Jonathan Isaac remembered his first training camp back in 2017.
He said he felt like a deer in the headlights trying to keep up with the speed of an NBA practice, let alone trying to think about an NBA game. There is a lot of information to get down during the early days of training camp. Teams only have a week before that first preseason game and everyone is trying to get ready.
Those first days are spent laying a foundation for what the team will do and what the team will accomplish this season. It is about the basics — and running, lots and lots of running.
Everyone needs to pick each other up. And for the team to get all that it needs to get done during this extended practice time and foundation for the season, everyone has to be on the same page.
There is plenty of work that goes into preparing for a season. The work honestly begins before training camp officially begins in a lot of ways with group and team workouts that happen in the weeks leading up to the season.
The Orlando Magic opened training camp and are working to lay their foundations for the season. That includes taking ownership of the process and helping each other in the process.
Things are very different for a player like Isaac now. Even after spending years recovering from injury, there is comfort in the usual rhythms of training camp. Even though he has played only 11 games under coach Jamahl Mosley, he feels comfortable with what the Magic are doing.
All he can do is impart his wisdom as the longest tenured Magic player on the roster to others. Especially to the team’s two rookies in Anthony Black and Jett Howard. All anyone on the Magic can do is take ownership of the process and ownership of each practice.
One of the biggest ways the Magic have evolved is in how they each help each other and how they do a lot of the coaching themselves. The Magic are entering this season with a more focused attention to detail and desire to make the postseason. That starts with the team helping each other out.
"“Every day, it’s a different dude — older dudes, some of the younger dudes even — telling me about pace, finding my teammates, playing a little bit slower, defensive tips, all types of stuff,” Black said after his first practice Tuesday. “They are definitely doing a good job teaching me and Jett [Howard] what we’re trying to do.”"
Orlando brought back virtually its entire roster from last year back — only Bol Bol and Michael Carter-Williams did not return from the team’s final roster. The team is hoping that continuity will help the team hit the ground running this season and avoid the kind of tough start that derailed last season.
For the team though, that means a few things. It means that the team can work quickly through its foundational principles and start building more layered concepts of the team’s offense and defense.
Coach Jamahl Mosley said the team has done a good job laying the foundation and setiting daily expectations for the team. Because they know what to expect and because they know what they need to focus on in practice.
Because that message is the same from the last few years, players know what the coaches mean and are looking for in each drill. That enables them to increase the intensity of their work.
It also means that the players have been part of this team for a while now and they can do a lot of the coaching and keep each other up to speed. This is part of the accountability this young team talked aobut through much of media day.
"“The great part about this group is they communicate well with one another,” Mosley said. “It’s not necessarily me having to say anything. Soemtimes you have Paolo [Banchero] on the sideline coming over and grabbing a young guy to talk to him about what to do in a certain drill. That’s the great part about that continuity is that they can coach themselves.”"
The fact that even a second-year player can take on this role is saying something about how much the individuals have taken ownership over this team and what they hope they can accomplish.
That search and growth of leadership is one of the big themes for the team. As this group matures, Mosley is hoping that young players will rise to leadership roles.
Paolo Banchero noted this during media day, saying he has had talks with Jamahl Mosley, Franz Wagner and other team leaders for ways he can be a greater leader. Everyone is going to find ways to step up and lead in their own way.
One way is certainly in helping keep everyone up to speed with what is going on and doing so in a way that does not slow the group down. Everyone is going to have their role to play to help each other grow.
And the fact that the Magic are taking on this responsibility is a good sign of that growth. Everyone is sharing and taking that responsibility seriously to help the team improve.
"“I would say each one to a man spoke about what they have to do to help each other out,” Mosley said. “This thing is more fo a partnership with these guys helping them understand how we want to play and them accepting it and embracing it and whatever comes after that.”"
Every rookie is going to have that feeling of being wide-eyed with their first training camp. There are always going to be challenges.
But that is where the team comes in. They work to pick each other up and help each other. They fill in the gaps that need to be filled on the roster. They work to make sure everyone is on the same page.
This young team is certainly still growing in that regard. But with so much already known and so much already established, the Magic are a long way down the road. And this group is taking ownership of the task ahead ot make the most of this training camp.