Not much was expected out of a rebuilding Orlando Magic this past season as they finished just 22-60. With a good young core and the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, however, there is hope once again for a bright future.
Head coach Jamahl Mosley will play a role as Orlando continues its rebuilding. Mosley will be entering his second season as Magic head coach and looks to help the franchise take a significant leap forward.
More often than not in Magic history, coaches’ records improve in year No. 2. In this piece, we’ll look at how Orlando coaches have progressed from the first season to the second.
Neither Chuck Daly, Johnny Davis nor Scott Skiles will be included. Daly spent two seasons with the Magic, but his second was the lockout-shortened 50-game season of 1998-99.
Skiles coached just one season in Orlando while Davis spent just one full season with the Magic after taking over for the fired Doc Rivers. Interim head coaches will not be listed.
Matt Goukas (1989-93): +13
The original head coach of the Orlando Magic, Matt Goukas holds the largest wins increase from year No. 1 to year No. 2. After winning just 18 games in their inaugural season, the Magic finished 31-51 during the 1990-91 campaign. Goukas reverted in his third year as Orlando finished 21-61 before an even 41-41 campaign in 1992-93 — Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie season.
Brian Hill (1993-97, 2005-07): +7 (first stint), +4 (second stint)
Brian Hill was hired — and fired — twice by the Orlando Magic, but the franchise typically competed under Hill. He failed to make the playoffs in only one season he completed. In his first season, the 1993-94 campaign, the Magic made the playoffs for the first time. A season later, Orlando reached the NBA Finals. In his final season with the Magic, 2006-07, Orlando reached the postseason for the first time in the post-Tracy McGrady era.
Doc Rivers (1999-2003): +2
The NBA Coach of the Year for the 1999-2000 season, in which Orlando’s “Heart and Hustle” team finished 41-41, Doc Rivers fell one win shy of the postseason, but the Magic made the playoffs in each of the next three seasons. With an improved roster that included Tracy McGrady and the oft-injured Grant Hill, Orlando finished 43-39 during the 2000-01 campaign. Unfortunately for Rivers, the Magic were unable to make it out of the first round of the playoffs during his tenure.
Stan Van Gundy (2007-12): +7
The longest tenured and arguably the most successful head coach in Magic history, Stan Van Gundy led Orlando to a 52-30 record in his first season and the first win in a playoff series in 11 years. That was followed by consecutive 59-win seasons, which included an NBA Finals appearance in 2009. A fallout with Dwight Howard would ultimately spell the end of each’s tenure in Orlando. Van Gundy’s .657 winning percentage is the best in franchise history.
Jacque Vaughn (2012-15): +3
While Van Gundy has the highest winning percentage in Magic history, only Mosley has a lower winning percentage than Jacque Vaughn. Vaughn inherited a rebuilding club and won 20 games in his first season during the 2012-13 campaign. That was followed up by a 23-59 season in 2013-14. He was fired 52 games into the 2014-15 season after a similar start.
Frank Vogel (2016-18): -4
Frank Vogel was the first Magic coach to regress from year one to year two. A successful coach with the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers, Vogel’s tenure in Orlando will ultimately be defined by the draft night debacle where the Magic traded Victor Oladipo and Damontas Sabonis to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka at the start of Vogel’s tenure. After posting a 27-55 record during the 2016-17 season, Vogel was fired after a 23-59 record the following season.
Steve Clifford (2018-21): -9*
This one gets an asterisk because Steve Clifford did not coach 82-game seasons in each of his first two seasons. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Magic played just 73 games during the 2019-20 season. Regression was inevitable as Orlando played nine fewer games and finished with nine fewer wins. For Clifford and the Magic however, the 2018-19 season was one to remember. Orlando won 22 of its final 31 games to close the regular season, win the Southeast Division and make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Clifford took the Magic to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, but each came to quick ends.