October 2005. The then 22-year-old was a monster with Steve Nash feeding him assist after assist – including in epic dunk contest moments – on glorious pick-and-roll action. That squad was up-and-down all day thanks to Mike D’Antoni coaching. They won 62 games and made it to the Western Conference Finals before falling to the San Antonio Spurs in five games. In 15 playoff games, Amar’e terrorized defenses averaging 29.9 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, and 2.0 bpg on 53.9 FG%. Dear Lord is that absurd. Nash doesn’t take home MVP without Amar’e in that ’04-’05 season.
SF: Vince Carter: 2000-2001 Toronto Raptors – 27.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg, 46.0 FG%, 40.8 3PT%
I don’t need to remind Toronto this, but their Raptors were one made Vince shot away from going to the Eastern Conference Finals. Who knows what happens if the Daytona Beach native didn’t attend his UNC graduation hours before that Game 7. With that said, it doesn’t diminish how a 24-year-old ‘Vinsanity’ found his perfect mix of out-of-this-world athleticism with the ability to knock down jumpers. In 12 postseason contests, Carter averaged 27.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.7 bpg, and 1.7 spg on 43.6 FG% and 41.0 3PT%. Vince carried a team coached by Lenny Wilkens to a 47-35 regular season record before going nuts and almost solely getting Toronto to the ECFs. It was the 2nd of eight times he’d make the All-Star Game and was voted to the All-NBA 2nd Team. It’s a shame Orlando ended up getting a mere shadow of this Vince Carter.
SG: Tracy McGrady: 2002-2003 Orlando Magic – 32.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.7 spg, 45.7 FG%, 38.6 3PT%
While cousin Vince Carter was keeping the Raptors relevant, a 23-year-old McGrady was winning his first scoring title. I’ve made my case before that T-MAC should have won MVP that season. Tracy would play in his 3rd of seven career All-Star Games that season and he’d make his second and final All-NBA 1st Team. The 42-40 Magic get into the playoffs as an 8th seed with McGrady having to shoulder all of the responsibility (for a third straight playoff year) with no Grant Hill around, The Magic somehow go up 3-1 in the first round against the #1 seed Pistons only to have Detroit storm back and prevail 4-3 in the series. It would end up being the beginning of the end for Tracy’s time in Orlando. In those 7 contests, T-MAC averaged 31.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.7 apg, and 2.0 spg on 44.8 FG%.
PG: Frank Johnson: 1983-1984 Washington Bullets – 12.0 ppg, 6.9 apg, 2.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 46.7 FG%
It’s okay if you’re not familiar with the Weirsdale, FL native. Just know he was a true point guard who could play both ends of the court. Drafted 11th overall by the Bullets in 1981, The Wake Forest product was another one of those guards that did not have the 3-point shot in his arsenal. Johnson played in all 82 contests, starting in 81 of them. That ’83-’84 Washington squad was coached by Gene Shue. Despite a 35-47 record, they still made the postseason. The then 25-year-old managed to average 14.3 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.3 apg, and 1.3 spg on a fantastic 57.1 FG% against Boston in the 3-1 series first round defeat. That Celtics team won the title.
So that rounds out the 15-man roster.
Here’s what the depth chart looks like:
SG: McGrady/Birdsong/E. Johnson
PG: F. Johnson/Atkins/Calathes
Other than some iffy point guard depth – worse comes to worse you just throw in Parsons to handle the ball – and shaky big man paint protection, this would have been a phenomenal team to watch. The starting lineup alone is outrageously potent.