The Magic season is over for 2021-22, but if you are still fancying some NBA basketball you may be wondering who to cheer for in the playoffs?
If so, here is a guide to the former Orlando Magic players who have made the postseason.
Who To Cheer For In The Playoffs? – The Eastern Conference
Here we are looking at some of our closest rivals but there are some much loved names amongst the teams in the East.
The Play-In Teams
Only two will make it out of the play-in tournament, taking seedings 7 and 8 in the playoffs.
Neither the Atlanta Hawks nor the Charlotte Hornets have a Magic connection on court. Charlotte are however coached by James Borego who was interim head coach in Orlando.
The Brooklyn Nets connection is a tenuous one. Seth Curry was a member of the Magic for the July 2014 Orlando Summer League. There is also Joe Harris. In January 2016 he was traded along with a 2017 second-round pick and cash considerations to the Magic in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick. He was immediately waived by the Magic upon acquisition.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have Tim Frazier. Playing 10 games with the Magic this season during December and January he made 3 starts. The point guard averaged 3.7 points and 3.3 assists per game.
Seeds 5 And 6
The Chicago Bulls are the 6th seed and here we have a Magic legend; Nikola Vucevic.
What to say about Vooch that we haven’t said before. We all know that in his 9 seasons in Orlando he developed into a double-double machine, comprising of defensive rebounding, trailing three’s and hook shots. The numbers in Chicago are still strong but unlike in his final season’s with Orlando he is not having to shoulder the team. 591 career games with the Magic (4th in appearances), the all-time leader in total and 2-point field goals made, second only to Dwight Howard in offensive, defensive and total rebounds, 8th in assists, 6th in steals, 3rd in blocks and 3rd in total points scored (10423). Also a two-time All-Star whilst in Orlando it is incredibly hard not to want to see him succeed. Vooch is simply a Orlando Magic legend and will always have the love of Magic fans worldwide.
The Toronto Raptors as the 5th seed have Canadian native Khem Birch. The powerful centre joined the Magic in July 2017, leaving after being waived in April 2021. Khem played 188 regular season games in Magic colours, making 30 starts. In those four seasons he averaged 4.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1 assist per game. He was also part of the 2019 and 2020 playoff teams with Orlando where his stats per game were improved from the regular season. Birch had the best game of his Magic career against Portland in March 2021 when he registered 14 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists and 2 blocks in a 112–105 loss. Khem always gave his all on court for us.
Numbers 3 and 4
The Milwaukee Bucks as defending champions rank as the 3rd seed in the East. Amongst their many talents is Serge Ibaka. Joining Orlando in June 2016 (in another not so brilliant trade of Rob Hennigan’s) Ibaka played and started in 56 games before being traded in February 2017 to Toronto. Serge did not appear to be invested in Orlando during his time but still produced averages of 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game.
The Philadelphia 76ers sit in the 4th seed berth and boast Tobias Harris. Playing for the Magic in 4 seasons between 2013 and 2016 Harris became an increasingly important member of the team. Arriving from Milwaukee he more than tripled his points per game, and more than quadrupled his rebounds, assists and blocks per game after arriving in February 2013. When he was traded away in February 2016 by then general manager Rob Hennigan it had to rank as one of the worst trades made in Magic history (and for me still is). By the time he left Tobias had played 205 games (starting 168) and averaged 15.6 points points game.
The Top 2
The Boston Celtics in 2nd have no Magic on court connections.
The Miami Heat hold the number 1 seeding in the East and have 3 former Magic players. Prime amongst the three is Victor Oladipo. Then there is Dewayne Dedmon and Mychal Mulder.
Selected by the Magic in the 2013 Draft as the number 2 pick Victor Oladipo was unlucky not to win Rookie of the Year, finishing as runner up to Michael Carter-Williams. Oladipo was part of the trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that brought Ibaka to Orlando in June 2016. His 3 seasons in Orlando saw Victor play 224 games (starting 167). He averaged 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He will forever be a ”what if” for Magic fans.
Dewayne Dedmon joined the Magic on a 10 day contract in February 2014. In his two-and-a-half seasons with the Magic DD played 133 games, mostly coming from the bench. His 5.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in the 2015-16 season saw Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs come in for the free agent big man after the Magic decided not to make a qualifying offer following the addition of center Bismack Biyombo.
Mychal Mulder played 15 games for the Magic this season after signing a two-way contract, then being waived in January 2022. Across those 15 games Mychal scored 3.7 points per game.
Who To Cheer For In The Playoffs? – The Western Conference
The Play-In Teams
Three of the four teams in the West have no on-court links to Orlando being the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and LA Clippers.
However the New Orleans Pelicans; who are the number 9 seed out West has Gary Clark Jr.
Seeds 5 And 6
At the 5th seed are the Utah Jazz but they have no ex-Magic players in the playing squad.
The Denver Nuggets who rank at the 6th seed have both Jeff Green and “The People’s Two Time Slam Dunk Champion” Aaron Gordon.
00AG is an athletic and defensively gifted player. Often asked to play a role that was not his natural game became frustrated during the 2020-21 season, being traded to Denver in March 2021. Drafted at 4 by the Magic in 2014 his rookie season was injury disrupted. His second season (2015-16) established him within the team. Season 2017-18 saw career numbers, whilst the 2019 playoffs against Toronto he scored 15.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. A 7-season Magic career of 428 regular season games played (starting 339) produced 12.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists averages. AG ranks top 10 all time for defensive and total rebounds (6th), offensive rebounds (8th), blocks (9th) and games played (10th).
No chapter on “Air Gordon” can be complete without talking about THAT dunk contest with Zach LaVine in 2016. No fan has forgetten the jump over Stuff, while passing the ball under both legs and slamming it home.
Jeff Green is another of those Rob Hennigan acquisitions, like Ibaka who didn’t produce their best in Orlando. Signed in the summer of 2016 Green played one season in Orlando, starting 11 of 69 games played. His time with the Magic produced 9.2 points per game, along with 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Struggling with back soreness through the season, it saw Green end his Magic career on the injury list.
Numbers 3 and 4
At the 4th seed are the Dallas Mavericks. Whilst there is no former Magic player on the roster Orlando Magic Hall of Fame member Darrell Armstrong is an assistant coach on the team.
The Golden State Warriors sit 3rd and feature Otto Porter Jr. Arriving in March 2021 Porter was part of the trade that brought Wendell Carter Jr to Orlando in exchange for Vooch and Al-Farouq Aminu. There is little one can write about a 3 game playing history, other than Porter Jr averaged 8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game before being shut down through injury. Becoming a free agent in the summer he left Orlando for California, signing a veteran minimum with the Warriors.
The Top 2
The Memphis Grizzlies in the 2nd berth have no on court link with our Orlando Magic.
The Phoenix Suns as the best team in the NBA this season and number 1 seed in the West have both Elfrid Payton and Bismack Biyombo playing bench roles.
Elfrid was drafted at 10 by the 76ers in 2014 and immediately traded to the Magic, playing with the team until February 2018, when he was traded to Phoenix for a second round pick. Since leaving the Magic “EP” failed to establish himself as core player in Phoenix, New Orleans and New York, before returning to Phoenix in August 2021. For Orlando Payton was part of the promised exciting youthful rebuild with Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo and Mario Hezonja. Whilst as a team the promise was never fulfilled Elfrid had respectable career figures in his 4 years in Orlando. Per game Payton averaged 11.1 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He remains part of the Magic’s all time lists, being 7th for total assists (1805), 6th in steals per game, 3rd in assists per game and has the most career triple doubles with 8.
Bismack Biyombo came to Orlando after a standout defensive series in the 2016 playoffs for Toronto. He admitted being reluctant to leave Toronto but as they could not afford to pay the centre he became a free agent. Given a huge 4 year contract by Rob Hennigan (yes him again!) Biz played in every game he was available for over the 2 seasons in Orlando (81 in 2016-17 and 82 the following season). In the 163 game Magic career he produced what are still some of his best per game averages at 6.3 rebounds, 5.8 points and 1.1 blocks.
So….Who You Got?
It brings us back to the original question; who to cheer for in the playoffs?
If you pick in the East can you support Khem Birch and the Raptors despite their fanbases toxicity towards Orlando? The same applies to Philly fans towards Markelle Fultz, but Tobias Harris remains popular with Magic fans. Are you putting State rivalry aside and taking Miami because of Oladipo? Would you like to see Ibaka secure a ring with a second team and Milwaukee get back-to-back championships? Or does the love for Vooch get your support with the Bulls?
Perhaps your allegiance will take you West? Last season’s losing finalist Phoenix could get your vote with Elfrid and Biz. Will you be forgiving AG for the manner of his exit and rooting for him and Denver? Or does Otto Porter get your support as he supports the Splash Brothers with the Warriors?
Once you decide who to cheer for in the playoffs and regardless of who you choose one thing is for certain; there are some exciting matchups awaiting and a lot of great basketball to be watched!
Full scheduling and features about the NBA 2022 Playoffs is available here at nba.com.
And finally, let’s hope that come this time next season Magic fans are making plans to be sat in the Amway Center and not wondering who to cheer for in the playoffs!