5 worst starters of Orlando Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal era
Jeff Turner (1990-96)
176 starts, 6.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG
Jeff Turner is one of the most important figures in Orlando Magic history.
It is not only that he was a long-tenured player with seven years with the franchise. Or that he was the first free agent to sign with Orlando before that inaugural season in 1990. Or that he is the current and long-time TV analyst for the team’s broadcasts.
Turner will be in the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame at some point. He is deeply embedded in the franchise’s history.
But . . .
There was once a segment on the Magic’s broadcast where they would play a historic moment in Magic history and then cut to a board asking, “What did Jeff Turner do in that game?”
That would often be followed with a fairly modest stat line and his fouls were typically listed to drive home the point.
Turner is fortunately very good natured and able to laugh a bit about his playing career.
He was a player who was a bit ahead of his time as a jump-shooting power forward. But he was also a bit out of time, not quite the physical behemoth that forwards had to be at that time. Turner would often line up at 6-foot-10 at small forward.
In a league that still did not quite know how to use 3-pointers — something the 1995 Magic helped revolutionize — Turner’s skill set was both unused and underdeveloped.
Despite his modest stats, Turner started a lot of games.
He started 51 in the 1994 season, the first time the Magic made the Playoffs, averaging 6.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. In some ways, he was a perfect complement for Shaquille O’Neal, able to space the floor around him some.
Turner ended up hitting 73 of 207 3-pointers (35.3 percent) in seven years with the Magic, but he did not really start taking threes until he entered the starting lineup in 1994. He took 55 and made only 18 in the 1994 season (32.7 percent). He upped that to shooting 27 for 75 in the 1995 season (36.0 percent).
Perhaps Turner would have been a bigger weapon for the Magic in the 1994 Playoffs. His lone season as the full-time starter was cut short by a knee injury that forced him to miss the three-game sweep to the Indiana Pacers.
That pressed our next entrant into the starting lineup for that first playoff journey.