‘Privileged to have pressure of No. 1 pick’ – The Mercury News

The NBA draft lottery misfortune that’s surrounded the Orlando Magic for nearly 20 years has ended.

The Magic won Tuesday night’s draft lottery in Chicago, coming away with the No. 1 pick for the first time since 2004.

After early success with the lottery, the Magic had either stayed at or fallen from their pre-lottery positioning in their previous 14 tries dating to 1993.

Orlando had the best odds for the No. 1 pick in the 2004 lottery when it won the top pick, which resulted in the drafting of Dwight Howard.

That trend of falling ended with the Magic, who entered Tuesday tied with three other teams for the best chances of getting the No. 1 pick (14%), winning the lottery for the fourth time in the franchise’s history.

The Magic also won the lottery in back-to-back years in 1992 (Shaquille O’Neal) and 1993 (Chris Webber, who Orlando traded to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and three future first-rounders).

“I’m so happy for our fans tonight,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “They really stuck with us and nights like this help when you can show the fruits of why you go through these phases and cycles. Hopefully, they’re really excited by this. We’re going to add another good young player to our talent base. It’s an exciting night.”

A couple of hours before the lottery, it was announced coach Jamahl Mosley would replace Weltman as the Magic’s on-stage representative.

As the picks before the Magic were being revealed and it became clear they were going to get the top spot, Mosley’s began getting excited for the organization.

“I wasn’t trying to go too far ahead. I was just trying to work on just breathing and staying in the moment as best as possible,” said Mosley, who enters his second season as coach. “I was getting excited for our fanbase, the organization and how exciting it is for this group of young men to add another young talent to this group that’s already so tied together.”

Once the top pick was revealed, a celebration among the Magic’s on-site contingent, including Cole DeVos, Joel Glass, Alex Martins, John Hammond, Mosley and Weltman, ensued.

“These are hard seasons when you’re not winning,” said Weltman, after a 22-60 record in 2021-22 was the league’s second-worst mark. “It takes a lot out of you and you got to carry your belief in your team, players and the organization through. So when you get a break, it helps. That’s how teams are built. Tonight’s a good night for us.”

Now, the Magic are in full control.

“That’s really what you earn tonight: You get to do what you want to do,” Weltman said. “It doesn’t change the workload. Matter of fact, it probably adds to the responsibility, but it’s exciting to have that opportunity. Pressure is a privilege. We’re privileged to have the pressure of the No. 1 pick.”

The full results of the lottery: 1. Magic 2. Oklahoma City Thunder 3. Houston Rockets 4. Sacramento Kings 5. Detroit Pistons 6. Indiana Pacers 7. Portland Trail Blazers 8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers) 9. San Antonio Spurs 10. Washington Wizards 11. New York Knicks 12. Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers) 13. Charlotte Hornets 14. Cleveland Cavaliers.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.


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