To those in Raptorville who might be more inclined to listen now

Since the Jermaine O’Neal trade was first announced, this corner has said repeatedly that this move alone was NOT going to solve the Raptors’ REBOUNDING problem … which occurs when they play against a high calibre opponent with as much or more ‘athleticism’ at the 5 positions on the floor, in comparison with Toronto’s line-up.

When this current collection of Raptors matches-up with a team like this current group of 76ers … what you’re going to get, more often than not, is a ‘Board Deficit’ like you saw in yesterday’s encounter:

Box Score: Philadelphia 85, Toronto 79

There are specific ways to effectively address a team’s REBOUNDING problem … when it’s the type of problem the Raptors have had for the last two years … but, one of them is NOT:

* To trade your team’s 2nd best Rebounder [who is also your best Low Post Defender, i.e. Nesterovic]
* To include a flip-flop of 1st & 2nd Round Draft Picks [which turns out to be … THEY get Roy Hibbert; YOU get Nathan Jawai!!!]
* To include your back-up PG in the deal [Ford]
* To include a throw-away Big from the end of the bench [Baston]
* Plus, decide to let another throw-away Big from the end of the bench to walk for nothing [Brezec]
* Plus, decide to let a useful player like Carlos Delfino walk away for nothing
* Plus, decide to let a VERY useful player like Jorge Garbajosa do the same

… in exchange for adding:

* Either inexperienced and/or marginal players like Jawai, Roko Ukic, Hassan Adams, and Will Solomon
* Plus, a veteran player like Jermaine O’Neal, who is returning from a series of leg injuries.

That ^^^, right there, is like making a 7 for 4 deal, where …

Toronto Loses: Nesterovic + Ford + Hibbert + Baston + Brezec + Delfino + Garbajosa

and

Toronto Adds: O’Neal + Jawai + Adams + Solomon

[strictly speaking Ukic cannot be included amongst the additions since his rights already belonged to the Raptors]

in which 5 of the 6 players who you know already can play effectively in the NBA, in some capacity, are going the other way … while you are getting ‘the best player’, overall … but, who you can only HOPE is going to regain his effectiveness coming off his most recent injury.

THAT ^^^, right there, is a BAD TRADE.

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

By trying to make a ‘blockbuster’ trade this summer … instead of simply moving TJ Ford for a back-up, serviceable, Wing player like Rodney Carney … and promoting Calderon to the starter’s position … and, THEN, holding onto Nesterovic, Delfino & Garbajosa, until further notice … what the Raptors have done now is, in fact, ROLL THE DICE big time that they do not pick up any sort of serious injury to Bosh, O’Neal or Calderon, and can survive these next two years with their current line-up intact, while not dropping down into the #9-12 spots in the EC, where they would be a DEFINITE ‘treadmill’ team … i.e not good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to get a high NBA DRAFT Lottery Pick anytime soon … waiting for the 2010-2011 season when they will once again have some wiggle room under the Salary Cap/Luxury Tax Threshold to add/subtract players to/from their roster.

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

Which, in turn … given the Raptors’ current player roster … is part of the reason they SHOULD think long and hard, right now, about:

* Removing Anthony Parker from their starting line-up
* Shifting Jamario Moon to the #2-spot
* Inserting Joey Graham into the starting line-up
* Using AP as the primary back-up PG/OG, coming off the bench
* Removing Jermaine O’Neal from the starting line-up
* Inserting Kris Humphries into the starting line-up, as the partner for CB4
* Using O’Neal [PF] and Bargnani [C] together, as the Bigs with their 2nd Unit
* Using Jason Kapono for instant offense off the bench, as a spot player on the Wing with either the 1st or 2nd Units, at a later point in the game when the situation dictates
* Using a system of higly structured set plays which would allow limited offensive players like Graham, Moon, Humphries, and Bargnani to function at their maximum level of efficiency by only shooting ‘designated’ shots …

and, thereby, create a better balanced rotation for this Raptors’ team, which accounts for and integrates the areas of Rebounding, Defense and Team Offense.

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

Then, again … this corner could always be proven wrong about this … over the course of time. 😉

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26 Responses to “To those in Raptorville who might be more inclined to listen now”

  1. Tunez Says:

    I hate that you’re right… i’m going to drown my pre season misery in turkey and stuffing

  2. AltRaps Says:

    Great post.

    I have never seen such a pisspoor managing of a cap and proven talent in my history of being a Raps fan. Grunwald is God, not Colangelo.

  3. Basketball.org Says:

    Great article.

    I just came across your site and linked you on my blogroll. It would be great if you could do the same.

  4. Dan H Says:

    I take it you would be a proponent of replacing Smitch with Mussina, in hindsight, as implied in Arsenalist’s recent post?

    Delfino was never really an option to keep. He got 10 million per season in Russia. That’s equivalent to about 15 mill per season here considering taxes… Would you pay that much?

    Argh… It’s so depressing reading your columns. Are the Raps really that hopeless or would you be equally critical of most teams in the NBA?

  5. khandor Says:

    Tunez, AltRaps & Dan H,

    I just calls ’em as I sees ’em … nothing more and nothing less.

    [Hint: When a team does something right, IMO … that’s exactly what I try my best to illustrate. It’s when they do a series of discombobulating moves, over an extended number of years, that it can get downright depressing for their supporters who have poured their heart & soul into that franchise with no championships along the way to sustain their passion for the game at the pro level.]

    IMO the building blocks have been there, in Toronto, since the 1999-2000 season to create a model franchise in the NBA … not to mention in the NHL, as well.

    Unfortunately … it was soon after that that MLSE assumed full control of both the Maple Leafs and the Raptors … and it’s been a series of ‘Lost Opportunities’ in the intervening years, IMO.

    Hopefully the Leadership of MLSE can turn it around this time … although I still do not see the road signs of this happening in the immediate future.

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

    Basketball.org,

    Thanks for your comment and welcome aboard!

    Your site looks very promising. 🙂

  6. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    No … I would not be a proponent of replacing Sam Mitchell with Ettore Messina.

  7. fluxland Says:

    I wonder if that was a typo or was his implying Ettore was a Mussolini type coach?

  8. Dan H Says:

    Typo – I’m not nearly so clever as that 😉

  9. fluxland Says:

    LOL.. yeah I was leaning on typo. Just wondered. Thanks, Mr.H!

  10. Raps Fan Says:

    jus as i was starting to forget this summers movements, you had to go and point them out again. the glass is not half full for me anymore.

    not sure if humphries is a better starter then o’neal though. as limited as o’neal might be, humphries is no threat offensively, aside from the garbage he puts back. but that doesn’t warrant a starting spot over o’neal in my book. he might be more mobile then o’neal, but his offensive game is not close, his defense isnt any beter (if not worse), in my estimation anyways.

    maybe you want to elaborate on that for us (me).

  11. fluxland Says:

    Raps Fan.. welcome to the realistic side of the fanbase. 😉 Courtesy of one, Mr. Khandor, of course. I have been in this corner for many a seasons now, just not able to “break it down” for people with the eloquence of said party. I just steal some of his arguments now and make myself look smart in other corners of the web.. hahahahha!

  12. Tim Says:

    OK, rebounding and presumably some form of wing D is covered with starters Moon and Graham (but you’re betting a lot that Graham plays like he did when he replaced Jorge). But the O? We’re getting even more pick and roll with Calderon-Bosh. I guess you’re thinking that set plays will net a certain number of points and Graham, Moon and Hump have the athleticism to pick up points on the odd fast break, some put backs, etc. I don’t see it. Certainly, you balanced the lineup out, but that starting five looks gruesome on offense. We’re talking Kevin O’Neil nights.

  13. Raps Fan Says:

    ha, he says what i’m thinking much more eloquently flux, but he’s usually bang on. not sure i agree with starting hump in place of o’neal, now that we have the guy…

  14. fluxland Says:

    Just to clear up.. I’ve been in the realistic corner for many a seasons, in this corner of the web since last season. Yeah, he’s pretty convincing guy, huh? We do disagree on many of issues, but he does make good points. I am not down with the suggested line up change, I see his angle – but I think it’s asking for big holes to dig out from later. And he loves JG, don’t let him lie to you. 😛 And O’Neal would pull a TJ x 10 or Starbury if asked to come off the bench. Love to see Khandor convince all these players of his suggested shake ups.

  15. khandor Says:

    Raps Fan,

    Humphries is a different type of defensive player than O’Neal but IMO it’s a mistake to think that Jermaine is substantially better than Kris. Different and better are not necessarily the same thing.

    Hump is the proverbial ‘bull in a china shop’, both, on offense and on D … playing with maximum energy, at all times, which is something this team sorely lacks at times.

    Does Hump take ill-advised shots on offense and get beat on defense?

    Yes, he does … but … and it’s a fairly big one … so, too, is he a highly effective conduit for introspective players like Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Jamario Moon and, perhaps, Joey Graham or Anthony Parker.

    When you insert a player like THAT into your MAIN group … and then give him the green light to bust his rear end on OFFENSE, DEFENSE & REBOUNDING … the benefits to your team are exponential, not so much from what he can generate himself BUT what he can generate from the other 4 players who are on the floor with him.

    When you play an individual like Kris Humphries … who thinks that he is a terrific scorer, at this level of competition, with a more than adequate skill base in several different areas of the game [which includes scoring, btw] but does none of them particularly well … for a few minutes at a time, it’s a given that he’s going to jack shots left and right.

    He who does not expect this knows not human nature very well, nor elite level basketball players. 😉

    However, when you give that same player a highly specific set of instructions … encompassing Offense, Defense & Rebounding … and THEN tell him that you are going to REWARD him with a STARTING position IF he should prove himself to be a more disciplined player during those 25+ minutes per game he is going to get from you now that he is being CERTIFIED as one of your ‘key guys’ … what that player turns around and does is exactly what you’ve instructed him to do, almost without exception, as long as you allow him to play through his mistakes.

    When evaluating high end athletic talent one of the key indicators someone who actually knows what he’s doing looks for is … CONSTRUCTIVE ENERGY.

    Kris Humphries has IT, in spades.

    Kurt Rambis had IT.
    Michael Cooper had IT.
    Bruce Bowen has IT.
    Dennis Rodman had IT … in a way that no one else in the history of the game has ever been gifted with IT … which, in part, is why he SHOULD BE in the Basketball Hall of Fame, based on how he was able to USE that gift, tangibly, on the floor, night-in and night-out, in the NBA.

    There are countless numbers of other players throughout the history of the game who have had IT but … unfortunately for them … were never recognized as such by the particular coach they had at that time in their career.

    [Aside: Btw, IT comes in many different forms … the one we’re talking about here just happens to be Constructive Energy.]

    Certain coaches/talent evaluators have the ability to see IT in certain players … but, in my experience, the vast majority do not … which is part of the reason there are so few coaches like Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson, etc., in the history of the NBA, including today.

    Contrary to what some NBA observers might think …

    Doc Rivers can recognize IT when he sees IT, up close and personal.

    So can Sam Mitchell … which is part of the reason he keeps going back to Hump & Joey & Jamario … even though they have yet to show the type of consistency he is looking for, which in turn would allow the Raptors to succeed in a Big way … just yet.

    Although I see evidence, every now & then, that Sam can indeed recognize IT, when he sees IT … IMO, one of the things he still struggles with as an elite level coach is knowing HOW to do WHAT it takes to bring this out of a player on a consistent basis, despite that player’s other deficiencies in specific areas of the game.

    He is definitely getting better at it … but, like he says, periodically, he is still very much a-work-in-progress, as a NBA head coach.

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

    If Hump [3-way], Joey [R & D] & Jamario [R & D] … plus CB4 [3-way] & Jose [O & D] … never ever get their chance to work together, for extended minutes, for the Raptors under Coach Mitchell it will be a shame, from the perspective of this corner, as with the likes of Parker [3-way], Kapono [O], O’Neal [3-way] & Bargnani [O] coming off the bench for this team … supported by Ukic, Solomon & [even a marginal NBA player like Hassan] Adams … it says here that this group of 12 has a chance to be a Top 4 team in the EC this season, barring a serious injury. 🙂

  16. khandor Says:

    Tim,

    Please pay close attention during games to the 3’s that Moon & Graham … hey, the thought just occurred to me that there’s a terrific connection there which I hadn’t verbalized before, until now … are getting, are taking, are making, and are missing.

    If you do … I think you will see for yourself that these 2 players could well become very productive Wings, in the NBA … if their team’s offensive system generates very specific shots for them from certain areas on the floor where they shoot a high percentage already.

    While … in transition, dare I say, Moon & Graham are the 2 best finishers at the rim the Raptors have on their current roster, alongside of one Kris Humphries. 🙂

    Considering the benefits in REBOUNDING & Defense these two players bring to the table, at the #3 & #2 positions, respectively, there is little doubt in this corner that this Group of 5 is more than capable of generating 20+ pts a quarter, if they’re used together, in a highly structured system … in contrast to the Raptors’ limited offensive menu when TJ Ford was at the helm.

  17. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    ——————————————————-
    re: Love to see Khandor convince all these players of his suggested shake ups.
    ——————————————————-

    🙂 – 😉 – 🙂

  18. Dan H Says:

    ^^^ That there was a more convincing case than I think you’ve made so far for utilizing Hump and Joey more. I feel myself being relunctantly swayed to agreeing with you. Grrr.

    I can definitely see that happening at some point. Not likely for lengthy minutes though. Sam has stated he would like to keep one of each ‘type’ of big on the floor at a time (JO + Hump = “bangers”; CB + bargs = “shooters”), so Hump and Bosh playing is likely. Jose, well he’ll be on the floor a LOT, so he’s easy. Joey seems to me to be the most likely fourth wing right now (backup 3). So he’ll get maybe 10-15 minutes a night.

    The trick will be getting Smitch to play Moon at the 2. The Raps would have to be playing a really big athletic team for him to do this (as he loves to ‘match up’ with the other team, instead of driving the matchups) such as the Sixers.

    Other than that, I guess an injury to AP or Kapono would increase the chances as well.

    I guess in conclusion, I can see it happening, but not enough to convince Sam to stick with it, barring a major injury to a 2 guard.

    Oh, and judging by Little Willie’s performance thus far and Smitch barely playing Roko at all, your pipedream of AP at the 1 just might happen!!!

  19. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    In reality … know that I’m not actually trying to ‘convince’ anyone of anything, round these parts.

    Just describing what it is I see (i) Here & Now, plus (ii) Down-the-road.

    As always … time alone will tell if I am right, or wrong, or something in-between. 🙂

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

    Personally … I will be completely shocked if Sam Mitchell ever makes the decision to use Jamario Moon as the #2 for this team.

    IMO, only someone who knows how to teach a player to improve their shooting mechanics and thereby how to make more specific types of shots … would ever entertain this possibility for Jamario, as is.

    More likely, this season, IMO … is a line-up of:

    Calderon
    Parker or Kapono
    Moon or Graham

    with whatever combination of Bigs … O’Neal, Bosh, Bargnani & Humphries … Coach Mitchell thinks is dictated by the specific match-ups with an opponent’s front-court players.

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

    re: AP as a back-up PG

    I saw one possession in an exhibition game last week where Anthony Parker was used as the PG, to bring the ball up the court and initiate the half-court offense from the Top of The Key … with Jose Calderon on the Left Wing, as the #2.

    It was in a simple Horns set … and, resulted in a bad pass/turnover by AP, when the Big who set the initial Pick tried to slip to the basket early vs a hard show … which is not the type of set play your team SHOULD be trying to run with a player like AP handling the ball.

    [e.g. in contrast to a simple ‘Single/Double’]

    Will the Raptors try to use my suggestion more this season?

    Time will tell … if Sam is brave enough, or sound enough, as a tactician, to explore this option further with this specific collection of players.

    IMO, if he does, he will be rewarded handsomely … as long as he uses it with a better suited series of set plays. 🙂

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

    Believe it or not … I like what I’ve seen so far from both Ukic & Solomon, as back-up PG’s, in the NBA.

    [Note 1: Then again … please keep in mind that I am also someone who believed, at the time, the Raptors should have kept Mike James, at the end of his contract in Toronto, shifted him into the back-up role, permanently, BEHIND Jose Calderon … like he’s about to do with Chris Paul [in New Orleans] … and never bothered to deal for TJ Ford, in the first place, because it was obvious [to these eyes] that El Matador was a superior PG, in the NBA, right from the get-go. 🙂 ]

  20. FLUXLAND Says:

    And by Matador he is referring to Jose’s ability to allow opposing PGs blow by him like a Matador does a bull, in order not to get killed 🙂

  21. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    Ole!

    When you really think about it … a case could well be made that

    Jose Calderon … was El Matador;

    while,

    Mike James … was, in fact, un pequeño Toro. 🙂

  22. Travis Outlaw Says:

    I’m not saying the Raptors had a good offseason. But:
    Nesterovic (Overrated by you) + Ford ( Calderon starts now= NBA all star) + Hibbert(rookie who moved up in draft at last minute) + Baston & Brezec (don’t belong in the NBA) + Delfino& Garbajosa (left to Europe so they couldn’t do anything about it.)

    I’m curious about this? Shifting Jamario Moon to the #2-spot. Is this part time?

    Jermaine O’NEAL reminds me so much of the Phoenix Suns getting Shaq. Jermaine O’NEAL might be injured and getting older but he’s still a 6 time all star.

  23. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    Developing Jamario Moon, as a #2 in the NBA, is a more viable option, IMO, than trying to get him to drive to the basket more, similar to a prototypical #3.

    ————————————————

    The Raptors adding Jermaine O’Neal is nothing like the Suns getting Shaq … because:

    1. Jermaine is nothing like the Big Aristotle.
    2. The Raptors are nothing like the Suns.

  24. Travis Outlaw Says:

    How about Jamario Moon guarding Kobe?

    If you believe Shaq can still help the Suns then Jermaine O’Neal can still help the Raptors. Similar in that terms.

  25. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    ————————————————
    re: How about Jamario Moon guarding Kobe?
    ————————————————

    Precisely!

    This is one of the reasons Moon & Graham should be the starting Wing players on this Raptors’ team … because they are, by far, the two men on this squad capable of not getting annihilated by a player of Kobe’s ilk.

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

    Shaq can help the Suns.

    Jermaine O’Neal can, possibly, help the Raptors.

    These are two very different players, however … and the reasons for each being able to help their respective teams this coming season are not similar at all. 🙂

  26. Rebounding Differential Rankings in the NBA [Nov 6] « Khandor’s Sports Blog Says:

    […] Rankings in the NBA [Nov 6] When this corner of the sports blogosphere told you earlier this fall/summer that the Raptors trade for Jermaine O’Neal was not going to be enough, by itself, to […]

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