Is Jacque Vaughn to Blame For the Orlando Magic’s Dismal Season?


Editor’s note: Jacque Vaughn is a guess post from Ricky Sanders of You can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page, and for more Orlando Magic analysis visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues, a fantasy basketball blog.

Mar 10, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn calls a play in the 2nd quarter during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic’s best winning streak this season was three games, which they have reached twice. Their worst losing streak was ten losses in a row and they are currently on a five game losing streak. This season has been horrendous for the Orlando Magic and that only means one thing; who is going to get the blame? Well, I don’t know if you can really blame anyone.

The Orlando Magic are no doubt in the process of rebuilding. When rebuilding a team, you can’t really expect too much. Yes, wins are always going to be wanted, but sometimes you have to realize that your team isn’t built to win and you need to work towards it. The Magic and Jacque Vaughn both knew what they were getting themselves into when signing the head coach. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel quoted the GM of the Magic saying,

“We’re very proud of the job that Jacque has done. His leadership has set the foundation. He understands the process. He isn’t in a rush to skip steps. He’s a great teacher. He’s done a noteworthy job of being unselfish, realizing we’re building for the long haul. He knew what he was signing up for as I knew what I was signing up for. We believe in the foundation we’re establishing.”

When signing a new head coach to a team just starting the rebuilding process, you can’t always expect results right away. Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, only won about 27% of his games in his first season as head coach. Since then, he hasn’t gone a season below 61% in his 16 seasons since and will likely go above 70% this season. With that being said, I think Jacque Vaughn and Orlando need to just give him some time and see where it leads. It’s clear that management is happy with the head coach so far and aren’t going to put the blame on him.

Let’s take a look at the head coach’s strengths and weaknesses this season. He has done things extremely well and has spots that could use improvement.


His first strength is that he does a good job of keeping his players’ spirits up and motivating them. When you’re a team that is losing frequently, it’s key to not let your players get down on themselves. Keeping them motivated and having good team chemistry is tough, so you need to keep them under control. Former Magic player Glen Davis said “Jacque is more of a Gandhi kind of guy. Soft but powerful. […] He pats you on your back – good job. That’s his motivation. But at the same time he still holds you accountable if you’re doing things wrong.” Even with a 19-48 record this season, he still encourages them to go out and compete every night. In a rebuilding process, that’s all you can ask for in a head coach.

Another strength is his potential and the trust that management has in him. They are giving him a chance to learn along with his players. He and the management both understand they are rebuilding. This gives Vaughn the opportunity to build a bond with his players and have some lenience in his decisions of roster management. He can mess around with rotations and learn a lot about his team. He can find out how each player fits on the floor with any unit, how they react to playing time, who gets hot quickly, how much responsibility they can handle and how they handle themselves in certain situations. This gives him a lot to play with, which he has the power to do.

One more strength of Orlando’s head coach is his way with the media. He keeps calm, stays well-mannered and answers questions patiently and politely. It’s key for a coach to stay polite and hold his composure when faced against the media. Especially when you’re losing. He may get defensive sometimes, but if he feels like he made the right choice then there is nothing you can do. He does what he expects of his players: he holds himself accountable.


Vaughn’s first weakness is with his game management. He does make questionable decisions in regard to playing time and matchups. For example, in the season opener he sat Andrew Nicholson in the third quarter after going into halftime with 18 points on 8 of 9 shooting. Also, on February 23rd, he made another debatable decision. He sat Tobias Harris after only playing about 8 minutes. Harris scored 10 of the team’s first 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting. The Magic ended that quarter with 14 points with Harris’ teammates shooting 2 of 14.

Another weakness is his rotation decisions. Minutes vary from game to game with the Orlando Magic. This makes it tough for players to get into a groove. It confuses the players and may get them a little frustrated. Tobias Harris has been a victim of this. He has been a great player for this team. However, he has had a tough time with inconsistent playing time. In return, he has a tough time getting a rhythm. Vaughn needs to work on getting a set, solid rotation to give his players a sense of confidence and a defined role on the team.


Overall, it’s clear that Vaughn has a lot to learn. However, it’s not to blame for the Orlando Magic’s bad season. Taking a look at their situation, no one is to blame. Losing is just something they need to accept for the time being and work on getting better as a team. Keeping Vaughn as a head coach will only help this team grow better together. The way he motivates his team and points them in the right direction is ideal for a head coach. He has the trust from management and that is a positive for the team. They are in the position for a solid draft pick in next year’s draft, which will only help the team and the coach. Winning will come, time is required though. Don’t give up hope on Orlando just yet.

Do you think Jacque Vaughn is to blame for the Orlando Magic’s poor season? Let us know in the comments section below!