Posts Tagged ‘Maceo Baston’

Rebounding Differential Rankings in the NBA [Nov 6]

November 7, 2008

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 fundamentally improve Toronto’s Rebounding Deficiency from the last few seasons there were boatloads of delusional fans some who did not want to believe this specific assessment of this team, in advance of actually seeing real live NBA games this season with their own two eyes.

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How could the acquisition of a former 6-time NBA All-Star …

in exchange for a smallish, erractic [but talented] Point Guard [i.e. TJ Ford], an over-the-hill, lumbering, strictly speaking part-time Center [i.e. Rasho Nesterovic], the 15th player from their roster last season [i.e. Maceo Baston], and a flip-flop of the No. 17 [overall] and No. 41 Draft Picks from the 2008 NBA Draft, who turned out to be Roy Hibbert [C] and Nathan Jawai [C], respectively …

possibly NOT improve the Raptors decidely mediocre rebounding numbers from the last few years in any significant way, shape or form?

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Well … as of Thursday, November 6, 2008 the Basketball Acumen of this specific correspondent seems to be as sharp [and accurate] as ever:

[Statistics from NBA.com]

NBA

Rebounding Differential

Per Game

2008-2009

[as of Thu Nov 6]

Rank

Team

+/-

1

L.A. Lakers

+12.25

2

Detroit

+11.00

 

Philadelphia

+11.00

4

Cleveland

+9.00

5

Phoenix

+5.20

6

Utah

+5.00

7

Atlanta

+3.66

8

Boston

+2.40

 

Milwaukee

+2.40

10

Golden State

+0.40

 

Portland

+0.40

12

Orlando

+0.20

13

Charlotte

-0.25

14

Chicago

-0.60

15

Houston

-1.40

16

New Jersey

-1.66

17

Sacramento

-1.80

18

Memphis

-2.00

19

Oklahoma City

-2.25

20

New Orleans

-3.00

21

Denver

-3.50

 

Minnesota

-3.50

23

Dallas

-3.75

24

Miami

-4.00

25

San Antonio

-4.25

26

Indiana

-4.66

27

Washington

-7.33

28

New York

-8.75

29

L.A. Clippers

-9.00

30

Toronto

-10.50

When a certain NBA observer tells you something about ‘How the Game actually Works in this League’, in advance … it might well be in your best interests to believe what this person has to say, even though you are not able to fully comprehend it, at that point in time.

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

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Pacers have their ‘Man’

November 4, 2008

In the aftermath of their trade with the Raptors, Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations, Larry Bird, expressed his feelings about the type of Leadership he is looking for with his current team.

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Bird says team poised to fill leadership void
“Just because you make the most money doesn’t mean you’re the leader,” Bird said last month. “A lot of guys didn’t want to step on toes. Not only here, but other places I’ve been at. They’d say, the guy makes the most money, that means he’s the leader. That’s not the case. The leader comes from the guy doing the right thing, the guy that’s going to be there every day at practice, the guy that plays through pain without complaining. They do the necessary things to prepare themselves.

“I think the situation you have here, you had one guy making a lot of money and everybody just took it as he’s going to be leading us, and in some instances that was true. But I think more now that since it has opened you’ll see a number of guys stepping up.

“Really, you just need one voice. Usually your best leaders are ones that don’t say anything, they just play, prepare and do the right things.”

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Well, today … it says here that Larry Legend has now got his man …

Broken teeth, not broken spirit
“As professional athletes, we’ve bled throughout our careers,” he said. “We’ve broken bones, torn ligaments, busted teeth. It’s part of the game. It’s kind of fun when you do it, and you actually win.”

Granger’s refusal to leave the game after the collision impressed his teammates and coaches.

He made the play with the Pacers ahead by 16 in the fourth quarter. He stayed in the game.

“That one play epitomized what we want from our leaders — toughness, refusing to get knocked out of the game because you’ve lost your choppers,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That was just great.”

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After a period of significant upheaval, the Pacers have now righted their ship … at last … and will be in playoff contention this season.

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’.]

Cold, harsh dose of reality for Raptors fans

October 20, 2008

In general, David Aldridge’s review is an unbiased evaluation of the transactions made by all 30 teams in the NBA, since the end of the 2007-2008 season, when the Boston Celtics were crowned League Champions.

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Ranking the off season moves
PROJECTION: If you think the oft-injured O’Neal has a lot left, the Raptors made a great trade. Pairing O’Neal and Chris Bosh down low gives Sam Mitchell a lethal inside presence, one that will pay off with open looks for the likes of Jason Kopono and Anthony Parker and Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, and make Toronto a force in the Eastern Conference.

If you don’t think O’Neal has much left, the Raptors aren’t going to do much better next season than they have the previous two-going out early in the playoffs-even though Calderon is ready to take over the point full-time and Toronto has shooters that many other teams would love to have.

The guess here is that O’Neal isn’t the player he once was, but may not have to be playing alongside Olympian Bosh. And if Bargnani, the former first pick who took a noticeable and decided step backward in his second pro season, doesn’t get back on track, whatever O’Neal has to give won’t matter much anyway.

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Although this corner does not agree with a number of Mr. Aldridge’s specific assessments … this ↑↑↑ entry is a ruthless slap in the face for mis-guided Raptors faithful who may think their team’s acquisition of Jermaine O’Neal, in isolation, was amongst the most substantial moves made this off season across the NBA.

Unlike the Boston Celtics [28] , San Antonio Spurs [27], Cleveland Cavaliers [23], Phoenix Suns [22] and LA Lakers [21] … generally considered to be included in the top tier of teams in the NBA … the Toronto Raptors finished last season with a .500 record and have been eliminated swiftly from the playoffs each of the past two years.

Given the quality of moves made by other outfits in the Eastern Conference this summer, in relation to the Raptors, it is simply not a given that the Dinos are going to make the playoffs this season, and be able to maintain their present status as one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

Next One from Georgetown

October 14, 2008

As the NBA’s pre-season continues to move forward, it becomes increasingly interesting to evaluate some of the Draft Night transactions which involved young men who had yet to play a single game in the NBA and were deemed by certain GM’s to be valuable building blocks for their respective franchises, or not.

Such is the case for Roy Hibbert [C, 7-2, 278, 2008 NBA Draft, No. 17 (overall) Selection].

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Hibbert shows he can score
Hibbert, the No. 17 pick in last summer’s draft, had his best offensive game of the preseason, scoring 17 points against the Grizzlies on Monday.Quantcast

“We really like Roy,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “He works his heart out. He knows how to put the ball in the basket around the basket. We couldn’t be happier with Roy right now.”

Hibbert came out of Georgetown labeled as being primarily a defensive player. Hibbert will help the Pacers defensively — he had three blocked shots against the Grizzlies — but he’ll also offer more. He had nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

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Time will tell just how effective Roy Hibbert is eventually going to be, in the NBA … but if this corner’s assessment proves to be correct, he is destined to have a long and productive career, as a ‘Robert Parrish-esque’ player, i.e. no fuss-no muss, consistent on both ends of the floor, plays within himself at all times, Rock Solid Big … following in the grand tradition of Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning and [to a far lesser extent] Othella Harrington.

Of further intrigue, at least, to this corner, is the fact that he was acquired on Draft Night by a GM like Larry Legend [of all people 🙂 ], as part of the Pacers’ trade with the Raptors … i.e. Jermaine O’Neal + the 2008 NBA Draft No. 41 (overall) Selection [Nathan Jawai], in exchange for TJ Ford [PG] + Rasho Nesterovic [PF/C] + Maceo Baston [PF].

5 years from today … it is going to be very interesting to assess where the Raptors have gone, in the interim, with the front-court players they have right now … i.e. Chris Bosh, O’Neal, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai & Jamal Sampson … in comparison with the Pacers [i.e. Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Austin Croshere, Josh McRoberts, Maceo Baston & Roy Hibbert].

It says here … that Larry Bird has his Center for the next 10-15 years, and the Pacers are but one or two more moves away from returning to the EC playoffs on a consistent basis.

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UPDATE:
* A 2nd set of solid numbers for Roy Hibbert
Box Score: Pacers 100, Mavericks 93 [Wed Oct 15 2008].

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

October 13, 2008

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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.

Staying the course in Raptorville

May 1, 2008

Moving on up in the East side

 

What do the Raptors need to do this off-season in order to advance to the 2nd Round (or further) of the NBA Playoffs next year?

 

CURRENT STARTERS

 

TJ Ford (Point Guard) must be traded to solidify the team’s identity and create PG stability.

 

Anthony Parker (Off Guard) must be shifted to a Back-up role.

 

Jamario Moon (Small Forward) must improve his perimeter Jump Shot.

 

Chris Bosh (Power Forward) must be installed as the permanent Center, continue to get stronger physically and add a consistent “Turn-around Jump Shot in the Low Post” to his game.

 

Andrea Bargnani (Center) must be shifted to a back-up role.

 

CURRENT BACK-UPS

 

Jose Calderon (Point Guard) must be installed as the permanent PG.

 

Jason Kapono (Small Forward/Off Guard) must be installed as the permanent Designated Shooter (OG).

 

Carlos Delfino (Off Guard/Small Forward) must remain in a back-up role.

 

Kris Humphries (Power Forward) must be installed as the permanent PF (or become Jorge Garbajosa’s back-up).

 

Rasho Nesterovic (Center) must remain in a back-up role.

 

CURRENT RESERVES

 

Joey Graham (Power Forward/Small Forward) must be developed as a Defender/Rebounder/Spot-up Jump Shooter who can either start or come off the bench if need be as a “Mismatch Creator/Combator”.

Maceo Baston (Power Forward/Center) must be shifted to an Extra role or be released.

CURRENT EXTRAS

 

Darrick Martin (Point Guard) must remain in an Extra role or be released.

 

Jorge Garbajosa (Power Forward/Small Forward) must be re-installed as the permanent PF (or be able to back-up Kris Humphries).

 

Primo Brezec (Center) must remain in an Extra role or be released.

 

 

Then, if the Raptors re-shuffle their everyday line-up, for example, like this:

 

STARTERS

 

Calderon (PG); Kapono (OG); Moon (DF); Garbajosa/Humphries (PF); Bosh (C)

 

BACK-UPS

 

Parker (PG/OG); Delfino (OG/SF); Garbajosa/Humphries (PF); Bargnani (C/PF); Nesterovic (C)

 

RESERVES

 

Graham (SF/PF); Brezec (C)

 

EXTRAS

 

* An open roster spot for a Point Guard (replacing Darrick Martin)

* An open roster spot for a Off Guard/Small (obtained in a trade for TJ Ford, which could bring a Starter or a Back-up)

* An open roster spot for a Power Forward/Center (replacing Maceo Baston)

 

These moves will allow the Raptors to accomplish several goals simultaneously:

 

  1. Increase their 3Pt Shooting Efficiency with Calderon & Kapono receiving more MPG;
  2. Improve their Team Defense & Rebounding by becoming bigger & more physical at the PG & OG positions, replacing Ford & Parker with Calderon & Kapono – which allows for more ‘Switching’ but without being caught in a cross-matched situation and having a too small-sized player at either of those two spots – as well as at the PF & C positions, replacing Bosh & Bargnani with a combination of Garbajosa/Humphries & Bosh.
  3. Improve their Offensive Efficiency by increase their 3Pt Shooting Percentage with Calderon & Kapono (their best 3Pt Shooters) receiving more MPG;
  4. Create & Combat an assortment of mismatch player personnel combinations.
  5. Keep their group of Core Players together for another season.
  6. Firmly establish their Team Identity with Chris Bosh at Center & Jose Calderon at Point Guard.

 

By staying the course for one more year, essentially with this same group intact, adjusting only slightly – by removing TJ Ford from their roster and replacing him with a solid young Wing player – and focusing their attention on Team Rebounding & Defense, the Raptors are actually not that far away from establishing themselves as a perennial ‘Top 4 Team’ in the Eastern Conference.