Cohen: Over or Under

By Josh Cohen
September 25, 2012

ORLANDO -- Let’s play a game. It’s called Over or Under. I provide three subjects and offer my position on whether the Orlando Magic and/or their players will exceed the mark presented or fall below. After reading my analysis to each, vote on your opinion.

Arron Afflalo's final scoring average per game this season: 16.0 

OVER: First off, let’s just review a bit. Afflalo averaged better than 15 points per game last season in Denver on a team that also featured Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari.

While nobody expects him to suddenly evolve into a dominant scorer, it would seem rational to believe Afflalo will take another leap this year. Everyone who has ever been around the Compton, CA native during his training will tell you that Afflalo is meticulous in his approach, relentless in his effort and devoted to improvement.

Considering the Magic are in a rebuilding stage and aren’t relying on one specific player to steal the spotlight, it’s expected for point production to be spread around.

If I had to speculate, I say Afflalo, assuming he starts nearly every game, finishes the season with a scoring average of around 17.0 points per game.

It’s also anticipated that fellow veterans such as Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington (once he returns from injury) will also post double digit scoring averages.

The total number of deals the Magic will make by the trade deadline: 1.5

UNDER: Let’s first be clear and understand the assertion. Two trades does not necessarily mean two players. One deal can include multiple players and occasionally a trade may not comprise of any players (ex. future draft picks or cash considerations).

The unmistakable goal of the Magic is to be in the best, most advantageous position to reach success and sustain it for many years. Whether the primary route is building via the draft, trades or free agency, Orlando has a plethora of options considering its financial flexibility and a superfluous of future draft picks.

Both Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington have only partially guaranteed contracts after this season; J.J. Redick will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and some of the backend reserves such as Josh McRoberts and Justin Harper also have expiring deals.

If the Magic want to acquire more draft picks and/or young talent prior to February’s trade deadline, perhaps they would consider potential opportunities to trade veterans and/or concluding contracts to further augment the rebuilding process.

Remember also, the Magic own a $17 million trade exception from the Dwight Howard deal. It would seem unlikely, however, that Orlando would accept a max-level contract.

It's possible, rather, that the Magic could utilize this exception to acquire additional draft picks and in turn help other teams get under the luxury tax line. If Orlando does indeed decide to use the exception, it would need to do so by Aug. 11, 2013.

There is already a very resolute attitude amongst every member of this team. They all want to prove the critics and pessimists wrong. If Orlando is in contention for a playoff spot by the deadline, it’s very possible no trades will be made and the new marketing campaign, “We Will,” will be a boisterous spirit hung over the organization.

The total number of regular season wins for the Magic this season: 29.5

OVER: So many detractors have already proposed the Magic have almost no chance of reaching 25 wins, let alone 30. The conjecture is no superstar equals meager results.

Well, if the expectation is to win a championship, then sure, no superstar makes that aspiration difficult to achieve. That based on NBA history is very precise.

However, a trophy or banner doesn’t always define a successful season in the NBA. Let’s all recall the renowned Heart & Hustle cast in 1999-00 – a superstar-less crew that exceeded all expectations. Projected to win less than 20 games when the season started, they ultimately secured 41 victories.

This year’s squad has a surplus of valuable role players. Kind of like Denver the last two seasons – both playoff-fulfilled campaigns by the way – Orlando possesses an abundance of committed, hungry and team-oriented soldiers ready for battle.

From Jameer Nelson to Glen Davis – veterans with a chip on their shoulders – to Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless – humble rookies with an opportunity they have always begged for – to a guy like Al Harrington – a proven leader who can be an esteemed locker room mentor, the Magic are balanced and determined.

Considering the rest of the conference is rather shaky and unpredictable, the Magic have a chance to be in the middle of the pack come April and contend for a playoff spot. If that is the case, it would insinuate that better than 30 wins is on the horizon.


ORLANDOMAGIC.COM FEATURES: Over or Under | Magic Dealing with Injuries | D12's Decision, T-Mac & More | Magic's New Direction | Magic Mailbag | Magic Add Backcourt Depth, Sign Moore | Assessing Orlando's Playoff Chances | Vaughn Talks Coaching Style | Magic Complete Coaching Staff | NBA Trade Proposals | Win-Win Situation | Chasing Free Agents, Who & When? | Starting Lineup Decisions | Action & Reaction | History of Success Bodes Well for Magic

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