2023 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Jamahl Mosley needs to find a way to make this season a success

Oct 26, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley reacts during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley reacts during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

It is time to level up. This season is about playing to a new standard of basketball.

That has been the rallying cry for the Orlando Magic throughout the offseason.

The team knew last year was a year of growth and experience. They were not going to judge themselves on their record. But a 22-win season is still an easy floor to overcome. The Magic went through last season playing through moral victories and were applauded for simply fighting to stay in a game.

But this season that is no longer acceptable. This season is about being able to win games and about being able to start building the identity Orlando will carry for the future.

This potential this team carries falls onto the shoulders of Jamahl Mosley to bring it out.

The Orlando Magic aim to improve and take some critical next steps in their development. The pressure of delivering that growth falls on its young coach.

Mosley was hired as a master in player development and player relationships. His ability to connect with a star like Luka Doncic and plenty of others throughout his time in the NBA was seen as a bonus. Especially for a young team.

There is no doubt that he connected with his young team to lead them through that difficult first season. But the team has bigger ambitions now.

While no one would say the team has a goal of making the Play-In Tournament outright — fans certainly believe it with the talent present on the team — it is the direction the team ultimately wants to point toward.

The task this year is getting there.

Doing that is going to be a question of whether or not Mosley would be able to make adjustments and make a rotation that leads to wins. He has to do more than develop his player. This year will be a test of whether Mosley can be the tactician to help this team perform.

Orlando will not judge its season wholly on wins. But winning will remain a focus.

But with the injuries piling up for the Magic early this season, it is not reasonable to expect Mosley to win games considering all of the rotational players that are sitting out. He is having to find ways to experiment and figure his team out while missing a near five-man lineup of expected rotation players.

Instead, this season is quickly becoming about accountability and finding a consistent way of playing on both ends of the court. This is an area where the team is still developing.

The Magic’s identity on defense was supposed to be about playing with physicality and creating havoc on that end. Unfortunately, Mosley is not able to make that environment with arguably the best defenders out of the line-up in Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac. Not to mention injuries that likely have him scaling back some plans to protect the players’ health.

With that being said, Mosley still needs to find a way to demand accountability and to start to paint the picture of what the team’s defense may look like when the team is healthy. It will fall on Mosley to make sure the team will continue to fight and play their style of defense in this early part of the season while these players make their return.

On the offensive end, the Magic are going to be without their guards and their offense will not reach their height. But it too can begin to touch their style of play.

Mosley’s offensive base is to play with pace and with the pass and this season was to evolve that into an efficient offense. The team is trying to leverage its length and put more pressure on the rim as they begin to layer their offensive style. Even with these guards out the Magic can still start to play with the player movement and pace that Mosley demands from his team.

Mosley understands he has a young team. So far this season, fan frustration has come from his inconsistent rotations and decision-making.

But he deserves credit for using this early part of the season to experiment and see what else he has on his roster. Playing without a point guard forced the team to accelerate experiments with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero as main ball handlers. The same caused them to push Bol Bol into the starting lineup and see what they had in the versatile big man who just needed a chance to play.

There has been good to come out of Mosley’s decisions. Even if there are still questions of whether and how he can point the team toward winning.

For now, the Magic need to survive. While Mosley needs to help display flashes of what this team will become, in the short term Mosley has to find a way to stay connected to the Eastern Conference and give his team a chance to compete down the stretch of the season.

Then finally, ( knock on wood ) once the team is fully healthy, Mosley needs to be able to paint the picture of what the future of the Magic will look like.

Next. Jalen Suggs still growing, improving. dark

Mosley needs to instill a way to play on both ends of the court into this team, and there is a belief he will. For now, under these circumstances, there is only one thing that can be asked of Mosley and that is to survive.