Jamahl Mosley ready to build Orlando Magic bit by bit

Jamahl Mosley began his tenure as Orlando Magic coach speaking about the atmosphere and culture he wants to build. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jamahl Mosley began his tenure as Orlando Magic coach speaking about the atmosphere and culture he wants to build. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The word family came up a lot during Jamahl Mosley’s introductory press conference on Monday.

He talked about the atmosphere within the Orlando Magic organization as being that of the family. The team, after all, is a family business having passed down from Rich DeVos to his children. The organization (for better or worse) is still run as a family-run organization.

There was something more to it than that though. The organization was aligned with many of Mosley’s approaches to relating to and dealing with players. Not players, rather people. This was an important first step to building things up and gaining trust as the team works hard to try to win games.

But first came the hard sell for the 43-year-old, 14-year assistant coach in the NBA. Mosley needed to convince his family that Orlando was the right place.

With three children used to seven years in Dallas, that would not be easy. They reacted to the news at first with tears and the fear of moving, he said.

A quick mention that Orlando is where Disney is located. That changed minds and made Orlando seem a little more appetizing.

If only turning the Magic around would be so easy.

Mosley has a major project ahead of him. One that will take a lot of work to recover from a 21-51 season that featured a major teardown of the franchise, only so that it could get build back up again. And, for now, Orlando has chosen Mosley to be the guy to rebuild.

"“I believe daily, you have to work on getting better,” Mosley said during his introductory press conference. “You have to continue to grow and build and keep these guys at a level that they just want to keep coming in every day to get better and better and better. I think that’s an important part of what this journey is going to look like.”"

No one is hiding from how difficult of a job it will be to rebuild the Magic. It will be a tough task. The Magic are going to have to get better every day and focus on small improvements.

Jamahl Mosley faces a tough task in his first head coaching job. He will have to focus on building relationships and rebuilding the Orlando Magic day by day.

This is truly a rebuild from the ground up despite the presence of young veterans like Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz (both coming off torn ACLs at some point during the 2022 season) and stalwart holdovers like Terrence Ross and Gary Harris.

This is the fourth-youngest roster in the NBA and one that is likely to get even younger with two top-10 picks on the way.

This is a team seeking a new identity. That is where Mosley will have his biggest fingerprints right off the bat.

He said his offensive philosophy is to play with pace, create space for shooters and to use passing to put players in the best position. It is not unlike common goals most coaches have for their teams. After all, Steve Clifford often talked about his desire for his team to play with better pace and Frank Vogel talked about the team’s need to play with the pass.

Mosley though has made it known that defense is the backbone for his teams. And it is here where the Magic may well be different.

He said defensively, he wants his team to be tough, communicative and tied together. He hopes they can be disruptive and take teams out of their comfort zone. That suggests the team may well push up the pressure after three years in Clifford’s more conservative defensive system that valued positioning and protecting the paint.

Still, these are all vague descriptions — as unusually specific in their goals as they are for an introductory press conference with a first-time head coach — of how he wants them to play.

The real task will be implementing it all and connecting with his players. This is where Mosley has built the biggest part of his reputation. And for a young team, this will be the true foundation for improvement.

"“Jamahl has a unique set of abilities — his passion, his experience, his ability to connect,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said during Jamahl Mosley’s introductory press conference. “He has an amazing interpersonal skill set with anyone. It stems from his compassion as a person. He’s a great listener. He cares. He wants to get involved in people’s lives. He’s a true coach. He wants to make you better. For where we are, it’s a perfect fit. Jamahl will come in and improve our players. They will know everything is for and about them. As they get better, we will get better.”"

At the end of the day, players make teams. And the Magic are still hoping to develop or draft a star. There is still a lot of work to build up the roster.

That falls on Weltman and he will have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks to bring Mosley a roster that can turn into a winner.

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Orlando Magic

It means sometimes celebrating the little victories so the team can grow from them.  That is what is necessary when a team is growing and learning.

Little victories add up. And finding a player development coach like Mosley the team believes will help the team advance.

In the end, those little victories add up every day.

"“My career started in player development,” Mosley said during Monday’s introductory press conference. “This opportunity was about development and growth. Now that it is my first opportunity as a head coach, it’s about the growth all around. What can I learn from them and what can they learn from me? And how can we just continue to improve daily with work ethic, hard work ethic and winning philosophies and winning thought processes.”"

But Mosley knows it will take a lot of work to build those new relationships and the trust it takes to get the most out of players.

The family atmosphere then extends beyond the feeling within the organization. Mosley’s approach is to be concerned about the people behind the players too. That is where he builds trust to push them to grow. Mosley wants the young men on his team to be good people too.

Investing in them that way helps them get better. From there, it becomes about the daily grind and improving every day.

This is the process that Mosley hopes to follow to build his team.

In the end, success will be determined by just how much those young players improve. Even drafting a potential star will likely require a coach to guide that player through the early stages of his career and stardom and for that player to buy into the lessons the coach is teaching.

This is an opportunity for everyone to grow.

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"“I believe this is the biggest opportunity for these young guys to see their potential,” Mosley said during his introductory press conference Monday. “I think they can really register how great they can be within this league and learn the league and tap into that full set of potential as we move forward.”"

The Magic have their guiding hand now for their clean slate and their restart. It is an exciting but scary time for a franchise like the Magic.

With the right hand and the right messaging, the team could improve drastically over time and build a program that continues to improve. With the wrong hand, the team could whither away at the bottom of the standings hoping for luck to bounce the team back up.

Those potential outcomes are a long way off. There is a lot of work to do to get there. Now is just the time to focus on the moment to improve.

"“I believe you have to say be excited about right now,” Mosley said during his introductory press conference. “Be excited for this moment. You are getting to watch growth. You can grow with this team and how we develop and how we play exciting basketball and play with joy. I think you have to be excited about that.”"

This important piece of the puzzle is in place. The Magic have laid the first brick of this foundation.

Now it is about getting everything to build up piece by piece, day by day and moment by moment.

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Every little bit built on top of the foundation will be key to this team taking that important step forward.