Turnovers are the next hurdle for Orlando Magic to overcome

The Orlando Magic are still a growing team and nowhere is that more clear than their turnovers. It is a problem they recognize and a battle they will be trying to correct all season long.
Jalen Suggs knows his turnovers can be a drain on an Orlando Magic offense that is already struggling to produce. It is the big battle for the roster this season.
Jalen Suggs knows his turnovers can be a drain on an Orlando Magic offense that is already struggling to produce. It is the big battle for the roster this season. / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The frustration was written on Jamahl Mosley's face in the second quarter of the Orlando Magic's win over the New York Knicks on Friday. There was still the determination and encouragement that came with him, but any coach would feel uneasy with how the team was throwing the ball around.

No coach ever feels easy in a high-turnover game.

The Magic, in all, turned the ball over seven times in the second quarter. That would normally be enough to derail a team. It is always something that is dangerous for a young team.

Orlando survived it though, using its defense and its determination to get back to a 29-15 second quarter that proved to be enough to build the final margin and a win in a critical game at Kia Center.

But that face of understanding and knowing still lingers. They know they are playing for April and the playoffs as much as they are playing now. And one of the big hurdles this young team has to overcome and improve on is reducing their turnovers.

If the Magic want to compete the rest of the season and moving into the postseason, they will need to do a better job valuing possessions and protecting the ball.

"I think taking pride in having the ball and that's a big responsibility," Jalen Suggs said after Wednesday's loss to Philadelphia. "Not only are we playing basketball at the highest level against the best competition night in and night out, it's tough, we have to take more responsibility in doing that. It's not something the coaches can change for us. You can't drill it. There's nothing more they can teach us. We're grown men and we have to take care of the basketball."

The Magic know turnovers have been a persistent problem for this young team. They do not need to look much further than Wednesday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Orlando ended up with 16 turnovers for 15 Philadelphia points. It is rarely that turnovers kill Orlando. But with the Magic having a poor offense and poor shooting, losing out on possessions and chances to score hurt more than anything else.

That game was a slog for Orlando overall. The effect of those turnovers was a big part of why Orlando had a season-worst 94.8 points per 100 possessions. The team just could not find a rhythm.

The turnovers were a product of the Magic's poor shooting and desire to try to force their way to the paint as much as the turnovers caused the team to press overall. Too often in Wednesday's game, the Magic were trying to force passes into tight corners to try to make something happen.

Like everything with the Magic's struggling offense, everything is connected. The poor shooting is a product of trying to make up for missteps or mistakes and mistakes are a product of a team pressing and trying to make up for the lack of offensive force.

Either way, the Magic have to be more composed and controlled and reduce turnovers to give their offense a chance.

"Just off the top of my head, it's trying to force the pass when it's not there," Mosley said after Wednesday's game. "I think that's a big portion of it. Teams are packing the paint in, you know, we're seeing different coverages and zone. So I think just being able to trust the easy early pass is probably the one thing that I can recall from tonight more than anything."

The solution can be that simple. The Magic have to make the simple play rather than the complex one a whole lot more.

Orlando currently ranks 22nd in the league with 14.8 turnovers per game and then ranks 24th with a 14.8 turnover rate (the Magic play at about 100 possessions per 48 minutes). The Magic give up just 16.5 points off turnovers per game, good for 11th in the league.

The Magic's worst turnover game this season by turnover rate was the Dec. 15 game against the Boston Celtics at 21.4 percent. The next worst was the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 6 at 21.2 percent. The only other time the Magic eclipsed a 20-percent turnover rate was the Nov. 17 win over the Chicago Bulls, and everyone remembers how shaky both of those games in Chicago ended up being.

For the Magic, it is less about the points they give up off turnovers because the Magic typically do well to defend it. Their issue comes in losing those possessions because the team's margins offensively are seemingly so tight.

And that is why overcoming turnovers and reducing turnovers remains the big hurdle for this young team -- as it typically is for all young teams.

The Magic want to compete in the playoffs. They will learn when they get there the pressure involved with every possession. A string of turnovers can be enough to flip a game and in turn flip a series.

That is what the learning process is about right now for the Magic. And so their young players are trying to grasp.

It is a responsibility someone like Suggs has verbalized as well as anyone else. Jalen Suggs averages 2.0 turnovers per game (Paolo Banchero leads the team with 3.1 per game) and he had three in each of the last two games. He knows as someone who will have the ball in his hands a lot, he has to make better decisions to set the tone.

"It's hard. I take a lot of responsibility for that," Suggs said after Wednesday's loss. "I thought I set the tone and being a little loose with the ball. I told the boys that me understanding if I'm going to be in that position to have the ball in my hands and make plays for other, I've got to take care of it. I take a lot of the burden on that. But just continuing to be us and Mose said don't beat yourself up every night from turnovers to fast break points to open looks. We kind of gave them this one."

The Magic know they have a lot of work to do still to get better in this front. It will be the big hurdle for them to overcome for the rest of the season. But this is the important battle the Magic have to wage this year.

Next. Carter slow return 12.29.23. Wendell Carter's return has been slow. dark

And their ability to reduce turnovers will be a big sign of their maturity and growth this season.