After the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, I wondered where that team stood in the annals of Magic history. In 22 years there has been a lot of successes and great moments to go with disappointment and failures.
It was really hard to peg the 2010 team. On one hand, the 2010 team might have been statistically the best team in history. Results-wise and expectations-wise, though, the season was a failure for the way the team bowed out in the Eastern Conference Finals. I got the sense the 2010 team's successes would get lost in that failure. Ultimately, I ranked that team fourth among Orlando's 21 teams.
But that exercise got me thinking about where do the various teams rank in Magic history?
Sure, the 1995 team is one of the best four in team history. But are they best in team history? What about Shaq's rookie season, the first time the Magic finished at least .500 for a season? Were Tracy McGrady's teams really that bad? Which Magic teams were the worst? Did the 2003 Magic sink below the expansion Magic?
I began investigating this further, using the Four Factors (offensive rating, defensive rating, effective field goal percentage, offensive rebound percentage, turnover rate and free throw rate) and the simulation engine WhatIfSports.com (you may recall I used that for my What If? Magic-Bulls series after the Magic were eliminated from the real Playoffs). I tried to set up a way to objectively rank teams to bracket them and not merely make it my pick.
I am not 100 percent sure I have succeeded in bracketing the teams, but I have done my best. It was with that in mind, that I wanted to create some sort of list.
As I did this though, I began to think of another historical list. Who had the greatest individual season in team history? Seriously, think about it. Was Dwight's 2011 season better than any of Shaq's seasons? Where does Tracy McGrady's 2002 season rank? Which of his four years were the best?
These are interesting questions and reveal how rich and diverse the Magic's short history has been.
I wanted to introduce an offseason series (we still have a few months before the "season" begins) where we begin taking stock of Magic history.
The Magic Masters will be Orlando Magic Daily's attempt to rank the best seasons in the franchise's short history. With that, I introduce the Magic Masters bracket for the greatest team in Magic history.
We are going to start with ranking the best teams in Magic history. Just about each day over the next month or so, I will feature one matchup with a brief summary of the teams, including my pick. But this is not about what I think. This is about what we, the Magic community, think. There will also be a poll to vote on the winner. It does not matter what you use to vote -- who would win in a matchup between the two teams, impact in Magic history, final record and results -- a diversity in thought will make this ranking richer. After each round, we will endeavor to rank the losers to create an actual list.
With that, I introduce the bracket. Again, this is just to get the exercise started and the bracketed numbers do not matter as much as the final result.
Study hard, readers, we will be voting on the first matchup soon! And we will find out who are the Magic Masters!