Archive for June, 2008

20/20 vision of the Toronto Raptors

June 30, 2008

When a noted blogger (i.e Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports!) writes an article, like this:

Kindly leave Bryan Colangelo alone

it deserves, at least, a comment or two from this corner. 

To wit:

KD,

To condemn (Dave) Feschuk & (Michael) Grange for their articles on Bryan Colangelo’s perceived slippage from “Saint” to “potential Sinner” without also reviewing the context of the current situation in Toronto is silly on your part.

Bryan Colangelo was hired as the new GM for the Raptors in Feb/2006.

Prior to that Wayne Embry was the Raptors’ interim GM (he did a good job clearing cap space for his successor, by trading Jalen Rose to the Knicks and moving Eric & Aaron Williams from their roster), after replacing the fired Rob Babcock, whose brief tenure at the helm of the team was an ill-fated disaster, i.e. Toronto missed the missed the playoffs, was forced to trade Vince Carter, wasted a #8 (Overall) draft pick on Raffael Araujo (out of the League today), and finished with a 27-55 W-L record during the 2005-2006 regular season.

Despite the team’s poor W-L record, on the eve of the 2006 Draft, there were a number of positives already in place that SHOULD have ensured a gradual and steady rise through the ranks of the Eastern Conference over the next few seasons EVEN IF Bryan Colangleo had NOT been hired as the Raptors GM (i.e. Feb/2006), including:

* Chris Bosh (C) was beginning to establish himself as the cornerstone of the franchise & perennial all-star
* Charlie Villaneuva (PF) finished 2nd in the the balloting for the ROY
* Jose Calderon (PG/Spain) had a solid 1st season as a back-up to Mike James (arriveded from Houston)
* Morris Petersen (OG) had established himself as a more-than capable starter, as Vince Carter struggled
* Joey Graham (SF) was a solid 1st Round Draft pick
* Other trade assets (like Araujo & Matt Bonner) and significant Cap Space
* 2006 No. 1 (Overall) Draft Pick, plus a relatively high 2nd Rounder

which Colangelo promptly turned into a “too-good-too-soon-without-enough-quality-depth-and-too-little-defense-and-rebounding-or-grit” middle-of-the-road team in the EC by making the following array of moves:

[for 2006-2007]

* Not re-signing Mike James (PG)
* Tradng Araujo (C) to Utah for Kris Humphries (PF)
* Trading Bonner (PF) to San Antonio for Rasho Nesterovic (C)
* Drafting Andrea Bargnani (No. 1 Overall, C-?/PF-?/SF-?)
* Drafting PJ Tucker (G/F, 2nd Round, out of the League today)
* Trading Charlie Villanueva (PF) to Milwaukee for TJ Ford (PG)
* Signing European pro Anthony Parker (G/F)
* Signing European pro Jorge Garbajosa (SF/PF)
* Signing Darrick Martin (PG)
* Signing Fred Jones (G/F)
* Signing Luke Jackson (F)
* Acquiring Juan Dixon (G)

– 47-35 (W-L)
– Made the Playoffs (#3) & LOST to the NJ Nets (#6) in the 1st Round
– Sam Mitchell wins the COY

[for 2007-2008]

* Signing Jason Kapono (G/F, Miami)
* Trading for Carlos Delfino (G/F, Detroit)
* Signing Jamario Moon (F, Free Agent)
* Signing Maceo Baston (PF, Free Agent)
* Trading Dixon for Primos Brezec (C)

– 41-41 (W-L)
– Made the Playoffs (#6) & LOST to the Orlando Magic in the 1st Round

[for 2008-2009]

* Trading Ford + Nesterovic + 1st Round Draft Pick (#17, 2008/Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown) + Baston for Jermaine O’Neal (PF/C, Indiana) + 2nd Round Draft Pick (#41, 2008/Nathan Jawai, C Australia)
* Signing Roko Ukic (PG, European)

Now your readers can judge for themselves whether or not what Grange & Feschuk wrote about the current state of the Raptors (and, IMO, their AVERAGE performing GM) is accurate or not.

(which is what was submitted by yours truly a few minutes ago)

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More smoke & mirrors

June 26, 2008

Make no mistake about it.

The recent goings-on at Bay & Lakeshore (where the headquarters for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment [MLSE] are located, at the Air Canada Centre [ACC]), are rotten to the core, involving both of the professional sports franchises operated by this organization, i.e. the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.

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re: Maple Leafs

There’s no Wing-ing it with Leafs’ new strategy
If you were to ask Ken Holland, GM of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, to identify the quality his scouts look for when it comes to the annual entry draft, his answer would be succinct.

“Skill,” he’d say, just as he’s said it many times before.

Nine teams followed that mantra when it came to making selections with the top 10 picks of the NHL entry draft on Friday night.

One did not.

That team would be your Maple Leafs.

Peddie era continues to linger like a bad smell
Like a bad odour, you just can’t make this guy go away.

From the day Peddie ascended to the power position of having both the Raptors and Leafs report to him in 2003, the hockey club has gone straight downhill. You’d think his bosses might wonder why there hasn’t been a Stanley Cup playoff game at the ACC since 2004.

Instead, he’s managed to survive. Again.

Wilson hire raises red flags
Of more concern, however, is that this might be an indication that Fletcher has grown fond of grasping the levers of power again and intends to keep the job permanently. He denies this, but also said recently that he would not be the one to hire the next Leaf coach.

So the story keeps changing. Hiring an expensive, big-name coach like Wilson certainly isn’t evidence of a caretaker administration, that’s for sure.

If Fletcher wanted the president’s job and would hire a GM, well, that might work. But the original plan, to hire a new president and GM, remains the most sensible plan with the greatest chance of success.

re: Raptors

O’Neal deal a step backwards
Colangelo built the seven-seconds-or-less Suns, but so much for sticking to the vision. The bog-it-down Celtics are the NBA champs. The Suns are ripping to shreds what Colangelo wrought. And Colangelo, in acquiring a hobbled O’Neal à la Phoenix’s Shaq, has chucked the dream, too.

Perhaps even worse, another of Toronto’s perceived advantages – the in-house knowledge of European talent – is moot. Talented Euros aren’t yearning for the lagging U.S. greenback.

“They’re fighting back a little bit,” said Colangelo of the European sides.

The Raptors, by contrast, are doubling back in the direction of the Babcock era, without cap room to yield more talent. Not that Colangelo is about to show up in Dockers, not that they’re a laughingstock. But a year ago the GM was billing his team as more carefully constructed than some disposable fashion. Suddenly his killer wardrobe is looking far more thoughtfully put together than his roster.

Jorge Garbajosa gone from Raptors
“After a long, difficult and sometimes emotional process stemming from a traumatic injury to a key player, it was concluded that parting ways was the best thing for both Jorge and the Raptors organization,” GM Bryan Colangelo said yesterday.

The move ends the lengthy, contentious negotiations between Colangelo, Garbajosa, the Spanish Basketball Federation and its insurance company.

Draft’s just like pant-leg debate for the Raptors
Colangelo, to illustrate the difference, bent over and grabbed the cuff of his skinny-cut trousers and held it next to Mitchell’s ankle. The contrast in the silhouettes was cigarette to fat cigar, and Colangelo made a joke at the expense of the coach’s choice, quadruple-pleated and roomy. Mitchell, meanwhile, was not shy about defending his haberdasher’s handiwork.

“Dude, I’m a big guy. I’ve gotta have some room to let my (self) flow. All my pants fit like this,” said Mitchell. “Those pants Bryan had on, I told him he looks like a maintenance man …”

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This is an organization that …

* Lies through its teeth … habitually

* Is riddled with internal cross-wiring

* Has no legitimate plan in place to ever win a League Championship

and

* Is primarily concerned with making oodles of money for its ownership group.

Tiger Woods’ greatest triumphs … yet

June 19, 2008

It is quickly becoming impossible to list all of his accomplishments to-date but, according to these eyes, these are now the two best performances put forth by Eldrick (Tiger) Woods on a golf course …

(1) As a 21 year old, in search of his 1st Major Championship, at the 1997 Masters Tournament …

and

(2) 11 years later, as a 32 year old, at the 2008 US Open, while playing with a left knee in need of major reconstructive surgery

You can decide for yourself which one you prefer.

NBA Playoffs: Series Calls in Review

June 19, 2008

For those of you keeping score at home … there are any number of pseudo ‘NBA Experts’ in the blogosphere today but … as far as I know … none of these forecasted correctly 12 of 13 ‘Series Calls’ (92.3%) during the 2007-2008 NBA Playoffs.

When it comes to ascertaining which so-called ‘experts’ have an accurate understanding of the NBA (or not), as the old saying goes,

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

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1st Round

EASTERN CONFERENCE
[1] Celtics vs [8] Hawks … CELTICS (in 4) … Won, 1-0
[4] Cavaliers vs [5] Wizards … WIZARDS (in 6), if Arenas, Jamison & Butler are all healthy; if not, CAVALIERSWon, 2-0

[2] Pistons vs [7] 76ers … PISTONS (in 5) … Won, 3-0
[3] Magic vs [6] Raptors … MAGIC (in 7) … Won, 4-0

WESTERN CONFERENCE
[1] Lakers vs [8] Nuggets … LAKERS (in 5) … Won, 5-0
[4] Jazz vs [5] Rockets … JAZZ (in 6) … Won, 6-0

[2] Hornets vs [7] Mavericks … MAVERICKS (in 6) … Lost, 6-1
[3] Spurs vs [6] Suns … SPURS (in 7) … Won, 7-1

2nd Round

EASTERN CONFERENCE
[1] Celtics vs [4] Cavaliers … CELTICS (in 7) … Won, 8-1
[2] Pistons vs [3] Magic … PISTONS (in 4) … Won, 9-1

WESTERN CONFERENCE
[1] Lakers vs [4] Jazz … LAKERS (in 7) … Won, 10-1
[2] Hornets vs [3] Spurs … SPURS (in 6 or 7) … Won, 11-1

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
[1] Celtics vs [2] Pistons … NO SERIES CALL

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
[1] Lakers vs [3] Spurs … NO SERIES CALL

NBA FINALS
[1] Celtics vs [1] Lakers … CELTICS (in 7) … Won, 12-1

Boston Celtics, NBA Champions (2007-2008)

June 18, 2008

Basketball is a game played in three distinct phases:

* Offense
* Defense
* Rebounding

What it takes to win the NBA Championship [Dec 12, 2007]

Teams which combine these three phases of the game, in the most well-balanced way, succeed … on and off the court.

Quality Rating (QR) is a simple measure which combines the:

* Points Scored Differential Ranking (PSDR)
* Points Allowed Ranking (PAR)
* Rebounding Differential Ranking (RDR)

to produce a Quality Index Ranking for each of the 16 teams which eventually make the playoffs in the NBA.

Legitimate Contenders in the NBA, Part I [Dec 18, 2007]

Since the early part of the 2007-2008 regular season schedule, the Celtics established themselves as THE dominant team in the League; at one juncture, ranking #1 in all three measures (i.e. PSDR, PAR & RDR) and with a QR of 3 …

Legitimate Contenders in the NBA: Part V [Apr 18, 2008]

which, fundamentally, did not change throughout the balance of the season.

Most NBA observers fail to understand the value of Rebounding & Defense at the highest level of competition.

Most NBA observers fail to understand the value of Individual Match-ups & Mis-matches in determining Winners & Losers within a specific game.

Most NBA observers fail to understand the value of a Core Covenant built upon Rebounding, Defense, Individual Match-ups and the concepts of Shared (Unselfish) Offense, Teamwork and Ubuntu!

Red Auerbach understood these things.
Bill Russell understands these things.

So, now, does Danny Ainge …
and Doc Rivers,
and Thom Thibodeau, Armond Hill, Kevin Eastman & Clifford Ray,
and Bryan Doo, Walter Norton & Ed Lacerte,
and Paul Pierce, Ray Allen & Kevin Garnett,
and Kendrick Perkins & Rajon Rondo,
and James Posey, Eddie House & Scott Pollard,
and Tony Allen, Leon Powe & Brian Scalabrine,
and Glen Davis & Gabe Pruitt,
and PJ Brown & Sam Cassell.

As did Grady Rivers.

Kudos to the Men in Green … on a job supremely well done, from worst to first!

When things get bad … lean in

June 17, 2008

Doc Rivers’ Post-Game Presser following the Celtics stunning Game 4 comeback, on the road, encompasses everything these Boston Celtics stand for … and represents what they hope to achieve with a Game 6 victory this evening … i.e. the 17th World Championship in the history of their franchise.

What the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics Are All About

(watch the vid clip through to the end)

Enjoy this evening’s Game 6!

P.S. Sincere apologies to the regular readers for not being to keep up to-date with the goings-on in the world of sports since last week. Unfortunately, everybody has to go on the DL from time-to-time and these last few days have been my time there. Not to worry though, all should be back to normal soon.

NBA Finals – Game 4 Recap: Do you believe?

June 13, 2008

Game 4 Info – LAL 91, Bos 97

At the start of last night’s 4th quarter, ABC’s broadcast showed what Doc Rivers had said to his team at earlier points during the game:

Doc #1 (standing, to team in huddle): We got to compete if we want to win … we can’t pout and mope … we got to compete … alright, let’s go!

Doc #2 (sitting, to team while looking at Eddie House): Do you believe? Alright, let’s go.

Doc #3 (standing, to Kevin Garnett, as he subbed out): Never stop believing, baby.

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As the 2nd half developed and the Celtics gradually clawed their way back into the game, after being down by 21 points at the end of the 1st quarter (an historic deficit for a NBA Finals game) and 24 points during the 2nd frame … you just knew that you were witnessing an all-time classic which was destined to be talked about forever and a day by those who follow the NBA.

From the perspective of this corner … and, given what’s been written here since the Celtics/Lakers match-up was determined … there is only one word that NEEDS to be said, with Boston now leading 3-1.

Ubuntu!

Those who wager on sports and win consistently understand the game in ways that others simply do not

June 11, 2008

There’s a good reason this is the very first link on this blog which references something taken from the wonderful blog operated by Henry Abbott (True Hoop).

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A Professional Gambler’s take on the Tim Donaghy Scandal
If you are able to correctly ascertain which collection of players (a team) is better than another team and by precisely what margin, then you are certainly qualified to make decisions as to what players are worth.

Some of my most successful bets were the result of trades or acquisitions. More often than not I am able to accurately forecast how these changes would impact the teams involved.

Take the Shaquille O’Neal for Shawn Marion trade from this season as one example. I immediately knew this trade would not work out and backed it up with a very large bet (several really) that involved Phoenix not advancing in the playoffs and not winning the Western Conference.

A sports bettor and a GM are both faced with the task of making tough decisions. We arrive at our conclusions (or at least should) in a very similar manner, both the bettor and GM are taking significant risk in that if our suppositions fail be correct, we suffer. Any distinctions between what I do in my NBA betting, and what a GM does in assessing the merits of a certain trade or move are purely superficial.

At least that’s how I feel. Whether or not anyone agrees with me is another matter altogether.

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Co-sign … to each & every word.

If you read nothing else about understanding the NBA, and the people who work in this business, do yourself an enormous favour and devour this entire article/interview … concerning a most interesting character by the name of Haralabos Voulgaris.

Worth more than twice its weight in gold … and, simply, mandatory reading for anyone who loves this game.

PS. Kudos to you, Henry! … for being first with this side to the story.

NBA referee scandal

June 11, 2008

This piece of youtube magic is passed along courtesy of The Sports Page, Conspiracy… or saving his own skin

To think that Tim Donaghy was/is somehow the lone NBA referee to be intricately involved with wagering on NBA games … which is exactly what David Stern (NBA Commissioner) would have everyone believe … is patently ridiculous and extremely naive.

NBA Finals: Game 3 … post mortem

June 11, 2008

As was mentioned yesterday in this space …

What the Lakers need to do to win Game 3

the individual game winners in this series will be decided by whichever team wins the ‘Battle on the Boards’ (i.e. Rebounding Differential).

When the Lakers do what they did last night …

(Individual + Team = Total Rebounds)

Game 3 – W vs Boston/ LAL 44 + 13 = 57; Bost 45 + 11 = 56 (Adv LAL)

they are going to ‘Win the Wars’ , in this series.

Game infoFinal Score: LAL 87, Bos 81

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When it comes to understanding which so-called ‘NBA experts’ know the game … others are invited to read the full transcript of a 1st-class Live Blogging Event, like this one …

NBA Finals, Game 3: Live Blog

hosted by LABalltalk.com, that actually allows a participating blogger to express what s/he knows about the game, as it’s actually happening.

Kudos to Daniel!