Posts Tagged ‘Bryan Colangelo’

Oh, Thunder Road

December 19, 2008

Raptors fans …

So you’re scared and you’re thinking
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me …

Going into tonight’s game, which of these two player rosters would you prefer, if you were a working GM in the NBA?

Oklahoma Thunder Active Roster
 No. Player Pos Ht Wt DOB Exp College
 4 Collison, Nick FC 6-9 255 10/26/80  5 Kansas
 35 Durant, Kevin GF 6-9 215 9/29/88  1 Texas
 22 Green, Jeff F 6-9 235 8/8/86  1 Georgetown
 51 Hill, Steven FC 7-0 245 11/14/85  R Arkansas
 34 Mason, Desmond GF 6-5 222 10/11/77  8 Oklahoma State
 27 Petro, Johan C 7-0 247 1/27/86  3 None
 18 Sene, Mouhamed C 6-11 230 5/12/86  2 None
 7 Smith, Joe PF 6-10 225 7/26/75  13 Maryland
 31 Swift, Robert C 7-1 270 12/3/85  4 None
 25 Watson, Earl PG 6-1 185 6/12/79  7 UCLA
 5 Weaver, Kyle G 6-6 201 2/18/86  R Washington State
 0 Westbrook, Russell PG 6-3 190 11/12/88  R UCLA
 3 White, D.J.  + PF 6-9 251 8/31/86  R Indiana
 54 Wilcox, Chris FC 6-10 235 9/3/82  6 Maryland
 21 Wilkins, Damien GF 6-6 225 1/11/80  4 Georgia
 Toronto Raptors Active Roster

 

 No. Player Pos Ht Wt DOB Exp College
 3 Adams, Hassan GF 6-4 230 6/20/84  2 Arizona
 7 Bargnani, Andrea FC 7-0 260 10/26/85  2 None
 4 Bosh, Chris FC 6-10 230 3/24/84  5 Georgia Tech
 8 Calderon, Jose PG 6-3 205 9/28/81  3 None
 14 Graham, Joey GF 6-7 230 6/11/82  3 Oklahoma State
 43 Humphries, Kris F 6-9 255 2/6/85  4 Minnesota
 21 Jawai, Nathan FC 6-10 285 10/10/86  R Midland College
 24 Kapono, Jason GF 6-8 215 2/4/81  5 UCLA
 33 Moon, Jamario SF 6-8 200 6/13/80  1 Meridian (MS) CC
 6 O’Neal, Jermaine FC 6-11 260 10/13/78  12 None
 18 Parker, Anthony GF 6-6 215 6/19/75  11 Bradley
 5 Solomon, Will PG 6-1 180 7/20/78  7 Clemson
 1 Ukic, Roko G 6-5 190 12/5/84  R None
 23 Voskuhl, Jake C 6-11 255 11/1/77  8 Connecticut
 

 + – Player injured

——————————————-

One is $12.7 million over the Salary Cap; the other is $1.1 million under the Cap.

One has an average age of 24.7; the other an average age of 26.6.

One has 2 No. 1 [overall] NBA Draft Picks on it; the other has 1.

Both are led by first-time, interim head coaches.

Objectively speaking, when you’re hard-pressed to distinguish between the authentic talent levels of two teams in the NBA with respective W-L records as far apart as these … i.e. Toronto is 10-15, .400; Oklahoma is 2-24, .077 … it does not portend well for the squad with the higher win percentage, if it’s also playing away from home.

As the first game in a 6-stop Western road trip, this is now a crucial get for the Raptors. 

* Win tonight … and the up-coming match-ups against the Clippers, Kings and the Warriors will not look nearly so daunting.

* Lose tonight … and the Dinos will be staring straight into the abyss of a calamitous 10-game losing streak:

Sun Dec 14 vs New Orleans/15-7, .682 – LOSS
Mon Dec 15 vs New Jersey/12-12, .500 – LOSS
Wed Dec 17 vs Dallas/14-10, .583 – LOSS
Fr Dec 19 at Oklahoma City/2-24, 0.77 – ?
Sat Dec 20 at San Antonio/15-10, .600 – ? [L]
Mon Dec 22 at LA Clippers/7-18, .280 – ?
Fri Dec 26 at Sacramento/7-19, .269 – ?
Sat Dec 27 at Portland/17-10, .630 – ? [L]
Mon Dec 29 at Golden State/7-19, .269 – ?
Wed Dec 31 vs Denver/17-8, .680 – ? [L]

from which they might not be able recover this season.

On the road, in the NBA, is where a team – especially one that’s struggling – finds out exactly what it’s made of … and, whether it should either:

A. Sit tight, [and] take hold

or

B. Trade in these wings on some wheels.

Key early season games for the Raptors
Key early season games for the Raptors: Part II

Come Jan 01 2009, the Raptors will have their answer.

————–

“The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free.”

Thunder Road [Bruce Springstein]

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Key early season games for the Raptors: Part II

December 9, 2008

On Oct 03, this corner of the blogosphere identified for you two key stretches of games this season for the Toronto Raptors:

1. The first 6 on the schedule;
2. The set of 15 from Nov 30 to Dec 27; and,

said the very real possibility exists that this team, with its roster as is, might in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs entirely, despite the fact others [i.e. NBA observers and the team’s general fanbase] were considering it to be a “legit contender” for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals this spring … based, primarily, on their off-season acquisition of a former 6-time League All-Star, Jermaine O’Neal [C].

In addition, a variety of different W-L scenarios were developed that explained just how this possibility might come to fruition this season for the Raptors, a team most NBA observers had put into the up-and-coming category, based on their Atlantic Division Title, 2 seasons ago, and their 2nd consecutive appearance in the EC Playoffs last year.

Key early season games for the Raptors

Should the Raptors happen to lose this evening, to the Cavaliers, in Cleveland, a likely scenario … considering they are +11.5 point underdogs … this would then give the Dinos a rather inauspicious 8-12 [.400] W-L record at the 20-game mark of the regular season schedule [i.e. approximately at the 1/4 pole of the NBA’s Playoff Race].

While the Raptors were able to get out to a quick start, winning their first 3 match-ups, they eventually finished that initial stretch of key games with a 4-2 mark. 

October Opponent Result
 Wed 29 [#1]   @ Philadelphia   W 95-84, 1-0
 Fri 31 [#2]  vs Golden State   W 112-108, 2-0
November Opponent Result
 Sat 01 [#3]  @ Milwaukee   W 91-87, 3-0
 Wed 05 [#4]  vs Detroit *   L 93-100, 3-1
 Fri 07 [#5]  @ Atlanta *   L 92-110, 3-2
 Sun 09 [#6]  @ Charlotte   W 89-79, 4-2
 Mon 10  @ Boston *   L 87-94, 4-3
 Wed 12  vs Philadelphia   L 96-106, 4-4
 Sun 16  vs Miami   W 107-96, 5-4
 Tue 18  @ Orlando *   L 90-103, 5-5
 Wed 19  @ Miami   W 101-95, 6-5
 Fri 21  vs New Jersey *   L 127-129, 6-6
 Sun 23  vs Boston *   L 103-118, 6-7
 Wed 26  vs Charlotte   W 93-86, 7-7
 Fri 28  vs Atlanta *   W 93-88, 8-7

—————————–
* Indicates game against a plus .500 Opponent
—————————–

That said …

it’s the 2nd stretch of key games … several of which fit into the winnable category [i.e. against less-than-stellar opponents] … that might prove to be the Raptors undoing this season:

November Opponent Result
 Sun 30 [#1]  @ LA Lakers *   L 99-112, 8-8
December Opponent Result
 Tue 02 [#2]  @ Denver *   L 93-132, 8-9
 Fri 05 [#3]  @ Utah *   L 87-114, 8-10
 Sun 07 [#4]  vs Portland *   L 97-98, 8-11
 Tue 09 [#5]   @ Cleveland *   ? [L-?]
 Wed 10 [#6]  vs Indiana   ?
 Fri 12 [#7]  @ New Jersey *   ? [L-?]
 Sun 14 [#8]  vs New Orleans *   ?
 Mon 15 [#9]  vs New Jersey *   ?
 Wed 17 [#10]  vs Dallas *   ?
 Fri 19 [#11]  @ Oklahoma City   ?
 Sat 20 [#12]  @ San Antonio *   ? [L-?]
 Mon 22 [#13]  @ LA Clippers   ?
 Fri 26 [#14]  @ Sacramento   ?
 Sat 27 [#15]  @ Portland *   ? [L-?]

Survive this 2nd set of 15 games … under the direction of their new head coach, Jay Triano … for example, with a humble 6-9 W-L record … and the 2008-2009 season remains salvagable for Toronto.

Fail to capitalize on the winnable games in this set, though, and the Raptors might just be better off … from a long term development standpoint … focusing their efforts [under Bryan Colangelo, President/GM] on, How exactly to get into the NBA’s Draft Lottery Again, without really trying to, as they did during the 2005-2006 season, under the direction of their vilified former GM, Rob Babcock.

Bryan Colangelo, unplugged [Dec 08]

December 9, 2008

“The answer to the riddle is found in the original source material.”
khandor

As a Raptors fan, you need to Listen to the whole thing.

Of Scorpions, frogs, GM’s and coaches [April 30, 2008]

Nothing more and nothing less than THAT.

What is really going on here: Part II

December 5, 2008

Mandatory viewing for each and every Raptors fan …

[Dec 4 2008/post-practice]

Be sure to “listen” to the entire thing.

——————————————

According to this corner of the blogosphere …

Sam Mitchell hadn’t lost Chris Bosh …

[Dec 2 2008/post-game]

nor, Jose Calderon …

[Dec 2 2008/post-game]

nor, Jermaine O’Neal …

[Dec 2 2008/post-game]

… when he was fired by the Toronto Raptors [Wed Dec 3 2008].

This locker room was embarassed … by the lack of effort put forth against the Denver Nuggets … but, these three players had no desire whatsoever to see their head coach fired, 17 games into the 2008-2009 regular season, with a 8-9 W-L record … and the current roster of players. 

——————————————-

If anyone would care to explain the integrated Plan of Action they see in place with the Toronto Raptors, since Feb/2006, when the current President/GM was hired by MLSE, yours truly would be overjoyed to read about it in the comments section below … as, to these eyes, it does not seem as though there’s been one, when reviewing the following list of transactions:

2006
* Kris Humphries acquired in exchange for Hoffa Araujo
* Rasho Nesterovic acquired in exchange for Matt Bonner + Eric Williams
* Maurizio Gherardini [Assistant GM] is added 
* Marc Eversley [Manager of Basketball Operations] is added

2006-2007
* Mike James [UFA] is not re-signed
* TJ Ford acquired for Charlie Villanueva
* Andrea Bargnani drafted [1st Round/No. 1 Overall]
* PJ Tucker drafted [2nd Round]
* Anthony Parker signed [UFA]
* Jorge Garbajosa signed [UFA]
* Fred Jones signed [UFA]
* Darrick Martin signed [UFA]
* Dave Hopla [Shooting Coach] is added
* Juan Dixon is acquired in exchange for Fred Jones [Portland]
* Luke Jackson is signed [UFA]
* Luke Jackson is released
* Sam Mitchell receives a 4 year contract extension
* Dave Hopla leaves
* Jim Todd [Assistant Coach] leaves
* Masai Ujuri [Director of International Scouting] is added

2007-2008
* Morris Peterson [UFA] is not re-signed
* Jason Kapono is signed [UFA]
* Carlos Delfino is acquired in exchange for two future 2nd Round Draft Picks
* Maceo Baston is signed [UFA]
* Mike Evans [Assistant Coach] is added
* Mark Hughes [Assistant/Development Coach] is added
* Jamario Moon is signed [UFA]
* John Lucas [Assistant coach] is added
* Primoz Brezec [Detroit] is acquired in exchange for Juan Dixon
* Linton Johnson is signed [UFA]
* Linton Johnson is released

2008
* Darrick Martin is not re-signed
* Jermaine O’Neal is acquired in exchange for TJ Ford + Rasho Nesterovic + Maceo Baston + flip-flop of 2008 Draft Picks [i.e. Pacers get No. 17/Roy Hibbert;  Raptors get No. 41/Nathan Jawai]
* Carlos Delfino [UFA] is not re-signed
* Hassan Adams is signed [UFA]
* Will Solomon is signed [UFA]
* Roko Ukic is signed [former draft pick]
* Jorge Garbajosa is bought out [contract off the books for the 2009-2010 season]
* John Lucas leaves
* Gord Herbert [Assistant Coach] is added
* Sam Mitchell, head coach, is fired [Dec 3 2008]
* Jay Triano [former Assistant Coach] appointed interim Head Coach [Dec 3 2008]

Wait a second … what’s really going on here

December 4, 2008

What to make of the Raptors’ decision yesterday to relieve Sam Mitchell of his coaching duties?

———-

Well …

First.

This whole business that …

Sam Mitchell was somehow never Bryan Colangelo’s CHOICE to run the Raptors’ team …

* Smitch is Out, Bring Back the Cursing

… is completely false.

The simple FACTS are these:

1. Sam Mitchell was the Raptors’ head coach when Bryan Colangelo was hired as the Team’s GM [Feb 2006].
2. At the conclusion of the 2006-2007 season Sam Mitchell was voted the NBA COTY Award.
3. During the summer of 2007, Bryan Colangelo CHOSE to re-sign Sam Mitchell [to a multi-year contract worth millions of dollars] as HIS coach for the Toronto Raptors.
4. Approximately 18 months later, on Wednesday, Dec 03 2008, Bryan Colangelo relieved Sam Mitchell of his coaching duties with the Raptors.

———-

Second.

A list of sights and sounds observed, thus far, by yours truly, regarding the explanation of events provided by Bryan Colangelo:

Part A – From the individual Conference Calls of Bryan Colangelo and Jay Triano with the Toronto media on Wednesday afternoon

* Sam Mitchell was a good coach for the Raptors during his 5 seasons with the Raptors.
* Sam Mitchell is a highly intelligent basketball person, who understands the ins and the outs of the NBA game and was well-paid to coach the Toronto Raptors.
* There comes a time when a change is needed in the lead voice within a NBA team’s locker room.
* Sam Mitchell has always had a good relationship with the players he’s coached, who have always seemed to play hard for him, save for specific periods, so far, this season.
* The feeling still exists within the Raptors’ basketball brain-trust that this collection of 13 players is the “most talented” team put together yet by Bryan Colangelo.
* There’s an expectation that this team, as is, is under-performing.
* There’s an awareness that this team, as is, has a flawed roster.
* There’s a belief that this team, as is, has not been playing its best players enough.
* There’s a belief that certain players were not being put in specific situations offensively to maximize their abilities to help this team perform at a level which is consistent with its perceived talent-base.
* There’s a strong belief in the ability of Jose Calderon, as the PG for this team.
* There’s a belief that Jermaine O’Neal has shown, in a period of 5 or 6 games, so far this season, that he has what the Raptors’ basketball brain-trust was looking for when they traded for him this summer, i.e. 16 pts, 9-10 rebounds and 1-2 blocked shots per game.
* There’s a belief that this team should be “running” in offensive transition [and scoring] more consistently than it has been, to this point, this season.
* There’s a belief that the players on this team have a strong belief in one another.
* Jay Triano is the new coach for the Raptors, at least, until the end of the current season, at which time he will have an opportunity to be named the permanent head coach, along with any other candidates who might be available at that time.

Part B – From the Raptors’ Official Website

* The events of Wednesday do not coincide yet with the specifics of what this observer saw and listened to in the post-game interviews from Tuesday’s debacle vs the Nuggets:

I. re: Sam Mitchell II. re: Jermaine O’Neal III. re: Jose Calderon and IV. re: Bosh

“Cause, as you know, I played in the League. Mike Evans played in the League. Alex English played in the League. You know, at the end of the day, coach’s coach, but the players go play. You’ve got to out and compete every second you’re on the court.”
Sam Mitchell [former Head Coach, Toronto Raptors]

… which is most intriguing.

————

Third.

John Hollinger’s take on the situation … which has considerable merit.

———-

Fourth.

The exact timing of this decision yesterday [early Wednesday afternoon] … of all days, when there was a “players only” meeting scheduled for the morning, in place of a regular practice session between games, that followed the post-game “players only” meeting  … is a key to understanding, in part, some of what is still insidiously wrong/corrupt with MLSE, and the way in which this organization chooses to conduct its pro sports related business.

Trust that this corner will be seeing and listening intently over the next little while to the words and the quotes which come directly from the different parties involved in this decision, made abruptly yesterday … to decipher accurately what it means for this franchise, short and long term, going forward from here.

—–

To wit:

Analysis: Mitchell firing not a surprise
This team’s a lot better than an 8-9 record,” Colangelo said during a late afternoon teleconference. “Despite the criticism of this roster, this is a roster that was put together on a consensus basis…you might look back at last season, and the games, a series of games, where we underachieved. Expectations were high.”

—–

* Did that 2nd “players only” meeting happen Wednesday morning?
* Did it happen prior to this decision being made?
* Or, did that 2nd meeting not take place at all?
* If it did … Who exactly was running this team, at that moment, when Sam Mitchell was relieved of his coaching duties with the Raptors, from amongst this specific group of players?
* And, if it did … To whom is that person[s] reporting?
* What was really accomplished by making this move yesterday?

——————————–

When dealing with an entity like MLSE, and a most intelligent person, like Bryan Colangelo, know that it’s an elaborate Game of Chess … and, Every Move Must Have A Purpose.

Part of the fun, therein, lies … with trying to figure out what that purpose actually is.

Deciphering the correct code for the Raptors

December 3, 2008

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 93, Nuggets 132
Game Info

Jeez-louise … that one was ugly.

Three points to make.

1. The person responsible for the Raptors’ current situation is not Sam Mitchell, the team’s head coach … it is Bryan Colangelo, the team’s President/GM, who has made the decisions which have led this franchise dangerously close to “Treadmill Status” [right now], something that was relatively easy to see as a likely predicament for this group of players since this past summer, at least, for those who have not been drinking of the Kool-Aid from MLSE.

It’s not necessary to re-hash that long list again, is it?

[Let’s hope not. 🙂 ]

The 2nd-3rd week of December is approaching quickly, and the FACT IS … the man has a history of changing head coaches during this first part of the regular season, if/when there’s a need for a scapegoat to be found to explain the sorry plight of a team which he has been responsible for constructing in the first place.

Will he do it again this year?

Hmmm …

For the sake of the Raptors’ long term goal, which should be trying to eventually bring a NBA Championship to the City of Toronto, let’s hope not.

2. That said …

There are some individuals in this world who are positive thinkers … despite what certain others might have to say about them and their ideas, which can sometimes be complex and difficult to understand, especially at first glance … and incapable of ever accepting a No-win Situation, for what it appears to be, on the surface. These individuals, IN FACT, are properly characterized as out-of-the-box-thinkers who have learned the lessons well of Sun Tzu, and knowing both themselves and their opponent, at all times, are able to “Make chicken out of chicken salad”, on a regular basis, because it’s who they happen to be and what they happen to do in this world. Different strokes for different folks.

Finding THE WAY OUT for this year’s team is akin to the classic “trap scenario” involved with the single room, two doors [one which leads to eventual escape and salvation; the other which leads to death and damnation], two gate-keepers, one who always tells the truth and the other who always tells a lie; and, the single question which you, as the solo game player, must be able to ask correctly, of either gate-keeper, in order to choose the one RIGHT door, without knowing in advance which keeper is the truth-teller and which is the falsemaster.

i.e. All the pieces to the puzzle have been laid out in front of you already; what you have to do is decipher them correctly. Once the answer to the riddle has been told to you, it makes perfect sense. It is not earth-shaking, in any sense. It is simple “common” sense; which really isn’t common at all, at least, not until everyone IN FACT has it “in common” with each other, which unfortunately not all do in this topsy turvy world. Still, if you think it through carefully, there is nothing preventing you, or anyone else for that matter, from arriving at THE correct answer for yourself. One of the keys? “See” and “listen” very carefully, as “Looking” and “Hearing” alone, won’t get you very far. The answer to the riddle is always to be found in the original source material. Sorta like THE pudding and THE eating. 😉

When a team’s roster of players looks like this:

Calderon, Parker, Bargnani, Bosh, O’Neal
Ukic, Kapono, Moon, Graham, Humphries
Solomon, Adams, Jawai

a coach who is incapable of negotiating his way through the labyrinth correctly SHOULD NOT be held accountable for failing to be an out-of-the-box-thinker, in the first place …

as the simple FACT IS … relatively speaking, few men/women are, including the President/GM responsible for the operation of the Toronto Raptors.

3. There are some NBA observers who actually do know what they’re talking about when it comes to understanding, both, the League, in general, and the Raptors, specifically. If you wish to disregard what they have to say, on a regular basis, that’s your decision to make.

Complex, out-of-the-box-thinking is not everyone’s preferred method of operation.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors at Lakers [Nov 30]

December 1, 2008

When you read other reports today that detail the Raptors’ loss to the Lakers, pay close attention to which ones focus on the ineffective play of Chris Bosh and the absence of Jermaine O’Neal …

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 99, LAKERS 112
Game Info

as the principal reasons for the eventual L, and which ones do not.

Yes, Chris Bosh, the Raptors’ best player, had a sub-standard performance [i.e. 36:54/MP; 4-13/FGM-A; 3-4/FTM-A; 12 Pts; 6 Rebs; 3 Ast; 1 St; 4 To]; and, yes, Jermaine O’Neal was missing from their line-up.

However, these are NOT the main reasons the Raptors lost yesterday’s game.

—————————–

Beginning at the 10:00 mark of the 4th Q, in what was then a 6-Pt contest, this is the specific sequence of Possession Outcomes which determined the eventual outcome.

PositionLAKERS—-vs—-Raptors
PG/1——Farmar———-Ukic
OG/2——Vujacic———-Kapono
SF/3——Ariza————Moon
PF/4——Odom———–Graham
C/5——-Bynum———–Bosh

LAL 90, Tor 84

#1. LAK Poss 1 – Vujacic beats Kapono off the bounce; Makes twisting Layup slicing between Moon & Graham … LAL 92, Tor 84
#2. RAP Poss 1 – Graham Misses a Pull-up Jumpshot
#3. LAK Poss 2 – Odom fouled while posting-up vs Graham
#4. LAK Poss 3 – TO [Ariza]; Steal by Bosh
#5. RAP Poss 2 – TO [Ukic]
#6. LAK Poss 4 – Farmar Misses Jumpshot [vs Ukic]; Team Rebound to LAL
#7. LAK Poss 5 – Ariza Makes Turn-around Jumpshot/hook vs Moon … LAL 94, Tor 84 
#8. RAP Poss 3 – Ukic Misses Jumpshot
#9. LAK Poss 6 – Bynum Makes Dunk on lob pass; Bosh helping vs Odom [fronted by Graham] … LAL 96, Tor 84 
#10. RAP Poss 4 – Graham Makes Layup vs Farmar … LAL 96, Tor 86
#11. LAK Poss 7 – Ariza Makes Jumpshot vs poor switch by Moon [with Graham] on the ‘Post-Split’ action … LAL 98, Tor 86
#12. RAP Poss 5 – Graham Missed Turn-arond Jumpshot/Layup vs Odom
#13. LAK Poss 8 – Bynum Makes Dunk + fouled on rejected Pick & Roll with Farmar; Graham late arriving with weak side help [coming off Odom] … LAL 101, Tor 86

07:26 mark of the 4th Q … Calderon replaces Ukic; Bargnani replaces Graham

—————————–

What should you have noticed from these 13 possessions?

In General:

* The Lakers were able to generate 2 extra possesions. One, when Odom was fouled, in the Low Post by Graham; and, two, from their Team Rebound.

* The Lakers were too quick, athletic and physical for the Raptors to handle [which ultimately resulted in a decisive Rebounding edge over the course of the entire game, i.e. Total Rebounds: LAL 54, Tor 36].

Specifically:

#1. Jason Kapono is an inferior NBA athlete, in comparison with Sasha Vujacic.
#2. Graham’s strength is not his Pull-up Jumpshot. As a perimter player, Graham is effective when he can ‘Catch & Shoot’.
#3. Odom vs Graham, in the post, is a mis-match [despite the fact that Odom picked up an offensive foul earlier in the quarter, in this situation]. Graham should not be defending Odom.
#4. Bosh is a capable Post defender … when he uses his quickness.
#5. Ukic is an inexperienced PG who sometimes makes poor decisions with the ball.
#6. Ukic is a solid NBA athlete at the #1-spot. The Lakers size & athleticism is difficult for the Raptors to handle … especially with Kapono [too slow vs Vujacic] and Moon [too weak vs Ariza] and Graham [under-sized vs Odom] on the floor together … the Raptors have difficulty gaining possession of loose balls.
#7. Ariza is too strong for Moon to handle on the block. Moon needs to check Vujacic. Graham needs to Ariza. Humphries needs to check Odom.
#8. Kapono cannot dribble the ball vs Vujacic. Ukic is a poor perimter shooter.
#9. Graham should NOT be checking Odom.
#10. Graham is a solid Low Post option for the Raptors.
#11. Moon is not a strong enough player to check Ariza.
#12. Graham is a solid Low Post Option for the Raptors. Odom, however, is too big for him.
#13. Bynum is among the VERY BEST ‘Aerial Finishers’ in the NBA. Graham should not be cheking Odom. 🙂 Graham should be checking Ariza, with  Moon checking Vujacic, and Humphries in the game, checking Odom.

At this point in the regular season … with these two player rosters assembled by their respective GMs:

* The Lakers are 14-1 and poised to amass 70+ wins; as forecast by this corner last season, prior to their predicted loss in the 2008 NBA Finals;

while,

* The Raptors are 8-8, on pace to put up approximately 40 wins; and, in all likelihood, finish in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.

Despite a less-than-stellar performance yesterday by the Dinos, the signs are there, however, that this group of players [at these positions] …

Starters
1/Calderon + 2/Moon [3] + 3/Graham + 4/Humphries + 5/Bosh

Key Bench Subs
1-2/Parker + 4/Bargnani [3]

Situational Subs
1/Ukic, 2/Kapono [3], 5/O’Neal [or a different veteran Big]

either [i] without JO altogether, or [ii] with him in a decreased role …

has the capacity to become a solid contender for a playoff spot in the EC, down-the-road, if those responsible for running the basketball operation at MLSE, in fact, [A] know what they’re doing, and can [B] begin to make the best use possible of the resources at-hand [i.e. current players & draft picks, plus coaches].  

In the NBA … every organization has access to a similar set of ingredients. What separates the performance of one from another is the manner in which their Head Chefs choose to combine those ingredients in their recipe.

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

Long time passing

November 23, 2008

If this most recent bit of news is, indeed, accurate …

—————————-

Time running out on MLSE’s Peddie

The winds of change are blowing at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and Richard Peddie soon may be swept out the door.

The change involving Peddie may not necessarily have anything to do with the impending hiring of Brian Burke as president and general manager of the Leafs — maybe as soon as late this week — but it’s likely. And Peddie likely is on his way out at the end of the season.

Peddie has been under fire for failed sporting decisions — primarily the hiring of Rob Babcock and John Ferguson as inexpensive and inexperienced general managers for the Raptors and the Maple Leafs — and has been put on notice with a changing and more aggressive board of directors. And while he has clung to the job on the basis of the financial strength of the company, there are those who look at failed television networks and other problems within MLSEL and figure the time is right for change.

This won’t happen quickly. Peddie has been a marvellous survivor, but time is running out.

THIS AND THAT

Name to know: Erol Uzermeri, the newest board member of MLSEL, and unlike his fellow Teachers’ Pension Plan flag wavers, isn’t happy just to get a parking pass and dinner at the directors’ lounge. He, not chairman Larry Tanenbaum or Peddie, is considered the power broker on the board and not interested in the status quo …

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then it’s a godsend for the dedicated and beleaguered fanbase of the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.

An unequivical Halleluiah! … should be the Word of the Day, in Raptorville & Leafs’ Nation, if this specific action ever comes to pass, and a coronation ceremony planned for Erol Uzermeri, should he truly be able to clean house at the very top of MLSE.  

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Oh, when will THEY … ever learn?

Fore-warned is fore-armed

October 29, 2008

When a situation develops that sees two individuals, intimately connected through their work, with different perceptions about the circumstances they each find themselves in … then, that situation is best described as one without a solid long term prognosis for success, in a major way. 

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This quote was ascribed to the Raptors’ Head Coach, Sam Mitchell, yesterday:

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Raptors coach preaches “principles”
I’m pleased with the team that we have. Bryan has done a great job of giving me a good team. We have a great group of guys that work hard. What we may lack athletically, I think we have a chance to make it up basketball-wise. We have got some pretty good basketball players.

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Which elicited the following response, from yours truly, on the new web site devoted exclusively to coverage of all-things-Raptors, RaptorsRepublic.com:

Free Advice
If you’re a bright and enterprising young sort, this ↑↑↑ is the type of delicious quotation that would make a terrific ’sig’ for your on-line activity this season, related to the goings-on in Raptorville.

What does the content of that specific quote mean?

Well …

If you know how to read between the lines, in this world, and can see what’s really there, beyond the mere letters on a page … then, you KNOW for a fact that Sam Mitchell played 13 years in the NBA – the best basketball League in the world – on the strength of marginal talent, which indicates, if nothing else, that the Man is a Survivor of the Highest Order, Charles Darwin style … and, reveals a level of intelligence & guile which puts to shame the vast majority of those who dare to criticize him, on a regular basis.

Re-read each of those individual sentences a second time.

* I’m pleased with the team that we have.
* Bryan has done a great job of giving me a good team.
* We have a great group of guys that work hard.
* What we may lack athletically, I think we have a chance to make it up basketball-wise.
* We have got some pretty good basketball players.

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Bryan’s done a “great” job?
This organization now has a “good” team.
These players are a “great group of guys”.
These players “work hard”.
These players “may” lack athleticism?
These players have a “chance” to make it up basketball-wise, Sam “thinks”.
These players are “pretty good”.
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Hmmmmmmm …

There’s an old saying which goes like this,

“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

IF you’re someone like the Raptors’ Head Coach, you don’t MAKE it THIS far, in Life, and in Hoops, without being a highly intelligent man … who knows the Right words to say, and the Right time to say them.

Wily … yessirree, like a Fox.

That’s Sam.

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Then, today, the following column was authored by a different local scribe …

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Be blissfully optimistic but beware
In the leadup to the NBA’s 14th season with a Toronto outpost, Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors president and GM, has repeatedly called his hoopsters “the best team we’ve had.”

That noise in the background as he spoke was the high-pitched screech of Sam Mitchell’s padded courtside lounger being replaced with a stiff-backed hotseat. Colangelo will tell you the outlook is brilliant, that the Raptors shored up their weaknesses in defence and rebounding with their off-season acquisition of Jermaine O’Neal; that along with Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon, an all-star forward and an all-star-calibre point guard, the Raptors will possess one of the best core trios in the East.

But as Mitchell was saying the other day: “I keep telling the guys, `Don’t come to the arena thinking Jose, C.B. and Jermaine are going to carry us. The other guys have got to step up. … We’re going to need that fourth and fifth guy. Who are those guys going to be on a nightly basis? I can’t tell you.”

In other words, Colangelo’s saying he’s put together a winner here. Mitchell’s saying, not in so many words: Hang on a minute, boss … I’ve got three reliable players, one of whom, O’Neal, is coming off four seasons of surgery-plagued misery and still wearing a knee brace. And those three guys are surrounded by an assortment of enigmas who may or may not come to play in tonight’s season opener in Philadelphia and beyond.

There are two ways to look at this team, indeed. We’ll excuse you for squinting to see the optimistic angle.

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Hmmmmmmm …

Inevitably, what happens next, when a ‘glass half-full’ perspective meets head-on with a ‘glass half-empty’ one … is deleterious towards the health & long term stability of the subordinate, in that specific situation, usually, on account of a well-marked, “Failure to Communicate.”

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It says in this corner that …

If things do go awry this season and this team does indeed go backwards … it will be because the GM, Bryan Colangelo, has assembled a group which is, both, short on High End players and on QUALITY DEPTH.

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Free Advice to Sam Mitchell …

Keep your wits about you, Sir, and heed the following words:

Kay: “Michael, why are the drapes open?”

The Godfather, Part II [1974]

which precede the scene shown here ↓ … at the 1:43 mark of this clip …

Now is not the time for you to fall asleep at the switch.

Rolling the dice on an oft-injured player

October 23, 2008

The sort of quotes which make a keen NBA Observer scratch his head and say, “Hmmmmmmm.”

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Star dimming, O’Neal sees brighter days in Toronto

1. re: Jermaine O’Neal’s physical condition

O’Neal admits as much, directing most of the blame at his left knee. He had surgery to repair a cartilage tear the summer before last season, and was on the floor for opening night. By mid-January, however, O’Neal felt like he was playing on one leg. Tired of crunching Advil – “12 a day,” he claims – he sought the advice of a couple specialists and shut down for the next 2½ months. He returned for the final two weeks, and the Pacers finished one win shy of claiming the Eastern Conference’s last playoff berth.

Because neither O’Neal nor the Pacers wanted to further diminish his trade value, “we didn’t really want to speak much about my injuries,” he said. “Whenever it got to the point where I had to sit out, we just had to call it something else. But over the last 2½ years, that knee was the issue.”

i.e. O’Neal had surgery on his injured left knee 2 summers ago, not this past season or during this current off-season.

2. Jermaine O’Neal’s mind-set

There were other issues, not all of them external.

“Mentally, I was just worn out,” he said. “When you get to that point, you just kind of lose that fire.”

3. re: probability & what to worry about

“Bryan Colangelo isn’t dumb; he didn’t trade for an injured player,” said one Eastern Conference scout. “Jermaine will probably dedicate himself this season. He quit on Indiana. I guess if there’s anything to worry about, it’s that he could always do the same in Toronto.”

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Based on the following observations:

* Jermaine O’Neal is not coming back from an injury he sustained this past season
* Once a NBA player ‘loses his fire’, rarely does he ever get it back
* Jermaine O’Neal is perceived to have ‘quit’ on the Indiana Pacers

it is simply not a given that the Raptors are actually going to get their money’s worth this season, and next, from the trade which brought them Jermaine O’Neal and cost them TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston & the No. 17 Selection [overall] from the 2008 NBA Draft, which the Pacers used to choose Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown], in exchange for the #41 Pick, Nathan Jawai [C/PF, Australia] who is still inactive at this point with a suspected heart condition.

[Note 1: O’Neal missed his first ‘in-game’ action with the Raptors this season, on Tuesday, sitting out the 2nd Half of their exhibition loss vs the Nuggets, due to a ‘sore right leg’.]