Ranking the Top-10 Dwight Howard Replacements for the Orlando Magic

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Ranking the Top-10 Dwight Howard Replacements for the Orlando Magic
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Magic will need to take a serious look at Zeller come June

The Magic are looking to tank it this year, so bringing in a stopgap veteran to man the middle makes no sense.  They also just acquired the young and promising Nikola Vucevic in the trade and already have another young body in Gustavo Ayon, so they have some young talent to develop while the rebuilding occurs.  

Still, there are a number of big power forwards and true centers that could serve as a great boon to the Magic in this process and give them a chance at rebuilding a team with a decent center to serve as a Howard replacement until they are able to land a real heist in June at the NBA draft.  Fittingly, two of the top three prospects in the 2013 draft are centers, Cody Zeller and Nerlens Noel.

Beyond the draft, however, there are a number of players other teams may be willing to part with who could help the Magic cope with life without Howard.  Regardless of the approach, the Magic are not planning to start Glen "Don't Call Me Big Baby" Davis at center indefinitely, though he did experience success in the 2012 playoffs against the Indiana Pacers.

And yet, this situation seems eerily familiar…

Longtime Magic fans remember the quandary the Magic were back in 1995 when Shaquille O'Neal bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers and left a seven-foot, 300-pound gaping hole in the Orlando Magic lineup.  The move caused GM Pat Williams to go into full on panic mode.  

At the time I was 14 years old, and I called a popular Magic radio show on WDBO 540 AM to suggest that the Magic make a move for Felton Spencer of the Utah Jazz.

Why?  I reasoned Spencer was a big body who could at least physically replace what Shaq left behind, in terms of size anyway.  It made sense then, and it makes sense now.

What happened after that?

They went out and got Spencer.  As any 14-year-old might be inclined to think, I figured Pat Williams had heard my brilliant suggestion and followed suit with what I said.  Weeks later, before the season even began, the Magic then made a move to bring in Rony Seikaly, a former in-state rival for the Miami Heat.  At the time, Seikaly represented a short-term solution to keeping a Magic team relevant, as the team still had a good cast of players and was capable of being a playoff team, though hardly a contender.

Spencer was then waived.  So much for big dreams.

With last Friday's trade, it has become clear the Magic have no plans of remaining merely a relevant playoff team.  So, the thinking behind this Dwight Howard replacement is a bit different than the time Shaq left and the Magic roster still had formidable players like Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott and Horace Grant.

This time the core remaining names are Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis and  J.J. Redick, to be concise.  That quartet plus a decent big man likely does not spell a playoff berth.  So, we're going to take a different approach with these 10 big men that could help revitalize the franchise in the long run.

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