Orlando Magic: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Orlando Magic joined the NBA for the 1988-89 season along with fellow expansion team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team, led by their first ever draft pick Nick Anderson, struggled to be competitive in its first season, finishing 18-64. A bet on the Orlando Magic would not pay off in their next season, when their prized acquisition was Dennis Scott who they drafted fourth overall in the 1990 Draft. Season number three went even worse, as the Magic fell to 21-61 in 1992, which earned them the first overall pick. Orlando changed the fortunes of their franchise by drafting center Shaquille O’Neal out of LSU.
The Magic went 41-41 in Shaq’s rookie season, and even though the Orlando Magic odds to win the draft lottery again were infinitesimal, a bet on the Orlando Magic would have paid off in a huge way as they earned the top pick again. The Magic selected Chris Webber but traded him for fellow draftee, guard Penny Hardaway, and a trio of draft picks. With Shaq and Penny in the fold, and joined by Anderson, Dennis Scott, and Scott Skiles, the team won 50 games in 1993, making their first postseason, where they would be swept by the Indiana Pacers. With a year of experience under their belt, the Orlando Magic odds to win it all were as good as any team in the league in 1995, and the Magic knocked off the Celtics, Bulls, and Pacers, before falling to the Houston Rockets in an NBA Finals sweep in 1995.
Many people bet on the Orlando Magic to win the 1996 title, and it looked like it would pay off as the Magic went 60-22 in the regular season. The Orlando Magic odds became better as they rolled through the Pistons and Hawks in the postseason, but the Bulls, with Michael Jordan fully back in the fold, swept the Magic in the conference finals. It would be twelve years until the Magic would win another playoff series, partially due to the fact that Shaq left Orlando in the offseason to sign with the Lakers.
Penny Hardaway became the new face of the franchise, but the Orlando Magic odds of succeeding post-Shaq faded as Penny suffered a series of major injuries In the early 2000’s the team would be led by Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, and 2001 Rookie of the Year Mike Miller, but injuries to Hill prevented the team from ever contending.
The Magic would once again earn the number one pick after a 21-61 season in 2004, and they used the pick to select Dwight Howard, a center straight out of high school. Any fans who bet on the Orlando Magic to improve after selecting Howard saw immediate dividends as the team improved by 15 games in Howard’s rookie season, and in 2007 the team began a streak of six straight playoff appearances. The Howard era peaked in 2009, when he won Defensive Player of the Year, and the 59-23 Magic bested the 76ers, Celtics, and Cavs in the East. Many fans bet on the Orlando Magic to beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals, but Kobe Bryant’s team was too good and the Magic fell in five games.
The Orlando Magic odds to make it back to the NBA Finals in 2010 were strong and the team repeated its 59-23 regular season from the previous year. However, after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks, the Magic lost to the eventual champion Boston Celtics in a six game series.
In the ten years that have followed the Magic have struggled to find an identity, and have not won another playoff series. A bet on the Orlando Magic to have a winning record would have only paid off two times in the past decade. Howard left the Magic after a sensational 2012 season in which he averaged 20.6 points and a career-high 14.5 rebounds per game.
The franchise has gone through ten coaches in the decade and the Orlando Magic odds of righting the ship always feels one year away. The past two seasons have been a bright spot as the team made back-to-back postseasons, before losing to the Raptors and Bucks, respectively, in five first round games. The team’s star player for most of the past decade has been center Nikola Vucevic, who has improved annually, and averaged 28 points and 11 rebounds per game in the 2020 postseason. In 2020-21, the team traded Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier and appear to be back in a rebuilding mode.
The Magic are perennially in search of the next Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, or Dwight Howard to bring them back to past heights.
6: (The Sixth Man, ie. the fans)