Cohen: Evaluating The Talent (Starters)

By Josh Cohen
May 16, 2011


Now that we have all had a couple of weeks to digest the Orlando Magic’s season following their disappointing defeat to the Atlanta Hawks in the First Round, I decided to evaluate each of the players’ performances from the year.

After reading through my analysis, vote on the grade you think each player deserves. In this edition, I dissect the starters.

CLICK HERE FOR EVALUATIONS OF RESERVES>>>

Grading System:

A - Excellent; Absolutely sensational; Definitely at a first-rate level

B - Pretty good; Generally content with a few exceptions here and there; Still need some improvement if they want to be a significant contributor next year

C - Somewhat disappointed; Expect more consistency; Hope for major improvement next season







Dwight Howard
Honored with all sorts of awards, including a third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year decoration and a second-place finish in the MVP race, Dwight Howard was outstanding all season. During one stretch, D12 recorded a franchise-best 33 straight double-doubles and was the only player in the league to average at least 20-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and two-plus blocks.

Though he has not captured a championship ring yet in his career and in spite of the fact that he is just 25 years old, I already deem Howard to be one of the best centers in NBA history. Not only is he the most dominant defensive player at his position since Bill Russell, Superman now has a lethal offensive repertoire that is difficult for opponents to contend with.

What grade would you give Dwight Howard for his performance this season?
What grade would you give Dwight Howard for his performance this season?
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Jameer Nelson
There were a handful of games this season where without Jameer Nelson the Magic would have slid into defeat. He connected on three game-winning shots (at NJN, at IND, vs. DEN), enjoyed epic fourth quarter performances in victories over Miami and New York and was arguably the only point guard in the NBA to have some success against MVP Derrick Rose.

Unfortunately though for Nelson, he did not play splendidly during the Magic’s First Round playoff defeat to the Hawks. As a result, it’s very difficult to assess Nelson’s season since he was generally superb during the regular season but somewhat disappointing during the postseason.

What grade would you give Jameer Nelson for his performance this season?
What grade would you give Jameer Nelson for his performance this season?
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Hedo Turkoglu
For the first month following December’s blockbuster trades, Hedo Turkoglu was, by and large, the best acquisition amongst everyone that was involved in the deals. After that, however, Turk became one of the more disappointing additions.

At one point in January, there were some observers that felt Hedo should be considered a candidate for the All-Star team despite joining the Eastern Conference mid-season. He had tallied a triple-double in one game, a career-best 17 assists in another and was one of the catalysts in Orlando’s offensive outburst in which as many as seven players scored in double figures.

But shortly after all that glory, Turkoglu mysteriously disintegrated. He had dealt with lower back pain and an elbow problem and just never revitalized by the time the season was complete.

What grade would you give Hedo Turkoglu for his performance this season?
What grade would you give Hedo Turkoglu for his performance this season?
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Jason Richardson
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jason Richardson finished second in the NBA in most 3-pointers made (189). Though at times Orlando hoped he would be more of an attacker and someone who would force his way to the free throw line, J-Rich always seemed to connect on timely 3-point shots.

Nobody will ever forget his miraculous four-point play against Philadelphia, but also Richardson drilled other pivotal treys including a game-tying one in New York to send the game into overtime.

It was unfortunate that Richardson was suspended for Game 4 against Atlanta and then had to deal with a sudden foot injury when he returned.

J-Rich, nonetheless, flourished in Orlando’s system since it relies so heavily on its 3-point shooting and it will be interesting to see if the free-agent-to-be will sign a long-term deal with the Magic this offseason.

What grade would you give Jason Richardson for his performance this season?
What grade would you give Jason Richardson for his performance this season?
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Brandon Bass
What we learned about Brandon Bass the most is that he could be a potential Sixth Man of the Year one day, but is probably not suited to be a starting power forward.

Prior to December’s deals when he was a reserve backing up Rashard Lewis, Bass was performing at an all-time career best. In a game in Detroit when Orlando was dealing with its stomach virus epidemic, the Louisiana native posted a career-best 27 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the field.

Bass continues to improve on his 15-foot jump shots and frequently demonstrated a willingness to attack the rim and flush with authority. Perhaps the No. 1 item for Bass to try and work on during the offseason is his help defense.

Many of the critics believe the Magic need to find a more experienced power forward to secure their front line. It will be intriguing to see if President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith opts to try and upgrade that position.

What grade would you give Brandon Bass for his performance this season?
What grade would you give Brandon Bass for his performance this season?
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