Cohen: Evaluating The Talent

By Josh Cohen
April 14, 2011


I provide a brief analysis of how the Magic's players performed during the regular season and want you, the fans, to vote on the grade you think each competitor deserves as they prepare for the playoffs.

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

C - Somewhat disappointed; Expect more consistency; Hope for improvement during the playoffs







Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard went from being the best center in the game today to being one of the best centers of all time.

Aside from his career statistics across the board in nearly every category, Howard transformed into a practically indomitable and unshakable big man.

Noticeable in training camp and showcased throughout the regular season, Superman added fresh elements to his repertoire, including a velvety mid-range bank shot to a gentle baby hook in the paint.

Undoubtedly an option for the MVP award, D12 resembles some of the more renowned centers in NBA history, including Wilt Chamberlain, because of his unyielding passion and unbendable dominance against every opponent.

What grade would you give Dwight Howard for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Dwight Howard for his performance in the regular season?
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Jameer Nelson
It was somewhat of a rollercoaster season for Jameer Nelson, but incontrovertibly, he proved he deserves to be considered one of the best and most important point guards in the NBA.

First demonstrated during the playoffs last year, Nelson confirmed his eagerness to be the primetime player in critical moments of a close game.

Early in the season, Jameer converted on a pair of game-winning drives (at New Jersey and Indiana). Later on, Nelson almost single-handedly catapulted the Magic to a victory over New York with an epic fourth-quarter performance and soon after that, drilled an unforgettable buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Denver.

While it’s no secret that Howard is the Magic’s Batman, Nelson is definitely the team’s Robin and has proven to be a worthy sidekick.

What grade would you give Jameer Nelson for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Jameer Nelson for his performance in the regular season?
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Hedo Turkoglu
There was some doubt when the Magic decided to re-acquire fan favorite Hedo Turkoglu as part of December’s blockbuster trades. Considering how ineffective he was with both Toronto and Phoenix, President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith hoped to prove that Hedo could only flourish in Orlando because of its style of play.

While it’s fair to suggest that Turkoglu was somewhat inconsistent – largely because of some injury issues to his lower back and elbow – he did verify that the Magic are perhaps the only club he can thrive with.

During Orlando’s nine-game winning streak shortly after the deals, Turk was practically unassailable – recording a triple-double in one game and a career-best 17 assists in another.

It will be imperative for the Turkish superstar to restore similar aggressiveness in the playoffs like he did during the Magic’s NBA Finals run in 2009.

What grade would you give Hedo Turkoglu for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Hedo Turkoglu for his performance in the regular season?
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Jason Richardson
You can’t help but feel extraordinary confidence when Jason Richardson attempts a 3-point shot. While Boston’s Ray Allen has earned the reputation as the game’s most prolific long distance shooter, J-Rich, arguably, is in actuality the most lethal outside shooter in the league.

Just like he did during his tenure with the Suns, Richardson prospered from 3-point range with the Magic and ended up second in the league in triples made (189). Only Golden State’s Dorell Wright connected on more.

Also effective was the former Michigan State guard’s ability to finish in transition. After Orlando completed its two trades, the Magic became a much more proficient team on the fast break and J-Rich was a catalyst for their success.

While Richardson is sometimes a defensive liability, it’s always essential for him to be on the floor because he causes so much havoc on the adversary’s defense.

What grade would you give Jason Richardson for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Jason Richardson for his performance in the regular season?
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Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass deserves consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Award. Last year practically nonexistent because of the presence of Rashard Lewis ahead of him in the rotation, Bass got the opportunity to showcase his potential and he made the most of the minutes he earned.

Not only at times a ferocious inside presence who is always willing to attack the rim, Brandon evolved into a lethal 15-to-18 foot jump shooter.

Especially during the playoffs when he will match up with Atlanta’s Al Horford and if Orlando advances perhaps facing off against Chicago’s Carlos Boozer, Boston’s Kevin Garnett or Miami’s Chris Bosh, it will be imperative for Bass to remain just as confident and determined to prove he belongs with the big boys.

The one specific area in which he can make some major strides is in his help defense. Once Bass gets a greater grasp of what it takes to be an elite power forward in the NBA, he may develop into a guy who can average 15 points and eight rebounds a game.

What grade would you give Brandon Bass for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Brandon Bass for his performance in the regular season?
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Ryan Anderson
Just like it was for Bass, the trade of Lewis to Washington helped allow Ryan Anderson to receive more playing time and a chance to show what he can do.

Right after the trades, Anderson went on a tear scoring in double figures 18 times from Dec. 23 to the end of January. He also closed the regular season with some outstanding performances, including racking up a career-best 28 points against the Bulls.

Perhaps outside of Dirk Nowitzki, it may be fair to suggest that Ryno is the second best long distance shooter for all guys at least 6-10 in the league.

What grade would you give Ryan Anderson for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Ryan Anderson for his performance in the regular season?
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Gilbert Arenas
There was some optimism for Gilbert Arenas when he came over from the Wizards back in December. Though the last three years had been injury-plagued, Magic fans hoped a new environment would help him restore some success.

But generally, knee issues didn’t permit the three-time NBA All-Star from erupting with his new club. Hopefully, however, Gil will regain some of his swagger during the playoffs and prove to be a difference-maker on a team with championship aspirations.

What grade would you give Gilbert Arenas for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Gilbert Arenas for his performance in the regular season?
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J.J. Redick
It’s so unfortunate that J.J. Redick had to miss the final 17 games of the regular season after straining a muscle in his lower abdomen. J.J. was playing extremely well prior to the injury and was certainly in the running for Sixth Man of the Year honors.

Though it remains mysterious whether he will be fully healthy to compete at a high level in the postseason, Redick showed this regular season that he continues to blossom and be one of the rising shooting guards in the NBA.

What grade would you give J.J. Redick for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give J.J. Redick for his performance in the regular season?
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Quentin Richardson
President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith decided to essentially replace the effervescent Matt Barnes with a savvy veteran, Quentin Richardson, during the summer. While Q didn’t necessarily soar in the blue and white during the regular season, he did bring a similar toughness and attitude that helped Orlando win a few games this year.

What grade would you give Quentin Richardson for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Quentin Richardson for his performance in the regular season?
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Chris Duhon
Like Quentin Richardson, it remains debatable if Chris Duhon will develop into an essential role player on the Magic. While showing flashes of defensive radiance, Duhon has not dazzled on either end of the floor and, as a result, fans are still waiting for him to excel and prove his value.

What grade would you give Chris Duhon for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Chris Duhon for his performance in the regular season?
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Earl Clark
Completely overlooked at the time of the trade, Earl Clark has proven to be far better than just a throw in. For example, when Orlando’s bigs were in foul trouble this season, Clark stepped in and contributed in important minutes.

With time and further development, the New Jersey native could turn out to be a secret weapon in the future.

What grade would you give Earl Clark for his performance in the regular season?
What grade would you give Earl Clark for his performance in the regular season?
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