Orlando Magic – It often takes new franchises a while to get their footing and the Orlando Magic were no different when they entered the NBA in 1989. The team posted 18, 31 and 21 wins in its first four seasons under head coach Matt Goukas.
That run led to Goukas dismissal at the conclusion of the 1993 season; however, it also left Orlando in position to select Shaquille O’Neal with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.
O’Neal’s impact was an immediate one with the Magic posting 41 wins in his first season. He and Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway led the team to its first-ever postseason berth the following year with a 50-32 record.
The duo guided Orlando to 57 regular season wins the following season and the NBA Finals, where it lost in four games to the Houston Rockets.
O’Neal’s tenure with the Magic ended in 1997, though, as he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Nonetheless, Orlando continued to experience success, qualifying for the playoffs four of the next six years.
The franchise experienced a rebirth of sorts in 2005 with the drafting of Dwight Howard as he too made a quick impact on the court. Howard’s presence led to six consecutive playoff appearances between 2007 and 2012 and a second NBA Finals showing in 2009.
Like O’Neal, though, Howard found his way out of Orlando, making his way to the Lakers at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
In the three seasons following his departure, the Magic have not managed more than 25 wins.
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