What we learned from Orlando Magic Madness 2020

Dennis Scott's 3-point shooting was revolutionary in the NBA and helped boost the Orlando Magic. (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images)
Dennis Scott's 3-point shooting was revolutionary in the NBA and helped boost the Orlando Magic. (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Nick Anderson, Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
ORLANDO, FL – MAY 18: Jameer Nelson #14 of the Orlando Magic greets former Magic player Nick Anderson during player introductions against the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) /

Jameer Nelson is near the top of the second tier

The one thing I did not expect in this tournament was how lopsided everything would be. I thought I had created matchups and a bracket that would create some intriguing matchups. But after the first round was completed, there were really no tight matchups until we got to the serious debates.

Popularity within Magic circles is pretty well defined and the top guys are also pretty well defined. The results of this thing were fairly well determined.

There was one major upset in the tournament that gave me some pause and had me rethinking some things about some players’ places in history.

I set up the tournament by bracketing players by the era of the franchise. Naming regions after players should have been a clue to who I thought would win. The only one that did not have a name was the Expansion/Rebuild Era — the 1990-92 season and 2013-Present. That is where a lot of the interesting debates and action happened.

Surprisingly, the 2-seed Jameer Nelson beat out 1-seed Nick Anderson. There was probably some recency bias — that plus the replay of Game 1 of the 1995 series against the Chicago Bulls inspired me to write about how underappreciated Anderson is.

But it did make me rethink Jameer Nelson’s place in Magic history.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Back in 2016, we rated Nelson eighth in our list of the best players in Magic history. That seemed to be a fair ranking for him. But he obviously has sentimental value to the franchise — much like Nick Anderson.

He averaged 12.6 points per game and 5.4 assists per game in his career. He topped off at 16.7 points and 5.4 assists per game during the 2009 season. He showed grit and determination throughout his career with the Magic, hitting several big shots and carrying the team to force a Game 5 and 6 in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals.

Like Anderson, his good moments far outweigh a single mistake in the 2009 Finals (something that he probably should never have been put in the position to be in to begin with).

Jameer Nelson is certainly in the second tier of Magic greats alongside Nick Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Dennis Scott and Darrell Armstrong. But he might truly rank second among that group. The top three seemingly are Nick Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson.

Nelson may not have the numbers to be included among the elite. But he is clearly an important part of Magic history. And one of the bigger figures within Magic history.

That probably did not take much thought to consider. But he remains extremely popular within Magic circles. He is in the exclusive list of All-Stars in Magic history — something both Anderson and Turkoglu cannot say.

Nelson probably has situated himself as the sixth-best player in Magic history. Maybe that is not saying a ton, but Nelson has a place near the top of Magic history.