5 worst starters of the Orlando Magic’s rebuild era
Maurice Harkless (2013-15)
104 starts, 6.8 PPG , 3.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Maurice Harkless is another draft pick who did not make it through his rookie contract. The only difference is he was the 15th pick in the draft. Not only was he the 15th pick but he was part of one of the biggest trades in Magic history.
He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers but traded to the Orlando Magic before the season started in a four-team trade that included sending Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers and Jason Richardson to the 76ers. These were big shoes to fill for the 19-year-old rookie, but the Magic had confidence in the promise he had as a young player.
Harkless was a 15.5 point-per-game scorer in college and averaged 8.6 rebounds per game. Those are fantastic stats coming out of St. Johns.
The Magic immediately threw Harkless in the. fire and he started 59 games his rookie season, the most he would start in a season for the Magic. Yet, even young coach Jacque Vaughn did not trust him fully, often sticking him in the corner where he was not an effective shooter and the ball never rotated toward him.
In his rookie year, he averaged 8.2 points per game and 4.4 rebounds, the most he would average in both categories for the Magic. He had shooting splits of 46.1/27.4/57.0 on the Magic that season. He never fulfilled his defensive potential for the Magic, at least.
Harkless just did not fit into the Magic offense. He was a small forward who could not space the floor, he was a poor free throw shooter despite only going to the line once per game, and was subpar around the rim. Defensively he was good at getting steals and that was about it.
He is most remembered on the Magic for scoring 28 points in a six-point loss to the Houston Rockets, and that game was on a random Monday in April so it is hard to believe anyone really remembers that.
Harkless went from starting 59 games rookie year to 4.0 in his last year on the Magic. It is very rare to see a third-year player who was a first-round pick get less playing time after a few years of experience.
After three disappointing years for the Magic, Harkless was traded for two future second-round picks, so in the long run basically nothing. The Magic took a former first-rounder who was a main trade piece for two of the best players in the team’s history and wanted to get rid of him so bad that they just moved on from him for whatever they could get.
Harkless did not follow in the footsteps of the players traded away to get him, and he did not even follow in the footsteps of a good first-round pick. He was an absolute miss.