The Orlando Magic shifted their focus last trade deadline. Fans knew the team had made it clear they are focused on the development of its young players who have loads of potential. This caused fans to have mixed emotions.
Some fans were excited the team finally had a path they were willing to establish instead of being stuck in the middle of the league as a below-average playoff team.
Others were frustrated, as the team was finally starting to get to the postseason and now the entire playoff drought the Magic have faced much of the last decade is in front of them once again as a “rebuild.” For them, the Rob Hennigan rebuild never ended and this is year 10 of being building toward something.
The front office said the moves were made to avoid mediocrity. They were not satisfied with that middling playoff spot and did not see a way forward with their current roster — especially considering Evan Fournier’s impending free agency and Aaron Gordon’s trade request.
The frustration is still justified and logical though. With young players, there are a lot of growing pains as they often tend to focus too much on the little things which causes them to make mistakes on the basic simple things such as defensive coverage.
Rebuilding a team and building a proper culture around young players can be tough for both the team and its players, however, Orlando Magic and Jamahl Mosley must focus on the simple things to make the game easier.
Former Magic coach Steve Clifford often stated for younger players, he tries to help them master the basics of winning basketball games first and then focus on the more in-depth intricate details. He tried to simplify a player’s role and have them master those basics before expanding their responsibilities.
This makes sense and definitely makes the transition easier to the league for a player who is a teenager or in their early 20s. And when they struggled to master the basic things he needed from a player, they found it difficult to stay on the court.
In the first five games of the 2022 season, the Magic appear to be taking a similar approach.
The Magic’s young players are focusing too much at times on what sets to run on offense that they are struggling to move the ball at times which causes late shots in the shot clock.
Orlando’s young players for the most part have done a good job on the defensive end. However at times, they have gone under on shooters who have gotten off to a hot start, such as Tyler Herro or Miles Bridges.
No one is to blame for this. And coach Jamahl Mosley is certainly not the one. The Magic are undermanned right now and do not have a full roster to employ a higher pressure style. And the team is still getting down the finer points of what their coach is teaching.
Mosley has a lot on his plate as he transitions to becoming a full-time head coach in this league, as well as teaching young men the basic fundamentals of winning basketball games in the NBA. The Magic front office knew this is what a full rebuild takes, this is how players develop.
Mosley has put a lot of his focus in training camp on his vaunted “bell plays” and making little winning plays throughout the course of a game. He wants them to focus on succeeding in each play, hoping to build the team up brick by brick.
Eventually, all those bricks may create a house and a win.
There are growing pains but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Magic have a lot of young talent oozing with very gifted potential.
The team has to focus on the basics such as rebounding the ball as a team, helping each other, knowing their personnel and the gameplan of guarding each player on the opposing team to their strengths. They have to tie all these basic things together and that will put them in a position to win.
And even in just five games thus far, the team has made strides on both ends significantly. They are playing as a collective unit and playing extremely hard. The commitment on the defensive end especially has been a thing of beauty thus far.
Mosley has certainly helped the team get tied together, making adjustments and simplifying things even more to try to get the team prepared to play. There are still hiccups and areas the team knows it has to improve.
The goal for this season is to keep on that path of improvement.
Patience is a must with this project and road. An absolute must.
But this will come with time. It is vital Magic fans continue to support the players and coaching staff as they navigate through this time of development.