By Josh Cohen
October 26, 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 -- The preseason is now officially complete. For the next week, there will be a myriad of predictions and assessment about the Orlando Magic.

Everyone right now is trying to be Isaac Newton. We are all attempting to discover some mathematical equation that will determine how many wins the Magic will rack up this season.

So let’s see: 82 (#of games) x 15.2 (projected scoring average for Arron Afflalo) + 8.6 (expected rebound average for Glen Davis) / 65 (# of anticipated victories for the Heat) / 45 (# of projected games the Big Four in L.A. will all be on the court for the Lakers) x 15 (# of months David Stern has left as NBA Commissioner).

Forget it. It’s impossible. Or maybe being the next mathematical genius isn’t in my future.

This will be a very difficult season to envisage in Orlando. Some think the Magic will exceed expectations and win between 40 and 45 games. Others, on the other hand, assume the preliminary stage of a rebuilding method will result in anywhere between 20 and 40 victories.

Regardless of your outlook, the national media has not been exaggeratedly friendly to the Magic. It didn't help after Friday's exhibition against the Rockets even though let's be honest, the backend reserves played the entire second half. It wouldn't be appropriate to make any last-second evaluations based on this game considering the circumstances.

It’s only fitting, nonetheless, that the Denver Nuggets were one of the teams involved in the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade and are also the Magic’s first opponent of the regular season.

There are a plethora of commonalities between the Nuggets and Magic, but most conspicuous is they share a similar attitude on team architecture.

The Carmelo Anthony trade delivered a blend of balance, depth and versatility to Denver. And while the deal with the Knicks was not a matter of wisdom but rather force (New York had plenty of salary cap space to sign Melo regardless that upcoming summer), the Nuggets ascertained a rather innovative approach to success.

Yet, despite following in a similar method, Orlando has generally not received a matching approval from all the critics.

Praise poured down from the mountainous scene in Denver after the 2011 trade. Fans raved about the upward climb of Danilo Gallinari, the growing potential of Timofey Mozgov and established company of Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler.

The Nuggets have generally flourished since the deal. They advanced to the postseason in each of the two seasons since the Melo trade and some “experts” are suggesting that Denver could be a top four seed in the West this year.

In many ways it’s unwarranted to not make a suggestion that perhaps the Nuggets and Magic are very similar. Despite deficient of a legitimate star, both rosters are filled with depth and versatility.

Even when you go position-by-position, it’s really not that much of a contrast. Sure, Ty Lawson is budding into one of the elite point guards, but seriously, Denver’s roster is filled with a bunch of reliable and valuable role players.

Right off the bat, I would rather have Arron Afflalo, who played for the Nuggets last season and is a complete player, than Andre Iguodala even though he was an All-Star last year. Nikola Vucevic is a much smarter player than JaVale McGee, Maurice Harkless once he returns has a higher ceiling than Gallinari, Big Baby is miles ahead of Kenneth Faried and the collection of J.J. Redick, Al Harrington and Gustavo Ayon is more formidable off the bench than Denver’s reserves.

So, why not any respect?

We know Orlando has weaknesses, particularly on defense where they lack a shot blocker and intimidator in the paint. And it's entirely possible, this rebuilding process will result in a grueling campaign as some of the youngsters get their feet wet.

But as they prepare for their first opponent of this refreshing regular season, which fittingly is the team they are in many ways trying to emulate this year, it just doesn’t make sense for the Magic not to be given a chance by some to be in a similar category as the Nuggets.

Irrespective of your overall opinions, next Friday will officially be the beginning of a new era. And in the words of New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott, "can't wait!"

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