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Who Did Dwight Howard Play With on the Magic?

During his eight-year tenure with the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard played with a host of stars and role players including Grant Hill, Vince Carter, Trevor Ariza, Darko Miličić, Gilbert Arenas, JJ Redick, Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat, Steve Francis, Jason Williams, Matt Barnes, Hedo Türkoğlu, Jameer Nelson, Brandon Bass, and Glen Davis but to mention a few.

The Magic’s Savior

By the close of the Magic’s 2003-04 season, the team was a shell of its former self having entered its second rebuild in half a decade. The franchise had squandered two golden opportunities to make their mark in the league during the Shaquille O’Neal – Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady – Grant Hill eras of the late 1990s and early 2000s respectively and appeared destined for obscurity.

The dark cloud of finishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference however came with a silver lining – the first pick in the 2004 NBA draft – which the Magic used to select Dwight Howard fresh off of high school. Though Howard idolized 2008 NBA champion Kevin Garnett and initially played as a power forward, many, including former Magic coach Brian Hill, saw him as the second coming of Shaquille O’Neal.

It was Hill who actually encouraged Howard to make the switch from power forward to center after the eight-time NBA All-Star showed up for his sophomore campaign having gained an extra 20 pounds of muscle. The transition favored Howard as he continued to emerge as a skilled defender and a scoring threat with an improved post-up game, which would become his bread and butter for most of his career.

Becoming Superman

Despite averaging a double-double and playing all 82 regular season games in his first two seasons at Orlando, the Magic only managed to win 36 games finishing 10th in the eastern conference standings on both occasions, which meant no playoff action.

In his third season with the Magic, Howard made significant strides in his development and arguably became the best center in the NBA at the time en route to earning his first of eight career All-Star nods and All-NBA Team selections.

Many critics of Howard argue that Howard’s dominance at the time was inevitable since there were no other centers who could match his size and strength on the court with the likes of former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal and ex-Houston Rockets big Yao Ming either past their primes or limited by injuries.

Howard’s spectacular play in their 2006-07 season earned the Magic their first playoff berth since 2003 after finishing eighth in the eastern conference standings. A lack of playoff experience nevertheless proved to be their undoing as the Detroit Pistons swept them in the first round.

After suffering the devastating loss, Howard and company entered their 2007-08 season with a renewed sense of urgency and ended their regular season campaign with more than 50 wins for the first time in over a decade. The Magic won their first playoff series in 12 years by besting the Toronto Raptors 4-1. The Chauncey Billups-led Pistons however proved to be their undoing for the second year in a row by eliminating them in the second round 4-1.

The height of Howard’s tenure with the Magic came in their 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons where they managed to reach the NBA Finals and the eastern conference finals respectively by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the former and sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks in the latter. They however lost to the Lakers and Boston Celtics respectively.

Notable Stars and Role Players

Over the course of his eight seasons with the Magic, Howard managed to play with some of the best stars and role players of his era and in the history of the NBA at large. They included:

  1. Grant Hill – arguably one of the biggest “what if” stories in the history of the NBA, Howard and Hill’s partnership was hampered by a string of injuries (shin, ankle, and hernia) the latter suffered during his time at Orlando.
  2. Vince Carter – the then eight-time All-Star joined Howard at the Magic in his sixth season in a trade that also included skilled big Ryan Anderson.
  3. Gilbert Arenas – Howard and Arenas only played together for a season (2010-11) after the latter joined the Magic in a trade that sent out forward Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards.
  4. Jason Williams – the creative guard played with Howard for only one season (2009-10).
  5. JJ Redick – a grossly underappreciated talent during his days with the Magic, Redick joined Howard after being drafted by Orlando in 2006 and played with the five-time NBA rebounding leader until his departure.
  6. Jameer Nelson – arguably Howard’s best teammate during his stint with the Magic, Nelson joined Orlando in the same draft as the three-time NBA Defensive player of the year in a draft-day trade with the Denver Nuggets.

Other Players Howard Played With

Some of the other players that Howard played with include Lewis Rashad, Hedo Türkoğlu, Darko Miličić, Brandon Bass, Trevor Ariza, Steve Francis, Bo Outlaw, Hedo Türkoğlu, Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat, Steve Francis, Matt Barnes, Glen Davis, DeShawn Stevenson, Pat Garrity, Courtney Lee, and Ish Smith.

Rounding off this long list are Tony Battie, Andre Barrett, Augmon Stacey, Carlos Arroyo, Keyon Dooling, Travis Diener, Mario Kasun, James Augustine, Keith Bogans, Brian Cook, Adonal Foyle, Anthony Johnson, Jeremy Richardson, Earl Clark, Daniel Orton, Quentin Richardson, DeAndre Liggins, Von Wafer, Justin Harper, Chris Duhon, and Tyronn Lue.