Orlando Magic finding the details they need in training camp

Jalen Suggs' late-game heroics throughout his career make him a big X-factor for the Orlando Magic's future playoff pushes. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs' late-game heroics throughout his career make him a big X-factor for the Orlando Magic's future playoff pushes. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley was not happy with his team’s focus during the second practice session Tuesday. At least that was what Jalen Suggs told the media Wednesday.

The Magic as a team are trying to be more serious about their efforts and their intention for the season. They are trying to show more maturity and focus as they seek to accomplish their goal of making the postseason and continuing to grow.

They know that doing this will take learning and mastering the little details and paying attention to the foundations of their work. It will mean elevating each other and keeping everyone on the same page and growing in the right direction.

The margins to making or missing the postseason are narrow. And so the team will need its focus from the start.

The Orlando Magic are still getting down the details and the level of focus they will need to win and accomplish their team goals for the season ahead.

Was this a typical coach trying to put his team on high alert early in training camp or a wake-up call to a young team still learning how to win consistently and work every day?

Either way, the moment forced the team into some introspection. It forced them to refocus on Wednesday’s practice session. These are the details the Magic need to find and part of the task for this team to grow this year.

"“I think that’s the beauty of training camp, Suggs said after practice Wednesday. “Yesterday evening in our session, I think we did a decent job but we could have done a better job being locked in mentally. Coach let us know about it. We talked about it as players.“I think that’s growth from us. It wasn’t like last year or the year before where those days people recognize it but we don’t say it and we kind of keep pushing. We’re catching those things in the moment now, harping on them, changing them. Today, we had a locked-in and focused day with great competition and everybody got better.”"

This is not something the Magic might have done last year.

Suggs said the team held each other accountable, but there was a hesitancy to bring it up in the moment. There was a fear of stepping on each other’s toes or making somebody feel bad.

This is a young, tight-knit group. That is one of the hallmarks of the culture the Magic are building. Part of that love and respect is being able to talk to other players and keep everyone on the same page.

That is perhaps the biggest challenge for the team this year. They have to catch these moments in the moment and keep everyone on task. As Suggs put it, this year “we’re all about business.” These moments in training camp are not about today or tomorrow but preparing for the difficult games and season ahead.

Now is the time to catch and correct these missteps and make sure the team understands every aspect of what it is trying to do.

"“These guys have bought in over the summer,” Mosley said. “A lot of it is not necessarily what I’m coming out saying right away because I don’t have to say it. They talked this summer about the things they want to do, what they want to accomplish and how hard they want to compete. The word we used today is service. How do I serve my teammate and not make it about myself but make it about the guy next to me? That way I can hold you accountable and you know it’s about me trying to lift you up rather than me trying to focus on myself.”"

The Magic’s continuity is certainly an advantage in this regard. It is not just about knowing the plays and the terminology the coaches are using, it is the relationship between players to help each other grow. There is a trust the team has with each other.

And that trust is increasingly growing to include some tough love when necessary. This can be a difficult part of a team maturing. They have to accept criticism and correction from teammates working together.

The Magic are looking for ways to mature and grow their game. It is not in losing their joy of playing or shedding their personality. It is in understanding the work that is ahead and what it will take to help the team grow in a significant way.

The details the Magic are trying to get down are tactical — the team began working on end-of-game scenarios and making sure they know how to execute to finish games — as much as they are about the focus the team needs to succeed.

To that point, Orlando last year was a middling team in clutch situations (when the game is within five points in the final five minutes) going 19-25 overall. But the team had one of the worst clutch defensive ratings in the league at 120.4 points allowed per 100 possessions.

After Dec. 7, things improved dramatically as the team went 19-13 with a 112.3 defensive rating (still 20th in the league).

The Magic still have a lot of things to perfect and get down.

"“We want to be a team that does not beat themselves,” Mosley said. “The teams that walk in here, they’re going to have to take it from us versus us giving those games away. That comes in the form of something as simple as a free throw line blockout or one extra pass on offense. Those little things are the difference makers in the games that we win or lose.”"

This is where the Magic are putting their focus. Just as they are likely putting their focus on reducing turnovers — perhaps one of the team’s biggest weaknesses last year. Orlando was 27th in the league with a 15.1 percent turnover rate. The Magic gave up 18.2 points off turnovers per game, 25th in the league.

Orlando still has work to do.

That is what the team is hoping to change and get down in training camp. The team is hoping that everyone can get on the same page early on in training camp so the team can build to a hot start this season.

Those details are found in the work through these early days in camp.

"“I think you have to be honest with yourself and with others,” Suggs said. “I think it starts like that. If you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I pushed myself as hard as I can go today, I was fully locked in while we were speaking and while we were on the court, and I was doing everything in my power to get better and get our team better. If you do that every day and add that to 15 guys on one roster, you are in a good space. Everyone is doing a good job of being locked in and buying in and really being intense during these sessions.”"

Next. Refinement, consistency key for Franz Wagner. dark

That is the message and the accountability the Magic are looking for from each other. There are details to gather and learn and weaknesses to improve on. The only way the team is going to improve on them is together.