Orlando Magic's greatest teams by tier
Tier 7: The worst of the worst
The Orlando Magic's expansion season was never about the team's record. It was never about how the season turned out. It was about the moments and the fact Orlando had a team.
There were a lot of great moments from that inaugural season. From beating the Detroit Pistons in the opening preseason game. Two wins over the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers (Otis Smith game-winners in both!). Orlando had a team. And that is what mattered for the Magic's first season.
The Orlando Magic felt like they had promise after a 31-win season in their second season. That gave way to the disappointment of the 1992 season and an injury-filled 21-win season. The shine of an expansion franchise was starting to wear off and the Magic needed to find a purpose and a way to win. That was going to be the measure.
Who knows how the franchise would have evolved and developed if not for winning the NBA Draft Lottery that summer.
The Tracy McGrady era flamed out spectacularly. There is no other way to put it.
Orlando's constant waiting for Grant Hill to be healthy and constant shuffling of the deck chairs around him finally turned up craps for the team.
McGrady was still brilliant that season -- 28.0 points per game. But he suffered a frustrating season where the team just was not good enough. And it was enough to ask out at the end of the season.
The Orlando Magic had been to back-to-back Playoff seasons in 2019 and 2020. They believed they were set to make the Playoffs again. They had Nikola Vucevic playing at an All-Star level, a set defensive identity and Markelle Fultz with a healthy offseason.
Fultz's torn ACL eight games into the season (after a blistering start) changed everything for this team. The Magic suffered injury after injury that season and the bottom just dropped out. Not even a miracle worker like Steve Clifford could save the team.
Orlando ultimately hit reset completely. The team traded away the core of its last decade in Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. The team accepted that a rebuild was necessary and that the team had gone as far as it had gone, selling high on Vucevic at least to set the team up.
The Orlando Magic's first year after the 2021 reset was an expected rough ride. The team was far too young with a rookie coach at the helm in Jamahl Mosley. The goal was just to keep everyone together and keep everyone growing in the right direction. Like most rebuildling teams, they needed two cracks at the Lottery.
Injuries were again the story for Orlando. The team missed several key players. But Franz Wagner developed as a future star and the team seemed to have at least the beginnings of something.
Winning the Lottery that summer did not hurt either.