Dear NBA Draft Lottery Gods,
Do you remember us?
We are fans of the Orlando Magic. In the past, you treated us very well, particularly in the early 1990s when you so generously awarded us the first overall pick in back-to-back years. In 1993, the Magic had just a 1-in-66 chance of winning the top pick. A 1.53 percent chance of winning. And still, you chose us.
But over the last six years, you seemed to have forgotten about the Magic and their loyal, tortured followers. And because of that, we now need you more than ever.
We have suffered through six years of rebuilding and yet, somehow, the Magic are not even an inch closer to being a playoff team than they were the day that Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers.
The Magic won just 25 games this season, which inexplicably included their season finale that knocked down their odds of getting a top-three pick to 29.1 percent and the top pick to just 8.8 percent.
That win brought the grand total of victories from the last six years combined to 157 games. And despite searching for their fourth coach in six years, and being one of the league’s bottom feeders for half a decade now, the Magic have landed a top-three pick just once in that span. That came in 2013 when there were no sure things and the Magic selected Victor Oladipo with the second pick. Oladipo didn’t prove that the Magic made the right pick until he became an All-Star this season….in Indiana.
In 2014, the Magic selected Aaron Gordon with the fourth pick. He showed flashes of a breakout this season and, assuming he re-signs, is one of the Magic’s rare symbols of hope, albeit one that still requires plenty of development.
In 2015, the Magic selected Mario Hezonja with the fifth pick. He failed to live up the hype and is now, after finally showing promise this season, an unrestricted free agent.
In 2016, the Magic selected Domantas Sabonis with the 11th pick. He was essentially a throw in on what proved to be a disastrous Draft night trade and is now a valuable role player for a playoff team.
In 2017, the Magic selected Jonathan Isaac with the sixth pick. He showed raw talent and upside but was limited to just 27 games in his rookie season with ankle issues.
And more painful than the minimal return on investment the Magic have received on the players they did draft are the near-misses, having missed out by one pick on Joel Embiid in 2014 and Kristaps Porzingis in 2015.
The Magic can’t afford to be one pick away any longer. The odds say the most likely outcome is that the Magic will draft fifth (26.2 percent) or sixth (35.9 percent).
Magic fans aren’t greedy. As much as we’d love to have the top pick, we’d be happy to fall within the top-three. This would allow the Magic to have better control of their own destiny, allowing them to select the player they want rather than settling for the player that falls to them, as they’ve been forced to do in recent years.
No one truly knows if Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic will become more valuable pros than Trae Young or Mo Bamba, but better to be in position where all or most are still on the board so the choice belongs to Jeff Weltman and John Hammond. And then we’ll pray to another set of Gods that the right choice was made.
No team in the league needs a lottery victory (or an identity…or a reason for hope…or a miracle) as badly as the Magic.
The Hawks and Grizzlies were just in the playoffs two years ago. The Mavs only a few years back won a championship. The Suns haven’t been doing this whole rebuilding thing quite as long as the Magic. We’ve waited patiently and deserve to have that patience rewarded because, right now, there is currently no end in sight.
We know why that is, and we apologize for the basketball sins of Rob Hennigan. We hope that you will not make us suffer for the mistakes made by the former Magic GM, as we have already paid the price for his incompetence in more ways than one (Oladipo, Harris, Sabonis, Saric, Biyombo…someone stop me before I pass out).
The best way for a team like the Magic to dig themselves out of the deep hole they’ve spent years digging themselves into through poor trades, draft day misfortune/misfires and outright poor decisions, is to get a little help from the lottery gods that control the bounce of those precious ping pong balls.
So, please, don’t forget about the Orlando Magic tonight.
Help us out. You’ve done it before.
As then Magic-GM Pat Williams told the Orlando Sentinel after winning that 1993 draft lottery....
“Peter Ping Pong Ball, he’ll be the next mayor of Orlando. We’ll at least give him the key to the city.” Williams said. “I coached him well, didn’t I? Maybe we could hang him and last year’s ball from the rafters of the Arena. This just shows how fragile winning is in this league. You have to get lucky sometimes.”