Perhaps the most interesting story surrounding the Orlando Magic as they prepare for their fourth straight rebuilding season is how they'll fare under new coach Scott Skiles. While we won't have a look at the group until its preseason opener on October 3rd, and won't know for sure how it'll jell until perhaps the season's quarter pole, Skiles offered during Friday's media day this distillation of how he wants his Magic to play:
Our identity, we want it to be that teams are gonna hate to play us because we're gonna be really scrappy, we're gonna guard 'em up and down the floor, and when we get the ball we're gonna push it right back at 'em and try to put 'em on their heels. If we do all that, we're gonna have a good year.
Skiles has built his coaching résumé on his defense, so the approach he outlines here ought not come as a surprise. Indeed, Skiles and his players rarely, if ever, mentioned offense outside the context of how defense could feed it.
Playing a disciplined, defense-driven style should suit Skiles' roster, given its stable of athletes: imagine Elfrid Payton leading a break with Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, and Tobias Harris filling the lanes and Nik Vučević rim-running to seal his man. But those breaks can only happen if Orlando gets stops, something it struggled with in the 2014/15 season under Jacque Vaughn and James Borrego. If Skiles gets his way, the defense will trend upward sooner rather than later, and will grow to become his team's calling card.
Stay tuned to Orlando Pinstriped Post for more Magic media-day coverage.