5 worst starters of Orlando Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal era
Anthony Avent (1994-95)
23 starts, 3.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG
For most of Shaquille O’Neal’s tenure with the Orlando Magic, the lineup was fairly set.
Anfernee Hardaway or Scott Skiles manned the point guard spot. There was no debating that. Nick Anderson would start on the wing. Then the team would decide between the 3-point shooting of Dennis Scott and the defensive intensity of Donald Royal. They typically leaned toward Scott because they needed the offense and spacing around O’Neal.
O’Neal turned Anderson into a better 3-point shooter and perimeter weapon as the team started to use the 3-pointer more successfully.
This Magic team did value its versatility though.
Donald Royal and Anthony Bowie, the team’s two best perimeter defenders, were able to guard any player on the wing (Bowie reportedly got the call to defend Hardaway during pre-draft pickup runs with the team and gave the guard his approval to the team). Anderson was a guard who could put his defenders on the post and invert the offense some.
That value in versatility might be why the team went out and acquired Anthony Avent from the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1994 season. Orlando spent a first-round pick (do not worry, it turned into only Eric Mobley) along with a second-round pick and a reserve player to acquire Anthony Avent. They knew they had a problem at forward.
Avent though was a bit undersized to play power forward. At 6-foot-9, he had decent mobility for the time. But he was not any kind of offensive weapon. He never cleared 4.0 points per game for the Magic and his career-best scoring season was 9.8 points per game in 1993 for the Bucks.
In fact, there might have been some hope Avent could add some offensive punch for Orlando. He averaged 7.4 points per game in 33 games (20 starts) for the Bucks before the January trade to Orlando.
Avent did not live up to that potential, to say the least. He just seemed like an odd duck for the Magic and would play only three more seasons (with another three in Greece and the CBA).
Avent could rebound a little bit, which was something the Magic’s other power forwards did not offer. And he was not an overall negative on defense. But Avent was an experiment that did not work for the Magic as they sought the right forward to put with their new big man.