Orlando Magic All-2000s Team
Starting Center: Dwight Howard
6 seasons, 489 games played, 488 starts, 17.5 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 2.1 BPG
Dwight Howard is in the conversation to be the best Orlando Magic player in history. He played in six seasons during the 2000s and was an All-Star in four of them.
In six seasons, he played in all but three games. The durability of a player at his caliber of play is remarkable. It is an almost unbelievable statistic considering the Magic injury woes of late.
Howard was 19 years old when he arrived in Orlando and hit the ground running. He played and started in every game in the 2005 season and was the youngest player in NBA history to average a double-double at the time.
He took the next step during the 2007 season where coach Brian Hill decided Dwight Howard should move from power forward to center. Howard blossomed protecting the paint and averaged 17.6 points per game, 12.3 rebounds per game and 1.9 blocks per game for his first All-Star selection.
Howard got a taste of the NBA Playoffs that season when the Detroit Pistons swept the Orlando Magic. The following season he was ready to take the NBA by storm. He was selected to be a starter in the All-Star game.
The Magic would go on to make the playoffs and Howard won his first series for the Orlando Magic against the Toronto Raptors. He led the league in rebounds and blocks during those 10 playoff games in 2008.
He consistently was one of the best rebounders in the NBA, averaging more than 10 rebounds per contest in his entire Magic tenure. He led the NBA in rebounds per game in three seasons and blocks per game in two seasons during the 2000s.
The Magic could not have asked for Howard to develop any better and set the team up for years of contention. At the young age of 23, he took Orlando to the NBA Finals. If social media was more of a presence during this era I cannot fathom the hype that Howard would have generated.
Howard became a dominant player during this stretch in the NBA and averaged 19.3 points per game in the last four seasons of the decade. He was an All-NBA third-team selection in 2007 and Defensive first-team selection in 2009 and 2010. He was a three-time first-team All-NBA selection from 2008-10. Most importantly, he was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year selection in 2009 and 2010.
He played in 51 playoff games from 2006-10 and is the leader in points, rebounds, blocks, free throws, minutes played and games played. Howard is the only player in Magic history to score more than 1,000 points in the playoffs.
These were the glory years of “Superman’s” career and there was a buzz in the city of Orlando. The team was destined for success and eventual championships for years to come.
This was all resting on the shoulders of the Magic’s superstar that unfortunately came crashing down but he will be cemented as one of the best centers to ever play the game of basketball.