5 ways the Orlando Magic have changed the NBA
It was bold for the Orlando Magic to increase their 3-point attempts to nearly 20 when they had Shaquille O’Neal in the 1990s. But that is the direction the league was going in. And it seemed inevitable as teams look to maximize the centers that they would turn to spacing and shooting.
Still, when Dwight Howard entered the league, everyone still played a very traditional style even as shooting increased.
The Magic started Dwight Howard at power forward next to Kelvin Cato. That is how they viewed Howard early in his career. Even when the Magic evolved into a postseason-capable team, they still wanted to pair Dwight Howard alongside Tony Battie.
A happy accident after Stan Van Gundy took over in 2007 changed everything and perhaps the league.
In a pre-training camp pick-up run, Battie tore his rotator cuff and would miss the start of the season. Stan Van Gundy approached newcomer Rashard Lewis, who signed a max contract with the express desire not to play power forward, about possibly starting alongside Hedo Turkoglu at forward.
Van Gundy might have gotten to this conclusion anyway. The team was trying to play its five best players and it would have been impossible to have one of Lewis or Turkoglu off the bench.
There were a few other teams experimenting with stretch-4s at this time too — the Phoenix Suns notably started Shawn Marion in the Seven Seconds or Less area and Andrei Kirilenko was an early version of the length and versatility of the modern era for the Utah Jazz.
But what Lewis and the Magic accomplished from 2008-10 really did change the league. Much like the 1995 team helped usher in the 3-point revolution, the 2009 Magic helped send it into overdrive. It is one of the most impactful things the Magic have done.
Orlando showed teams with smaller lineups and teams who relied on the 3-point shot could win at elite levels. The Orlando Magic very much forced the Los Angeles Lakers to match their speed in the 2009 Finals — the Lakers were one of the few teams that could match the Magic’s versatility with Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza at the forward spots.
Lewis was one of the most transformative players in Magic history. And he changed the way the NBA was played forever.