Josh Cohen’s Analysis: It’s going to inevitably be a frequent debate for the rest of the season. While losing is frustrating, in the NBA, sometimes the only way to make drastic improvements is to hit the bottom before surging to the top. The worst result for a team is to be the ninth or 10th best team in a conference. That insinuates you were mediocre but not worthy of a high lottery draft pick. With all the injuries piling up, you have to wonder if it could prove that more conventional “rebuilding” will benefit the Magic later on.
Cohen’s Analysis: If you said a year ago that the Raptors would be a better team WITHOUT Andrea Bargnani, I would have probably raised my left eyebrow and laughed. But as we have discovered since Bargnani injured his elbow a couple of weeks ago, Toronto is a far more adaptable and multifaceted squad without him. They are 7-2 in his absence. Unless his pricey contract makes it too difficult, you have to assume Bargnani will be traded by the deadline.
Cohen’s Analysis: It happens to a handful of teams every season. Injuries deny them from discovering their full potential. It sure appears after exceeding expectations in the first month and a half that the injuries, particularly the shoulder sprain suffered by Glen Davis, will disallow the Magic to realize what they could have accomplished if healthy for an entire season. Although Hedo Turkoglu returned on Saturday, Al Harrington remains out and now Jameer Nelson and E’Twaun Moore are recovering from their own ailments.
Cohen’s Analysis: Andrew Nicholson will live in the weight room this upcoming summer. He has such a refined offensive game, but presently doesn’t have the size and strength to contend with the bigger fours in the league. If he is able to adapt to all the lifting and adequately bulk up, his remarkable footwork and smooth touch around the basket could transform Drew into a legitimate All-Star caliber power forward.
Cohen’s Analysis: The Raptors need to think twice about trading Jose Calderon. There have been so many rumblings that Toronto wants to send him away, but like a few years ago when he and Chris Bosh helped the Raptors become a quality playoff team, Calderon is again one of the more polished point guards because he can dish it and shoot it.
Cohen’s Analysis: Is DeMar DeRozan blossoming into a “superstar?” Some cringed when the Raptors decided to offer the four-year veteran a $40 million contract extension in October. But there aren’t many other players in this league with the kind of mid-range game and explosiveness he possesses. If he adds more to the table, particularly on defense, DeRozan has a repertoire that can transform him into a perennial All-Star.
Cohen's Analysis: When the Toronto Raptors traded for Kyle Lowry this past summer, they sent away a limited protected pick to the Houston Rockets (that pick now goes to OKC as a result of the James Harden deal). Essentially, if the Raptors do not make the playoffs this season and land between four and 14 in the draft lottery, the Thunder select for them. With Lowry having an injury-plagued and flawed year as a backup to Jose Calderon, it sure seems that deal may prove costly for the Raptors.
Cohen’s Analysis: It’s hard to predict what the future entails for rookie Maurice Harkless. He has a load of upside because of his athleticism and length, but it is also noticeable that a lot is missing. He doesn’t have an offensive repertoire and often he appears apprehensive to be involved. It’s a work in progress, but scouts believe that once he gets a full offseason to train, Harkless will gradually develop and become a very effective player in the NBA.