Spirit High in Camp; Bamba and Carter Jelling; Versatility Showing

by Josh Cohen

“It’s just good for the spirit. We want to bring life back into the city of Orlando…Guys like to come and work for a coach and a coaching staff that has energy. You want to play hard for that coach, and in turn want to play hard for each other.” – R.J. Hampton

This team has the right attitude, spirit, and enthusiasm. It starts with Jamahl Mosley’s energy and positivity. It’s striking how well he connects with players. That was a big reason why he was chosen to be the 15th head coach in franchise history.

“I play at a completely different pace than I did at the start of last season. Last season, I think I was a little boy coming into a man’s league. Now I’m a grown man coming into a man’s league…I think I’m playing faster but at a much more controlled pace…I feel like I’m just definitely in control at all times and could really just be a point guard, control the game.” – Cole Anthony

The start of this Magic rebuild is much different than the one that began in 2012 after the Dwight Howard trade. At the start of the 2012-13 season, there were seven players under 25 years old on the roster. Interestingly, E’Twaun Moore, back for a second stint with the Magic, was one of them. To start this season, there are 11 players under 25. One of them is the 21-year-old Anthony, who is looking to build on a strong rookie campaign.

“I feel like our chemistry is there. Ever since I got traded here last year, we were pretty close, off the court and on the court. We are just learning each other’s tendencies -- what we like to do, what we don’t like to do. Just kind of feed off one another. Now in camp, we’ve went against each other a little bit, we played on the same team a little bit. We kind of got a feel for one another, so when we are out on the court together, we kind of know what to expect.” – Wendell Carter Jr. on playing alongside Mo Bamba

Rarely did Bamba and Nikola Vucevic play at the same time during their 2 ½ seasons together. It happened in just one game last season, and it was only because the Magic had eight available players that night. It’s possible, though, that we will see Bamba and Carter, acquired by Orlando in the Vucevic trade, on the floor simultaneously. Mosley is putting a big emphasis on playing position-less basketball, and there is a belief that Carter has the versatility to thrive playing alongside another big man.

“That’s just the way the NBA is going. It’s kind of leaving from the typical one, two, three (to guys who can) play a plethora of different positions and can do different things on the court. I think that’s kind of where we are at. We have some guys who are bigs that can play all the way up to the three, all the way to the five. We have guys that can play the one all the way up to the three. We have a lot of different pieces.” – Terrence Ross

The 2021-22 Magic aren’t just young and energetic. They are also versatile. As Ross explained, many of the guys on this team can play multiple positions. Franz Wagner can probably play two through four. Hampton can play one through three. Chuma Okeke can certainly play the three or the four, maybe even the five in some scenarios. Carter, as detailed above, can play alongside another big guy. Both Jalen Suggs and Anthony can play the one or the two.

“Michael (Carter-Williams) is fantastic. His ability to see things as a player on the (court). (He’s) been through these situations. And helping these young guys to understand different scenarios that sometimes coaches may not catch all the time. He can talk to guys differently because he’s felt this situation, he’s been in that situation. I think that’s great for these young guys. He’s another coach out there right now while he’s not on the floor.” - Mosley on MCW

In late August, Carter-Williams underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment and to repair a ligament in his left ankle. He will miss the start of the season, but that isn’t holding him back from using his voice and experience in training camp. We’ve all seen the intensity he plays with. It’s critical to have veterans like that in the locker room. His defense will be missed while he’s out. But he will find a way to make an impact from the sidelines.

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