Jamahl Mosley has gotten the Orlando Magic to believe again

The Orlando Magic extended Jamahl Mosely's contract last week and have not lost a game since. as the team looks to return to the Playoffs and continue to grow from there.
Orlando Magic v New York Knicks
Orlando Magic v New York Knicks / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The future is now.

Believe it or not, the Orlando Magic rebuild is over. The team is winning now.

As much as the team is focused on the development of its young players still, the team's winning window is open. The Magic are jostling for playoff position and trying to stake a claim in the Eastern Conference.

They are certainly putting in a bid to be the best young team in the Eastern Conference.

That is part of the balance coach Jamahl Mosley has had to juggle.

But Mosley has had to get his team to believe. That is a tall task from the depths the Magic were at. But the team believed from the start and is now reaping the rewards.

And the team rewarded Mosley for that with an extension for its head coach through the 2028 season.

Just as Orlando has invested in its young roster and belief in what they can do, the team has invested in the growth its coach has brought too. Mosley has taken the Magic a long way, but there is still work to do.

Orlando brought him at the beginning of this rebuild following the trades of Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. The team knew it would be a long journey to climb back to the top. But the team has made it there.

Just as the Magic are eager to see their young team grow, they will be eager to see their coach grow too.

The results are the first proof of where this team is going.

The Magic are currently 40-28 and fifth in the Eastern Conference as they gear up for their Playoff run.

They trail the New York Knicks by a half-game for homecourt advantage in this year's Playoffs and the Cleveland Cavaliers by 2.5 games for third. They hold a two-game lead over the Indiana Pacers for sixth and sit 2.5 games clear of the Miami Heat to avoid the Play-In Game entirely.

With 14 games to play, the Magic are one win from hitting 41 wins for just the second time since Dwight Howard's departure in 2012. They can secure their spot in the postseason with one more win or one more Brooklyn Nets loss.

Nobody saw the team climbing to this height this quickly. It feels like the Magic are ahead of schedule in so many ways.

Imagine that. The team is two years removed from finishing its season 22-60, the Magic find themselves contenders in a jam-packed playoff race. And it does not feel like this is the end of the road but just the beginning of it.

That is a credit to Mosley and the culture he has helped develop. Extensions are given for results and the Magic have delivered results.

In a two-year span the Magic are 74-76 with one of the youngest rosters in the league. Getting the No. 1 pick helps, but the team has crafted a system that emphasizes Paolo Banchero's skills and what makes him unique.

No one in the national media may be talking about the Magic yet, but the team is on the rise beyond just their place in the standings.

The entire atmosphere has changed in Central Florida in a short time. Now the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter than ever.

Mosley has crafted an identity center on defense and versatility. The team is fourth in the league in defensive rating. On offense the team still has its shaky parts but with two 6-foot-10 ball-handling forwards, the Magic have the ability to put a lot of pressure on defenses with unusual leaders.

Mosley's offense still needs work as the Magic try to add shooting. But he has been creative in how he uses his best players. He puts defenses in tricky positions when the team can get space for their best players.

Beyond the Xs and Os, Mosley has everyone on the team bought into the culture. Everyone plays a little harder on defense and plays with a little bit more joy and bravado. Mosley has his fingerprints everywhere, even if he wants to defer attention to the players and to his coaching staff.

They are all part of the same culture Mosley has built.

All of this success was done under Mosley's leadership.

Mosley has led a team no one believed in and convinced them they could be a top-five team in the Eastern Conference. His belief in them has created a culture of acceptance, a belief they could potentially be whatever they dream they could be. And the players on this roster believe it even more now that they see themselves in striking distance to a potential Finals run.

That distance is not as far as it once was. Even last year when the Magic were the last team eliminated from postseason contention, competing for homecourt advantage felt far off. But things have changed under Mosley.

At first, the distance was just making the Playoffs and putting them in a situation that Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon had them in back during the 2019 season.

Orlando has blown past that marker. Now the Magic are looking and feeling more like the 1994 team that featured Shaquille O'Neal's first playoff trip or the 2007 team that featured Dwight Howard's first postseason.

That is the class the Magic have put themselves in as they near the postseason.

With Mosely at the helm, the distance is so close that the coaching staff has to find ways to get them to believe their success is now the beginning of a Finals run. The team's expectations have been elevated.

The Magic are already a Playoff team. The Magic overachieved when it came down to the goal that was set at the beginning of the year. But they overachieved by arriving sooner. This was always part of their destiny and path. Now they have to parlay this season to move beyond and grow into a true title contender.

That will be the next challenge for Mosley and his team. They have to experience the Playoffs and find a way to keep getting better.

But more importantly, Mosley's presence in Orlando has helped set the standard for that growth.

Pressure is on the horizon. The first time a team makes the Playoffs is found money. Everyone is just excited for the ride and the newness of winning.

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Next year, the Magic will not only be expected to match this year's results but improve on it. That is the big challenge Mosley will have his team believing in next year after they produced confirmation of faith this year.