Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Magic's 2004 draft selection turned out to be the right one

By Anthony Caruso III

Many people criticized the Orlando Magic's No. 1 overall selection in the 2004 draft. Yet, several years later, it turned out to be the right choice.

Many media members thought the Magic should have drafted Emeka Okafor over Dwight Howard. Okafore was coming out of UCONN as a junior and won a National Championship in his last college game. While, Howard was coming out of high school at the time of the draft. Howard's decision to go pro out of high school was inspired by his idol Kevin Garnett.

Okafor and Howard were expected to the be the center pieces of their respective franchises. That has been the case, but it has taken them both several years to develop.

Howard has been able to take the Magic to back-to-back playoff appearnaces. And last year, he helped the Magic win their first playoff series in 12 years. It was the first playoff series win since Shaq played for them in 1996.

However, Okafor has yet to appear in a playoff game. You also have to take into account that the Charlotte Bobcats werej ust starting out when they drafted Okafor with their first-ever draft pick. Okafor was very close to making the playoffs this year, under Larry Brown, for the first time, before eventually losing out for the 8th seed.

Howard has helped the Magic to the playoffs the past three years. He has appeared in 32 career playoff games going into the Finals. Howard is one of the many Maigc players that will be making their first appearance in the Finals. Only Anthony Johnson with the Nets (2003) and Tyronn Lue with the Lakers (2000, 2001) have Finals experience.

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