Top 15 Orlando Magic Rookies
12. Elfrid Payton
8.9 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.3 RPG, 82 games, 63 starts, 30.4 MPG
Elfrid Payton never became the NBA player most Orlando Magic fans expected him to become after the team traded for him at the 10th overall pick. But he contributed early.
Elfrid Payton was not tasked to be a scoring threat, as the team already had offensive weapons in Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Evan Fournier.
His job was to handle the basketball and create for his teammates. At 6.5 assists per game, he certainly had a knack for finding open players on offense, as he was 17th in the NBA in assists per game.
He also was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January and named a Rising Stars Challenge participant along with sophomore Oladipo.
Many Magic fans believed this was the backcourt of the future, especially when Payton recorded back-to-back triple-doubles. He was the first rookie to do so since Antoine Walker in 1997. Walker went on to be a three-time All-Star, so the expectations for Elfrid were high.
Unfortunately, Payton never became that player. He is currently a free agent at only 29 years old.
However, Payton played well as a rookie and turned a lot of heads. At 20 years old, he established a Russell Westbrook archetype as a triple-double machine who can collapse a defense to pass to open teammates.
11. Chucky Atkins
9.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 82 games, 0 starts, 19.8 MPG, 35% 3FG%
An Orlando, Fla., native, Chucky Atkins did not have the prototypical start to his NBA career.
Atkins initially played two seasons in Croatia before the Orlando Magic took a chance on the point guard during the team’s Heart & Hustle season.
He never started for Orlando, but he played efficiently while backing up Darrell Armstrong.
Atkins had a great pull-up jump shot where he would create space using a crossover and shoot with a high release point. He could also get to the rim and use an up-and-under or floater to protect the ball from shot-blockers.
Atkins was second on the team in assists per game and second in three-point percentage. He also was sixth on the team in scoring, proving to be a solid backup point guard with professional playing experience.
After his one year stint in Orlando, Atkins would end up playing 10 more seasons in the league until age 35. It is rare to find a 25-year-old rookie who can contribute to such an extent right away, but Atkins proved to be a valuable NBA starter throughout his career.