In 2013, the Orlando Magic’s franchise-best streak of 6 consecutive playoff appearances ended, beginning a new streak of 6 straight draft lottery appearances from 2013-2018.
When the Magic returned to the Playoffs in 2019 (and again in 2020) it had absolutely nothing to do with their drafting. They did a really bad job during those 6 years, but a lot of it wasn’t entirely their fault. Look at how the lottery played out and at the guy that was drafted ahead of them in many of these years.
Here is a snapshot of the players drafted 1 spot ahead of the Magic over those 6 years – Anthony Bennett, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Thon Maker, De’Aaron Fox, Trae Young.
2013 – Magic had the worst record in the NBA (20-62). Despite that, they fell to second in the lottery (Cavs won the #1 pick). Ultimately, it didn’t matter as the Magic drafted Victor Oladipo, who many considered to be the top option in a weak draft. Oladipo went 2nd after the Cavs shockingly drafted Anthony Bennett first.
Notably, Giannis went #15, but you can’t ding the Magic for not drafting an unknown foreigner who most teams didn’t have in their top 10, at #2. Oladipo was the right pick here, but they sold LOW on him a few years later.
2014 – Magic had the 3rd worst record, but the Cavs AGAIN won the lottery, pushing the Magic down to 4th. They drafted Aaron Gordon, who went on to have a successful career with the Magic. In 7.5 seasons, Gordon averaged 12.9 ppg. While he never made an All Star team, Gordon was a solid option for Orlando.
One pick ahead of Gordon, 76ers drafted Joel Embiid #3, a 4x All Star and the runner up to the 2021 MVP Award.
2015 – Magic had the 5th worst record and picked 5th. After Kristaps Porzingis was drafted 4th, the Magic took another foreigner, Mario Hezonja 5th. He last 3 years in Orlando, averaging 6.9 ppg throughout those 3 years and shot 33% from three.
2016 – Magic had the 11th pick, and traded it on draft night. Magic drafted Domantas Sabonis, who has gone onto to become a 2x All Star, along with Oladipo, for Serge Ibaka. Ibaka played 56 games with the Magic before being traded for Terrence Ross. Like Sabonis, Oladipo has gone on to become a 2x All Star. Those guys were considered so valuable, that one year after being worth Serge Ibaka, they were traded for Paul George.
2017 – Jonathan Isaac was drafted 6th by the Magic. Isaac is still improving offensively, but is growing into one of the league’s best defenders. In December 2020, Isaac signed a 4 year, $80 million extension with the Magic. Injuries have limited him to 136 games in 4 seasons (0 in 2020-21).
Like 2018, Magic picked 6th, despite having the 5th worst record. At #5, Kings drafted De’Aaron Fox.
2018 – Despite having the 5th worst record, Magic fell to 6th in the lottery. Among the top 3 players drafted – DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young. Young is the most notable, as he went #5, where the Magic could have been slotted. Instead, one pick later, they took Mo Bamba at #6. Bamba has battled health issues and has averaged just 15.8 mpg across 3 seasons, while starting only 6 games.
Not including the last two drafts, since those were playoff years. But in 2019, Magic drafted Chuma Okeke, who missed his entire rookie season with an injury (known in advance of the pick). He played 45 games and averaged 7.8 ppg in 2021. In 2020, Magic drafted Cole Anthony, who averaged 12.9 ppg and emerged as a critical player for the Magic.