Archive for July, 2008

PJ, h2o, the doctor & yard work

July 31, 2008

Just found this jem a few minutes ago, courtesy of AOL Sport’s NBA Fanhouse. Better late than never.

Afterall … who knew that, in addition to being the subject of 1 of only 4 posters this correspondent has ever owned, dating back some 30 plus years …

… the good Dr. (J) would, in fact … “Go ahead and make my day” (today) … expressing his current day appreciation for the high flying death defying electrifying San Antonio Spurs.

And to think … there are still some who doubt that (the one, the only) Julius Erving would have done a bang-up job if he had been named General Manager of the Toronto Raptors (Feb/2006), as was the declared preference of then Dino-superstar, Vince Carter.

Peshaw.

RC Buford, Gregg Popovich … and the Fro, in all it’s vivid splendor.

[PS. The Legend of Dr. J – The Julius Erving Story. In 1975, the subject of my first book report in school.]

Stepbrothers in Santa Monica: Boomdizzle and me

July 31, 2008

Took a while to figure out how to show this properly using wordpress but … in the end … it’s worth it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Ridiculously Exceptional by Captain Canada & the Beard.

PS. Defining Athleticism in the NBA.

Road to Redemption Episode 2, USA style

July 31, 2008

Oh, my …

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Watch them quickly … since they’ve already been taken down by the powers that be elsewhere.

Yao Ming or Andrew Bynum … You make the call

July 30, 2008

Initiated an interesting exchange earlier today on a differnt web site … RaptorsTalk.com … regarding the relative value of these two specific players which warrants further analysis.

phdsteve … believes that Yao Ming is the best 7-footer in the world, and that Phil Jackson would choose Yao Ming over Andrew Bynum as the Center for his team.

khandor (that’s me) … believes that Phil Jackson would choose Andrew Bynum over Yao Ming as the Center for his team.

What do the rest of you in cyberspace think?

All votes submitted in the ‘Comments’ section of this thread over the next 7 days will be tabulated and reported in this space Thursday, August 7, 2008 … with a complete rationale explaining the perspective of this corner, as well as others who might choose to participate.

On your marks …

Get set …

and

Go!

The Art and Science of Hoops

July 29, 2008

Graydon Gordian (48 Minutes of Hell), via Hardwood Paroxysm, HustleJunkie: Speak, Body, introduces an interesting topic which has long been a fascination of this corner.

One of the things which makes basketball a ‘special’ pursuit is the unique combination it presents … e.g.

* Individuality
* Teamwork
* Intellectual ability/performance
* Physical ability/performance
* Emotional ability/performance
* Offense
* Defense
* Rebounding
* Set (scripted) plays/pieces
* Improvisation
* Cooperation
* Competition
* Narrative

In short, there is no other human ‘activity’ quite like it … and, it truly is a thing of beauty, when executed well/properly.

All around players/superstars … like Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Lebron James, etc. … who best combine the diverse elements of the game are the essence of (Sporting) Grandeur.

Toronto Raptors Player Roster 2008-2009

July 29, 2008

According to Bryan Colangelo (GM), the player roster is now set for the start of next season.

Raptors add Will Solomon (G)

2008-2009 Toronto Raptors

STARTERS: Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker, Jemario Moon/Jason Kapono, Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh
BENCH: Roko Ukic, Jason Kapono/Jemario Moon, Andrea Bargnani
RESERVES: Will Solomon, Hassan Adams, Joey Graham, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai

When you compare the ‘content & quality’ with the team that began the 2007-2008 campaign … i.e.

2007-2008 Toronto Raptors

STARTERS: Ford, Parker, Kapono, Bosh, Nesterovic
BENCH: Calderon, Delfino, Bargnani, Humphries, Garbajosa
RESERVES: Martin, Dixon, Graham, Moon, Baston

… it’s apparent that this year’s squad (as constructed) will not be taking a step up the ladder in the Eastern Conference anytime soon.

Jose Calderon is a significant upgrade at the Starting PG position over TJ Ford but other than that lone improvement the ‘quality depth’ on this roster is far below where it needs to be (and once was, at the height of the Glen Grunwald regime) in order to be considered a LEGITIMATE CONTENDER in the NBA.

Needing to upgrade their 2007-2008 roster with improved REBOUNDING & Defense the Raptors addressed neither of those primary concerns with the acquisitions they made this off-season …

* Adding O’Neal while discarding Nesterovic + Garbajosa is a zero-sum gain
* Adding Adams, Jawai, Ukic & Solomon while discarding Delfino + Baston + Martin + Dixon is a zero-sum gain
* Elevating Calderon while discarding Ford … and not getting a significant Wing player or an established back-up PG in return is a zero-sum gain

Looking back to what was written in this space on July 2 …

Understanding Bryan Colangelo’s method of operation (good & bad)

very little has changed over the years in the way that their GM conducts the business of basketball … i.e.

* Field a competitive team which wins its fair share of regular season games
* Concentrate efforts on finding ‘solid’ players at a ‘reasonable’ cost
* Include a sporadic ‘high end’ player acquisitions which comes with considerable ‘risk’
* Construct a player roster which falls short of what’s actually required to be considered a Legitimate Contender for an NBA championship
* Always come in under the Salary Cap
* Make a lot of money for the team’s ownership

Despite the fact that this year’s team will have 5 (of 13) new faces on the player roster … the more things (seem to) change the more they (actually) stay the same in Raptorland.

What FIBA competition really comes down to

July 11, 2008

In terms of the Canada Basketball …

Triano helps groom U.S. Olympians
“Just the fact that the tournament is going to be held in Greece, the coaches down here think that this will give Greece enough to get one of the spots and I’m inclined to agree,” said Triano. “It’s going to be tough for Canada because of the location, no question. But you know it always comes down to that one game you have to win. In ’80, ’84 and ’88, it was the same. We had to beat Brazil one year, Uruguay in Uruguay the next time, and in 2000 when I was coaching, we had to beat Puerto Rico. That game will probably come again this year. The trick is to win it.”

Jay Triano has hit the nail sqaurely on the head.

A lack of money is NOT the problem with the Senior Men’s National Team … nor a lack of first-class training facilities, nor the absence of specific top tier players, nor etc., etc,. etc.

According to this corner … It takes a special coach, and staff, to be able to win THE game your team NEEDS TO WIN in order to achieve its goals at an international hoops event. FULL STOP.

Teams that do, have this. Teams that don’t, do not.

Kudos to Jay for expressing his insight so succinctly.

Understanding Bryan Colangelo’s method of operation (good & bad)

July 2, 2008

The Other Side of the Indiana-Toronto Trade, by David Berri, should be mandatory reading for those who still don’t understand the strengths AND PARTICULARLY the weaknesses of the Raptors’ current GM, who has (i) de-constructed one solid franchise (Phoenix I), (ii) built one regular season but not playoff great good franchise (Phoenix II), and is in the process of (iii) re-building a second one of a similar ilk today (Toronto I).

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Let’s summarize all of this by considering the recent big moves in Toronto. 

  • This year we have the O’Neal trade. When we consider O’Neal’s lack of productivity in 2007-08, the loss of T.J. Ford, and the loss of Toronto’s first round pick, it’s hard to see how this trade helps the Raptors.  
  • Last year the Raptors signed Jason Kapono, who produced -2.0 wins this past season.  Not Bargnani bad, but still not a level of productivity that helps.   
  • And then in 2006 the Raptors drafted Bargnani with the first pick overall.  Clearly this move hasn’t quite worked out either.

If we consider each of these major moves, it looks like the tenure of Bryan Colangelo has not been successful.  But then we consider the following names: Calderon, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, and Carlos Delfino.  Each of these players are above average talents who were acquired very cheaply by Colangelo. 

In sum – as I noted last January – Colangelo seems to have a knack for finding productive players who are also quite cheap.   It’s just the big decisions – trades, free agents signings, and the draft – that seem to cause problems.

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Do yourself a favour and read the entire article; it’s filled with pertinent information, if you’re a keen observer of the Raptors.

As with many people in Life, a strength is (simultaneously) also a point of weakness.

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Option 1: If the Raptors would have been able to acquire Jermaine O’Neal in exchange for Andrea Bargnani, straight-up, while keeping Rasho Nesterovic, then that would have been a solid trade for Toronto (if they wanted to try and win now and down-the-road), according to these eyes. Part II might have then involved trading TJ Ford (to Philadelphia) for a young, athletic and serviceable G/F, like Rodney Carney, and. keeping their #17 (Overall) Ist Round Draft Pick (i.e. Part III).

Option 2: If the Raptors would have been able to acquire Jermaine O’Neal in exchange for Andrea Bargnani plus TJ Ford, while keeping Rasho Nesterovic, then this, too, might have been a solid trade for Toronto (if they wanted to try and win now, plus down-the-road). Then, Part II would definitely have involved keeping their #17 Draft (Overall) 1st Round Draft Pick.

Option 3: What the Raptors actually did, though, is the one which presents the most risk (comparatively speaking) to the short & long term prospects for success of their team … when coupled with other cost-minimization decisions like (a) signing a low-end Free Agent for roster spot #12 (i.e. Hassan Adams) and early talk of signing only 1 more low-end Free Agent player, prior to the start of training camp, and going into the 2008-2009 season with a tighter playing rotation and a 13-man (NBA minimum-allowed) roster.

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In general, ‘activity‘ should not be confused with (actual) ‘accomplishment‘.

The next step for the Toronto Raptors

July 1, 2008

The problem with the Raptors, as constituted, isn’t with the make-up of their current team.

A top flight coaching staff could win 50+ regular season games with their team during the 2008-2009 season – given the fact that their Pythagorean Win Projection Numbers from last season indicate 49.28-50.71 W’s for next year – with a bunch of qualifiers thrown in for good measure (e.g. all key players remain relatively injury free) … using some form of the following line-up:

STARTERS
#1. PG-1 Calderon
#2. OG-1 Kapono
#3. SF-1 Moon
#4. Big-1 Bosh
#5. Big-2 O’Neal

KEY SUBS
#6. PG-2/OG-2 Parker
#7. SF-2 Graham
#8. Big-3 Bargnani (SF-3)

BENCH
#9. Big-4 Humphries
#10. PG-3 Ukic
#11. Big-5 Jawai
#12. OG-3/SF-4 TBD-? (free agent)

RESERVES
#13. ?
#14. ?
#15. ?

That’s the core of a solid NBA team, if coached and/or managed properly.

Potential Problems?

1) Is the Raptors’ personnel going to be used like that this season?

2) Does Bryan Colangelo (GM) know what a great head coach looks like?

3) Is MLSE prepared to pay the price to sign a top flight head coach to run their team, if Sam Mitchell struggles, in this regard?

4) Is MLSE prepared to pay the price to sign the players it takes to fill out roster spots #12-15 properly? (like the Boston Celtics did in 2007-2008, possibly exceeding the Luxury Tax)

5) What is going to happen if/when Calderon, Bosh or O’Neal suffers a serious injury?

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The specific answers to these five questions will begin to crystalize as the summer Free Agent Signing Period kicks-off today and the Raptors’ Management Team settles on their player roster heading towards training camp in the fall.