Cohen 8-Ball: Projecting Path to Title Contention
January 10, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: From the rise of Arron Afflalo to the surprise of Nikola Vucevic to the resurgence of Jameer Nelson to the rapid development of Andrew Nicholson, there is a lot of promise in Orlando. While losing is frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking, it also can be inadvertently rewarding come draft lottery time. Remember, the least popular spot in the NBA is the middle of the pack. A high draft pick is often essential to evolve.
Cohen’s Analysis: While it’s unpredictable if any major trades and/or signings transpire this offseason, one can anticipate that it may be most beneficial to continue developing the nucleus of talent already present. Also, the draft selection Orlando makes in June will be at the spotlight of everyone’s attention. Just imagine if the Magic can land a prospect that will immediately have an impact like Damian Lillard has had in Portland.
Cohen’s Analysis: NBA executives are already raving about the potential of the 2014 NBA Draft. It’s believed, based on projection, that it could rival 2003 when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade were selected. While obviously there is no way to know this early what the standings will indicate by the end of next season, the draft lottery outcome will perhaps determine the next big step for the Magic. If Orlando strikes gold, championship contention may be at its doorstep very quickly.
Cohen’s Analysis: By the 2014-15 season, the Magic will have groomed all of the young talent and impending draft picks. With how impressive Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson and Arron Afflalo have been in their first season in Orlando, we can project that all three could be borderline All-Stars by this point. And if the upcoming draft picks are successful, the Magic will likely be a tough out in the playoffs.
Cohen’s Analysis: Part of the appeal of the Dwight Howard trade was financial flexibility. By not accepting any undesirable contracts in return, the Magic are in position to have a plethora of salary cap space in the next couple of years. Remember, every time Orlando has had money to spend, it has flourished. In 2000, it landed Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill and nearly sequestered Tim Duncan away from the Spurs. In 2007, it acquired the best free agent available that summer, Rashard Lewis.
Cohen’s Analysis: With the cap space and the appeal of the Central Florida market – beautiful weather, no state income tax and a gorgeous arena – the impending free agents available may show interest in the Magic. Particularly in 2015 and 2016, there will be several marquee free agents available, including Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, Kevin Durant and Al Horford. If all holds financially, the Magic could theoretically sign more than one max free agent.
Cohen’s Analysis: With all the player development, which could imply top five rankings at their respective positions for current Magic players Nik Vucevic, Arron Afflalo and Andrew Nicholson in a few years, a collection of high draft picks and the addition of any All-Star caliber free agents, the Magic are on a path to be championship contenders in just a few years.
Cohen’s Analysis: Let’s remember, the Miami Heat, who are the reigning NBA champs, won an NBA-worst 15 games in 2007-08. That suggests that in just three seasons, Miami went from the bottom all the way to the NBA Finals and in four years claimed the title. The Clippers weren’t in the playoffs two years ago. Now they are championship contenders. The Thunder had to touch the floor before rising to the elite. The Magic’s rebuild is temporary. Everything is in place for a rapid rise.