Orlando's defense Magic under Van Gundy

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
6:59
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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It will likely be argued that Stan Van Gundy is a product of his star players. After all, he has only coached teams that included either Dwyane Wade or Dwight Howard. And Howard especially anchored a defensive unit that, in the Van Gundy era, has certainly been one of the best in the league.

For four straight seasons, the Magic ranked in the top five in defensive efficiency -- including first in 2008-09 and second the following season.

Over the five season span that Van Gundy coached the team, the Magic ranked second-best in the league in defensive efficiency, second in defensive field goal percentage and first in points in the paint allowed.

All because of Dwight Howard, you say? Consider that in Howard's three seasons before Van Gundy became head coach, the team ranked 15th, 11th and seventh in those categories.
Howard
Howard


That could be a product of Howard simply coming into his own and developing into a dominant force as an NBA player. But though Howard reportedly wanted the coach out of town, Van Gundy leaves with several impressive items on his coaching resume.

He reached the playoffs in all five seasons with the Magic and racked up 31 playoff wins. That's more playoff wins than the franchise had in its previous 18 seasons of existence.

Since Van Gundy took over, he led the Magic to a better regular-season record than all but three teams. The only franchsies who were better are the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs.

He's not likely to get mentioned in the same breath as Phil Jackson when discussing the greatest NBA coaches, but there is something big that Stan Van Gundy and Jackson have in common: neither coached a losing season.

Jackson coached 20 seasons and never had a losing record, while Van Gundy's total was just eight seasons. Five with the Magic, three with the Heat. And yes, that includes the year with the Heat where Van Gundy was 11-10 before being replaced with Pat Riley.

But Elias tells us that Van Gundy is in rare company. Along with Jackson, the only others who coached at least eight seasons and never had a losing record are former Knicks coach Joe Lapchick and former 76ers coach Billy Cunningham. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

And Van Gundy's .641 career winning percentage puts him in another elevated group: coaches with a winning percentage that high who have coached at least 500 games. Counting Van Gundy, that group is only six members and includes Jackson, Gregg Popovich and Red Auerbach.

But since the 2009 NBA Finals appearance, Van Gundy's Magic teams just haven't had similar success. They had 13 playoff wins that year, beating LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers on their way to the Finals.

Since then, they've tallied just two series wins and been bounced by the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers in consecutive years.

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