Orlando Magic's "by-committee" approach defines, limits their success

The Orlando Magic constantly stress their "by-committee" approach as the key to their offense. This has become a defining trait of their culture, even as they eye the pressures of the Playoffs.
Paolo Banchero has been as successful as a playmaker as the Orlando Magic try to build a by-committee approach that can last for years.
Paolo Banchero has been as successful as a playmaker as the Orlando Magic try to build a by-committee approach that can last for years. / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The constant refrain from coach Jamahl Mosley throughout the season is that this team works by committee. Everyone is capable of stepping in and helping, adding something to the mix for this team and playing big when their number has been called.

It is the mantra for the team.

Yes, Paolo Banchero carries a huge offensive load. There are players with specific skills that the team tries to leverage for consistent points. They love to use space to try to hunt for mismatches and put their size to good use.

Orlando can be a multi-faceted offense, but a lot of it starts with having their key players attracting and soaking up attention and trusting them to make the pass out to the perimeter.

That is at the heart of the Magic's by-committee approach. It is about the ability to move the ball and find the holes the defense is giving them through the many advantages they have with their size.

At its heart though, this team is about everyone working together and finding a way. Especially on defense, where everyone has to make contributions. What the Magic demand is that everyone works together and do their part and that everyone be ready to step up when their number is called.

The Magic's "by-committee" approach is really symbolic of how everyone on the team has to pull their weight and contribute to the greater hole. Everyone has a part to play and the team relies on everyone to step up when their number is called.

Everything starts with their defense where their togetherness is seen most.

"I think we've just established an identity as a defensive team," Wendell Carter said in January. "We hang our hat on the defensive end. We understand defense travels. Sometimes offensively we may make shots, we may miss shots but one thing we have taken a lot of pride in is that we stop other teams. Offense may come. We know we have some growing to do on that end, in my opinion. But I think defensively we are one of the most elite teams in the league. Our goal is to showcase that every night no matter what happens offensively."

Undoubtedly, defense has been at the heart of the team's identity.

The Orlando Magic entered Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors ranked fourth in defensive rating. They have been in the top five in defensive rating for most of the year. Orlando's defense is legitimate and the thing the Magic believe will carry them to a competitive playoff series -- it has essentially already guided them into the postseason.

But the defense, at its heart is about everyone doing their part. Jalen Suggs is the head of the snake as the team likes to call him with the pressure he puts on. But Orlando loves to switch and uses its length and versatility to stifle offenses.

By necessity the Magic need everyone to play their part. The defense only works if everyone is on the same page, trusting each other and communicating effectively.

"I think our effort and energy has been there on a nightly basis," coach Jamahl Mosley said in January. "Playing together is something we've watched and looked at and our guys are understanding what we need from them. The defense has stayed consistent even in the teams that we've played who are higher level scoring groups. I think we've hit home in a lot of those areas, so the concepts of what we've been teaching and our coaches are doing a fantastic job of that has been great."

On offense that manifests itself too with the unselfishness of their top star and their need to pass and move the ball effectively to get shots.

Banchero, for instance, did not play his best game Friday against the Raptors. He made only 5 of 15 shots in the game. The Raptors threw double and triple teams at him but he still found a way to contribute. His 11 points and four assists in the third quarter were his breakthrough that finally allowed the Magic to pull away and build a sizable lead.

Banchero in his last two games especially has done well to find ways to get others involved when teams take away his scoring. He had nine assists in the win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday before dishing out eight assists in the win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

The Magic have been able to fill in and succeed even when Banchero was struggling, just like they did early in the season when Banchero got off to a slow start.

Banchero has embodied a lot of the Magic's by-committee approach by understanding when it is not his game to be the lead scorer. He still holds a lot of power, but his 5.3 assists per game set the tone for the team.

Orlando is not a pass-heavy team. The Magic have a 60.6 percent assist rate (21st in the league) and 24.4 assists per game (the fourth-fewest in the league). Orlando averages 279.0 passes per game and 43.9 potential assists per game, both in the bottom third in the league.

The Magic still have areas where they need to improve. But they have found a lot of success in getting the ball moving and not relying on isolation plays.

Still, everyone can see how important Banchero and his presence is for this team. Even though several players can take on the leading scorer role -- from Paolo Banchero to Franz Wagner to Moe Wagner to Jalen Suggs -- the team still revolves around its star.

Everyone has their moments when the game calls them and the Magic do their best to find and attack with the player the defense is giving them. But everything still revolves around the star players. There is a limit to the by-committee approach. The team still needs its stars to show up, especially in the playoffs.

The team still needs players to fill in roles. There is a path for the Magic to win and it takes everyone playing those roles. It takes the trust that all those players can fulfill those roles.

Everything has come together for the Magic this season. That is the only way a team like this can flirt with 50 wins this season and fight for homecourt advantage. Orlando graduated quickly into a team that can compete in the Eastern Conference.

The team has found its groove defensively together. And it has an offense that can share the ball and attack using multiple players.

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This is the essence of the team's by-committee approach. And what the Magic hope will be the defining feature not only for this year's playoff run but as the team continues to grow.