Saturday, January 20, 2007

Spanish Fly vs. TJ - A case for Jose?

Thought this was a timely article about back-up PG's who are better than the starter. Considering how much TJ sucked tonight, and how much Jose didn't, I thought it would be worth the read. The following excerpt does a great job of illustrating just how I've felt at numerous times this year:

The Toronto Raptors are in a slightly similar situation. I’m not saying it’s the same at all, but the way Jose Calderon has been playing of late leads me to believe that he will be a starting point guard in the NBA once he settles down and plays well more consistently. Not taking anything away from TJ Ford, but Calderon has outplayed him more than a few times this year. He’s the guy who led Toronto to a win the other night against the Kings, and there have been other occasions where Calderon has just done a better job over the course of a game than Ford.

Despite all the potential negatives this could cause down the road, there are certainly worse problems to have. Can you remember a time when we were 3-deep at the PG spot (TJ, Jose and of course, D-Mart!)? Me neither, so here's hoping our cap situation allows us to lock him up this summer for a 3-5 year period (with Roko being PG #3 and D-Mart #3B/coach).

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Smitch Has Wisdom.

Good article at TheStar about the importance of beating up on teams that are injured when you get the opportunity. It's nice that we're on the good end of this equation for a change. We're finally healthy for the first time all season, and when you add in the fact that the League gave us our annual proctological-exam in the form of a particularly shitey start to our schedule, maybe the concept of the Raps' as first-place team doesn't seem quite so absurd. The absolutely terrible teams in our division also makes this concept somewhat more realistic.

Despite our current good health, and the relative poor health of our recent and future opponents, there are many reasons to think the Raps are a team that is only going to improve as the season wears on. We've developped a good, solid rotation (which is helpful because it means Fred Jones and K-Hump aren't playing much), Il Mago is playing a significant role that is only going to increase as the season goes on, we're showing all the signs of improvement in team play and we've got depth at the PG position.

As I sit here eating crow, I must admit that TJ has looked as though he has made significant improvements as the season has gone on, which, given his age and small number of games played due to his past health issues, would strongly suggest actual improvement that should be sustained and improved upon further, rather than merely a Mike-James-esque flash in the pan that does not accurately reflect a player's true ability. Thank god we didn't sign Mike James.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Live, in-game random thoughts....

-OK, I'm back just in time to catch the Colangelo show as it makes its return to Phoenix. And would you believe it, BC is on the air with Chuck and Leo!!!!! Listening to him makes me wish he was our announcer, too. He could be a groundbreaker: the fist GM/announcer in NBA history! Hell, if they let the clowns/homers from Boston on the air, what possible argument could they make about letting BC be the voice of the Raps'? Plus, he seems emotional enough that you know he would just be unable to hold back at times and would criticize the hell out of anyone and everyone. As an example, he just blurted out "that's offensive goaltending!!!', and you could tell he knew he was lucky to have not yelled "for fuck sakes, that's offensive goaltending". As a sidebar, Bargnani just had a sick dunk after running the floor like a gazelle. Wow, that was sick. I have mixed emotions about seeing highlight dunks like this: on the one hand, I'm happy because it shows me how good it is, on the other I'm sad because I know I'll have to listen to the Swirsk near piss himself about a million times over the next decade or so.

-Is it just me, or does Bargnani seem to be able to get his shot off more or less at will? I mean, its unblockable because he releases it from about 13 feet off the ground, it has a really high arc (as opposed to the flat bricks we see from, say, Fred Jones) AND he gets it off super-quick. His upside may ultimately turn out to be this: he becomes a scoring force unlike just about any other, a big with an inside/outside combination never seen before from a big like him. As my fellow Raptor fan Cheese likes to say "it's all about matchups, and he's a mistmatch". The fact that he might even turn out to be a decent defender (see: 6 blocks the other night) makes his potential all the more exciting.

-Jose's injury really has 3 upsides: first, it means more D-Mart!!!!. Seeing as how I think our GM should also announce, I don't think it should come as a surprise that I think D-mart should be officially given a player/coach designation. Someone needs to make this happen, and soon. I could get my wish next year. Here is how I envision it playing out: he signs on as an assistant, but keeps himself in "game shape" (a term I use extremely loosely) and he becomes our 16th man who signs ten-day contracts when needed due to injury. Don't laugh, I am dead serious. You heard it here first. Secondly, it means Jose's value might decreaase and hence we can get him cheaper in the offseason, although with the non-lifethreatening injury, he will be back sooner than expected. And third, it only helps us come closer to deciding to officially enter the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant sweepstakes. On this last note, with Bosh's injury looking worse by the day, we may be going in the tank sooner than later. I'd love to see a starting line-up of: Uros at centre, Bargs at PF, Tucker, Joey G and the Hump. Trade MoPete, sit down Rasho and Parker and let Jorge in the game only when neccessary (ie. when the Hump is in foul trouble). Wonder how David Stern would feel about that? As I've often opined, we need one more high draft pick if we want to be good for a long time, and this is the draft of the fucking decade. Wouldn't it just be very Raptor-like of us to be a solidly middle of the pack team and lose our draft pick to Charlotte when the chance to get a great player at 10-15 is highest? By the way, it's top 16 protected. Pray that the Nets don't suck so much that we actaully win our crappy division.

-Jalen Rose: is this the rematch against your old team that you had in mind? The next time we see him it will be on RaptorsTV, which is something I personally can't wait for. He's my second choice behind Colangelo to replace Leo.

-Note to Kurt Thomas: you can't guard Il Mago. The Italian Assassin just showed Thomas his baseline drive move, which is quickly becoming his go to move when driving from the mid-range.

-PJ just made a nice place down-low on Amare. I'd love to see him get lots more burn, particularly in place of the Hump, who has gone from being a "wow, maybe we have something the Jazz missed" type of player into a "well, he ain't ever gonna be a piece on our championship team" type of player in about 5 seconds. He is the exact opposite of PJ: the more you see him, the less you like his game and the more you see how limited he is. PJ, on the other hand, has the type of game that you start to appreciate more every time he's on the court. The more he plays, the less ridicolous the idea of a 6'4" power forward seems.

-Favourite D-Mart moment of the game: when the Swirsk mentioned that he spoke to the fan-favorite before the game and asked him if we was "thinking he'd get 20 minutes", to which the savvy veteran replied "more like 20 points". No career-15th-man in league history has had as much confidence in their abilities as D-Mart. I'm sure he is convinced that he could go off for 50pts/20assts/10rebs. at any time if just given the right chance. He is bordering on delusional, which only makes me like him even more.

-The Swirsk is getting a bobblehead? What is the world coming to? We're going to have to listen to Chuck talk about this for years.

-Pat Burke + Jalen Rose on the court at the same time = garbage time. 0-1 for the Burkester. HUGE defensive rebound, met with cheers. Blown past by Bargs. PJ, continues to look good, scoring a bit. Oh my GOD, TJ just hurt his back. He's holding his back, and walking like an old man. Between him, the Weepy-One (Calderon) and the sympathy crier (Greta Garbo, who also didn't play the second half with a calf injury) we might be the biggest pussies in the world. Charles Oakley is rolling over in his fucking grave. On the bright side, things are looking up for D-Mart.

-December 20th, mark it on your calendar, it's official: time to tank. No Bosh, no Calderon, no TJ, no Garbo = great reasons to toss in the next 60 games or so. When taken in consideration with the post on Oden/Durant above, the choice is clear.

-Pat Burke just hit career trey number 4. As would be expected, the place erupts. D-Mart comes right back to stick it in his face!!! Is there anything better than garbage time? And look, it's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Slokar!!! Let me officially add this to reasons for tanking the season: 5 months of nothing but garbage-time-all-the-time. Holy Shit Slokar just hit his first NBA bucket!!! And now it's Slokar v. Burke, mano-e-mano, a battle of titans!!! Slokar drives to the basket wildly, getting by Burke before tossing up a brick!! Wow, could this game have ended in a better, more fitting way? And with that, i'm out, because there is no way I can top what just happened.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Temporary Hiatus

Hey all, I'm on hiatue until the 18th or 19th due to exams. Hope you'll come back afterwards!!!

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Why is Uros not in the D-League?

Update: This article over at the Sun was written before my post, but I just found it now. It has his stats from last year, but other than that it more or less just has the same conclusion as me: Uros Slokar is not going to be in T.O. for long. Just as importantly, there is a nice little blurb about D-Mart's clutch 3.

While I understand that it could be doing him some good to be practising with vets like Rasho, Greasy Garbo and, of course, player/coach D-Mart, the simple fact is he needs to get some serious burn if we want him to improve. Does anyone else remember the good it did for Pape to go down, get some minutes, put up some numbers and gain some confidence? The irony here is that were it not for Pape's injury I wouldn't be writing this entry and Uros would be in Italy, maybe playing more minutes, maybe not.

Pape was getting a ton of chances with the Raps to show that he was capable of providing something (anything!!) of value to the team. When his opportunity came knocking, Spiderman Sow accomplished one thing: he managed to get it through managements thick skulls' that he needed more experience of the non-NBA variety before he could be ready to contribute! When he returned to the Show, he was still a player with obvious limitations, but he was nonetheless a better player who was that much closer to being an asset, potentially of the tradeable variety. Can you imagine how crowded the frontcourt would be if he was still around? I doubt he'd be getting much playing time, but I guess that's a moot point either way due to the neck injury.

The case for sending down the Slovenian Assassin is even more clear cut than it was for Sow (I'm posting that just so I can call plagiarism on the Swirsk when he inevitably comes up with a nickname for the kid). Unlike Pape, Uros isn't exactly playing much . When your career stats read "No Data", I think it's a sign that maybe a change of scenery might be a good thing. He essentially hasn't played major minutes in years after being stuck behind Il Mago and others at Bennetton. If he is expected to improve, he needs to play a lot of games while getting a chance to make his mistakes far from the bright lights of the ACC, so that if he ever does play for us he won't have to go through the growing pains while hurting his team in the process (we all remember how fun that is with Hoffa, don't we?).

On the bright side, when he has gotten a chance to play, he has not looked like a rusty player. He looked good in the Summer League at times, all the internet reviews of his play at Jr. and Sr. International competitions has been postive, and he has showed glimpses of certainly having the potential to be an NBA-caliber player. My major concern is that if he doesn't start to play, and soon, he may never get there.

Speaking of his potential, I see Slokar as being the able to take over a lot of the minutes that the club is currently giving to Rasho, likely to begin some time in mid-2007 or 2008. If Colangelo is to maintain good control of the salary cap over the next few years it will certainly be helpful is he able to replace our current Slovenian Big-Man's production with a younger, and more importantly, much much much cheaper version.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Update on the MoPete Trade Speculation

Michael Grange has a good article over at The Globe about the MoPete situation. From what Colangelo is saying, MoPete is definitely going to be available (he said that he is "definitely moveable player"). I hope that isn't just BC fluffing the market in hopes of getting more for him, but, like I've said before, he should just try to get whatever he can in the way of future assets. Hopefully MoPete lights it up when he gets back and some team falls in love with him. Either way, I think he's done before the deadline, assuming there are no major injury developments.

Meet TJ's new personal coach. And F.Jones', Greasy Garbo's, Joey G's....

Well, Colangelo has added a shooting coach, and check out this Star article about him. My favourite part is him entering the 3-point contest for 500 g's. If he wins, we should sign him. I refuse to believe he's that good. He sounds like the "Swirsk of Shooting" to me. That is not a compliment.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Smitch - aka the Sam Mitchell Graphic Novel

As a fan of the Toronto Raptors, one comes to expect a certain amount of emotional upset, if not downright outrage, due to some turn of event that inevitably befalls our strugggling franchise during the course of the year. Take the debaucle in Atlanta, which we Raptors' fans have greeted with a collective "meh". When compared to other past terrible events we've suffered through (see VC quitting, McGrady leaving, Alonzo, Hoffa, insert any one of the moments from The Flagrancy's 50 Most Dubious Moments). While it may have not yet reached Cubs-ian levels (due solely to the fact that our horrible mismanagement has only had one decade to demoralize us, as opposed to ten), we have been subjected to some horrible decisions over the years. Despite this, I remain convinced that our fan-base is as rabid and committed as any in the entire League. As proof, you need look no further than the message boards of RealGM, featuring a Sam Mitchell Graphic Novel. Enjoy.

Vanishing Points vs. Hot-Lanta

I've been late getting to this, but Chris Young, a writer over at The Toronto Star who maintains an nice all around sports-blog called JABS, has been all over the story about the vanishing points against Atlanta last week. If this were any other team, it would be all over the news, but not our Raps. Check it out, but I don't see anything being done about this by Stern.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

When should we trade MoPete?

RealGM article entitled "Food Off MoPete's Dinner Table?, which, as the name suggests, talks about how the veteran Raptor's role might be changing. In the end, the author suggests that MoPete should be dealt before his value decreases too greatly, and I certainly couldn't agree more. Of course, now that he's injured, and with the potential emergence of the newly-inspired (and confident) Joey G, we may have just missed the opportunity to "sell high".

As much as MoPete has done for us over the years, there just is not a big enough role for him with Fred Jones (who is cheaper now, 3.1 mil. to 4.55 mil., and probably still will be after MoPete signs his contract in the summer, presumably to be valued somewhere in the vicinity of the full mid-level exception of 5 million-ish), Anthony Parker (who does a lot of the same things MoPete does, for about the same price, 4.15 to 4.55) and the aforementioned Joey G taking on bigger roles. It was becoming clear, even before this injury, that his future with the organization was looking more and more in doubt.

While I like MoPete, and respect all that he has done for this organization through thick and thin, this is a business and sometimes it requires making decisions that have nothing to do with sentiment or gratitude for past service. In the long run, MoPete just isn't going to be a big cog in the wheel when the Raps are finally contending for a championship. It is better to get some asset(s) while we still can than to lose him for nothing this summer. If Aaron Williams is worth two second-rounders, it's pretty conceivable that the bidding for him should begin there, at the very least.

The Spurs have been quite successful over the years at drafting Euro's, stashing them overseas while someone else foots the bill for their development, then bringing over ready-made talent to help the team (although, as we've seen with the Euro's, there is no guarantee, no matter how much experience they have, that they will have an immediate impact). Either way, it allows a team to develop from within while maintaining a well-balanced cap distribution. The Gherardini-factor certainly makes this strategy far more likely, and may be one of the motivations underlying his scouting trip home. Regardless of the strategy likely to be employed going forward, this savvy veteran became not only Assistant GM but de-facto Head European Scout when he signed on with his friend Colangelo, and as far as I can tell there isn't anybody in the world who has a better track record doing just that.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Raptors Roundup

The guys over at RaptorsHQ have a great roundup of the stories being written about the Raptors in the mainstream media, as well as a good preview of what the Raps need to do to beat Hot-Lanta tonight and finally get on some kind of winning streak.

One of the better stories was about Il Mago and his progression. It might be a bit early to say, but it's looking like he has the potential to be an average-to-slightly above average defender, particularly against bigger, slower opponents, such as Big Z. His rejection of the Lithuanian showed that he will have the potential to be a solid low-post defender, and with his speed his defensive improvement is looking more like a question of when, and not if. When you throw in the fact that he is going to be a DYNAMIC scorer, his defence won't even be talked about. The article also includes a chart at the bottom statistically comparing rookies. The most telling stat had to do with his mins/game. Once this goes up (as it has begun to in the last few games) he is bound to improve.

Look for the Raps to pull out a win tonight. I'm betting the feast they got at Sam's gives them just the boost they needed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fire Sam and bench TJ.

Scott over at RaptorBlog has an article entitled "Commence the Sam Mitchell Deathwatch". Essentially, he saved me the time and effort of having to write a story about why exactly Sam's time is coming to an end. However, if you are even remotely interested in the Raps you probably have had most of these thoughts yourself at some point in time, such as the poor distribution of minutes and poor coaching during crunch time.

I also agree wholeheartedly that Sam would make a fantastic assistant coach who would be respected by the players and who would bring a lot to the table in terms of reinforcing what the head coach is trying to do. Being an assistant would also allow him to hide his biggest weaknesses, namely in-game adjustments to the opposing coaches' decisions and strategies. As others have pointed out, Sam's strengths ain't the X's & O's. The line that caught my attention most, though, was this:

Another coach might have run some plays late in the fourth instead of trusting T.J. Ford to make a smart crunch-time decision (on a related note, Ford's charge-and-chuck combo late in the fourth are exactly why I don't trust him – I don't care what the numbers say, he has poor court vision and game management skills).

In the name of full disclosure I should tell you, before making my next point, that I am a huge TJ-hater. I seriously considered calling this blog, before deciding that he sucks so much people probably wouldn't even know what I was referencing. I stared in shock at my computer for a solid hour in pure disbelief when news of the TJ-CV Smooth trade broke. I was like Steven A. Smith during the draft right after Villanueva was chosen. I had come to expect such soul-crushing, mind-numbing, franchise-killing decisions from all the prior regimes, but Colangelo? How could he possibly be so stupid! It was like your buddy, against your advice, got drunk in Vegas and married the stripper he'd just met that night, only to wake up the next morning to the realization that she's really a donkey covered in makeup who stuffs her bra, and that you just wasted a perfectly great relationship with a low-maintenance, high upside girl who was just beginning to come into her own.

The fact that he's gotten off to such a shitty start has left me with mixed emotions, to say the least. On the one had, I am happy because I get to feel like the guy who warned his buddy not to go marry said donkey, no matter how much it "filled a need", and as such I'm able to say "I told you so, jackass". On the other hand, it's like my buddy made a drunken mistake, caught some type of STD, the ex-girlfriend eventually becomes an actress on Baywatch, and he's stuck being married to the stripper. You can't help but feel sorry for your buddy, and you know he'll move on at some point, but he's definitely never going to be the same, and he'll be paying for his mistakes for years to come. The fact that he's your buddy also means that his shitty life can't help but rub off on yours. That's pretty much how I feel about TJ.

In conclusion, RaptorBlog sums up why I feel this way about TJ far more succinclty than I ever could: he has terrible court vision and game management skills. These glaring weaknesses are even more obvious when he's compared to Calderon, whose main strengths are those two skills. Watch them when they drive. Jose has his head up, on a swivel, reading the play, deciding whether to take the drive all the way or dish. TJ, on the other hand, puts his head down when he drives and as such misses what's going on around him. The fact that Jose does everything else better than TJ as well, such as the pick-and-pop, makes the decision an easy one. Bench TJ.