Orlando Magic 35th Anniversary: Orlando Magic's greatest teams by tiers

Nov 4, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic mascot Stuff performs during the game against the
Nov 4, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic mascot Stuff performs during the game against the / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
6 of 8

Orlando Magic's greatest teams by tier

Tier 3: Playoff Teams, Group 2

. . 1993 Magic Tiers. . 38. Missed Playoffs. 93. 41-41. .

Only one team is going to be included in this group that did not make the Playoffs. In fairness to the 1993 Orlando Magic of Shaquille O'Neal's rookie season, they missed the playoffs on the fourth tiebreaker to the Indiana Pacers. And that loss enabled them to get the one ping pong ball in the hopper to get them the top pick in the draft and eventually Anfernee Hardaway.

As we are learning with today's Magic team, learning to win in the league is hard. Even with an elite player like O'Neal who became an All-Star in his rookie year and took the league completely by storm.

The Magic learned how to win really quickly. That was the impact O'Neal had immediately on the franchise. This was Orlando's first season at .500 and the first time the team was competitive in a serious way.

This was an impressive showing from the Magic and everyone knew the playoff berth was right around the corner with O'Neal in place.

. . 37-29. Lost 1st Round. 2012 Magic Tiers. 38. . . . 12

The lockout shortened 2012 season was miserable from the start.

Rumors of Dwight Howard wanting out started at the end of the 2011 season. When the lockout ended, Howard immediately came forward with his request to get traded. The melodrama and "Dwight-mare" continued from there.

Howard, of course, was good enough to keep the team in playoff contention and in the playoff picture. The Magic were still a very good team.

But when Howard went out with his back injury, everything fell apart for the team. And that was eventually what clinched him leaving after he temporarily ended the drama by declining his early termination option.

This was a forgettable season. But they did still make the playoffs.

. Lost 1st Round. . . . 38. 2007 Magic Tiers. 40-42. 07.

The 2007 Orlando Magic were the Magic's triumphant return to the postseason and the first trip to the playoffs for a young Dwight Howard. It was inevitable the team would finally have this breakthrough, especially after the strong finish to 2006.

But a lot came together. Grant Hill was finally healthy giving the team a steady veteran scorer. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson took full control over their starting spots with the team. And even Hedo Turkoglu started to show hints of what he would become with Stan Van Gundy coming the following season.

The Magic were not the elite team they would become. But they were starting to piece it all together. And they had the breakthrough into the postseason. It was a four-game sweep, but it was still a memorable journey.

19. 38. Lost 1st Round. . . 42-40. 2019 Magic Tiers. . .

It is hard to describe just how special the 2019 Orlando Magic was and just how cathartic it was for the Magic to reach the playoffs. After seven years of not having much direction, everything crystallized to end the season and led to one of the most memorable playoff runs in the franchise's history.

The Magic finished the season 22-9 and snuck into the playoffs as the 7-seed and then stole Game 1 from the eventual champion Toronto Raptors on a D.J. Augustin three-pointer late in the game.

This was cathartic because so many of the pieces that seemed to have no direction under the previous management regime came together and found a way to create success. They committed defensively, got rewarded with an All-Star bid from Nikola Vucevic and found a way to win.

It was refreshing. And even though the team did not create much of a future, having that one moment was encouraging.