Every good team in the NBA has one thing figured out: their identity.
For the past six years, the Orlando Magic have desperately searched for that identity. Through five coaches in that time span, the team has failed to build a consistent identity that they could hang their hats on night-in and night-out.
In steps Steve Clifford as the Magic’s head man, and once again the talk of the team is finding their identity.
In his time with the Charlotte Hornets, Clifford’s teams were always well prepared, played hard night-in and night-out, and were disciplined. That’s something that is clearly a goal for the Magic this season.
“We’re going to be tough every single game,” said Aaron Gordon. “We’re going to bring it every single night. We won’t give no team no passes, and when they see that they have Orlando on the schedule, they know they’re going to have a fight.”
The Magic have pieces in place to potentially become one of the best defensive teams in the league, but it’s not just one end of the court that wins games, and championships. A team has to have balance, and the ability to bring it on both ends of the floor.
In a recent interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Clifford told Josh Robbins that he expects his team to “play hard, and play smart” adding that “that’s the recipe to winning in this league.”
D.J. Augustin, the man many expect to be the Magic’s starting point guard at the beginning of the season, says that the team needs to play with a togetherness this season.
“I think just the togetherness, having a togetherness spirit,” said the 11-year vet. “That’s what coach talks about a lot right now. Coming with it at practice, shootarounds, not just games, but everyday. If we have a great spirit all season, we have enough talent to put it together and win games, and that’s what he’s been preaching so far.”
Building a sense of togetherness, and bringing it not only during the games, but in practice and in everything that the team does will be important for a still young Magic roster. They’ll have to be disciplined in their approach to games, and take the things that they’re doing in practice, to the court.
Jonathan Isaac, who figures to play a big role on the defensive end of the floor this season, said he expects the team to play hard, and plays defense, because that’s the kind of coach Clifford is.
Jonathon Simmons, coming off a wrist injury that cost him his entire summer, expects the team to work, compete and leave it on the floor every night for 48 minutes, in all 82 games.
Everything is there for the Magic to finally find the identity that has been so elusive over the past six years.
From the coaching staff, to the roster construction, down to the new weight staff, everything is in place for the Magic to become a team that can compete on a nightly basis.
“They’re really detailed,” said Gordon of the new coaching staff. “They know exactly what they want out of us. It’s black and white, there’s no shades of gray with this. That helps young guys, helps guys like myself, as well, continue to get better and they put us in the right spots to be successful.”
With everything in place, this should be the season that we finally start to see the Magic find the identity they’ve been searching for, and begin to build towards returning to their winning ways.