Over the next few weeks Orlando Magic Daily will be taking a look at the things that went right and wrong this season as Orlando ended its season with its first Lottery season in six years.
The season was a tough one to get through. It would have been easy to give in to despair pretty quickly and disparage the players on the team and the organization's fate. Dwight Howard put fans through the ringer and it would be difficult to trust someone again. The next star on this roster might have to deal with that collateral, emotional damage from that.
In Year One, post-Dwight, Magic fans generally left the season with a positive frame of mind. Orlando might have finished with the worst record in the league, but you would not know it from how fans talk about the team and the general direction it is going.
It is tough to find optimism when you are losing 10 games in a row multiple times, suffer through 62 losses and eight wins in the final 57 games. That would be plenty of reason to stop watching.
Yet, Jacque Vaughn and the young players on the roster helped put a positive sping on an otherwise frustrating season. It did not feel as bad as the record would suggest.
A lot of that credit could go to lowered expectations and the surprising emergence of several young players to build on for future years. A lot of that credit should also go to the way Jacque Vaughn approached this team.
Vaughn had a difficult task put ahead of him for his first year as a head coach. There were growing pains with his first year as he learned how to manage a roster and guide a team through a season. But one thing he certainly did well was keep his team playing hard and playing together through difficult losses.
In postgame press conferences after tough losses, Vaughn would accentuate the positive and keep things upbeat. Perhaps that was to keep a closed door on everything after what happened in 2012. But when you heard the players talk after games, they echoed that positivity. They took losses hard, but remained upbeat and confident they would improve.
You could see this improvement in the way Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris developed throughout the season. There was losing, but there was also growth. That seemed to be more important.
It did not feel like this was a 20-win season. It did not feel like the team was a complete disaster. It seemed like the team was growing and finding positives even in an impossible situation.
There was a resignation at the beginning of the year that this would be a difficult season record-wise. Most people expected it.
What nobody expected was to be OK with all of that. That only happened because the team was able to suffer through it and still provide hope.
It is good to feel good about something. Wins and losses may not have mattered, but the Magic in the first year without Dwight Howard gave its fan base something to believe in and a reason to remain positive about the future.
That capital will wane as the years go on. At some point, the Magic and their fans will expect progress in the win-loss column. Orlando is not at that point yet. And this year, despite losing so much, there were reasons to look forward to Magic games. That is an accomplishment of sorts.