The importance of continuity can’t be overstated in any professional sport.
Knowing who you’re playing with, who’s leading you, and how you can be successful as a cohesive unit is important to not only short-term success, but also long-term success. Keeping that unit together through the continual player movement is hard, and that leads to learning curves throughout training camp, and usually into the regular season.
For the first time in a long time, the Orlando Magic have full continuity as they gear up for the beginning of training camp. They didn’t change their coaching staff. They brought back 10 players from last seasons roster — 11 including Markelle Fultz who has yet to see action for the team since his acquisition in February — and didn’t see any turnover in their front office.
Things not changing left and right, as has been customary for the Magic, is huge as they look to build on their first playoff appearance in seven years.
“It’s going to be great,” said D.J. Augustin. “If you look at all the teams in the past, like the [San Antonio] Spurs, and all those teams, that brought back their same teams, they always win. They bring back that same culture, that same chemistry. It’s going to be great for our team.”
Teams like the Spurs of the 2000’s were able to bring back their core pieces year-in and year-out and build that continuity and rapport with each other that made them one of the most successful teams in the league every season. Many times, teams that are successful for multiple year stretches, bring back a lot of the same players, so everyone knows what to expect from one another.
Continuity goes a long way, not only with teammates, but with coaches.
Every coach does things slightly different, and when you’re changing coaches every year or two, it’s hard for players to be able to change the habits they were building right away. When you have to change habits so often, it can lead to inconsistencies on the court, which, in turn, lead to struggles for the team.
“It’s not starting from scratch, we have something to build on,” said Nikola Vucevic. “It’s great not having to come in and introduce yourself to a new coach... You could see as the year went on, we got better. At the beginning it was all new for us. You’re trying to break old habits you’ve had from before, and put in the new things coach wants to do. As the year went on we played better, and if we can carry on from last year, we’ll be good from the beginning.”
Knowing what is expected from the coaching staff will go a long way, especially in the early portion of the season.
The Magic return their top-seven players in minutes from last season, and add in guys in Mo Bamba who missed the second half of the year with a stress fracture in his leg, Markelle Fultz, who’s played just 33 games in two years due to various injuries, and Al-Farouq Aminu, whom they signed in free agency. Their depth is much better, and they aren’t seeing high turnover in their roster like many teams do.
Those are all ingredients for success for the Magic.
“I’m so happy we don’t have to start over,” said a happy, and relieved Evan Fournier. “People ask us all the time what changed after the All-Star break [and] nothing changed. It takes time to adjust to a different system. Not having to start over again this season is just huge. Having the same core and everything is going to help us tremendously. You can’t really value that.”
Not starting over should help the Magic get off to a faster start. They aren’t going to be going through the same growing pains they did last year, and that many teams inevitably still will this season.
The Magic are poised for a quick start, and one that could help them position themselves in a more wide-open Eastern Conference in 2019/20, and a lot of that comes down to their continuity and not starting over.