Orlando Magic's Jamahl Mosley deserves NBA Coach of the Year Award

The Orlando Magic have shocked the world and have solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. A large part of their success is due to their head coach Jamahl Mosely.
Sacramento Kings v Orlando Magic
Sacramento Kings v Orlando Magic / Rich Storry/GettyImages

He has earned it.

The Orlando Magic have dug themselves out from the place where bottom feeders roam to near the top of the Eastern Conference in less than three years. They are now one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league -- no matter where they ultimately finish this year.

The year coach Jamahl Mosley was hired, the Magic finished with a 22-60 record, a .298 winning percentage. That was a team with two fresh rookies and searching for an identity. But the building blocks for what they would become were set then.

A lot has changed in two years, and now he has led this franchise to a fight for homecourt advantage in the final week of the season with a legitimate shot at the second seed thanks to a pair of games against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Orlando has improved by 10 wins in back-to-back seasons. The Magic have the No. 3 defense in the league. They are legitimate players in the Eastern Conference again.

And it does not seem like the team is going anywhere.

This is why Mosley is not merely just one of the front-runners to win the NBA's Coach of the Year Award. It is why Mosley should win the award outright.

The Magic are climbing up the standings despite the injuries they dealt with during the year and Mosley is one of the main reasons why the organization has had this type of success.

He believes in his players. And his players believe in him.

Mosley can exercise patience and stick with his players through their slumps. He has always had the big picture in mind as he coaches and guides the team.

An early example of this was when the Orlando Magic played the Los Angeles Lakers on the road back in October. It was a game where Paolo Banchero was having a tough night and did not have it, he finished the game with only nine points.

While Paolo Banchero was having a night to forget, Gary Harris was having a night to remember as he led the team with 17 points. Mosley decided to allow Banchero to work through his slump even though he had a reserve who was absolutely on fire. This move by Mosley showed Banchero that he believed in him even through his slump.

Mosley always knew and had a vision for what a successful version of this team looked like. And he has been working to build it over all three of these seasons. He had faith in his players to deliver and fulfill that vision.

The team has had that vision too. After the loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, Mosley fell on the sword and said he did not have his team prepared for the game. He took full responsibility for that loss.

The Magic's players came out firing on Sunday and said after the game they knew that defeat was on them and they felt they needed to respond after Mosley took public responsibility for such a critical loss.

That defines the relationship between the coach and the players. Very clearly Mosley is invested in his players and loves what he does.

Mosley worked as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks before arriving in Orlando. He established himself as a player development coach and someone who connects deeply with his players.

He has an undeniable level of grit and passion for coaching, and he can get the results he wants regardless of how much talent the Magic have.

Right now, the Magic only have one player on its team that has made an All-Star appearance. And that guy is only in his second year. He is surrounded by a bunch of role players like this is a team in the 1990's, but Mosley is still able to have success with this formula. It is the Magic's identity.

He has established a formula and an identity that has built confidence and wins for this young team.

The formula consists of players attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line at a high clip. The Magic are the best team in the league when it comes to getting to the foul line. Right now they are number one on free throw attempts per game, which allows them to slow the game down, make adjustments during the free throw attempt and gain a significant advantage over their opponents.

Which is why Mosley deserves the 2024 NBA's Coach of the Year award.

The improvement that the Magic have made is simply remarkable and unprecedented. The Magic are still the fourth-youngest team in the league with a lot of players establishing who they are. He does not have veterans to lean on to help the team prepare for the Playoffs. He does not have multiple stars to carry the team. He is having more success with less help and it seems to be going unnoticed.

So much so, that when critics mention the contenders in the Eastern Conference, they skip over the Orlando Magic and talk about teams like the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers, even though Orlando has more wins.

Unlike the other favorites for the award -- Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chris Finch of the Minnesota Timberwolves -- Jamahl Mosley does not have previous success to build off.

Both Daigneault and Finch have elevated Play-In teams to the top of the Western Conference. They deserve their praise.

But Mosley has elevated a Lottery team to near the top of the Eastern Conference. That deserves a lot of praise too.

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Those wins are piling up because Orlando has finally found a coach. A coach who deserves to be named the 2024 NBA Coach of the Year.