Magic Johnson was a 5x NBA Champion, 3x MVP, and arguably the best point guard in NBA history. He was just built different in all sorts of ways. Whether it was his billion-dollar smile, his magnetic charisma, or his out-of-this-world vision and passing, it all made him a generational talent.

However, what truly sets Magic Johnson apart from other all-time point guards is the fact that he, as a point guard, had a height of 6’9”. Magic was speeding around the court throwing pinpoint behind-the-back and between-the-legs passes, all while being the size of an NBA center.

As it goes with every NBA great, scouts are always hard-pressed to find the next version of that player, in this case, Magic Johnson. This task, however, is a daunting one, since the Los Angeles Lakers legend possesses a very unique player archetype: the big point guard. Nevertheless, scouts still managed to find a handful of prospects over the years that tried to live up to the billing.

For this piece, we collated the last 5 players to be compared to Magic Johnson, and we’ll be seeing what has happened to them since. Did these players actually become “the next Magic Johnson” or did they ultimately disappoint? Were the comparisons even warranted in the first place? Let’s take a look.

Ben Simmons

Career Statistics: 15.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists


3x All-Star

1x All-NBA 3rd Team

2x-All-Defensive 1st Team

1x Steals Champion

Rookie of the Year

All-Rookie First Team

We start with arguably the most controversial NBA player at this point in time, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons.

Simmons was the subject of massive amounts of criticism after an abysmal playoffs this past season. More criticism was leveled at the 6’10” point guard as his ongoing saga with the Sixers continues.

It’s hard to say that these weren’t warranted, however. His offensive output in the previous postseason was indeed questionable at best, and nonexistent at worst. The ghosting of the team as well as not attending training camp does not help matters, either.

Some positives for Ben, however; for a couple of years, he was looking like the closest thing to both Magic Johnson and LeBron James (except, of course, for the lack of jump shooting). It’s not as if this all disappeared last season, as he still looked very impressive for the most part. Offensively, Simmons is deadly in transition, has great vision and passing, and is a good finisher around the rim. Even more impressive is his defense, as his height and quickness while playing the one-spot would of course make him an elite on-ball defender. His prowess on this side of the ball makes him a borderline Defensive Player of the Year.

Unfortunately, not shooting jump shots is a pretty big deterrent to a basketball player. Adding to this the fact that he was placed as the Sixers’ Playoffs scapegoat means that his elite playmaking and defending have been vastly overshadowed. Simmons now looks to recover with a change of scenery next season, where he might finally get all the spacing he needs to flourish and hopefully become the next Magic (or even the next LeBron James) once again.

Michael Carter-Williams

Career Statistics: 10.3 points, 4.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds


Rookie of the Year

All-Rookie First Team

Similar to Ben Simmons, Michael Carter-Williams is another player who shone the brightest in his youngest years.

Through his high school and college career, MCW shone as a 6’5”-6’6” point guard, an extremely tall height for a point guard at that level. As such, he was one of the most highly-touted players in his draft class, even more than the likes of Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

At the start of his career, the tall point guard absolutely balled out. His career game saw him drop 22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds, and 9 steals in his rookie year. Incredibly, this was in his very first professional game in the NBA, against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh’s Miami Heat. As a rookie, MCW really outperformed the defending champions in his first appearance.

He would go on to average an impressive 16-6-6 stat line to ultimately win the Rookie of the Year award. Yes, we knew that he wasn’t the next Magic Johnson, but he looked like he could become a really good, potential All-Star in the future.

It was not to be for MCW, however. Injuries severely hampered his career, causing his averages to steadily decrease as his career went on. Unsuccessful stints with the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, and the Houston Rockets followed.

Fortunately, he seems to be turning his carer back on track with the Orlando Magic, steadily improving his PPG from as low as 4.3 to a healthy 8.8 last season. More importantly, however, he has a great role in Orlando as the team’s best perimeter defender to take advantage of his length at the guard position.

Shaun Livingston

Career Statistics: 6.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists


3x NBA Champion

The very first NBA Champion on this list, Shaun Livingston’s story is an inspirational one.

The now-retired Livingston played as a 6’8” point guard since the start of his career. Inevitably, he had the Magic Johnson comparison flung at him at a young age.

He was drafted 4th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, who were looking for their new franchise player. He didn’t look bad throughout his first three seasons, but his statistics were certainly unremarkable.

It was at this point that Livingston suffered arguably the most gruesome injury in league history. S-Dot practically destroyed every tendon in his left knee after an awkward landing in a game against the then-Charlotte Bobcats.

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Fortunately, he’d come back to the NBA just a year later. Even remarkably so, after a journeyman career, Livingston would end up on the Golden State Warriors, wherein he went on to win 3 NBA Championships. It wasn’t as if he was just along for the ride, either; he was a valuable rotational piece, typically the second unit’s main point guard and perimeter defender.

Livingston is still with the Warriors to this day as a consultant.

Penny Hardaway

Career Statistics: 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists


4x All-Star

2x All-NBA First Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

All-Rookie First Team

“It was like looking in a mirror and seeing myself. He could do everything.” – Magic Johnson on a young Penny Hardaway.

The above quote just goes to show how highly-touted a young Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was. In fact, this was quoted right after the legendary 1992 Dream Team infamously lost in a scrimmage against an amateur select team spearheaded by a young Hardaway.

Much like the previous entries in this list, Penny was at his greatest in his younger years.

Through his first 5 seasons, he averaged almost 20 points per contest, to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He was so good as a young player that he wasn’t just compared to Magic; he was also compared to the great Michael Jordan himself. With Penny and a young Shaquille O’Neal in the Orlando Magic’s grasp, the team should have been set for the next decade, maybe even 2-3 more years thereafter.

Unfortunately, the 6’7” combo guard’s career was devastated with injuries and riddled with controversies. His PPG dropped gradually and he was never truly the same player that he was in his first 5 years in the league, back when he made the All-Star team four times.

Penny had the potential to be more than Magic; indeed, he could have been just as good a playmaker as the Lakers legend while being a much more athletic player and a better scorer. His career remains to be one of the NBA’s greatest “what-if” stories, up there with the likes of Grant Hill, Derrick Rose, and Brandon Roy.

LeBron James

Career Statistics: 27.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists


4x NBA Champion

4x Finals MVP

4x Regular Season MVP

17x All-Star

13x All-NBA First Team

3x All-NBA Second Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

5x All-Defensive First Team

1x All-NBA Second Team

1x Scoring Champion

1x Assists Champion

Rookie of the Year

All-Rookie First Team

It’s LeBron James. What else is there to say?

Of all the players on this list, LeBron is the only one to live up to the Magic Johnson comparisons. Some would go as far as to say that LeBron has already eclipsed the greatness of the Lakers lifer.

James’ game is as versatile as anybody’s, but it would be most pertinent to talk about his playmaking prowess. As such, he is a gifted passer with tremendous court vision and pinpoint accuracy. He’s always been the team’s point player, despite having played with some great point guards.

Right now, the King is on pace to beat Magic Johnson’s all-time assists number. Incredibly, he’s chasing this feat while also on course to beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.

LeBron James does indeed live up to the Magic Johnson comparisons, and more. He’s making his case to be the most versatile player in NBA history, and arguably the GOAT of the sport as well. The King is more than “the next Magic Johnson,” he is the first (and perhaps the only) LeBron James.