Jamahl Mosley has quieted all his doubters and shifted the narrative

The Orlando Magic front office knew exactly who they were hiring when they picked Jamahl Mosley as the coach. Although, he was a rookie head coach, his work ethic and attention to detail were vital in turning the Magic's culture around thus far this season.
Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

Not many people knew about Jamahl Mosley when the Orlando Magic hired him in the summer of 2021.

At the time, he was an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks. He had a long history of being a well-respected assistant coach throughout the NBA for many years after a professional playing career as an energy player in Australia among other leagues.

He carved out an identity as a coach in the NBA as a player's coach, someone who would get on the court and work with players and build strong relationships as he worked hard to improve them.

That is exactly what Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman wanted. For his rebuild, the Magic wanted a coach who would focus on player development and build deep connections with his team. They wanted someone who could foster growth on a young roster as they learned to win and learned the NBA.

Ultimately, they wanted a coach who could learn and grow himself too. They wanted someone who could build the kind of culture that went from development to winning.

Mosley had been tested a bunch, just like how he would be in the early parts of the rebuild in Orlando as a head coach. Now is the time that Mosley starts to reap the benefits of the patience he has had all along.

Now he and the Magic are seeing that vision come together.

Mosley still has a lot to prove about himself. But no one can argue with the results. The Orlando Magic have matched last year's win total with their win Thursday against the Utah Jazz. They sit (for now, at least) tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference, percentage points behind the Philadelphia 76ers, and only a game behind the New York Knicks for fourth and potentially homecourt advantage in the Playoffs.

The question is no longer if the Magic will make the postseason, but which seed. That is a testament to how steady Mosley has been throughout the season and the big picture he has constantly preached to a young team going through a playoff chase for the first time.

Everyone around the league has noticed the work Mosley has done.

"I've known Mose for a long time. He's a student of the game," Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in December. "He has a very curious mind, a great work ethic, he has always worked at the craft of his coaching. He has worked with and for a lot of really good people over the years. It's not really a surprise when he got his opportunity that he was one ready for it and two that he has been able to build a culture and identity for this group that really fits."

Mosley has learned from a lot of great coaches -- just in the NBA he has been on staffs with George Karl and Rick Carlisle along with working with the great coaches wtih Team USA during the prep for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and the FIBA World Cup last summer.

The Magic, currently sitting at 34-26, have vastly exceeded expectations this season. The identity the Magic have formed on defense has been astonishing. The Magic currently are tied for the fifth-best defense in the NBA. That did not happen overnight. It was a work in progress for many seasons.

Orlando has made a stead progression in Mosley's three seasons going from 22 wins in 2022 to 34 wins last year to what appears to be a playoff season this year. The Magic are working on just their second season above .500 since Dwight Howard's departure in 2012.

Mosley has helped turn the franchise around -- he would credit his coaching staff and the players more than himself. But Mosley has built the culture to foster that growth and see this improvement.

The small things matter. Each small hustle play matters. The "Ring the Bell" plays Mosley and his staff have emphasized are coming to fruition. It is all about sustaining that now. There have been many times a team has started the NBA season on a hot note but then cooled off.

This Magic team has not. They weathered the storm of injuries and a rough December and January to stay in the playoff race. They seem poised to rise the standings in the final quarter of the season.

Thursday's win against the Jazz was a prime example of that. When playing against an inferior opponent, it is easy to lose focus. The Magic did lose focus at the end of the second quarter, as they were having too much fun and being a bit careless. The Jazz closed the first half on an 11-0 run to cut the Magic lead from 12 to two going into the half.

And even in the third quarter, the Jazz took the lead. But the Magic stayed the course. They stayed with it. They kept on playing their game and got to their spots. They played great defense down the stretch which gave them separation to pull away with the win.

Mosley will always deflect credit -- when asked about matching last year's win total he praised the coaching staff more than himself. But he has overseen a dramatic change in this franchise all while continuing to push the team to do more.

The narrative has shifted around the Magic. And, quite frankly, their head coach.

Mosley has been successful thus far in his role. His player development has been great. The Magic getting off to a hot start was not some fluke.

They stuck to their principles and have been excellent at them. They played hard-nosed basketball on both ends, making life tough for their opponents. And for the most part, they have continued that amidst the few hiccups and roller coasters of the season.

Now it is a matter of keeping that up, and Mosley has certainly set the Magic up to do just that.

He is big on the little details that make up good teams. His "do it by committee" mindset is a perfect recipe to have for a successful, selfless team.

The Magic are now 5-1 in their last 6 games. Now is the perfect time to go on this run of wins as the Eastern Conference standings are extremely close. The attention to detail Mosley often phrases his team as having will be even more vital as they go into these last 22 games of the season.

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In either case, Mosley looks like the man to lead the team. He has led them out of the rebuild phase and into the winning phase. And he seems poised to continue pushing this team forward.