5 reasons the Orlando Magic will surprise in 2019

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Steve Clifford, Charlotte Hornets
MIAMI, FL – APRIL 17: Head coach Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Miami Heat during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on April 17, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Steve Clifford

Throughout his stint as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, Clifford-coached teams played tough defense and attacked the glass. The Hornets scratched and clawed their way to wins even if their roster did not match up with some of the more talented teams in the East.

The last two years, the team had the statistical profile of a .500 team despite finishing with just 36 wins and missing the Playoffs. It suggests those teams had more bad luck than a lack of skill.

Injuries took their toll on Charlotte during Clifford’s tenure. Despite a banged-up roster, the Hornets found ways to win basketball games.

Clifford is also familiar with reclamation projects. The Hornets were a disaster when Clifford got the job. He did not manage to help build a championship contender, Clifford helped the team improve by 21 wins in his first year and make the Playoffs.

Regardless of their ultimate results, the Hornets became a viable team in the East. For the first time in a long time, Charlotte fans were given a taste of success, and much of the credit goes to Clifford.

Now, Clifford has a reputation for turning franchises around quickly. He took over a Charlotte team which finished 21-61 and turned them into an above .500 club the following season.

There is a chance Clifford can work his magic again and push Orlando into the playoff picture.