By Josh Cohen
November 9, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.

ORLANDO -- We all knew that while in the infantile stages of this rebuilding process there would be some growing pains.

At times, the Orlando Magic would get busted up and bruised.

While undesired as it’s happening, it’s an inevitable portion of a renovation and something we must accept as the Magic make this transition.

There was a great deal of euphoria after notching two wins to start the season. Then they went on the road, played a spirited back-and-forth contest in Chicago before tired legs one night later doomed their chances in Minnesota.

Friday’s defeat to Brooklyn wasn’t pretty. There wasn’t one thing the Nets didn’t do well. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson meshed perfectly in the backcourt; Brook Lopez looks like he has added more to his repertoire and Andray Blatche may have been a steal for Brooklyn in free agency.

Give them credit. On this night, the Nets sure looked like a championship contender.

It’s a worldwide sports cliché, but it’s imperative to spread the message anyway. The Magic need to erase Friday’s loss from their minds and concentrate on a revenge plan when they travel to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for another clash with the Nets on Sunday.

I’m not concerned about the Magic. I think Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick, who all played exceptionally well in the first three games, will bounce back and return to familiar form.

Jameer Nelson, who has missed the last four games, will be back soon as he recovers from a strained hamstring and groin. Hedo Turkoglu is still a few weeks away after fracturing his left hand in the season opener.

More of an uncertainty is the development of the younger guys, particularly rookies Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson.

We know both have a ton of upside. During the preseason, Nicholson showed pieces of his game that could eventually turn him into a great pro.

Harkless was hurt all of the preseason and was gradually brought back a few nights ago. At times, you can identify all the athleticism and the intangibles.

But right now, it’s clearly a difficult conversion to the professional ranks as they match up with bigger and stronger opponents.

It’s not a secret that Nicholson must add more strength to be an effective power forward in the NBA. And Harkless needs to develop a wider range of offensive skills to transform into a steady small forward who can compete against any of the other elite threes.

Let’s remember, neither Harkless or Nicholson were lottery picks. So to expect them to perform at the same level or pace as an Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard or Dion Waiters, for example, is irrational.

The big question moving forward is whether by the end of the season Nicholson and/or Harkless will be able to add more to their range of skills and become impact players on a nightly basis.

For now, we can only expect Jacque Vaughn to take it slow with these two promising youngsters. At least on nights like Friday where the game was decided before the fourth quarter even began, we can get a closer look at Harkless, Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn as they get more minutes.

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