Cohen 8-Ball: I Propose That....
January 3, 2013
TEAMS SHOULD FOCUS ON 2014 DRAFT - Josh Cohen’s Analysis: It requires patience and faith, but it may be prudent for at least a dozen teams to unload valuable players by next year and be in a practical position to strike gold in the 2014 NBA Draft. While the league does not permit mentioning prospects until they officially declare for the NBA Draft, it’s become a universal agreement that the next two franchise superstars may be available in that draft class. It’s a gamble, indeed, for any team to take a giant step backward for a year. However, the results could ultimately prove to be well worth it.
LAKERS SHOULD CONSIDER TRADING DWIGHT - Cohen’s Analysis: His statistics are not mesmerizing. His performance has become defective. He and Kobe do not appear to coexist. Is it unimaginable to believe that perhaps Dwight Howard is not the right fit for the Lakers? Would it be irrational to imply that perhaps re-signing Howard to a massive five-year $100 million contract this summer would actually hinder the Lakers rather than heighten their performance? Should L.A. at minimum scope out potential trade partners by the deadline for the perennial All-Star? How about a three-team package involving Dwight to Brooklyn, Kevin Love to L.A. and Brook Lopez to Minnesota?
TOURNAMENT TO DETERMINE NO. 8 SEEDS – Cohen’s Analysis: The league should adopt an innovative way to decide who sneaks into the playoffs. With the current system, too many teams are out of the playoff mix by February and as a result, it becomes more rewarding to lose late in the season in hopes of landing a higher draft pick. I suggest that the top seven teams in the standings for each conference automatically advance and the final slot for each coast is determined on a single-elimination tournament. Teams with the better record get the home-court advantage in each of the three rounds.
WOLVES SHOULD TRADE LOVE NOW – Cohen’s Analysis: It’s become noticeable over the last few years that if teams wait to trade a disgruntled superstar, it’s more difficult to net better gains in a deal. It’s evident there is turmoil between Kevin Love and Wolves management. It’s also becoming more likely that Minnesota will fail to reach the playoffs for the ninth straight season. The Wolves could probably get an attractive offer for their All-Star right now. As time moves, it’s possible less and less will be available.
CELTICS SHOULD START REBUILD NOW – Cohen’s Analysis: I recommended it during the summer and I feel even more strongly about it now. Boston should begin its restructure and renovation. While still effective players, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are not what they once were. The complimentary players like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass have been major disappointments and Rajon Rondo, while still an elite point guard, may be the source to garner an attractive package in any blockbuster trade. While we have seen Boston struggle in the regular season before boosting the engine in the playoffs, it just doesn’t seem feasible to believe it can compete with teams like Miami, New York or even a Brooklyn or Chicago if Derrick Rose comes back healthy.
VUCEVIC IS MOST IMPROVED PLAYER – Cohen’s Analysis: Any player in his second NBA season who can rack up a franchise-record 29 rebounds deserves to be the frontrunner for this honor. Nikola Vucevic, originally figured to be a toss-in in the Howard trade, has rapidly developed his game. He has outstanding offensive skills and is an exceptional rebounder. He needs to improve defensively, but compared to the competition, Nik is this season’s Most Improved Player.
AFFLALO TOP 5 SG – Cohen’s Analysis: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Manu Ginobili and then…..? Arron Afflalo, who has rapidly developed an outstanding mid-range game, is probably the fifth best shooting guard in the league right now. Other candidates include Joe Johnson, OJ Mayo, Klay Thompson, Monta Ellis and Kevin Martin. But I would take Afflalo over all of them.
HARDEN FOR MVP? – Cohen’s Analysis: Everyone has pretty much concluded that the race to the MVP is a four-man race: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. But James Harden certainly deserves consideration for the honor. He has practically single-handedly catapulted the Rockets into playoff contention. Harden is the complete player and worthy of being a franchise cornerstone.