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Magic's "Young Guns" thriving with defense

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The group has given Orlando a spark off the bench in recent games.

Tyreke Evans and Kyle O'Quinn
Tyreke Evans and Kyle O'Quinn
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has called on a new five-man unit in recent games, counting on it to provide a spark at both ends of the floor. Victor Oladipo, Doron Lamb, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, and Kyle O'Quinn comprise that group, and as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports, it even has a nickname.

"It started as 'Young Guys,'" O'Quinn said, according to Robbins. "And then we just went from 'Young Guys' to 'Young Guns.'"

"They have a lot of energy. They kinda have a nothing-to-lose mentality." Arron Afflalo on the Young Guns

Days before the Young Guns nickname became public, Magic swingman Arron Afflalo had pegged the group's youth as its biggest strength.

"They're young, man. They're young," Afflalo said Wednesday. "They have a lot of energy. They kinda have a nothing-to-lose mentality."

Since debuting in Orlando's narrow loss to the Atlanta Hawks on January 22nd, the Young Guns have logged 25 minutes together, according to NBA.com/stats. Only the starting five has played more minutes for Orlando over that same span. Based on the strength of their defense, the Young Guns own a positive differential of plus-10 despite shooting just 35.7 percent from the floor themselves.

The key to that defense: forcing turnovers and limiting second-chance opportunities. The Young Guns have rebounded 84 percent of their opponents' missed shots and have forced turnovers on 17 percent of their opponents' possessions.

While we're admittedly working with a small sample--25 minutes over three games in an 82-game season--the Young Guns' progress as the second half of the season wears on merits Magic fans' attention. It could offer a glimpse into the future of the team, in its preferred play style if not its personnel.