Orlando Magic are the sleeping giant everyone is napping on

The Orlando Magic have proven to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference but are being slept on as a true contender to win or even hold their spot in the standings.
Charlotte Hornets v Orlando Magic
Charlotte Hornets v Orlando Magic / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Do you believe in Magic?

Some do and some do not. But either way, outside of Orlando, you do not hear a lot of talk about the 41-win, postseason-clinched, 5-seed Orlando Magic. A team that has more than a passing chance to get homecourt advantage in the first round.

The majority of people in Orlando know all of this. The rest of the country does not.

The question then becomes: Why?

Why wouldn't people believe in a top-five Eastern Conference team? What would make them believe? Why have the Magic flown so far under the radar? Why is the league so surprised that this team -- consistently in the top five in the league in defensive rating and with a second-year All-Star and former No. 1 pick -- is where it is at?

On Tuesday's episode of First Take on ESPN, J.J. Redick claimed that the Orlando Magic should be considered a threat to the Boston Celtics, not just the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks. He also told Stephen A. Smith he should not sleep on the Magic. Smith responded to Redick saying:

"I'm not sleeping on the Orlando Magic, I'm snoring."

At least Smith gave his respects to Jamahl Mosley as a coach of the year candidate before he hit the snooze button on a potential playoff matchup.

The Magic still have a lot to prove on the court. And with just one national TV game on their schedule -- a loss to the equally young and upstart Oklahoma City Thunder (the top seed in the Western Conference right now) -- the national media has not seen a lot of them.

But even then, Orlando has not garnered a lot of attention. Everyone continues to sleep on this upstart team. Even if they have arrived earlier than expected.

The fans in Central Florida are wide awake and experiencing an amazing turnaround led by the head coach of the year candidate Jamahl Mosley and the second-year superstar forward Paolo Banchero.

The majority of the nation does not believe in the Magic yet because quite honestly the rebuild took a while. And it followed a decade of the team being at the bottom of the standings. The Magic have been unable to find their footing since Dwight Howard left.

Orlando picked up its 41st win Tuesday night, marking just the second time this decade the team hit that mark. And the Magic got its 41st win in the penultimate game of the 2019 season.

Most people remember that the team was 22-60 just two years ago and not much better in the preceding years.

That is the reason the country does not believe in Orlando yet. The Magic will have to win more games consistently and also win in the Playoffs for the league to respect what they bring to the table and take them seriously.

And rightfully so.

This current team has not proven it can win in the Playoffs. And this team does not have players who have played key roles in the postseason. The Magic have been so far out of the spotlight, most non-NBA people are surprised to see them fifth in the standings.

This is a team short on veteran experience and there is a sense the team is going to be just happy to be in the postseason and gain that experience.

The person with the most Playoff experience is Joe Ingles. Ingles competed in the Playoffs six straight years with the Utah Jazz playing alongside Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

He is only averaging 17.2 minutes a game coming off the bench for Orlando but is getting 4.5 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. He is a great player off of the bench but not someone who will move the needle.

The playoffs will be an entirely new experience for this team.

Which is one of the reasons why some people do not believe in this top-five team.

There are more reasons why people do not believe. It goes beyond the inexperience on the roster.

Mosley is only in his third year as an NBA head coach. The odds are against them too without a top 10 player -- although Banchero at 21 years old might be knocking on that door sooner than anyone expected. They will likely be facing a Playoff matchup with a far more experienced team and coach. Thet eam will make mistakes in its first postseason.

Most people do not believe the Magic has a roster with players who can move the needle. And ultimately, that is what you will need to gain respect from the national media and audiences. That is how you get them to buy what you are selling.

But Orlando can certainly use the playoffs to prove to everyone they are a young team to watch. That is the expected outcome of their postseason.

But do not tell the Magic that, they certainly believe they can win.

If this Magic roster had a supporting cast with more popular names on it then maybe the media might peek this way. Or if the Magic had a coach with a popular name, or a legitimate MVP candidate on the team, it may force media outlets to take notice.

The No. 1 pick should have attracted that attention. But somehow Banchero has been on national TV only once in his career. The All-Star bid should have served notice. But he and everyone knows the attention will come with winning.

Right now the Magic are playing with house money as they have shattered all expectations they have set for themselves. Although they have accomplished all of the goals they set, they still will be slept on until they set the alarm for NBA Champions.

The Magic will serve notice very soon and get their spotlight to prove their skills.