Orlando Magic's key to growth is to focus on themselves

Nov 22, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley yells toward the court
Nov 22, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley yells toward the court / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is legitimately and rightly excited for the opportunity ahead of the Orlando Magic if things break the right way. The team has earned an opportunity to reach the quarterfinals of the NBA's first In-Season Tournament.

Regardless of what happens with Tuesday's results (we will go through all the scenarios later this week), the Magic should feel like they accomplished something during the past two weeks. They established who they are on a big stage and picked up huge wins along the way.

Friday's win over the Boston Celtics only affirmed what this team is capable of doing. And they did it on a national stage in a way that demanded notice.

That of course was not anywhere near what the team was focused on. That was not the message they were sending.

The Orlando Magic have scored some major wins and put themselves in a position to advance in the In-Season Tournament. But that has never been the team's focus. The focus has been on improving every day.

In fact, the Magic were not really sending any message. There is no time for that because this is the NBA and the games keep coming. There is rarely a moment to pause and consider what a team has accomplished. Not until the season is completely over (and for all but one team, it ends in some form of disappointment).

What has stood out about this young Magic team early in the season is how they do not seem to care about external pressures, expectations or talk. The team is not even so concerned about where it is at.

The team has a pure growth mindset, focusing on how they play above everything else.

"It's about how we play," coach Jamahl Mosley said before Friday's game. "You talk about the standard of what we're doing. We talk to the group about it. Are we doing the right things defensively? Are we sharing the ball offensively? Are talking and communicating like we are supposed to? If we are doing all of those things and you don't come out on the other end of it with a win, you can hold your head high knowing you did everything in your power to do what was necessary."

That is a mature approach. It speaks to how this season has truly been something built on the foundations of the work they did in Mosley's first two seasons as head coach with the team.

Orlando is not focused as much on individual games, but more on how the team is building and growing over the course of these games. They are eager to absorb lessons from past losses.

Even with these seemingly major In-Season Tournament games, the approach has always remained on what the team was doing and not the gravity of those games.

Jamahl Mosley has spoken with gratitude how proud he is of the team and asked his players to take a moment to reflect. But then it is always onto the next and how to improve. Mosley is never too high or too low and his team, despite its youthful exuberance, has taken that demeanor on too.

By the time players talk to the media, it is always on how to get better and onto the next game.

The Magic's approach has always been to focus on themselves and what they need to do to be successful. That is about playing defense, sharing and moving the ball and communicating. Orlando has worked hard to gives its young players ownership over the whole process.

That has been a big thing that has stood out about this team. The team has indeed taken ownership not only of solving problems and making adjustments in real time but on the focus of getting better every game.

That has been the focus for this team from the very start.

"Since we've gotten here, it's been about growth," Mosley said before Friday's game against the Celtics. "It has been about development. It has been about: How do you help this group mature? The reason why you bring a group back that has listened to your message for 2.5-3 years now is to see what they have learned. Now you are seeing a lot of the fruits of that and what the coaches have done and how Jeff and John and their group have drafted."

That decision to bring back much of the same roster from last year was a controversial one for sure. Plenty of people believed the Magic needed to add something externally to the roster to help it take its next steps (that will surely be a debate that continues into this offseason no matter how this year ends).

But the Magic believed in the way they finished their season. More importantly, they believed in the players they had brought together and how they could keep growing together.

As Moe Wagner put it after Friday's game, the team's approach and work ethic have not changed in the three seasons Mosley has been with the team. They have matured and grown skill-wise, as young players are expected to do.

The team has put an emphasis on players' basketball IQ and defense of course. But the team has taught those skills and instilled this philosophy to them over the past several years. The Magic are hoping that this continues to grow and build as players mature and become leaders for the group for years to come.

The team has been together and been through these situations time and time again. That belief factor in each other and experience together allows the team to focus on itself.

Ultimately, the way the Magic are trying to approach games is not to focus on who they are playing but on what they are doing.

That is what good teams do.

"I think it's continuing to focus on what we do," Mosley said before Friday's game. "Obviously it is an In-Seaosn Tournament game and our guys are fired up for that. . . . But it's always going to come back to what are we doing? How are we defending and doing what we are capable of doing on a nightly basis?"

That has played out well for this team so far this season. The Magic have taken steps many did not think they would take with how difficult the early part of the season looked. The team is less focused on who they have beaten this year and more focused on how they have grown.

That is evident with how committed they have been defensively and how they have responded to clutch struggles or second-half struggles or the rare bad game.

Next. Orlando Magic are seeing defensive identity come to life. Orlando Magic are seeing defensive identity come to life. dark

If this is the approach the team is taking, then the Magic should be due to continue improving and getting better. If that is the focus, the Magic may indeed be just getting started.