Now that the season is over, it is time to review the last five months. This is our yearly look back at what went right and what went wrong during the 2013-14 season.
You could see it in the face of Tobias Harris and in the face of Arron Afflalo after every defeat. You could see it in Victor Oladipo, a player hungry to win but understanding somewhat of the process. You could see it with Maurice Harkless, even as he continued to blossom as an individual player.
Players and individuals made progress. But losing still sucks.
By the end of the season, there was that sense that everyone — this writer included — was just happy to see the season end. And two straight years of losing — 43-119! — just sucks.
Sure, it is part of the process of building up from the very bottom. It does not make it any less painful no matter how necessary it is.
Some of the losses this year were brutal with plenty of late-game gaffes and growing pains that never seemed to go away. The Magic never really got blown out — they lost by more than 20 points just six times last season compared to 12 in the 2013 season — and they competed hard. They just never could get over that hump.
And that led to plenty of frustration among fans who saw the team playing better than its record indicated. Sure, 23 wins was an improvement over last year’s dismal season, but the team was expected to win a few games more — at least if you were not completely bought in to the idea of tanking.
The mood in the locker room certainly changed some after losses. There was the beginnings of an inevitability when it came to loss after loss. That is a feeling that has to creep in after a rough season, but also one that needs to nipped in the bud. You do not want losing to become acceptable or commonplace.
That should not be a huge problem. There are a lot of guys on this roster that are clearly very hungry to win. They understand the process and learning they have to go through.
At some point, though, even the most optimistic and hungry stop having this feeling and begin to fall into the trap of coming to work, collecting a paycheck and clocking out. This is not the culture the Magic want to establish. They have drafted guys and kept guys in the locker room who do not approach their jobs this way and told any others that happened to be on their roster that would to stay away.
The culture the Magic are building is fine. But losing just seeps deep into a competitors soul. At some point it has to stop. That time is coming very very soon for this organization.
Until then, it remains a frustrating side effect of the rebuild.
What Went Right: The Bigger Picture