It’s not unusual in the NBA for a team to have young players fresh out of college or from the G League. That’s where Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors are similar — youth — but the difference is the visting team Thursday have them coming off the bench.
And those young players for Golden State are surrounded by the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all of whom have won four NBA championships.
It’s not difficult to see that the Magic have had growing pains nine games into the season.
Their youngest player, No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero, is a major weapon for them as he entered averaging 21.8 points per game.
Banchero had a big turnover at the end of Thursday’s game holding a one-point lead, but the Magic (2-7) got the stop on the final possession to pull off the upset at Amway Center 130-129.
The Magic’s recent inability to close out games, lacking so much guard play, ties into their issues with health (No Markelle Fultz or Cole Anthony, for instance).
Jalen Suggs, however, helped them overcome it with his best game of the season (26 points, 9 assists).
“If we have healthy bodies, we can have our guys see and look at what’s working and what’s not,” said Magic coach Jamahl Mosley before tipoff. “Otherwise, if we don’t have healthy bodies, it’s just next man up in that same fold.”
The Warriors’ starting five all have experience while their young players, Jordan Poole (fourth season), Moses Moody (second) and James Wiseman (third), are supporting cast who come off the bench.
When Mosley turns to his reserves, he has had problems keeping the lead with them, most notably blowing a double-digit second-half leads to Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
“We’ve got several young guys on our team that’s going through that development stage,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr before tipoff. “Each person is very different and as a coach, it’s important to get to know that person and understand how he’s going to respond and learn how to communicate with that player.”
That narrative changed for the better for Orlando on Thursday.
The Warriors (3-6) still have their own issues. They lost their fourth game in a row, lacking the same defensive intensity they had a year ago when they were elite in that category.
They have expectations to at least contend, if not repeat. The Magic, who only won 22 games last season which landed them in the draft lottery to get Banchero, don’t face the same pressure.
They have time on their side.