Orlando Magic welcome Anthony Black, Jett Howard to the family

Jun 22, 2023; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Anthony Black (Arkansas) arrives for the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft at Barclays Arena. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2023; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Anthony Black (Arkansas) arrives for the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft at Barclays Arena. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA is truly a small community.

The lifers in the league intersect with each other pretty commonly and in interesting ways. So too do the players as they come up.

Anthony Black and Jett Howard already seemed fast friends as they strolled up the podium at the AdventHealth Training Center holding up their freshly printed Orlando Magic jerseys.

The duo went to different schools but had roomed together at an Allen Iverson Classic for elite high school prospects. They were quick friends then and quick friends now.

President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman knew the Howard family too.

He suddenly realized shortly after the draft that when he met Juwan Howard while Howard played for the Denver Nuggets and Jeff Weltman was an executive for the team there that Howard’s wife was pregnant . . . with Jett Howard.

A small world indeed.

But that is just how all these worlds intersect and come together. This is just how families come to be.

The biggest feeling any new prospect seems to have about the Orlando Magic is the familial feeling within the organization. That was the first impression for Anthony Black and Jett Howard as they arrived in Orlando.

The Magic officially welcomed two new members to their family on Friday, introducing Anthony Black and Jett Howard, the sixth and 11th picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Of all the things that stood out about their welcome, it was this feeling of honesty and family that seemed to shine through.

As much as these two players meet all the things the Magic value, the Magic themselves are increasingly becoming a team and an organization that develops and grows its players in a familial atmosphere. Their process with these new players starts with welcoming them as family.

"“As we always say, we draft the person, not the player,” Weltman said as the Magic introduced their draft picks. “It’s the most important thing to us. Whatever we are doing right or wrong the one thing I know is these guys are joining a bunch of really good people in the locker room and all around this building to be the best people and the best players that they can be. To receive two young men into our team who have been brought up this way is an honor and a privilege for us.”"

The Magic have worked hard to build a culture that feels like a family.

Everyone can see it in the way players on the team interact with each other and the culture coach Jamahl Mosley has tried to instill. This culture is one where teammates support and build each other up but also compete fiercely against each other to get the best out of each other.

As much as the Magic have improved the talent on the court and their ability to play, they are also greatly improving their perception around the league. Everyone can feel it.

If there was an early impression of the Magic organization from both Black and Howard it was this familial atmosphere surrounding the program. They felt it after they both came in for workouts and met with the Magic and felt it again as they were officially welcomed into the organization.

"“After my workout, I kind of had a feel for the people in the organization,” Black said of if he believed the Magic would pick him. “I thought it was someplace I could fit. I felt like it was a possibility. Sitting at the table you never really know. It was definitely exciting.”"

There have been questions about what the Magic did — just peruse any number of sites (including our own) and you will find a lot of criticism for the Magic and what they did.

Black is a defensive-minded guard with good positional size and a questionable jumper. Howard is a deadly outside shooter but has questions throughout the rest of his game, particularly on defense.

Weltman reiterated the Magic set out on draft night to add players with talent, character, basketball IQ, positional size and “the fit and the fight” to compete. He feels they got that in their two players.

Weltman certainly believes he added two players who will fight through the battles that come in the postseason and have high basketball IQs to figure things out.

A roster full of those players can indeed be a dangerous thing. That gets back to the overall vision the Magic seem to be building. Black and Howard fit that vision well.

Orlando and Weltman certainly were not concerned what the talking heads would say about their draft. They took the players that fit their vision for their team and the needs they wanted to fill.

How far that will go will be determined in the coming months and years. The Magic though trust that their culture will be enough to bring that out.

"“The biggest thing that spoke out for me was I would probably say the family atmosphere,” Howard said during Friday’s press conference. “Everyone was just so genuine and real. When we got on the court, it was just super competitive. I would just say the competitive nature within the organization was what I wanted to be around. That spoke out to me after the workout.”"

The team’s growth and development start with this familial trust.

It is what the Magic try to lead with organizationally in welcoming new players to the fold. It is what seems to be so attractive about what the Magic are building and what has everyone so bought in.

That is a credit to the work Weltman has done with the people he has chosen to lead the franchise. And it is a testament to the culture that Mosley is building as well.

It takes a lot of trust to be coached and to be pushed. It takes an understanding of the love a player is receiving from the coaching staff and from teammates to be truly competitive.

The Magic have put a lot of focus on acquiring players who understand this and want to do the work for themselves and for others.

This is part of the culture that has stood out to these players and the culture that Black and Howard seem eager to embrace and join.

"“I think the family atmosphere you can see it so much because what we do is meet people where they are. Allow them to be themselves,” Mosley said Friday. “These two young men come in and they are themselves. Our group is the same way.“We talk about it a ton but keep your ego out of it. Allow people to be who they are and help them push to be their best. These two men will push to work to get better and will be pushed to work and get better not just by our coaching staff but by the players around them. The ability to compete day in and day out is going to be something fun that they will be able to enjoy to improve.”"

That work will start for these two rookies next week when the Magic put together their Summer League roster and prepare for their first games in Las Vegas — they open against the Detroit Pistons on July 8.

What the Magic are almost completely sure of is that both are eager to get to work and get on the floor. That is what their family and their culture is about.

Next. Orlando Magic need to let Cole Anthony keep proving himself. dark

Now they have two more players to welcome to that family.