Rapid risers: Orlando Magic
The Magic are one of four teams on the right trajectory
BY DAVID THORPE
Happy Thanksgiving, TrueHoopers!
David Thorpe, in particular, is thankful for four teams on the rise: the Magic, Pacers, Rockets, and Thunder. A couple of these teams have new stars becoming household names. Three are helmed by youthful coaches who have a chance to be significant postseason decision-makers in the near future—starting now. A fourth coach, an experienced hand, has a ring to his credit.
So, over the Thanksgiving holiday, David Thorpe is profiling each of these teams, looking at what’s behind their rapid—and, in a couple cases, earlier-than-expected—rise to relevancy. Of course, he also has lingering questions.
Today, David digs into the Orlando Magic, who’re playing suffocating defense. But can they discover their shooting touch in time to reach the playoffs?
Let’s talk turkey.
The magic of defense
Let’s start with the fact that the Magic are playing elite defense. I’m very impressed with head coach Jamahl Mosely, who, like Udoka in Houston, has made team defense a priority. The Magic have drafted a lot of long, quick guys who scramble and swarm. They’re second in the league in steals per game for a reason. It’s not just chaos; it’s by design. Most of their steals are coming from defending multiple actions initially; then, as the play bogs down, Magic defenders pounce on panicking ball-handlers and casual passes. So, it’s not just gambling—it’s coming from solid defensive fundamentals.
Offensively … Well, maybe no one realizes just how bad the Magic are.