Top 15 Orlando Magic Rookies
15. Corey Maggette
8.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 77 games, 5 starts, 17.8 MPG, 47.8 FG%
Corey Maggette squeaks into the top 15 for his lone season with the Orlando Magic.
There were several other considerations for this spot, but Maggette’s ability to play 77 games in his rookie season won him the 15th-best rookie in franchise history. The ability to play 94 percent of his first season and contribute at a high level was a building block to start his career.
Maggette had an NBA body when he entered the league out of Duke. He was a strong 6-foot-6 who could guard shooting guards and both forward positions.
He was an efficient off-the-bench scorer for the Heart & Hustle team in 2000, as he scored a point every two minutes he played. Corey played above the rim, using his athleticism to run the floor and rely on his teammates to create for him.
Maggette was a hustle player and cutter. He would find open lanes to create opportunities for easy shots around the rim. He was also an excellent offensive rebounder who would crash the glass and create put-backs and tip-ins throughout his rookie year.
It is unfortunate that this was his lone season with the Orlando Magic as he had a successful career contributing at an All-Star level for the LA Clippers and Golden State Warrior. But he showed flashes for Orlando as a 20-year-old.
14. Jameer Nelson
8.7 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.4 RPG, 1 SPG, 79 games, 21 starts, 20.4 MPG
Even though he only started a quarter of the season playing behind Steve Francis, Jameer Nelson had a pivotal rookie year in establishing himself as the point guard of the future.
He built a rapport with fellow rookie Dwight Howard and executed the pick-and-roll well with him. He was an excellent scorer off the bench and was willing to find his shot through pull-up jumpers and floaters in the paint.
Nelson’s shooting was inconsistent from three as he shot 31.2 percent from deep. But he would develop into an excellent 3-point shooter, going on to play 10 more seasons before seeing his shot fall back to that mark. He still shot 49.7 percent from inside the arc as he found ways to score in the paint and midrange.
At 6-feet, which is a favorable height nonetheless, Nelson also rebounded the ball well for a rookie point guard. His 2.4 rebounds per content showed how NBA-ready he was when entering the league.
He was an older rookie at 22 years old when drafted, but the Magic knew that he could contribute immediately and end up being a future All-Star at the 20th overall selection.
13. Cole Anthony
12.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.1 APG, 47 games, 34 starts, 27 MPG, 33.7% 3FG%
Cole Anthony had a difficult road entering his rookie season. The NBA was adapting its schedule to accommodate for the COVID-19 pandemic, so Anthony only had eight days of preseason before the regular season.
That is a obstacle to overcome, but Anthony played really well, especially considering he was thrown into the starting lineup after Markelle Fultz tore his ACL and recovered from an early season hand injury.
He was able to score in bunches off the bench at the beginning of the season.
Orlando was competing for the playoffs to start the season, but midway went through a major overhaul of the roster. This is where Anthony was given an opportunity.
Anthony was placed into the starting lineup as a primary scoring option for the Magic, and even though 39.7 percent shooting from the floor is not great, he had little offensive help.
Anthony was one of the only threats to score the basketball and was typically matched up with the opposing team’s best defender. He showed that with game-winning shots in a win at the Minnesota Timberwolves and at home against the Memphis Grizzlies. Two iconic moments during an otherwise forgettable season.
All things considered, he had a solid rookie season and averaged a team high 4.1 assists per game total and giving the Magic rebuild hope.