Orlando Magic's greatest teams by tier
Tier 6: Bad, but not the worst
Expansion franchises are supposed to take a while to find themselves. They are supposed to need time for some seasoning and to amass talent. They need to find their identity.
The Orlando Magic's first season was an 18-win season but full of big moments. Their second season, as much as it is forgotten, was surprisingly good. A 31-win season in their second season was a miracle.
The young players whom the Magic had started to invest in started to pan out in a meaningful way. Nick Anderson and Scott Skiles especially started to come into their own and the drafting of Dennis Scott laid the foundations for what was going to come for the franchise. Even if it took a major step back in 1992.
There were some legitimately high and fun moments in the first Orlando Magic season without Dwight Howard. Everyone expected a 20-win season and things eventually to fall apart. But there were good moments.
There was the 2-0 start at home that made everyone think this will not be so bad. There was the Orlando Magic defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on the road in their first game against Dwight Howard -- not to mention following that up with a win at the Golden State Warriors on a back-to-back. There was Glen Davis making a serious All-Star push before breaking his arm in December. And, of course, there was the early fun of Tobias Harris trying to prove the Milwaukee Bucks (and ironically Scott Skiles) wrong.
Those first seasons in a rebuild can be tough. Fans have to find something to hold onto. There was something to be intrigued with during that season. That is a success.
The Orlando Magic's second year in their post-Dwight Howard rebuild brought some optimism. Victor Oladipo easily could have won Rookie of the Year and showed some promise. Arron Afflalo hinted at being an All-Star even though the Magic's record was so poor. But the team was still far away and more focused on Lottery luck than wins on the floor.
The Orlando Magic in their third season of their rebuild were expected to make things happen. They were expected to make some progress.
Even though their lottery luck did not turn out, they had a young Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton to add to a young core that featured Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and the recently added Evan Fournier. However, the team still did not seem to have a clear direction.
The dysfunction in those years became apparent. The team fired Jacque Vaughn mid-season as they struggled to find their identity. The team was spinning its wheels and young players were struggling to find progress.
Oh, the 2017 season. It started out with so much promise. The Orlando Magic believed they were destined to go to the playoffs after trading away Victor Oladipo and their draft pick (Domantas Sabonis) for Serge Ibaka. They had free agent money to burn and spent it on Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green and D.J. Augustin.
Well, that did not work. Not at all.
Almost immediately, Ibaka seemed to check out understanding the team and its leaders were not quite serious enough to win. The Magic were a mismatched roster that did not really know what it was trying to do. Everyone was mismatched from Aaron Gordon playing the 3 to Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic trying to share the floor.
And Oladipo turning into an All-Star two years later and Sabonis now turning into one of the best centers in the league only made the decision and the season worse.