Posts Tagged ‘Will Solomon’

The reason the Raptors cannot Rebound the ball

December 19, 2008

In contrast to what you might read elsewhere on the net,

e.g. Raptors Rebounding Woes Continue

in the NBA, the inability to REBOUND the basketball on a consistent basis, as a TEAM, is not a “Concentration” issue; nor is it an issue of “failing to get into [opponents’] bodies”.

At this level of competition …

A team’s ability to REBOUND successfully is a “Personnel” issue. Period.

Relative to the position they are playing:

“++” Rebounders are major contributers;
“+” Rebounders are positive contributers;
“0” Rebounders are neither positive nor negative contributers; and,
“-” Rebounders are negative contributers.

When you look at the Raptors’ roster, this is what you see:

PG /Calderon 0
OG/Kapono –
SF/Moon +
PF/Bosh +
C/O’Neal 0
———————
PG/Ukic 0
OG/Parker 0
SF/Graham +
PF/Humpries +
C/Bargnani –
———————
PG/Solomon 0
OG/Adams 0
PF/Jawai 0
C/Voskuhl –

A good Rebounding team in the NBA needs to have at least three [3] “+” Rebounders on the court at all times.

With their current roster, the Raptors do not fit into this category … plain and simple … because:

1. Specifically, given the “+” Rebounders they DO have on this team, the Raptors are choosing to play the WRONG players in combination with one another, so far this season;

and,

2. In general, there are NOT ENOUGH “+” Rebounders on the Raptors’ roster in the first place.

Until the Raptors fix THIS issue they will not be able to solve their Rebounding problem.

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]

Solving the Riddle in Raptorville, in advance

December 11, 2008

Regular readers of this space already know that the Raptors should not have:

* Traded Rasho Nesterovic [PF/C], TJ Ford [PG], Maceo Baston [PF] and the 2008 No. 17 [overall] Draft Pick to the Pacers in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal [PF/C] and the 2008 No. 41 [overall] Draft Pick;

* Bought out the contract of Jorge Garbajosa [PF/SF/C];

* Failed to re-sign Carlos Delfino [SF/OG/PG];

* Signed Roko Ukic, as their back-up PG;

* Signed Will Solomon, as their insurance 3rd-string PG; and,

* Signed Hassan Adams, as their reserve Wing Player;

as it put their team in a highly vulnerable situation for this season, whereby, they:

* Are Over the Salary Cap;

* Are only $1,100 below the Luxury Tax Threshold; and,

* Only have a 13-man roster, in a league with a 15-player limit.

——————————————

What even these regular readers might not realize, however, is THIS CORNER’S:

* Antipathy towards the countless Woulda, Shoulda,  Coulda’s that are articulated by others, for the most, in hindsight only, after-the-fact;

* Focus on:

  • Learning … from What’s Happened Before;
  • Awareness & Appreciation for the Here & Now; and,
  • Providing a Legitimate Prescription for Future Success, Short and Long Term.

In this regard, here is some of what’s appeared in this space, about the Raptors’ situation, this season, once their present roster was finalized this summer, given the strengths and weaknesses of the 13 players on their team.

* Raptors’ line-up … tough enough [or not] [Sep 08]
* Toronto Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit [Sep 11]
* First good news out of Raptors’ camp [Oct 01]
* Second good news out of Raptors’ camp [Oct 02]

——————————————-

Now …

* After losing to the Lakers, in Los Angeles
* Getting embarassed by the Nuggets, in Denver
* Firing their head coach, Sam Mitchell
* Losing miserably to the Jazz, in Utah
* Getting nipped at the wire by the Blazers, at home, and
* Getting hammered by the Cavaliers, in Cleveland

Here’s what the Raptors’ rotation was last night:

Raptors

1

2

3

4

5

+/-

1st Q

Starters

Calderon

Kapono

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

-2

Sub 1

 

 

 

Bargnani

Bosh

0

Sub 2

 

 

 

Graham

 

+6

Sub 3

 

 

 

 

O’Neal

0

Sub 4

Ukic

 

 

 

 

0

Sub 5

 

Solomon

 

 

 

 

2nd Q

Sub 6

 

 

Graham

Bargnani

 

-4

Sub 7

Calderon

Kapono

Bargnani

Bosh

O’Neal

+2

Sub 8

 

 

Moon

 

 

+7

Sub 9

 

 

 

Graham

Bosh

0

Sub 10

 

 

 

 

Bargnani

 

3rd Q

Sub 11

 

 

 

Bosh

O’Neal

+4

Sub 12

 

 

Graham

Bargnani

Bosh

-4

Sub 13

 

 

 

 

O’Neal

 

Sub 14

Ukic

 

 

 

 

 

Sub 15

 

Kapono

 

 

 

+2

4th Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1

Sub 16

Calderon

 

 

 

 

 

Sub 17

 

 

 

Bosh

 

 

Sub 18

 

 

 

Bargnani

Bosh

+3

Sub 19

 

 

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

-5

Sub 20

 

Moon

Graham

 

 

+3

Sub 21

Ukic

Solomon

Adams

Bargnani

 

 

Which, in turn, reveals the following things:

1. Calderon, Kapono & Moon … can, ideed, be a Solid Threesome for this team, with JC as the Facilitator, JK as the Designated Shooter & JM as the Designated Defender/Rebounder.

2. Calderon, Moon & Graham … can, indeed, be a solid Closing Group that makes the Raptors into a “bigger” Rebounding and Defensive team, especially, in combination with O’Neal/Bargnani [at #4/PF] and Bosh [at #5/C].

3. When the Raptors do NOT make the mistake of playing Anthony Parker + Jason Kapono together with Jose Calderon … and, especially, in conjunction with Andrea Bargani … then, they can, indeed, be an effective team, in terms of Rebounding, Team Defense & Shared Team Offense.

4. When the Raptors do NOT use Bargnani at the #3/SF position … or, at least, use him there as little as possible … then, they can, indeed, be something other than an atrocious defensive team, especially in transition.

——————————————–

Once Kris Humphries and Anthony Parker return to good health, if the Raptors use them in the proper way …

i.e. with Parker as their back-up #1-2/PG-OG and Humphries as their Starting #4/PF …

within the parameters of what’s written here … re: #1, #2, #3 and #4, above, and the suggested rotations … there is every reason to believe that this team should be able to qualify for the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season.

———————–

The answer to the riddle is always to be found in the original source material.

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.

What you’ll see tonight is just how little the Raptors need their new $21 Million Man

November 26, 2008

It’s half-time of tonight’s Raptors [6-7] vs Bobcats [4-9] game, and this is what the Box Score looks like:

———————————————

Bobcats
  Field Goals   Rebounds  
  pos min fgm-a 3pm-a ftm-a +/- off def tot ast pf st to bs ba pts
E. Okafor F 11:13 1-2 0-0 2-2 +1 1 5 6 1 2 2 0 1 0 4
G. Wallace F 16:57 5-8 0-0 7-11 -2 0 3 3 1 2 1 1 0 1 17
A. Ajinca C 04:00 1-4 0-0 0-0 -3 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
D. Augustin G 21:18 1-2 1-2 3-3 -5 0 0 0 2 0 1 5 0 0 6
R. Felton G 20:01 2-5 0-1 0-0 -2 0 1 1 4 0 1 1 0 0 4
J. Dudley   12:00 3-3 0-0 0-1 -6 1 1 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 6
A. Morrison   08:50 0-4 0-3 0-0 -6 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
M. Carroll   06:41 1-4 0-2 1-1 -3 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 3
N. Mohammed   07:29 0-1 0-0 0-0 -2 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
S. May   06:25 2-2 0-0 0-0 +5 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4
R. Hollins   05:06 0-1 0-0 0-0 -2 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0
S. Brown   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 
Total   120 16-36 1-8 13-18   5 14 19 12 10 7 9 1   46
  44.4% 12.5% 72.2%   Team Rebs: 4 Total TO: 9
Raptors
  Field Goals   Rebounds  
  pos min fgm-a 3pm-a ftm-a +/- off def tot ast pf st to bs ba pts
C. Bosh F 23:07 9-10 0-0 6-6 +1 1 3 4 0 2 1 1 2 0 24
J. Moon F 12:06 1-3 1-1 0-0 +3 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3
A. Bargnani C 20:49 2-9 0-1 1-2 +2 2 4 6 2 2 0 2 2 1 5
J. Calderon G 16:52 1-5 0-2 0-0 +4 0 2 2 4 1 0 2 0 0 2
A. Parker G 18:02 2-3 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 2 2 0 2 2 0 0 5
K. Humphries   08:49 0-3 0-0 0-0 +6 0 2 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
J. Kapono   07:28 1-1 0-0 0-0 +3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
R. Ukic   07:08 1-2 0-0 0-0 +1 0 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 2
J. Graham   05:39 2-2 0-0 4-4 +5 1 2 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 8
H. Adams   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
W. Solomon   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. O’Neal   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 
Total   120 19-38 2-6 11-12   5 15 20 11 10 4 8 4   51
  50.0% 33.3% 91.7%   Team Rebs: 2 Total TO: 8
 Technical Fouls
TOR 2nd Qtr5:39 Chris Bosh
 Scoring
Lead Changes : 16
Times Tied : 12
ARENA STATS

 

Arena:
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, OT
Officials:
#50 O. Poole, #10 R. Garretson, #51 L. Richardson
Attendance:
Duration:
0:58

 

———————————————

Tonight marks the first game this season, the Raptors will be without Jermain O’Neal in their 12-man line-up.

Since their blockbuster trade with the Pacers was consummated this past summer, this corner has repeatedly said that the Raptors did not NEED to make this acquisition at this point during their attempted climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Well, with O’Neal in their line-up, this team has performed at a .461 pace so far this season.

It says here & now that as long as O’Neal is not healthy enough to play for the Raptors this season … and, instead, their other younger and/or more athletic players [i.e. Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Jamario Moon, Joey Graham & Roko Ukic] get those available minutes of floor time … this team will perform in a similar or slightly better way as they’ve done to this point with JO as their Starting Center.

THAT’S how little this Raptors’ team actually NEEDS Jermaine O’Neal on the floor.

—————————-

UPDATE:

  • The Raptors are up by 5 points with 4:58 remaining in the 4th Q.
  • They are being hurt right now by keeping Kapono on the floor with Calderon, Parker, Bargnani & Bosh. J-Killa is simply not athletic enough to play beside Calderon and Parker and Bargnani, none of whom are High End NBA Athletes in their own right.
  • Returning Graham to the game, for Kapono, or going with Moon, instead, will address this problem.
  • Graham returns for Kapono.
  • Raptors now ahead by 3 pts.
  • Okafor with a hoop, Raptors now ahead by 1pt.
  • Bosh hits a jumper from the TOTK. Raptors ahead by 3 pts.
  • Calderon to Graham at the front of the rim for a dunk. Raptors ahead by 5 pts. Time-out [Full] Charlotte.
  • Felton, offensive foul. Drawn charge by Bargnani.
  • Augustin misses with a runner. Shot altered by Bargnani & Bosh in the lane. 
  • Calderon makes a dribble left pull-up jumper over Felton. Raptors ahead by 7 pts.
  • Steal by Graham.
  • Raptors win, 93-86.

——————

Here’s the final Box Score and the in-game Play-By-Play for you to examine for yourself.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors at Magic [Nov 18]

November 19, 2008

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 90, Magic 103
Game Info

————————–

In a regular season NBA game, when one team shoots 2-14/.143 [3FGM-A] … as Toronto did last night … and the other shoots 11/23/.478 … as Orlando did last night … it is going to be difficult for the first team to come out on top, while getting outscored by 27 Pts from behind the arc, even if that team gets a monster individual performance from its best player [i.e. Chris Bosh] …

 

pos

mp

fgm-a

3fgm-a

ftm-a

+/-

or

dr

tr

ast

pf

st

to

bs

ba

pts

C.Bosh

F

44:46

14-19

0-0

12-16

-7

7

11

18

4

1

2

3

1

1

40

In addition, when the 1st squad is also playing without its Main-frame PG [ i.e. Jose Calderon] … who is one of the best in the business at protecting the ball on behalf of his team, with an astounding AST:TO [approx. 4 to 1] … and is forced to play 48 minutes with an inexperienced primary ball-handler [i.e. either Will Solomon or Roko Ukic] there’s a strong likelihood that it is going to lose the ‘Turnover Battle’, as well … which is precisely what happened last night [Toronto -7/24-17].

Despite the fact that the Magic were also playing short-handed … i.e. without Mickael Pietrus [OG, major UFA acquisition this past off-season] dressed for the game … and failed to win the ‘Battle of the Boards’ [i.e. Orlando -7/37-44], which is rare for this team … once Hedo Turkoglu [F] began to heat up from long distance, in the 4th Q … i.e. 4-6 [3FGM-A/.667] … this game was no longer in doubt, from Orlando’s perspective.

What to learn then from this game, heading forward for the Raptors?

* When they go with their big line-up [i.e. Bargnani, Bosh & O’Neal] vs the Magic, they are more than capable of holding their own on the glass … if Orlando does not have the services of Mickael Pietrus.

* When they do not have Jose Calderon at the helm and are forced to go with one of their PG’s for extended minutes … against a Top Notch in the Eastern Conference …

1. They are going to turn the ball over a lot, on offense; and,
2. Are extremely vulnerable to a 3PT-shooting attack, on defense.

With a 5-5 won-loss record, thus far, and the second half of a back-to-back tonight at Miami, the Raptors will need to avoid both of these two occurrences, to this same degree, if they hope to remain above the .500 mark.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors vs Heat [Nov 16]

November 17, 2008

It is always interesting to read what the Raptors’ local media and fanbase have to say, in-game and post-game, when the team wins, as far as attributing the reasons for that specific outcome …

* Some things in an hour …
* O’Neal leads Raptors’ charge
* Large and in charge
* Raptors build from front line out
* Solomon’s will leads to Raptors’ victory
* RaptorsRepublic.com – Roll Call – Nov 16 vs Heat

——————————–

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 107, Heat 96
Game Info

——————————–

From the perspective of this corner …

 

pos

mp

fgm-a

3fgm-a

ftm-a

+/-

or

dr

tr

ast

pf

st

to

bs

ba

pts

A.Bargnani

F

31:00

6-12

0-2

0-0

0

1

3

4

3

4

1

2

0

0

12

J.O’Neal

C

33:51

4-14

0-0

3-3

+9

5

13

18

1

4

0

3

2

4

11

W.Solomon

G

33:49

5-9

2-5

3-4

+3

2

2

4

11

3

1

4

0

0

15

K.Humphries

 

16:00

5-6

0-0

4-5

+9

4

5

9

3

0

0

0

0

0

14

————–

It’s not Kris Humphries’ potential which is relevant … it’s HIS PERFORMANCE PRODUCTIVITY.

Hump is who Hump is; ‘good & bad’ … ‘Nothing More & Nothing Less’.

Hump is consistent.
It’s the way in which he’s used that is not.

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

The FACT IS … when the Raptors outrebound their opponent by a significant margin +17 [52-35] and get energy from Kris Humphries to the tune of a line like THAT ^^^ … in only 16 minutes of PT, relative to the production levels of other players on the roster … then, they can become a solid contending team for a Top 6 playoff spot in the EC.

—————————–

Now think back to that 1st Half against the Celtics … when the Raptors actually used Humphries and Graham and Moon and O’Neal and Bargnani, while focusing LESS of their OFFENSIVE OUTPUT on Chris Bosh … and, you should begin to see the roots of what a certain NBA Observer has been saying for quite some time now about this team’s most advantageous M.O. and its best chances for success this season, and beyond, with a Stalwart, like CB4, as its CENTER [i.e. it’s ‘Heart & Soul’].

It’s not an easy game to understand thoroughly … until you are seeing with 20/20 vision [not in hindsight but] in advance.

——————————–

It’s the start of a new week … and Hope springs eternal! … in the human breast.

Game Review: Raptors vs Minnesota, Oct 16 2008

October 17, 2008

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 90, Timberwolves 86
Game Summary

POSITIVES

Joey Graham – As good as advertised, in advance, by this corner. 🙂 Will need to play a lot, and play well, if this team is going to earn at least 45 W’s this season. If he doesn’t … their goose is cooked.

Andrea Bargnani – As good as advertised, in advance, by this corner. Can flat out score the ball in the NBA … if he gets a Lot of shots AND the PT that was once being designated to Jermaine O’Neal, the Raptors’ superfluous off-season acquisition. One dimensional. Remains a liability on Defense, for the most part, and is still a non-factor on the Boards, when playing against superior NBA athletes.

Kris Humphries – As good as advertised, in advance, from this corner. Energy. Rebounds. Shots. What you see is what you get. That’s who Hump is. Get use to it, cause it’s going to get a LOT of play this season. At this stage of his career, might well be a better investment than Jermaine O’Neal.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Will Solomon – Turnovers. Poor decisions with the ball. Struggling with the re-adjustment to the NBA game. More than athletic enough to succeed in back-up role. Difficult to change the spots on a full-grown leopard.

Jason Kapono – Was a little used ‘back-up’ in Miami for a sound reason. ‘Game stroke’ is still not ‘wet enough’ to overcome defensive and rebounding liabilities, as a PrimeTime Player, in the NBA. Game-to-game performance will be a barometer for the Raptors this season. When he’s good, they’ll have a solid chance for a W. When he’s not, look out … there’s probably an L coming their way.

Jermaine O’Neal – Right now, nowhere close to being the player he was 5 years ago. At $21 million per season for the next two years? Hmmmm …

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In general, not a good sign of things ahead when the Raptors struggle mightily in three consecutive pre-season tussles at home against non upper echelon teams in the NBA … i.e. Philadelphia [an athletic squad this year], CSKA Moscow [Euroleague] and Minnesota [an improved athletic squad].

[Note 1: FWIW … Rodney Carney (6-7, G/F) showed last night some of the reasons he would have been a solid acquisition for the Raptors, this off-season, in a straight-up trade for TJ Ford, as advocated by this corner. Not a great player, by any means, but precisely the type of young 2/3 that the Dinos NEEDED to add.]

Addressing a popular misconception in the NBA

October 16, 2008

In the on-line hoops community, there’s a specific concept which has been adopted as Gospel Truth that is fundamentally incorrect, concerning how the game works, in the NBA.

These eyes have read a host of different NBA observers make the following statement about how an NBA player’s ‘position’ SHOULD BE determined, when assessing what that player’s ‘role/spot’ is in this League:

“Since the Offense can, at all times, decide at which position to use a specific player, during a specific possession in a game, it’s the Defensive role a player has which determines what his actual ‘position’ is in the NBA, exclusively.”

Now … although this statement looks and sounds simple enough, and seems as though it might have some credence … nothing could be further from the TRUTH, pertaining to the NBA game.

Exhibit A

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Solomon, Ukic battle still wide open
“He’s crafty, he gets in that paint,” said Mitchell about [Roko] Ukic, who is surprisingly quick for a 6-foot-5 guard. “He had a stretch [against CSKA] where he made four or five really good NBA basketball plays, where he turned the corner and set guys up for easy shots. That’s what a point guard does.”

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Please notice carefully what this real life NBA head coach actually says concerning Roko Ukic, a young Point Guard for the Toronto Raptors.

Does he mention ‘Defense’ anywhere in the comments he provides for this article?

Does he mention ‘Rebounding’?

Now … ask yourself the following question, as well:

“How come this real life NBA head coach is mentioning this Offensive aspect of the game while discussing, ‘What it is a Point Guard does, in the NBA’?”

The cold, harsh, unbiased ANSWER is that … despite what you might think yourself or may have been led to believe by others …

It’s not ONLY what a player does on the Defensive end of the floor that determines the ‘position’ of that player, in the NBA, in the mind of each and every real life NBA head coach.

The simple fact is … there are many different ways a NBA head coach can choose to defend against specific (i) offensive systems, (ii) set plays, and (iii) players, in general. If he chooses to, a NBA head coach can effectively ‘hide’ a specific player on each and every defensive possession within a game. This is something which is totally within his control.

However, at a given point in time, what a specific player’s actual Skill Set is … in the three [3] different phases of the game, i.e. Offensively, Defensively & Rebounding … is NOT. 

THIS is what determines a player’s actual ‘position’, in the NBA … not what he can do, exclusively, at the Defensive end of the floor.

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. 😉