SI Vault
Ian Thomsen
October 30, 2000
The Magic now has a go-to guy in Grant Hill, and in the weak East it can go to the top
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October 30, 2000

1 Orlando Magic

The Magic now has a go-to guy in Grant Hill, and in the weak East it can go to the top

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Projected Lineup



1999-2000 KEY STATS


Grant Hill


25.8 ppg

6.6 rpg

5.2 apg

1.39 spg

48.9 FG%


Bo Outlaw


6.0 ppg

6.4 rpg

3.0 apg

1.80 bpg

60.2 FG%


John Amaechi


10.5 ppg

3.3 rpg

1.2 apg

43.7 FG%

76.6 FT%


Tracy McGrady


15.4 ppg

6.3 rpg

3.3 apg

1.91 bpg

1.14 spg


Darrell Armstrong


16.2 ppg

6.1 apg

2.06 spg

43.3 FG%

91.1 FT%



1999-2000 KEY STATS


Mike Miller (R)


14.1 ppg

6.6 rpg

2.5 apg

1.24 spg

47.6 FG%


Pat Garrity


8.2 ppg

2.6 rpg

44.1 FG%

40.1 3FG%

72.1 FT%


Andrew DeClercq


6.6 ppg

5.4 rpg

0.80 bpg

0.77 spg

50.8 FG%


Troy Hudson


8.8 ppg

3.9 apg

2.4 rpg

37.7 FG%

31.1 3FG%


Monty Williams


8.7 ppg

3.3 rpg

1.4 apg

48.9 FG%

74.1 FT%

New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

During his career as a Piston Grant Hill seldom had his clean-cut image sullied. But last summer, when he went to the Magic in a sign-and-trade, he was accused of abandoning Detroit and of being—to quote Pistons guard Jerry Stackhouse—"soft." Most damning of all to Hill was the implication that he was not worth Orlando's seven-year, $93 million deal. Despite being named an All-Star in five of his six seasons, he had never taken the Pistons past the first round of the playoffs. "They're right," responds Hill, 28. "I haven't won. I take full responsibility for what happened in Detroit. I was the star player on the team, and I didn't get it done."

Hill will try to build on his play of 1999-2000, his finest all-around year. His recuperation from off-season surgery on his broken left ankle—an injury aggravated by his brave attempt to play against the Heat in another first-round loss—took longer than expected during training camp, but the Magic believes the ankle poses no lasting problems.

For all the criticism of Hill, the intimation that he has no better chance of succeeding in Orlando than he had in Detroit is off base. Though the Magic is by no means a title contender this year, it will be among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. With nine first-round picks over the next five years, and with the city of Orlando an ever-attractive destination for free agents, the Magic is in excellent shape to gradually add the muscle needed to go all the way.

In the meantime the team will recast itself in Hill's image—entertaining and productive, but not overly intimidating. The two new perimeter stars should complement each other: Hill is primarily a scorer who also finds time to do all the other things, while Tracy McGrady is a jack-of-all-trades for whom scoring is secondary. McGrady dismisses talk that he won't like playing in Hill's shadow. "It's Grant's team," says McGrady, 21, who also signed a seven-year, $93 million contract. "He's the All-Star. I ain't done nothing in this league yet. He's going to teach me some things."

The Magic's immediate success will depend on whether it can maintain the heart-and-hustle attitude of last season, when it went 41-41 without a go-to guy. More specifically, Orlando needs somebody to rebound. Power forward Ben Wallace (along with reserve point guard Chucky Atkins) was lost to the Pistons in the sign-and-trade acquisition of Hill, but the Magic held on to center John Amaechi, who spurned an attractive $17 million, six-year contract from the Lakers to sign a one-year, $600,000 deal. Amaechi, a skilled scorer, knows that more will be expected of him. "Last year I was the big surprise," the 6'10" Briton says dryly. "Now I'm the big weak link: 'He can't rebound; he's soft.' The truth is that it's never been about just one man here."

Amaechi will be able to hold his own physically most nights in the center-poor East, and he'll get support on the boards from Bo Outlaw, Andrew DeClercq and Pat Garrity—each of whom has a high work rate. The speedy and aggressive Darrell Armstrong returns at the point, while the shooting and ball handling of 6'8" Mike Miller, the fifth pick from Florida, will help the Magic force the fast tempo it needs to compete with the burlier teams. The gospel according to coach Doc Rivers isn't going to change: Attack the ball until it's retrieved, then attack the basket all out.

Whatever the early returns might bring, Hill wants it known that he is still learning. "The only thing I ask is that people wait until the player is done playing [to pass judgment]," Hill says. "We all grow, we all go through changes. Just look at the end product." Hidden in those words is a promise.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]