Top 15 Orlando Magic Rookies
4. Dwight Howard
12.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 82 games, 82 starts, 32.6 MPG, 52% FG%
Dwight Howard is the only player on this list to join the Orlando Magic directly out of high school. The team had moved on from All-NBA star Tracy McGrady and were retooling for a new era of basketball in Orlando.
As a 19-year-old entering the NBA, there were concerns Orlando made the wrong selection and should have drafted the NCAA Champion and eventual Rookie of the Year, Emeka Okafor.
Howard clearly had more long-term potential and that was evident during his first year in pinstripes.
Dwight Howard averaged a double-double playing the power forward spot to form a frontcourt with Kelvin Cato. His role was simple to help him gain strength and confidence and Howard played it perfectly.
The Magic played fast with their young prospect allowing Howard to find open lanes to cut for wide-open buckets around the rim. The team finished third in pace in the league.
Their tempo did not result in many wins, as they only won 36 games. But it was a stepping stone for this new Magic core. They scored a lot of points.
The team finished eighth in field goals made, and second in the NBA in field goals made inside the arc. Coach Johnny Davis made a concerted effort to give Dwight Howard opportunities to score, and he ended up finishing third on the team in total points.
Howard averaged a double-double in his first year, which was an NBA record as the youngest player to do so. He also was the first player out of high school to start in all 82 games in his rookie year. The young Magic big man was durable.
Howard finished the season eighth in the NBA in rebounds per game and 14th in blocks per game. Howard’s rebounding was an instant impact and Orlando finished the season third in rebounds per game.
Throughout his rookie year Magic fans saw flashes of what the young man could become. He was still raw and struggled with developing a back-to-the-basket offensive repertoire, but this was expected.
Dwight Howard proved to be the franchise player after only one season in central Florida and built rapport with fellow rookie Jameer Nelson.