Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley recently spoke to Michael Scotto on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast. The conversation covered a number of topics, including how Mosley got his start in coaching, working with former Hall of Fame players and current stars, his time coaching the U.S. Select Team this summer, and, of course, the Magic.
Mosley is bullish on Orlando’s young talent. Reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero played for Team USA at the World Cup, and while the Americans had a disappointing fourth-place finish, Mosley liked what he saw from the 2022 No. 1 overall pick.
“I think the sky is the limit (for 2023/24),” Mosley said. “(Banchero) being with Team USA and seeing the different aspects of how people adjusted their games to fit in with what was trying to be accomplished. He did that. He’s capable of doing so many things. At the beginning of the year, he played basically point for us at times with Franz Wagner when we had our guards down. More importantly, I watched his jump defensively and ability to switch pick-and-rolls and stay in coverage. They had him playing the five mixed with the four. I thought it was great that he expanded his game in real time. I think it’ll do wonders for him on the court.
“Even more importantly, his voice and leadership. I watched him during a practice in Las Vegas and the way he carried himself and projected his voice in certain drills. I think that’s going to go so far when he’s back with the Magic because it’s a level of leadership you’re asking him to step into. I think he recognizes and feels that. It was a great experience for him to be around that group of players and those coaches.”
As for Wagner, who helped Germany to a gold medal, Mosley said he wasn’t surprised by the third-year forward’s success, and once again focused on the less glamorous end of the court.
“For Franz, I think people got to see a glimpse of what we’ve known for quite some time,” Mosley told Scotto. “Since we’ve drafted him, we’ve talked about his high basketball IQ, his work ethic, care for the game and attention to detail. He has all of those pieces. I joke with him that he’s a 40-year-old man in a 22-year-old body. He just sees the game so differently, and he cares about the little things. He cares about people.
“What I saw was his defensive ability to show. Franz did a great job of switching when it came to guard certain guards. I think that’s going to be the biggest key as he comes back here. Our ability to guard, which I was so happy to watch them (Banchero and Wagner) do at times, is going to skyrocket us to what we’re capable of doing.”
When Scotto asked about the Magic’s offseason, Mosley said he was happy to have “consistency and stability” with most of the roster returning. Regarding expectations for 2023/24, the coach said he’s more focused on the Magic improving via “continuity, joy, togetherness, and grit” rather than wins and losses, because if they handle those aspects the “wins will take care of themselves.”
Another former No. 1 overall pick, guard Markelle Fultz, is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $17MM in 2023/24. Mosley thinks Fultz is ready to take “big strides” ahead of free agency next summer.
“I think Markelle’s ability to continue to lead because he’s such a selfless point guard,” Mosley said, per Scotto. “He wants to share and enjoys seeing the success of his teammates. That’s what we’re going to ask more of him. Defensively, being able to guard the ball because his level of physicality is up there. I think he’s going to set the tone in a lot of ways for us. He has such a high ceiling of where he can go because of how he’s been working this summer.”