Cohen: Popular Questions Analyzed

By Josh Cohen
June 19, 2012

What position do you think the Orlando Magic will focus on with the 19th pick in the NBA Draft?

Some are proponents of drafting based on team needs, while others believe it’s best to just pick the finest player available.

There really is no textbook formula – chiefly because it’s very difficult to know with certainty if a prospect will pan out in the pros.

It’s also very indecisive whether the Magic will feature the same exact roster as last season. Ryan Anderson will be a restricted free agent, Jameer Nelson has the choice to opt out of his contract, the future of Dwight Howard remains very ambiguous and it’s always possible some kind of blockbuster trade is made.

If I had to predict, however, what direction Orlando steers in, I would lean toward the Magic choosing either a point guard or small forward.

For one, if Nelson decides to become an unrestricted free agent, it’s possible the Magic will need an immediate solution to filling that position.

While Nelson has stated countless times his preference is to remain in Orlando, if another team is willing to offer him an amount that is too copious for the Magic to match or exceed, it’s certainly feasible that Jameer could opt to go elsewhere.

There aren’t too many striking point guards in this draft class, however, and it may a bit implausible to believe any available floor generals could step in immediately and be a starter.

Weber State’s Damian Lillard and North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall are the most coveted point guards, but they will almost positively be taken by the time the Magic are on the clock.

Washington’s Tony Wroten, Kentucky’s Marquis Teague and Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor are probably the only pragmatic options at No. 19. All three have potential to be respectable pros, but caution is advised considering they each have distinct flaws.

If Orlando, on the other hand, shifts its attention to a small forward, there will be more variety to choose from.

While Hedo Turkoglu is still under contract, the Magic may want to start the process of molding a replacement for the future.

St. John’s Moe Harkless is hot on a lot of teams’ radar and is reportedly a prospect the Magic are very intrigued by.

Baylor’s Perry Jones, who a year ago some figured would eventually be a top five pick, has slipped on many draft boards and may be available at No. 19. Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, Vanderbilt’s Jeffrey Taylor and Iowa State’s Royce White, meanwhile, are small forwards expected to be chosen between 15 and 30.

Regardless of the position Orlando may concentrate on, whenever you draft outside of the top 10, luck plays a huge part in the results.

Aside from Anthony Davis, which prospect do you think could turn out to be a perennial NBA All-Star?

I so badly want to say Andre Drummond. He has the physical tools to be the next Dwight Howard or at least Amar’e Stoudemire.

But Drummond was just ordinary in his one year at UConn and his dubious work ethic makes me cringe.

If I am not comfortable answering with Drummond, however, I’m going to choose to be the ultimate cynic and say nobody.

Listen, I think Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Austin Rivers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson will be good players, but nothing extraordinary. I see each of them being legitimate long term starters in this league, but never the headline on a team.

This is one of the more peculiar NBA Drafts and here is why.

Last year at this time, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones could have challenged to be the No. 1 pick until they each decided to stay another year in college. Now, they may both not be chosen in the top 20.

Drummond was supposed to be this unstoppable force. He didn’t reach those supercilious expectations. Rivers was also alleged to be a potential first overall pick before exposing some of his flaws at Duke.

Many people are labeling this year’s draft as one of the deepest. I am branding it as one of the more deceptive.

I wish I took a screen shot at the time, but I recall one draft board about six months ago with this top five draft order:

1) Andre Drummond
2) Jeremy Lamb
3) Jared Sullinger
4) Austin Rivers
5) Perry Jones

It’s very possible neither of those five will be in the top five in a week.

Around the league, which star player do you think is most likely to be traded this summer?

I’d be surprised if Rudy Gay and Andre Iguodala are still with Memphis and Philadelphia, respectively, and unless the Lakers trade Andrew Bynum, I wouldn’t be dazed if Pau Gasol had a new home as well.

There are many who believe Gay and Zach Randolph can’t co-exist together considering they both demand the ball. As a result, it may be worthwhile for the Grizzlies to explore trading one of them.

They both have massive contracts to contend with but both still have a plethora of value. Several teams are reportedly trying very hard to conjure up a package that includes Gay.

For the past two years, the 76ers have flirted with trading Iguodala, who likely has two more years on his contract assuming he doesn’t opt out after next season ($16 million). But unlike the past when there seemed to be recurring hesitation for Philadelphia to deal him, now seems like the most reasonable time for Iggy to relocate.

If the Sixers can land a legitimate big man in exchange for Iguodala or acquire a lottery pick in this month’s draft, I don’t think Philly will dawdle this time around.

Gasol is far more intricate to assess because much depends on L.A.’s position on Bynum.

I still feel strongly that if the Lakers really want Deron Williams, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if the Nets are convinced he won’t stay to open up the new arena in Brooklyn, a D-Will for Bynum sign and trade swap seems beyond logical.

If this were to happen, L.A. would probably need to keep Gasol to sustain an inside presence.

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