The 7 Greatest Magic players in history, ranked by Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

These players possess the highest Player Efficiency Ratings in Orlando Magic franchise history.
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Even though they are one of the newer franchises in NBA history, the Orlando Magic have a long list of talented and accomplished players who have suited up for them since the team's first season in 1989. There are many interesting ways to rank and break down these players, but among the most unique is by using a stat called Player Efficiency Rating (PER).

Initially created by ESPN columnist John Hollinger in the 2000s, PER takes all the positive and negative statistical achievements of a player during the course of their career and sums it up into a single number. A PER of 15 indicates a league-average level player, with 20 being an All-Star level player and 25 or higher being MVP level.

Of all the players to represent the Magic since their inception, these are the seven players with the highest PERs during their respective time in Orlando.

7. Grant Hill (2001-07) - 18.6

Playing for the Orlando Magic between 2001 and 2007, Grant Hill will always be one of the greatest "what-if" stories. The injuries he suffered during his career greatly limited him, and yet he was still one of the best wings of his era.

Even through all of his injuries, Hill averaged 16.4 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game with the Magic. While his time teaming up with Tracy McGrady was limited because of his ankle and foot injuries, Grant Hill made an impact while he was on the floor, as his high PER evidenced.

Hill earned two of his seven career All-Star appearances during his time in Orlando in 2001 and 2005.

6. Ryan Anderson (2010-12) - 19.8

After spending his rookie season with the New Jersey Nets, Ryan Anderson was acquired by the Orlando Magic as a throw-in to the Vince Carter trade in 2009. He proved to be a consequential player in the Magic's run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010.

In three seasons in Orlando, Anderson developed into a positively lethal outside shooter, leading the NBA in both made and attempted three-point shots during the 2012 season. That helped him earn the Most Improved Player award.

Ryan Anderson averaged 11.4 points per game and shot 38.8 percent from deep, proving to be the perfect stretch-4 addition to Stan Van Gundy's spread-out, shot-happy style that took the league by storm in the early 2010s.

5. Anfernee Hardaway (1994-99) - 20.2

This list would not be complete without one of the most iconic Orlando Magic players of all time.

Anfernee Hardaway was a four-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA team honoree, and an All-Rookie First Team member during the first six years of his career in Orlando.

His flashy playstyle dazzled fans everywhere and helped put an expansion team on the map, helping catapult the team to its first Playoff appearance in his rookie year alongside Shaquille O'Neal in 1994 and into the NBA Finals in 1995.

Hardaway averaged 19.0 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game and 6.3 assists per game in his six seasons with the Magic. Injuries were the unfortunate story of his career as he struggled to stay on the floor after a breakout 1997 season playing without O'Neal for the first time.

4. Nikola Vucevic (2013-21) - 21.0

Joining the Orlando Magic in 2012 when the team traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, Nikola Vucevic became a mainstay in the team's lineup for nearly a decade until his departure in 2021.

A steady performer in the frontcourt, Vucevic earned All-Star appearances in 2019 and 2021 while with the Magic, averaging 17.6 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game in his nine seasons in Orlando.

3. Dwight Howard (2005-12) - 22.5

A homegrown talent, the Orlando Magic drafted Dwight Howard first overall in 2004. He would go on to have one of the most dominant careers by a center in recent NBA history.

Howard earned six straight All-Star appearances and five straight All-NBA First Team selections between 2007 and 2012. He finished second in MVP voting in 2011 and led the team to the NBA Finals in 2009. He was the leading vote-getter in All-Star voting several times too, signifying his dominance over the center position in the entire league.

During that stretch, he also won an unthinkable three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards as well.

Howard averaged 18.4 points per game, 13.0 rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game in his eight seasons with the Magic.

He may not be the best talent to ever play for Orlando, but he has a claim as the greatest Magic player of all time.

2. Tracy McGrady (2001-04) - 26.4

An All-Star in each of his four seasons with the Magic between 2001 and 2004, Tracy McGrady grew into one of the best scorers in the league while in Orlando.

He put up insane stat lines and won the scoring championship in both 2003 and 2004, averaging a franchise-best 28.1 points per game in his career with the Magic.

His remarkable offensive production played a big part in him earning his impressive PER.

1. Shaquille O'Neal (1993-96) - 26.6

The best player to ever play for the Orlando Magic, Shaquille O'Neal did unimaginable things after being drafted first overall by Orlando in 1992.

The best years of his career may have been later in Los Angeles, but O'Neal's physical dominance was on display from day one, and it led to him making three All-NBA teams in four seasons with the Magic. He was an All-Star in his rookie year and put Orlando on the map as a franchise and organization -- let alone leading them to their first Playoffs in 1994 and first NBA Finals in 1995.

PER tends to skew toward big men because of their ability to rack up points and rebounds quickly, especially in past eras where centers rarely ventured outside the paint. With that in mind, it should be no surprise Shaq ends up as number one here.