Friday mail bag
This week’s themes: Plenty of Basketball 101 for the folks who miss Tuesday, remembering Vince (not fondly) and a look back at the lockout. Click here to submit a question for the mail bag.
Q: I love the blog, but for the lack of a Tuesday mail bag (which was the lowpoint of my day), I have a question for you to ponder.
If Magloire was a Raptor, would you start TJ or Calderon?
Scott T, Waterloo
A: Exceptional question, as I’ve come to expect from the Waterloo contingent.
If Magloire were a Raptor, I’d probably think about trading Jose for Kobe or maybe holding on to him to make a play for Nash when he becomes a free agent.
Q: Not sure if it is an official NBA stat but watching the concluding minutes of (Wednesday) night's game, I'm convinced Bargnani is going to lead the league in four-point plays for a long time to come. Centres are just so unused to playing that far from the bucket they are likely the ones to commit the silly fouls on 3-pointers. Can you think of anyone else that would challenge him in this area?
Dave Webber, Victoria
A: Four-point plays are not an “official” stat but most teams keep them for themselves and websites like 82games.com keep track of them as well. As you probably know, Bargnani’s was the 14th in Toronto franchise history and the second of his career.
A challenger? Actually, anybody with a good pump fake and deep shooting range. Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Gilbert Arenas come quickly to mind.
Q: Any update on Alvin Williams' TV appearance?
Cindy W., North York
A: I’m told by spies in Philly that it went well. He’s not Jeff Van Gundy nor is he Bill Walton but he’s okay and learning on the job.
I find it very odd that two ex-Raptor teammates – Alvin and Jalen Rose – are now doing TV and radio.
Q: Love the new Blog. Just a quick question. Why does Sam panic and pull Bargnani once he gets a few quick fouls? With the teams depth & the fact that "The Big Soph" needs as much time on the floor as he can get I would leave him out on the floor. It seems like Sam thinks players will get a 25 game susp if they foul out. Later!
Justin Edwards, London
A: Panic isn’t the right word and neither is tradition but it’s closer to the latter than the former and it goes on across the NBA.
Teams are loathe to have their best players get a third foul in the first quarter – rendering them practically useless until the second half – and that’s why they sit them down.
Some bring them back late in the second quarter and let them finish out the half – Mitchell has done that on occasion – but Toronto was comfortably ahead in the second quarter against the Sixers and there was no need to gamble.
Watch enough games, though, and you’ll see this is something almost every team does, it’s not a Mitchell strategy.
Q: Since the Raptors have a game with New Jersey coming up I expect that you will get some mail from some readers stating how much they hate Vince Carter. Then I expect you to tell them, and all of us, to get over it. I'm writing to ask you to understand that a true fan is a passionate fan; otherwise we would never have stuck with this team through five straight losing seasons. When a fan feels justifiably betrayed by a player he or she is entitled to hold that grudge forever. I plan on booing Vince Carter's kids, if they ever get to the NBA. Unless they play for the Raptors and then, of course, all is forgiven. It is the passion of the fans and players that fuels the great intercity rivalries and has the potential to raise sports its highest levels. Just thought I would try to give you a different perspective. Thanks.
Keith Mulvihill, Kenora
A: I see your point – I don’t agree with it – but it is made with passion and much sense. Personally, I think fans would be best showing their heartfelt feelings for a team rather than against an individual but you’ve made your case well.
I know you’re joking about the kids, right? You better be.
Q: My comments are about Sam using the entire roster (Wednesday) night. Was it reward to the team? Or is Sam trying to find the right combinations? Throwing off scouts? Last week you were saying 9-10 for the regular season.
Brad Home, Toronto
A: Nah, there was no nefarious reason like throwing off scouts and making fools of reporters, it was foul trouble, pure and simple.
Once both Bargnani and Humphries got two quick fouls and sat down, it extended the rotation to at least 10 and once Garbajosa played so poorly, that sent Sam down to his 11th man.
And when the Sixers started taking advantage of Juan Dixon’s size, Mitchell went to old No. 12, Joey Graham, to see if he could get something out of him.
Despite Game 1, I think you’re going to see many nights where it’s nine, maybe 10 and scant few where it’s 11 or 12. Foul trouble will be the determining factor.
Q: I just wanted to know. What was the lockout season all about? I've always wondered. Thanks.
Chinaza Ezirim, London
Lots and lots of money and who would get it.
The crux of the matter was probably the length of contracts and capping the upper level of earnings, which really sets the NBA apart from any other pro sport.
They were close to making the same foolish mistake the NHL did in cancelling a season but, eventually, both sides realized you can’t give up a season and not lose fans and money you’ll never get back.
I think the way they ended it, with everyone getting richer and the league not losing a season, shows that the NBA is light years ahead of any other North American pro sports in forward thinking and labour relations.
Q: How is Mo Pete making out in New Orleans? Heard he was in Byron Scott's doghouse earlier in preseason.
Terence Tong, Kuwait
A: Kuwait? Sweet. Another nod to the globalization of Raptor basketball. And me.
Mo’s doing all right, had a so-so opener, is solidly in the rotation and will be what he is, a three-point specialist, a very, very good teammate and the kind of “glue guy” that good teams need.
Q: Forces beyond my control have conspired against me to prevent me from seeing any of the Raptors' games that aren't on CBC. (Translation: My house subscribes to Bell ExpressVu but we don't subscribe to any of the sports packages).
Is there any way to buy an internet package that lets me see Raptors' games online?
Mike D., Kitchener-Waterloo
I think checking out NBA.com and its broadband offerings is your best bet.
Or mope and whine and look like a lost puppy until the "forces" relent. (Note to "forces": RELENT)
Q: Is there any reason to hope that the current Raptors roster will be able to do the things that really killed them last season ie. rebounding at both ends, and the lack of a true inside game?
Are Baston, Moon, Kapono & Delfino any more athletic than their predecessors? And are they more mentally/physically inclined to get in there and do the dirty work?
PS. I really miss Norma.
Werner Ott, Thunder Bay, Ont.
A: First off, let’s take Baston and Moon out of the equation; they are emergency pieces who will only dress in the event of injuries and won’t play even then unless there’s some unique set of foul circumstances in games they dress for. For the purposes of your question, they don’t count.
Now, you have to ask yourself: are Kapono and Delfino better rebounders and defenders than the players they are replacing, Morris Peterson and Joey Graham.
It’s my opinion they are. Delfino is Peterson with more athleticism, length and strength and Kapono will be more consistent than the mercurial Graham and you have to admit that in the first three quarters last night, Kapono did a good job on Andre Iguodala when they were matched up.
So that’s an upgrade defensively and on the boards, I think.
The inside game? I think Bargnani has shown enough in the post in a very short time to indicate he is vastly improved in that area and along with Bosh and Rasho Nesterovic, gives Toronto more post play than it had last season.
So that an upgrade, too.
Q: Doug, isn’t it great basketball season has arrived. Ahhh my favorite season of them all, even summer.
Can you please break down the major differences in rules between FIBA ball and the NBA? How do you think that background has helped or hurt the Raptors’ Euro players (like cheap fouls, goaltendings, toughness)?
I was also wondering about zone defence in the NBA; is it legal all the time, or are there conditions to using it? I really like when the Raps throw in some zone D and think they should do it more. But Raps are also brutal and have often folded under a zone; something to improve.
I’m sure you are a busy man, reply only if possible!
Alex Lozier, Sudbury, Ont.
A: Even more favourite than spring and post-season baseball? That’s a great time to be a fan.
Major differences? Here’s three: The trapezoid lane, which opens space; the shorter three-point line, which leads to more drive-and-kick offence; the moving screen, which is a staple of international basketball.
I’m not sure the differences mean much to the Euro-trained Raptors, the game is a bit different over here but, really, it’s still just basketball and they can adapt.
And, yes, zone defences are legal all the time in the NBA, the only rule is that defenders can only spend 2.9 seconds in the lane before they have to get out, which stops teams from planting some seven-footer under the basket and letting him get in the way of drivers all the time. That’s a great rule – and different from the FIBA game – and should be adopted internationally, in my opinion.
Q: Season starts tonight and I couldn't be more excited.
I really thought Garbo was a key piece to last year’s team. I think having him in the playoffs would have made a lot of difference from a toughness and Bball IQ.
Why now am I reading that he might not even be ahead of Hump in the rotation? He to me is one of the key pieces to a successful season.
I also want to point out that if Hump does play ahead of him and performs well that BC can only be applauded again for his wonderful trade of Hoffa to get him. People I think overlook that move a little.
Keep up the good work!
Steeebo Hallman, Mississauga
A: Game 1 Garbo was, in a word, horrible. He looked slow, tentative, and out of sync.
I do think he’ll eventually get it back together and become a legitimate contributor to a good team but right now he’s not nearly that.
As for Hump, well, he’s okay as long as he realizes what he can’t do, and what his role is. I think it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts with the new contract extension, the worst thing he can do – and what he might do – is figure he’s more than what he is, which is a good, young, energetic piece of a good team who should concentrate on nothing more than defending and rebounding.
Click here to send Doug a question and he will answer a selection in his blog.