The Orlando Magic are having a terrible year by their record.
Although the team had an impressive win against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, the wins are too few and far in between. The Orlando Magic’s last win before Wednesday was on Nov. 17 against the New York Knicks. After that win, the team lost seven straight games.
If that does not paint an ugly picture, let Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN do that:
Yes, the Magic are in the dreaded “Quadrant of Woe.” The team ranks 27th in offensive rating (101.0 points per 100 possessions), 25th in defensive rating (111.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) and indeed last in net rating (-10.1 points per 100 possessions). The Detroit Pistons are 29th at -9.5 points per 100 possessions.
So this was a much-needed win against a team most pundits picked to be a Playoff team out West before the beginning of the year. Even with a 10-11 overall record, the Nuggets are a respected team. This is the kind of win Orlando needs for proof their project is working.
The Orlando Magic need to see signs of their progress and development this season. Wins will help them do that as the team tries to adjust and slowly climb out of the basement.
The Magic, on the other hand, wish they had the respect of their peers like the Nuggets have. The team is the second worst team in the Eastern Conference record-wise, with only one win better than the Detroit Pistons.
Then again, Orlando’s .217 win percentage would project to just 18 wins (the worst record in franchise history).
The Magic have to get themselves in a better position.
First-year coach Jamahl Mosley has to get the most out of this young roster in order to make a significant push from out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference. He does not have great talent on the roster and seems to be more worried about developing his players instead of finding ways to win.
This is a recipe for another season where the Magic will be selecting another lottery pick.
Even if that is the case, the team needs to see positive results like Wednesday’s win more often than the seven-game losing streak that proceeded it. Orlando may not win a lot of games, but the team needs to look like it is capable of moving up the standings.
If not this year, then certainly in the near future. That may not really come to fruition until Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz return. Or even until Jalen Suggs is back from his fractured thumb.
In order for the Magic to climb out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Mosley will need to look at adjusting a few things.
First, he needs to consider giving guys more minutes like Moritz Wagner. Wagner is a good role player who brings energy under the basket. He only played for a little more than 15 minutes against the Nuggets but still had 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field.
Overall, the Magic have a -1.1 net rating with Moritz Wagner on the floor, trailing only Cole Anthony on the team in that metric. Certainly part of that comes from Wagner playing on some deep bench lineups that won their minutes. But Wagner has undoubtedly made a positive impact of late, even during the team’s losing streak.
His brother, Franz Wagner, was one of the franchise’s lottery picks from the last draft. It would be nice if coach Mosley would play them together more often to gain team chemistry on the court. The duo has a +5.0 net rating in 94 minutes playing together so far this season.
The Magic also need to play better on the defensive side of the ball. This is supposed to be the team’s calling card but has been unfortunately inconsistent from this young group.
Mosley has talked about his team needing to do a better job sitting down and defending. But he may need to challenge and manipulate his team to put the kind of pressure and energy they need.
Perhaps allowing certain players to pick up the opponent full-court during particular times in the game to try and create turnovers would help create this spark. This could make the opponent panic and allow the defense to kind of control the game a little more.
The team is young enough to play this type of defensive scheme. While the Magic struggle with depth and injuries at the moment that could keep the team from doing this, it would get the Magic to the pressure defense they seemed to want to play earlier in the season.
Finally, the team has to play with more grit and toughness. Since the Magic do not have a star scorer on their team, they have to find more ways to get it done defensively.
It may be a long shot considering the lack of All-Star caliber talent on the current roster, but something has to be done if the team wants to pull itself out of the bottom of the East.
While the league has moved past the quarter mark of the season, there is still plenty of time to make up ground. The Magic have a long road ahead and trail the final play-in spot by seven games. The Playoffs may already be a pipe dream.
But the Magic should also want to see results and see themselves slowly climb that standings this year so they can point to a brighter future.