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An open letter from Orlando Magic fans to the NBA Draft Lottery Gods: 2021 edition

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The Magic desperately need a lucky bounce in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery

2018 NBA Draft Lottery Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

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.

NBAE/Getty Images

We last wrote to you in 2018, asking for your help when we were so desperate for a top-three pick with Luka Doncic and Trae Young in the draft class. Our prayers went unanswered as the Magic got the fifth pick and ended up with Mo Bamba.

Bamba is yet to prove his worth as the No. 6 overall pick, but the Magic did go on to end their seven-year postseason drought the following season, making brief appearances in the first round for two straight seasons.

But now we’re back, and we need you more than ever. Because we went through hell to return to the NBA Draft Lottery.

We watched the two most promising players on our team - Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz - suffer torn ACLs.

We witnessed the Magic lose more players to injury last season than any team in the league, leaving us with starting lineups that looked like this...

We went through a trade deadline firesale that sent Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier packing and made the objective very clear: we need some luck in the draft lottery.

We rooted for losses and got plenty of them, finishing 21-51, just to get back to you with the best chance of you helping us out.

But over the last decade or so, you seemed to have forgotten about the Magic and their loyal, tortured followers. And because of that, we now need you more than ever.

The Magic need more than just one lucky bounce on Tuesday night, with the potential to own two top-ten picks if the Chicago Bulls’ pick acquired in the Vooch trade falls outside of the top four.

The odds say that it should, and we need to to make sure it happens, preferably at No. 8...

The Magic have won more than 40 games in a season just once in the last decade, cycling through four coaches in the process. And despite being one of the league’s bottom feeders for much of the decade, with a brief cameo in mediocrity (a.k.a. Purgatory), 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.

2013 NBA Draft

In 2014, the Magic selected Aaron Gordon with the fourth pick. He occasionally showed flashes of a breakout that never came and is now putting his inconsistency on full display in Denver.

In 2015, the Magic selected Mario Hezonja with the fifth pick. Enough said.

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 an All-Star in Indiana.

In 2017, the Magic selected Jonathan Isaac with the sixth pick. Isaac was having a breakout season until he suffered his first knee injury on January 1, 2020. He has since played a grand total of 31 minutes.

And more painful than the minimal return on investment the Magic have received on the players they did draft in the lottery are the near-misses, having missed out by one pick on Joel Embiid in 2014 and Kristaps Porzingis in 2015 and Trae Young in 2018.

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Magic can’t afford to be one pick away any longer, not with the team sharing the best odds to get the first overall pick and the right to draft Cade Cunningham...

Orlando Magic 2021 Lottery Odds:

1st: 14.0%

2nd: 13.4%

3rd: 12.7%

4th: 11.9%

5th: 14.8%

6th: 26.0%

7th: 7.1%

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. Put us in position to draft Jalen Green and give us the Bulls’ pick and we will be satisfied.

No one truly knows if Cunningham will become a more valuable pro than Green or Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs, 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.

No team has been leapfrogged more in the rebuilding process than the Orlando Magic, and yet we somehow are right back at Day 1 while Trae Young (again, one pick away) has guided the Atlanta Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals. We’ve waited patiently and deserve to have that patience rewarded because, right now, there is currently no end in sight. Our hope is pinned on rehabbed ACLs and lottery balls.

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.”