One of the biggest issues to plague the Orlando Magic over the last four seasons has been a lack of an identity.
Time and time again they've talked about wanting to be a strong team on the defensive end, and time and time again they've failed to achieve that goal. Now, with one of the best defensive coaches in the league, and one of the best, most versatile big men defenders in the league, the Magic appear poised to finally have that defensive identity they've yearned for.
When news began breaking that the Magic had acquired Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night, many fans and analysts began talking about how the move would ultimately improve the Magic's defense thanks to Ibaka's ability to defend the rim and make up for some of Nikola Vucevic's defensive deficiencies. Fast forward to their reported acquisition of Jeff Green in free agency and the Magic continued to add to their defense's ultimate versatility.
While not a world-beater on the defensive end, Green has the ability to guard and switch onto four of the five positions on the floor, much like Aaron Gordon and the aforementioned Ibaka can. Unlike Green, however, Ibaka and Gordon can guard all five positions if asked. Add in Elfrid Payton at point guard, and the Magic have the pieces in place to play a defense that features switches on seeming every possession and position.
With Frank Vogel in place, the team was expected to improve defensively anyway, but their recent moves give hope that the team can make the jump to a top-10 defense after finishing middle of the pack last season.
During his introductory press conference in May, Vogel hinted that he wanted his Magic bunch to be like his Indiana teams, strong on the defensive end. "We're going to play a similar style of play as we did with Indiana," said Vogel. "We're going to have a defensive identity, which worked for us."
Moreover, the Magic's recent moves also signify they're planning to play with much more pace on the offensive end. With players in place who fit a fast-paced style, and athleticism littered across the roster, the Magic figure to have success getting out and running.
As the league transitions into a smaller, faster league, the Magic are keeping up with the times with their additions, along with Vogel's previous comments about how they hope to play on the offensive end.
"We're also going to play a style offensively that adapts to the way the game is played on the offensive end," said Vogel. "We're going to play with pace. We're going to take advantage of the athleticism we have on this roster, run the floor, and space similarly to the way a lot of these teams are playing in today's NBA."
Playing fast with positional versatility on both ends is going to be key for the Magic as they hope to take the next step forward with their rebuild. They have the personnel to run and menace the defensive end now, giving Vogel and his coaching staff options and the chance to bring the Magic back to a relevant level.