Wednesday, February 21, 2007

News:: Raptors Mid-Term Report Card

As Ack mentioned recently, our hoops coverage this season has been like Vince Carter's hair, sparse (the shaved head isn't fooling sleuths like us friend, you're fairly bald. Another newsflash, the hill still hates you). Well that won't do, so with the all-star bacchanalia now over, I figured now was a good time to write a little something about everyone's new favorite Euro-League team, the Toronto Raptors.

I was fairly certain that because I was moving back to Halifax and giving up my Raps season tickets, that they would be in the playoffs sooner rather than later. The way things have gone for the Raps in the last couple months, that playoff trip could even be this season. But I'm not bitter, after all the bad basketball I watched during my time in Toronto, I'm just happy to see the Raps playing something close to half-decent - even if it's just on tv.

Well, what better way to celebrate the Raps first-place stature at the break then a little report card action? There is no better way, read on...

Chris Bosh:: A
The man, the legend. Well, in Raps annals, I'd say Bosh is already a legend. I would have to look long and hard for a negative where Bosh is concerned, perhaps something like sometimes he settles for jumpers too easily? But even then, he makes those jumpers so often that it's even hard to complain about that. 23 points, almost 11 boards a game from a guy that, by all accounts, is a first-class person - absolutely any team in the league would take Bosh in a heartbeat. Regardless of what Vince thinks, Bosh is a legit MVP candidate.

T.J. Ford:: B
Is everyone still up in arms that we traded Charlie V? I would hope not, considering TJ has outscored Charlie, and probably still plays more D even though he's a legit foot shorter. Comparisons aside, I think TJ has done a very solid job for the Raps so far this season. When Bosh was out before Christmas, TJ stepped up and led the squad to some valuable wins. As the Swirsk & Co have said many times, TJ has only really played a couple years due to the time he missed with the neck injury, so his game is still developing. And you can see that as the year goes on, his shooting, for example, is much improved from the start of the year. Injuries are a concern with TJ, but hopefully he won't miss much more time this year.

Anthony Parker:: B-
Despite being called the most boring player in the NBA by legendary basketball journalist Bill Simmons, Parker is the kind of solid player successful teams need. Indeed he isn't the flashiest player, but he's perhaps the most consistent outside shooter on the squad, and he's the best perimeter defender on the team. I would like to see him become more aggressive on offence from time to time because I think he can be more of a scoring threat than he's shown thus far. But considering the last player to come from the Raps from Israel was the immortal Nate Huffman, I think Parker has done a good job. Plus he has monstrous hands and his sister can dunk.

Morris Peterson:: C
Ahh, Morris. No matter how many times he's been left for deadby Raps fans, the man known as Mo-Pete keeps hanging around. Mo was a forgotten man earlier in the season, and he was playing like one. An elbow injury ended his iron-man streak, and he wasn't that effective when he did come back and claim a spot in the regular rotation. But once again has proved to be like Jason Voorhees shooting 3's from the corner, you can't kill him off. He's wrestled his minutes back from Joey "Don't Call Me Stephen" Graham, and is once again firing up 3's in the 4th quarter and dancing the floppin' Mo. Despite admitting he'd love to play for the Pistons and even though Ack and I are waiting to be traded for him, I think we'll see Morris for the duration of this season.

Andrea Bargnani:: B-
The man the Swirsk refers to screamingly as "Il Mago" has been a nice surprise this season. Considering there were no Italians in the NBA at the time, taking a huge one likes shooting 3's as the first pick in the draft had to be considered a risk. I'll admit, early in the year, I thought perhaps the risk was backfiring as Bargnani seemed tentative and over matched in his first few games. That didn't last long though, as Bargnani adjusted to the NBA, he began to make 3's on a regular basis and also show an impressive ability to put the ball on the floor for such a big guy. His passing ability is also impressive and shows he's got a good natural feel for the game. He needs to learn how to play defence and should be a much better rebounder for a guy his size, but hopefully those things will come in time. The comparisons with the Diggler are unavoidable, but I don't think it's crazy to think Andrea can become that kind of player.

Jose Calderon:: B
Yes way Jose. At the games last year, people loved Jose long time, probably much more than was warranted. But Jose's game is much-improved this year, and most of the plaudits he's received are warranted. Last year it looked like he struggled with his confidence, as he couldn't throw it in the ocean from the outside, and he often looked like he wasn't strong enough to finish at the rim. But this year he's making outside shots on a regular basis when teams leave him open, and he gets to the basket with shocking regularity. This year he also finishes at the basket (with either hand) before flopping to the floor. Even though he needs to shave his sassy, toothpick Euro-burns, I'm impressed with Jose this year. Both he and TJ are "pass-first" type of guys, and it's no stretch to say they give the Raps on of the best 1,2 point guard combos in the league.

Jorge Garbajosa:: C
I like Greasy Garbo. He doe a lot of the little things that help you win games, and he might be one of the best on-the-ball defenders for a guy his size in the league. He moves his feet very well for a 6'10 guy, and is second on the team in steals, so on the defensive-end, I can't take much issue with his game. Offensively though, he's been a little too one-dimensional for my taste. Basically, he's a spot up shooter, he hangs out near the 3 point line and waits for kick-outs. He hasn't been consistent enough with the jumpshot to rely on it as much as he does, so I'd like to see him get inside a bit more, or at least be around the rim more to get after some offensive rebounds.

Fred Jones:: D
What happened to Fred Jones? Remember in the pre-season when he was dunking on everyone and making 3's with ease? Not sure what happened to that guy. Somewhere along the way he lost his confidence, then he hurt his finger, and now he's pulling ACC splinters out of his arse Ack-style. He's fallen so far out of the rotation I doubt he'll play much more this year. Which is a shame as I like Fred, thought he was a good signing at the time, but clearly it hasn't worked out thus far.

Joey Graham:: C-
For someone who has a twin brother that has played for about 10 teams in a year and a half, you would think Joey would appreciate how hard it is to make have a successful career in the NBA. Thus far though, he doesn't appear to get it. He certainly leads the team in exasperated yanks out of the game by Sam Mitchell. He's had some moments, and a number of large dunks, but he still disappears far too often. Joey has the kind of body and athletic ability that could make him an Artest-like player on both ends of the floor, but so far he doesn't seem to be able to put it together on a consistent basis. I mean at this point he's barely ranking as the rich man's Stephen Graham. He is still getting minutes though, so Sam hasn't given up on him yet.

Rasho Nesterovic:: C+
When they traded for Rasho, I wasn't overly impressed, as I'd never liked him and always considered him a huge stiff. Well I still think he's a huge stiff, but I like him a bit more. He is huge, which helps on defence as he's quite an obstacle in the paint and blocks/changes shots strictly because he's 7 feet tall. He is though, the most ground-bound dude to ever play for the Raps. I mean he's a 7 footer, but I don't think he's dunked more than 5 times all year. Dunking as a 7 footer requires what, perhaps a 10 inch jump? He manages to get passes near the basket and relies on soft flips and finger rolls that rim out half the time. He isn't much of a rebounder either for a dude that size, so basically I'd like to see him be more aggressive on both ends of the court.

Darrick Martin:: B-
I like D-Mart, but I'm giving him a B mainly because he's more of a coach with a uniform. He hardly ever plays, but he's always involved in the game and taking guys like Bosh and TJ aside to talk about things hes noticed. And unless those guys are all good actors, they all seem to listen to him, making D-Mart a valuable guy to have around. He also has that old man looking dribble and a distinct lack of neck at this point, so I give him bonus points for that. He does to jack 3's at an alarming rate when he does play, so that knocked him down to a minus.

Kris Humphries:: C+
Humphries is a C+ almost soley on the basis that he isn't Hoffa. While that is a slight exaggeration, it's not far off. Considering I expecting nothing from him, Humphries has been decent. He's an energy guy, and can give the Raps a spark from time to time with his hustle. He's had a couple of large dunks I've enjoyed, so kudos to him for that. I'll also freely admit I don't know if he's white or black, which is really here nor there, simply an observation I've made a couple times this season. Kris provides good depth in case of injury, but I don't see him being a major factor down the stretch.

P.J. Tucker:: C-
I think PJ is one of those under size guys that will have a decent career, but he hasn't got much time this year to show it. He's been down to the D-League, which might help him, but I'm guessing he needs to get a jumper in order to stick in the bigs. The Raps just have too much depth (or just bodies) in the front court for him to get and time this year. PJ stands for Pop Junior though, and I find that reasonably enjoyable.

Pape Sow:: B
Pape gets a A strictly because he broke his neck in the summer, and was back playing the NBA by January. Think about that, he broke his neck and was back playing in the NBA 6 months later. Not easy, and something to consider the next time you're whining about the stiff neck you got from watching all those old Larry Nance highlights. Pape has been up and down to the D-League since his return, and it might be best for him to play out the year down there as I don't know how much time he'll get in TO.

Uros Slokar:: C
Uros has played exactly more game than a guy who only recently broke his neck, not a good sign really. However, his name is Uros Slokar, which I enjoy, so I gave him a C.

So there you have it, my Raps ratings so far. Hopefully I'll do them again after a Raps playoff appearance.

Posted at 9:07 PM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

Ok. As the swirsk states on a constant basis, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” I have had the pleasure to sit side by side with Nadeau at many raptors games. Some of the memories include heckling the 2 chubby guys in the row in front of us and watching a man with his 12-inch sausage in his hand (take that as you will). I have been pleasantly surprised of the raps this year and they have exceeded my relatively low expectations. Prior to the All-Star break, the raps were running on all cylinders and looked like one of the teams to beat in the east, although that is not saying much.

Here are a couple of comments:

First, Ack and I get some good laughs on the fact that the raps are headed towards a playoff game or two and shaneo is not here to see it. I can recall a many subway rides down to the game with shaneo and we specifically would say, as soon as I leave the t-dot, the raps will be on top.

Second, I want to the raps overall. With the recent success, people in the city are starting to talk about the raps. No longer is the conversation always on the Leafs. This is a pleasant surprise coming from a guy born and raised in the FL, where hockey is not even on radar screen. I recall sitting at lunch with some buddies and overhearing the conversation at a table in front of me and behind me related to the raps. I hope they continue this improvement. It is good for everyone.

Third, let’s discuss these ratings. I think my main man shaneo must be watching a different raptors team on the east coast.

Bosh rating is bang on. What a man. I gave him zero props coming out of GT, but I am man enough to admit I was wrong. He is a true All-Star, although I don’t think he or anyone else on the raps should play in that game. They get no love playing the fundamentals basketball games, picks, rebounds, assists. That game is just for the hot doggers in the league.

As I used to say in our B-ball leagues, T.J. is a chump. I was never sold on this guy and he is killing the raps down the stretch. Here is a note to T.J. When there are 16 seconds left in the game, it is not T.J. time, it is Bosh time. When it gets into the clutch situations, stop dribbling around like an idiot and give Bosh the ball. I wish the raps would have traded T.J. to Denver and gotten Boykins a couple of months ago. I would have given T.J. a rating of C at best, as the raps would be no where at the point without Calderone.

Now for Calderone’s grade, I would give him a B+. He has performed better in my view than T.J. He is becoming a leader, making the right passes and hitting the jumpers. I wouldn’t ask anything more from a point guard.

As for everyone else, I agree with your comments but I believe Anthony Parker should get more love than a B-. He is one consistent mug.

Fourth, the hot topic in my daily conversations at lunch is around Mitchell. All three guys I eat with are Mitchell haters and I am stuck standing up for the guy. I would give him a B rating. He has been improving his coaching skills and seems to understand his player’s strengths and weaknesses. I would probably give him a better rating but he keeps putting T.J. in late in the game and I believe it has cost the raps at least 2 or 3 more wins.

Finally, I hope you caught on to my swirsk sarcasm in my opening statement. There were way too many references to him in this blog. I am surprised you didn’t bring out the salami and cheese.

Anyway, I am looking forward to your season ending analysis. Wish all you and Ack all the best.


At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

Okay where is your Cleveland Cavs report card? I want to hear your love for E Snow and D Jones.

Also may I request an All-time Cavs team feature here on the hill, thanks.



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