Raptors’ line-up … tough enough (or not)

Given the Raptors’ Current Player Roster … and legit concerns about the overall Quality of their Wings … it says in this corner, that:

Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon & Jason Kapono … as a threesome … are not physically tough enough to play the wing position, exclusively, for an elite team, in the NBA.

For the Raptors to take this next step … with their current roster … they NEED to develop and insert Joey Graham into the mix at this spot AND still go with a tighter rotation, in comparison to last season.

In part, this is the reason this corner has advocated [for quite some time now 🙂 ] that Anthony Parker actually be shifted DOWN into the PG and then OG spots … even though, at first glance, these do not appear to be his best/most natural positions, at this level of competition.

Barring unforeseen major injuries … to CB4, El Matador or JO … if the Raptors are serious about stepping up in class, in this League, this season … the line-up their fans SHOULD want to see on the court (a lot) is this one:

STARTERS
1 – Calderon
2/3 – Kapono (or Graham)
3/2 – Moon (or Graham)
4/5 – O’Neal
5/4 – Bosh

KEY BENCH SUBS
1/2 – Parker
3 – Graham (or Kapono/Moon)
4/5 – Bargnani

BENCH RESERVES
1 – Solomon
1/2 – Ukic
2/3 – Adams
4/5 – Humphries

HEALTHY SCRATCHES
5/4 – Jawai

… which IS physically tough enough to compete with the big boys in the NBA, night-in-and-night-out … IF Joey Graham can develop some needed consistency.

What this line-up does … is make the Raptors a ‘Big Team’ at the 1, 2 and 3 positions … when their starting Post Players are considered under-sized AND their first Big off the bench is (basically) a non-Rebounding, 3PT-Shooter.

Are there different minuses to this line-up?

You bet there are … e.g. overall ball-handling and turnovers … which are totally out-weighed however by the benefits associated with Dramatically improved REBOUNDING & DEFENSE (with there still being ‘enough’ shooters on the floor to keep their opponent honest vs JO & CB4, i.e. Calderon, Kapono, Parker & Bargnani [hopefully]). 🙂

Yes, it’s unconventional … but so, too, would IT WORK!

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14 Responses to “Raptors’ line-up … tough enough (or not)”

  1. Arsenalist Says:

    I don’t think AP can play the point. He’s not nearly a good enough ball handler to do that and does not have the quickness/decision-making ratio to be effective. You can move him down as an OG but remember that Joey Graham has trouble making an 18-footer and gets confused easily.

    I think you (like me) look at Joey’s physique/strength and think that he can translate that into a Corey Maggette type game. That might not be entirely inconceivable but I think for that to happen he’ll need to get serious playing time and the confidence of his coach. Given the tight schedule of the Raptors need to win and given Colangelo’s investment in O’Neal and Bosh, I don’t think Mitchell’s going to bother with developing Graham. He’s going to go with the current best lineup. I think Graham will be a decent NBA player but not with the Raptors.

  2. toronto raptors linkage – sept 9 Says:

    […] – Khandor’s Sports Blog […]

  3. FLUXLAND Says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with Arsenalist for the most part on this one. I was pretty much saying the same thing on his blog re Joey. Although, Corey may be a bit a reach. Is BC just keeping him around as an asset perhaps?

    aaahh… the sweet, sweet science and art of rebounding.. one can only hope those questions have been answered.

  4. FLUXLAND Says:

    Also, Jose has a long way to go before he earns the nickname El Matador (The Killer) in my corner. Not sure what he has done or what teams he has put away to be even considered one. Peacekeeper? For sure!

  5. khandor Says:

    Arsenalist,

    re: AP as a ball-handler

    When a player like Anthony Parker, 6-6 (or Brent Barry, 6-7, or Ron Harper, 6-6; etc.) is asked to play the back-up PG spot for an elite level team … he does not have to be a terrific ball-handler.

    What he needs to be able to do … is use his size and his reach and his strength versus the other (usually smaller) PG’s in the league who will be asked to check him.

    If you can dribble proficienctly with either hand and know how to use your rear-end … AND have good size & relatively good quickness … you can play as a back-up PG in the NBA, when your starting PG is a player like Jose Calderon who can give your team 30-35 minutes a night playing at a very high level.

    This is a simple fact, in the NBA.

    Others can dispute it if they wish … but they are simply wrong to contend otherwise.

    ===============================

    re: Joey Graham

    Joey Graham does not have trouble making 18-footers … on his ‘catch & shoots’.

    Joey does have trouble making pull-up jump shots … from anywhere.

    Top notch coaching, therefore … would seek to generate only ‘catch & shoots’ for a serviceable player like Joey G. AND minimize (if not eliminate completely) pull-up jump shot opportunities … within that teams series of set plays.

    Joey Graham is the type of player who functions best within a system that relies heavily on a small number of specific set plays (which is what he had at Oklahoma State playing for Eddie Sutton).

    As an NBA player … Joey Graham is best NOT compared to Corey Maggette.

    Joey G. is best compared to Bruce Bowen.

  6. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    The team’s rebounding problems will NOT be answered by the arrival of Jermaine O’Neal.

    JO cost the team Rasho Nesterovic, the 2nd best rebounder on last year’s team.

    That’s a slight upgrade … but when you also factor in the increased minutes Il Mago is scheduled to get this season, as the 1st Big off the bench … it alone is not going to solve the rebounding problem this team has had since Bryan Colangelo’s arrival.

    [Note: The Phoenix Suns had a similar problem when Mr. Colangelo, Jr. was the GM of their team.]

    This specific problem will ONLY be solved once this team begins to use players at the 1 or 2 or 3 spots who are capable of rebounding the ball like a championship calibre squad NEEDS … to compliment CB4 & JO.

    Since Jose Calderon is not a rebounder, per se, that then leaves the back-up 1 spot and the 2 & 3 positions as the positions where an upgrade in THIS KEY AREA OF THE GAME would actually be the most beneficial … which is where Parker (backup 1/2), Kapono (2/3), Moon (2/3) & Graham (3) come in.

    As I’ve said elsewhere … unfortunately, I DO NOT think it likely that the Raptors will employ their players in this way this season. 😦

  7. FLUXLAND Says:

    My statement should have had a *rolls eyes* after it… as many in RaptorLand believe this to be the case..and you should know that I am not in the corner that agreed with the JO trade nor do I believe he is the answer to the Raptor vows in that department.

    Hmm… confused… you believe Jose to be championship caliber PG.. one that will one day lead a team to the chip… how does his inability to rebound at that level factor in to that assessment? Or is a case of his other attributes trumping this deficiency?

  8. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    No problem, re: eyes’ roll 🙂

    PG is one of the few spots on the court a championship calibre team can get away with not having a first-class Rebounder.

    It’s not that Jose will be abused on the boards in key situations … because he won’t be due to his size, unlike, say, TJ Ford … it’s that he is never going to be confused with a player like J-Kidd, who is a dominant Rebounder for his team at the PG-spot.

    If a team has a neutral Rebounding PG like Jose Calderon, who is proficient at other areas of the game … AND then it also has a number of solid REBOUNDING players at several of the other spots on its roster then, as a group, it can still get the job done adequately on the boards to be considered as a legit contender for an NBA championship.

  9. FLUXLAND Says:

    I figured that’s what you were saying. Understood! Thanks for the reply : )

  10. FLUXLAND Says:

    Darn it! 🙂

  11. Raps Fan Says:

    i have to be missing something: at this point in his career, and with so little shown in terms of consistency and the mental aspect, is asking anything of joey graham too much? he’s a decent body at the 10-11 spot, but i really can’t see any useful production out of joey on a team that has designs on elite status in the east. there must be something i am missing here khandor, please enlighten me.

  12. khandor Says:

    Raps Fan,

    How old was Bruce Bowen before he made his way to San Antonio?

    How old is Joey Graham?

    Every team in the NBA had a chance to add Bruce Bowen to its roster prior to Gregg Popovich making this decision for the Spurs.

    It takes a special individual to see the attributes a player like this … a real tweener without a solid offensive upside to his game … and a limited skill set … has to offer to an elite level team, in the NBA.

    Did every single other organization in the NBA make a mistake when it came to evaluating properly Bruce Bowen’s ability to succeed in this League … playing for an elite level team which is exceptionally well-coached?

    Yes … they did.

    Now, the hard and cold fact is … Sam Mitchell may not be the right coach for a player like Joey G. … but whoever thinks that Joey CANNOT succeed in this League based on what he’s shown thus far in his pro career is making a major mistake in terms of talent evaluation.

    When I watch Joey G. play in an NBA game … the fact is:

    * He is a more than capable ‘stand still, catch & shooter’
    * He is a more than capable defender, if asked to deny the ball & chase around the best 3’s & 2’s in this League who can really score the ball … without being required to switch on screens or picks
    * He is a more than capable offensive player when it comes to executing properly simple and highly structured set plays like “Horns” … when he’s limited to spacing out in either baseline corner AND prevented from playing in either Big position
    * He is a more than capable offensive player … when he is NOT allowed to dribble the basketball, shoot pull-up jump shots or initiate solo drives to the hoop against his defender
    * He is a more than capable team player … who never creates an off-the-court distraction and is willing to tolerate his own coach’s verbal abuse directed at him when he messes up on the court … without saying as much as “boo”

    … which is a pretty fair facsimile for Bruce Bowen.

    Is Joey G. a star player in the NBA?

    NO WAY, NO HOW … but he is a very serviceable NBA player, in the mold of a Bruce Bowen type … who the vast majority of coaches and others in this world wouldn’t know how to use effectively even if you spelled them the letters e, f, f, e, i, v, e, l and y, in advance.

    [the simple fact is … Bruce Bowen is far from being a highly skilled NBA player … but he has been a long-time starter on a team that has several league titles to its credit … and Joey G. is no LESS talented than Bruce Bowen, i.e. physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.]

  13. Solvin the Riddle in Raptorville, in advance « Khandor’s Sports Blog Says:

    […] Raptors’ line-up … tough enough [or not] [Sep 08] * Toronto Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit [Sep 11] * First good news out of Raptors’ […]

  14. Solving the Riddle in Raptorville, in advance « Khandor’s Sports Blog Says:

    […] Raptors’ line-up … tough enough [or not] [Sep 08] * Toronto Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit [Sep 11] * First good news out of Raptors’ […]

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