Roughly one-fifth of the Orlando Magic's 2013/14 season is in the books, and through Sunday's schedule, the team's 6-10 record placed it ninth in the bottom-heavy Eastern Conference, one half-game behind the Detroit Pistons for the East's final playoff seed.
The Magic themselves might not necessarily have known as much: in conversation with some of them Wednesday and Friday, it became clear that the standings don't really matter this early in the season, although a few veterans had dissenting opinions on that issue. Here's what Orlando's head coach and some of its players had to say when asked about what attention they pay to the standings:
Coach Jacque Vaughn:
I have not paid attention. The only thing I knew: Atlanta was in third place [in the East] because we played 'em last night [Tuesday]. So when I was reading the scouting report, their win/loss [record] was at the top of the sheet. Besides that, I haven't paid attention to it. I do watch a lot of games, but that's not something I pay attention to.
To what is Vaughn paying attention, if not his team's record? "Everyday success," he said. "That's doing our job every day. What's our effort level? What's our concentration level? That's where our success lies right there."
Arron Afflalo said he looks at the standings "a little bit." He had the following to say about playoff positioning in the East:
The truth is at the moment the East isn't that strong. With that in mind, it's necessarily a positive thing but it's something for us to take advantage of. Let's get into the best position we can, regardless of if the East is strong or not. At the end of the day, the objective is to make the playoffs and put yourself in the best position to compete long-term.
Glen Davis said "we have a lot of basketball to play," which is why he won't really pay much attention to the standings until after the All-Star Break. Why?
[After the] All-Star Break, you start... we start making our push. Every game's important, but then we really gotta dial in like every game's a playoff game. [The] first half do count but [in the] second half, everybody's a little bit sharper. Everybody's a little bit mentally prepared.
Nik Vučević agrees with Davis, his mate in the starting frontcourt:
We got a lot of other things to focus on, how to make our team better, so I think it's too early to do that. But we definitely look at what our record is, and we're not happy with the record we have.
The third-year center isn't focused on the standings yet, and couldn't say when they might start matter to him individually. "Let's just say you can't really get too behind," he said.
E'Twaun Moore concurred with Davis in that after the All-Star Break is the right time to assess the team's standing in the East. But for right now?
I just try to take it one game at a time and just try to win every game. That's just my approach. I don't really look at it overall too much.
Of all the players Orlando Pinstriped Post addressed about this topic, Ronnie Price was the one most in tune with it. A self-described basketball fan with a League Pass subscription, Price said, "I wanna know what's going on around the league." Here's what he had to say about why he watches the standings:
I keep track of it because it's kind of important. I think it's very important to know where you're standing amongst your conference and your division. It helps with a sense of urgency going into each game. Knowing the importance of maybe winning a game against Miami or Atlanta, or somebody [in the Southeast Division] like that [....] I know we're 1-1 with Atlanta. Next game with Atlanta will break that tiebreaker. All those things matter, to me at least.
As it happens, the Magic have another divisional game Monday against the Washington Wizards, against whom they might ultimately battle for playoff positioning as the season winds down.