For a team that has been out of the main storylines in the NBA and far out of the playoff picture for much of the last decade, it sure seems like the Orlando Magic are getting a brighter spotlight this offseason.
That is not for any moves they have made or new players added to the team. It is the growing excitement for a team on the rise and the internal development growth everyone expects.
Talent matters, of course — and Team USA director Grant Hill certainly recognized that in recruiting Paolo Banchero onto the World Cup team — but there is something else cooking and it sure feels like Team USA is trying to tap at least partly into the Magic’s success.
What Orlando certainly has gotten right at this stage of the team’s rebuild is a culture of development and growth. Jamahl Mosley deserves a lot of credit for it. He has built an environment where players work to improve together and the product on the floor is starting to show it. His team has bought fully into what Mosley has tried to instill and that has led to at least moderate and early success.
Team USA looked at that and appeared to say, “We want some of that.”
Jamahl Mosley will reportedly coach the U.S. Select Team to help Team USA train for the FIBA World Cup this August. That is another pillar of the Magic’s rebuild helping Team USA’s quest for gold.
Team USA is reportedly getting set to name Mosley as the coach of the U.S. Select Team, the training roster of young players to scrimmage against the senior national team, according to Joe Vardon and Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Mosley previously was an assistant coach for the Select Team used to help train Team USA ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021. That group used a lot of the G-League players who were helping the U.S. qualify for this year’s World Cup.
The Select Team typically pulls from younger players in the NBA as a way to introduce them to the Team USA senior national program and eventually graduate them to the main roster. Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Chet Holmgren and Keegan Murray are the reported names on this roster.
Banchero surely would have been in that group if the U.S. did not need to sweeten the pot to keep him from playing for Italy.
Mosley’s job as the head coach of this group is to coach them in scrimmages and prepare them to one day be part of Team USA, helping them grow their games while they are all working together while coaching them through scrimmages with the main roster.
That sounds like something Mosley would excel at to a tee.
When the Magic hired him before the 2022 season, they were advertised as getting someone who connects well with players and worked mostly as a development coach. He has slowly started to put his fingerprints on his young team as a tactician, but his work in the first two years of his time with the Magic has been mainly focused on building the culture he wants everyone working on.
That is something several Magic players have spoken about, nobody probably more clearly than Gary Harris when he went on the Club 520 podcast (if you listen to all of it, be aware that it is not safe for work and includes pretty free use of a word that in nearly every context is a racial slur, but it is not used as a slur in this conversation):
That is what Team USA is trying to get at. They want a coach who can connect quickly with a new batch of players, teach them and help them improve as they get ready for their seasons ahead and one day join Team USA.
It also certainly keeps Jamahl Mosley in the pipeline to join Steve Kerr’s staff on the national team for future tournaments — the Select Team is also a pipeline for coaches too.
Between Banchero and Mosley joining Team USA, that is a pretty ringing endorsement for two of the pillars of what the Magic are building. It is certainly a confirmation of the kind of talent that everyone believes the Magic have.
These summers spent with the national team can be instructive for young players in their development.
For instance, after Jonathan Isaac returned from his Select Team duty ahead of the 2020 season, then-coach Steve Clifford was beaming about what that experience would do for him. Indeed, Isaac came out of the gates hot after competing with the players on the 2019 World Cup squad. It was definitely a benefit for him to get exposed to some different coaching and elite competition.
The Magic are certainly hoping to have that happen with all the players they will have participating in the FIBA World Cup — Franz Wagner, Moe Wagner, Joe Ingles and Goga Bitadze will be in the tournament aside from Paolo Banchero. But they can also expect that to happen with their coach.
Mosley will be working directly with Kerr to develop what the national team needs for its training purposes. And that means he will get to work with Kerr and his strategizing and techniques.
Mosley will certainly add a lot to the team with his ability to develop and grow the teams he has coached. He will also gain a lot from working with the top coaching staff Team USA is going to employ — Tyronn Lue, Erik Spoelstra and Mark Few will be assistants on Steve Kerr’s staff.
There is going to be a pretty good exchange of ideas and thoughts that Mosley can certainly take home with him as he spends the next two months preparing his training camp and the upcoming season.
Still, Mosley did not get this chance without the work he has put in already. And so it is hard to think that the rest of the league is not noticing the work that Mosley and the Magic have put in. And this opportunity is a recognition of that and a chance to enhance it.