2023 Orlando Magic Season Review What Went Right: Jamahl Mosley has the big picture

Jamahl Mosley kept the Orlando Magic focused on the big picture all season. Helping foster an atmosphere for their growth. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Jamahl Mosley kept the Orlando Magic focused on the big picture all season. Helping foster an atmosphere for their growth. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

Rebuilding is a tricky thing.

Everyone wants it to be a straight path. A seeming stepping stone from one progression to the next. An inevitable growth that just happens automatically from experience and trial and error.

And for that reason, any setback can be a source of panic. Stalled growth can lead to frustration.

This view of things sees progress as inevitable with only the slightest bit of guidance. That talent ultimately wins out and overwhelms any other plans or deviations from the path laid ahead of them.

If only it were that simple.

A successful rebuild takes measured patience and a clear vision for what the team will one day be. It takes the discipline and belief to stick to that vision and make incremental progress — even if it means taking two steps forward after taking a step back.

Nothing happens in a straight line. And teams have to be ready for the ups and downs that come in the course of the season. They also have to make sure the team stays focused on the big picture. A big picture that is not fully realized in the present.

Everyone has to see it and believe it still.

This was the difficult task that stood in front of coach Jamahl Mosley.

The Orlando Magic have a difficult task in rebuilding. But coach Jamahl Mosley kept the team focused on its big picture and delivered results to prove they were on the right track.

Even when things were not going well — even when the team suffered heartbreaking losses and made mistakes — Mosley kept his team focused on the big picture and on the overall growth they made.

In an immediate postseason race, those momentary setbacks can be frustrating. But in the longer race, Mosley’s encouragement and willingness to let players grow and improve will serve the team better.

Throughout the season, Mosley kept his focus on the big picture for this young Orlando Magic team. He allowed players to make and learn from their mistakes. He ran his team and made decisions that would help them be better not for this season, but for their future season when they would be competing for the playoffs — and hopefully a championship. He never abandoned anything too quickly without giving all parties involved a chance to figure it out.

That empowerment built trust and belief. And ultimately, it delivered some results as the Magic stayed in the postseason race far longer than anybody thought.

The postseason is still a long way away. But Mosley’s ability to keep that thought out there or to instill belief that something that is not working perfectly now will pay off down the road is something incredibly valuable.

This season was a success because the Magic bought in and grew under that vision. And even when they struggled early in the season, they stuck with it and improved.

Mosley never wavered in that belief and never overreacted. His team stuck with that to deliver a promising season.

It started with the way the team bought in completely. And that is a testament to the way Mosley related to his players — and people in general.

His first season as head coach was about selling the team on togetherness. But the concrete vision was not quite in place. The first core pieces were not in place. But everyone could feel the spirit and togetherness of the team.

Adding the number one pick has a way of creating clarity of purpose and vision. That number-one pick playing like the Rookie of the Year from the first day of the season only adds to the pressure and expectation.

That togetherness was something they took with them into the offseason. That continued throughout this season.

That was one of the things the team took away from the season. Every Magic player talked about how the team became a brotherhood. This is the foundation for the belief every player had in each other.

Playing at a postseason level deep into the season also adds to that pressure.

What was telling then about the Magic’s season and the job Mosley did was how he continued to stick the landing on what was successful about his first season while continuing to add layers and foster that improvement.

Things were not a straight line for Orlando in the 2023 season. Things could have easily gone off the rails early on in the year as the team dealt with injuries and fell to 5-20. But it was telling about the job Mosley did that he kept the team completely together. Nobody wavered in their belief of what this team could do.

Where the Magic were successful this season was in how Mosley kept the team focused on its potential and what it could eventually become. The fact that they actually became many of those things along this journey was a true testament to Mosley and the job he did.

Proof that he was the right coach for this team and this stage of the rebuild.

The number bear that out too.

After the Magic’s 5-20 start, the Magic were sixth in the league in defensive rating in the entire league, giving up 113.0 points per 100 possessions. Orlando went 29-28 the rest of the way, graduating fairly comfortably to .500 team.

That is obviously not an end destination. There are still places the Magic need to grow. And some of the Magic’s setbacks were by design.

Putting the ball in Paolo Banchero’s hands late in games was a choice that was going to lead to some struggles and failures, but would become necessary when he takes on that responsibility as his career continues. That was on display in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans late in the season. An investment that was already starting to pay off.

These were choices that focused on the future and helped create the team the Magic will eventually become. These choices helped cement who the Magic will become.

Rebuilds are tricky. There are plenty of examples of young players and teams who never crystallize into a cogent team or talented rebuilds that go nowhere from a lack of direction.

Just look at the Magic’s history from the last decade. A team that did not have the guiding hand to turn talent and potential — Aaron Gordon and Tobias Harris are playing key roles on championship-contending teams right now — into something real.

There is still work to do, of course. The Magic will have to add some players from outside the current roster to make things easier. And Orlando has some things to adjust even with its core principles — the 3-point math problem remains a big knock against an otherwise strong-performing defense.

Mosley deserves a lot of credit for helping guide and foster the Magic’s successes, especially considering how deep in the hole the team started.

His team believes in him and rallied around the things he said.

More important still for a rebuilding team, the Magic delivered some results to prove the growth and the overall vision the team has.

dark. Next. 3 Orlando Magic players who could fall flat in the playoffs

Now with that in their back pocket, they can begin making that vision that seemed so far off feel much closer. That was ultimately the greatest success of this season.