The franchise, founded in 1989 in the state of Florida, in its short history by National Basketball Association standards, has had a few successes in terms of drafting players and making it to the NBA Finals. As of late 2021, Jeff Veltman owned the franchise and Jamal Mosley was the head coach.
Periods of decline
Since the franchise’s inception, Orlando’s results have been dismal. The team did not get out of a negative balance of wins and losses in its first three seasons and was considered a league outsider after the expansion draft. The lowest point in Orlando’s history was the National Championship 1989/1990 where the team in spite of positive start during the season lost several leaders at once and finished the season with 18 wins and 64 losses.
The second disappointing period came at the beginning of the 21st century, when veterans Tyrone Liu and Juwan Howard were added to the team. “The Wizards won only one of 20 games at the start of the championship, for which future NBA Hall of Fame member Doc Rivers was fired from his post. The final 21-61 marks not only last place in the conference, but also the departure of franchise leader Tracy McGrady from Orlando.
With results of 20-62 and 23-59 in the 12\13 and 13\14 seasons under Jacques Vaughn, the Magic were undergoing a planned rebuild. Former assistant Greg Popovich had to lead the team out of a crisis after the unexpected departure of longtime franchise leader Dwight Howard, from which Orlando did not finally recover until three seasons later.
Periods of prosperity
Teams from a small market usually have a hard time poaching the best players in the league. So they can only hope to draft. Orlando has been able to draft quality rookies with enviable consistency. The first landmark acquisition for the Magic was Shaquille O’Neal. “The Diesel came to Orlando under the first pick, was Rookie of the Year and made the starting lineup for the NBA All-Star Game.
Shaquille, in conjunction with Penny Hardaway, was in his third year of NBA Finals appearances. In the 94\95 offseason, the Magic signed Horace Grant, leading the Wizards to their best showing in the division. Not without problems in the playoffs, Orlando defeated Boston, Chicago and Indiana. In the final, the Magic faced Houston and were clear favourites to face them, but Shaquille O’Neal lost to Hakeem Olajuwon and his team was swept at the end of the series.
The second final in franchise history also involved a pick in the draft. Right after a disappointing season with Doc Rivers, Tracy McGrady left the team and the Magic, in turn, were given the right to select the first number of the draft. It was Dwight Howard – a physically developed graduate who plays at the centre position. Orlando began to build a capable team around him. The Wizards’ landmarks Jamir Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu were added to the club.
A series of successful signings and selections in the draft led Orlando to the status of the strongest team in the division. The peak came in Stan Van Gundy’s fourth year in charge. In 20082009 season the Wizards had the best record in the conference and knocked out Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James in the playoffs. In the final, the team faced the Los Angeles Lakers and were beaten in five games. There would be further disagreements between Howard and management and he would move to the Lakers’ camp.