Orlando Magic’s preseason start an extension of training camp work

The Orlando Magic are hoping their preseason success is more than just a carryover of training camp themes. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are hoping their preseason success is more than just a carryover of training camp themes. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Every coach around the league is likely going to de-emphasize their preseason games in some way. Yes, this is a public display of the team, and all the fans — and the media — have to work on. But they will all inevitably call these preseason games merely an extension of their training camp.

These games are not any more or less important than anything they do in camp. They reveal areas the team needs to work on and just how much everything is clicking in. There will always be more work to do before the regular season starts — counting down to Oct. 25.

What the Magic seem to be working on though does seem to be clicking in significant ways.

The Orlando Magic have won both preseason games and their starting group has looked solid. They have seen the team build on training camp themes in their preseason games.

There was this play where Paolo Banchero got the ball in the paint and found Franz Wagner trailing to the hoop for a dunk.

There were plenty of other plays during that highlight mix where the Magic showed the spacing and passing the team is looking for too. Everyone working in concert. Everything flowing naturally and fitting together.

The Magic’s first two preseason games were a success not merely because they won — that might be the least important thing. They were a success because the team did seem to carry things over from their work in training camp. They did look like a team that had made gains and had the confidence to keep putting those pieces together.

"“I really liked their attention to detail [and] their focus level,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after practice Saturday. “What is standing out to me most in these moments is their passing. Their willingness to share the basketball, they are trusting each other and finding each other in the right spots. That is what we’ve said from the beginning. That’s the important piece of continuity from the team and bringing that team back together so they know where the next person and trust that man next to them.”"

Passing has indeed been something that is obviously different for the Magic. They recorded 29 assists in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans and 27 assists in the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team only had 16 games with 27 or more assists all of last season.

That was part of why the offense looked significantly better and one of many noticeable changes for the Magic on offense.

This is where the team’s continuity has helped. It was not merely talk. Plays like that pass from Banchero to Wagner are not something designed. They are born from having played together for a year and everyone on the floor expecting Wagner to make that cut.

Continuity is not simply about knowing the plays and defensive schemes. It is about the trust in each other and the ability to communicate and talk through adjustments in real-time. That is perhaps where the Magic showed the most growth and the most maturity in their first two preseason games.

"“I think it’s a product of just how close we are,” Jalen Suggs said after practice Saturday. “We work together off the court. We have a great feel [and] great connection. When we get on the court, naturally we are able to talk to each other. We’re understanding where guys want to be, who’s going to cut where and the timing of things. The first open shot, if you’re there, let’s create one and take it. We have to trust in each other to make them. I think it’s a factor of those two: how close we are and believing in each other’s work.”"

Mosley said there is a quick carryover. When players are asked to do something, they are able to recognize and apply it in real-time. That is something Mosley said you would not expect from a team this young. But that is where their maturity comes through.

It is just a preseason game of course. There are still plenty of things to work on.

The defense certainly needs to get cleaned up, especially in the first quarter where Orlando gave up big score lines in each first quarter. The team has to get better on the glass. And turnovers remain an ever-present struggle.

On top of all of this, the Magic giving up a late 13-0 run against the Cavaliers even if it was with a lineup filled with mostly the team’s Exhibit 10 players was a reminder of how critical late-game situations will be. Orlando’s struggles early in the season last year in clutch situations were undoubtedly a big reason why the team ultimately missed the postseason.

There are a lot of things to practice and work on to prepare for the regular season. Getting experience and testing things out in the preseason is indeed an extension of the work the team is putting in during practice and camp.

The team recognizes that too. That is part of the maturity the team is consistently showing. And so this work is important in establishing who the team will be.

"“I think we’re more mature,” Suggs said after practice Saturday. “We talked about it a little bit. We showed ourselves last year. We wanted to make ourselves known and make our presence felt. I think we did that. We won more games. We were in closer games. You could tell we grew from that first year. Now it’s how do we continue to grow and pick up off that second year? I think it’s maturing and understanding when we’re in between the lines it’s business. It’s dope. We’re talking in the game, we’re flowing, we’re picking up on adjustments. It makes for great basketball.”"

That is the part the team needs to practice most as these preseason games continue.

The preseason is that extension of training camp. It is the chance for the team to continue building its communication and how the team will react to stimuli and what opposing teams will throw at them. It has been an intriguing point of growth for the team through the first week of games.

Next. Everyone knows the Orlando Magic are coming soon. dark

And there is still clearly more to build on. Something the team seems very eager to build on.