A hefty mailbag, again
Don’t you people have jobs? Full mailbag again and, again, I offer thanks for all the insight you have, probing questions you pose and moments of hilarity some of you provide.
Here we go:
Q: I suspect you will have a pile of these questions this week but in a 25 point blow out over the Kings how can Sam have CB4 and Calderon both still log over 40 minutes of court time on the second of back to backs and in the middle of a four-games-in-five-night stretch?
Mike D, Cambridge
A: Yes, there were a pile of them. Big ol’ heaping pile.
The answer is pretty simple: Coaches are never satisfied.
Here’s a quote from Sam on Thursday:
"I was looking at the game last night and I felt like if we could just go and put them away, I could take him out and leave him out the rest of the game. We were playing well and we were up 18 so if you can stretch the lead to 25, 26, then you can get guys out of the game for good. I was just hoping we could go and put them away.”
And, truth be told, the difference between 36 minutes and 41, which is what both Bosh and Calderon played, isn’t that great. They had Thursday off, too. And they’re young, much younger than, say, I, and recovering isn’t that hard a thing.
Q: Doug, look forward to reading your blog every day. This is my first time submitting questions, so I have a few....
Why is it so hard to guard the pick and roll or what makes it so effective? Is it because some guys are too lazy to fight through screens?
Could you shed some light on what the deal is between CB and RealGM with reference to his latest YouTube video?
If I were to waive a magic wand, and make TJ and Garbo healthy from the start of the season till now, how many more wins would this team have?
Seems to me that there are a large number of Raptors fans that attend out of town games, mostly in the border cities. Have the players ever commented, shown any appreciation for the support, etc. I was amazed at the number of people who made the trek to NJ for the playoffs and how the Raps' game in Seattle sounded like a home game for them. What are your impressions? Other than the sexy teams in the league (Lakers, etc.) how would you rate the fan support for the Raptors on the road?
Diana T, Mississauga
A: Welcome, Diana. It’s a wacky world here. Don’t be a stranger.
Here we go:
Pick and roll: It’s just a really hard play to defend at this level. If you go over the screen, the guard’s got a step on you and good ones turn the corner, get the defence moving and find open men or a path to the basket. You go under and good guards can pull up and shoot. If the big rolls, like Sam’s trying to get Hump to do all the time, he’s generally got a jump hook or a dunk.
YouTube? I’m not sure, it’s easy to do, I think he’s girlfriend might be a budding cinematographer and it’s fun. And those zany RealGMers need the love that he's giving them.
Garbo-TJ? Impossible to quantify so I will. Four more wins, which puts ‘em third in the East.
The zany fans who travel are unquestionably noticed, and appreciated, by the players. And I dunno if it’s proximity of Cleveland, Jersey, Detroit, Seattle or New York but Toronto fans are the most travel-happy of any I’ve heard of. Other teams have fans in visiting cities, but not people who travel to get there.
Q: I am not a doomsday guy, I like the moves the Raps have made this year, and I am not concerned about our record at this point in the season.
Having said this, after watching 40 odd games, there is one thing that it is apparent to me we are missing from last year - the flop.
Garbo and Mo were amazing at this and never missed the chance to get bowled over. Not sure if it is due to a lack of toughness or what, but I can recall a couple of times this season that if a charge had been taken at the right time, the outcome of a game could have been different.
Matt L-S, Toronto
A: You say ‘flop,’ they say ‘take a charge.’ Subtle distinction. I don’t know if outcomes of games would change, either. But it’s true, that’s one thing both Garbo and Mo did well; the best guy on this team is Delfino and as a group they don’t draw many offensive fouls.
Q: Hey Doug, I know teams have had to play 3 overtimes to determine a winner. What has been the most overtimes required to determine a winner and who were the teams?
Carolyn B, Grimsby
A: Indianapolis beat Rochester 75-73 on Jan. 6, 1951 in a game that went six overtimes.
Six overtimes. 148 points total. I didn’t know Kevin O’Neill coached back then.
Q: First off, I am loving your recent blogs that link us to the other teams coverage; its nice to get their beat grunts' side of things. Keep that up!
On to business... do the raps deliver a HARD foul to Horford tomorrow? Not a dirty foul, just a HARD foul. As you know, we pretty much did nothing at the time of his foul on TJ. A little how-do-you-do as he goes up for a lay-up should be mandatory as far as I am concerned.
Justin Y, Toronto
A: Mr. Grange ™ and I were discussing this yesterday. We don’t think there’s anyone who would. Maybe Rasho? Possibly. Hump might do it by accident. But that’s about it.
Q: I was just surveying the Raps schedule, and it seemed to me at a quick glance that 50 wins was a real possibility. Then I used Google to determine the strength of schedule, and low and behold, the Raps have had one of the toughest schedules to date, and have one of the easiest going forward. When coupled with the fact that the Raps seem to be finding a real identity at this point, is a top 3 seed in the playoffs a real possibility? Are 50 wins out of the question? Am I just another delusional Raptors fan, or should they just be hitting their peak at the right time with (a little) help from the schedule maker?
Andrew D, North York
A: I got the old abacus out just now. It says they’ve have to finish the season 29-14 to win 50. I got the old crystal ball out just now. It says they can’t do it.
A top three seed, though, might be possible. I can see them finishing with 44, 45, 46 wins and that might be enough to pass either Orlando or Washington, whichever team wins the Southeast and get them No. 3.
Q: Re: Bargnani - "But at the end of the day, or the end of this season, he’s going to be okay."
Is this supposed to be reassuring? The first overall pick in last year's draft is at best likely going to be a backup-quality role player for this team? I think that our disappointment is more than justified. Thoughts?
Dave B, Toronto
A: I’m not sure how you got “backup-quality role player” from “he’s going to be okay” but if that’s not reassuring, sorry.
He’ll be good, he’ll be a starting centre on a highly-seeded playoff team.
Q:I admit that it is too early to put Bargnani in the same category as Olowokandi and Kwame Brown but he is clearly not developing as quickly as hoped.
He often looks like he needs a GPS to avoid getting lost at both ends of the floor.
I heard a discussion on the Swirsky show about a Bargnani and a shooter for Chris Kaman and wonder if (assuming LA was willing) you would make that deal?
Tim B, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
A: You’re in Taiwan listening to Swirsky? I’m speechless.
No, I wouldn’t make that deal.
Q: Yet another impressive game (Wednesday) from Jose against the Kings (17 points, 14 assists, 3 turnovers) and everyone likes to talk about his stellar assist-to-turnover ratio when mentioning his prospects for the all-star team.
It's well known at this point, that only six players have averaged an assist-to-turnover ratio higher than 5 to 1 since the stat has been kept.
One thing that I haven't heard mentioned though, is that Jose is currently the only player in the NBA averaging a 900/500/400 (over .900 free throw percentage, over .500 field goal percentage and over .400 three-point percentage).
In fact, if Jose managed to keep this up, he's become only the 6th player in NBA history to achieve this feat. Nowitzki did it last year (won MVP), Nash did it in 05-06 (won MVP), Reggie Miller did it in 93-94, Bird did it twice, 86-87 (won MVP) and 87-88, and Mark Price did it in 88/89.
No one has ever posted a 5-1 ratio AND 900/500/400.
How can anyone argue that this guy doesn't belong on the all-star team?
Ken H, Toronto
A: You gotta call Jose’s agent.
Q: Doug, it’s never too early to be thinking about the draft. What are your thoughts of Kevin Love, DJ White, Brandon Rush and Patrick Patterson. All four should still be available when the Raps pick.
Ryan G, Auckland
A: Unless you work for a draft web site,yes, it is too early to start thinking about the draft.
Q: Doug, just a tip when you come to China for the Olympics. You should visit Jiyaun a small City in Henan Province about 600,000 people. Well city size scales are different in China. It is without a doubt the hotbed of basketball in China. More courts per capita than anywhere in the world. Would be a great story for you and get you out of Beijing for a day or two to see more of a real China.
My question is obviously I was right that Juan Dixon wasn't the answer little less the resident/coach/player Martin. What does he have on the coach or GM to keep on the roster?
He has made his money, if he is valuable as a coach offer him a coaching position. Jose needs some downtime plus a second leader off the bench would be nice. I'm sure a D League star point guard is better than Juan or Darrick.
Cam M, Shenzhen, China
A: I may take you up that offer in August, thanks
And I don’t know that there is a D League guard better suited for the NBA than either of those two in the roles they have. Randy Livingston’s leading the D League in assists and that’s a name I’m hearing but, really, he’s not going to be a huge upgrade.
I know Colangelo’s working the phones trying to do something for a bonafide NBA player. It just takes time and it’s not like Dixon and Martin are stiffs, they have played, and are playing, on a team that’s 21-18 and won four of five.
Q: Do you think Moon will win the dunk competition?
Akaash P, Comber
Q: Despite the sudden "spurt" of wins the Knicks have been able to accumulate over the past couple of days, the organization is still in shambles (kinda reminds you of another organization, albeit more local *cough* Leafs *cough*). Anyhoo, considering the mess that is the New York Knicks, what’s up with our dear friend Glen Grunwald? What’s his story over there? Can you get any insight as to his role and position in the matter? I can't imagine it being pretty for him but I'm curious to know what effects, if any, there might on him as a result of what’s going on in New York. How's he faring?
Christephor R, Markham
A: Glen’s doing well, had a nice long chat with him last Friday before the game. He’s doing his assistant GM duties, being like the chamber of sober second thought for Isiah. Glen’s one of the all-time good guys and, even in what have to be trying times, he’s keeping his mind on his job and doing it the best he can.
Q: Long time reader, first time writer. With Calderon filling up the stat sheet as of late and all the attention that he's getting from coaches, fans, beat grunts as a solid starter, his name is certainly out there for All Star consideration. Now if you remember from the beginning of the year, TJ said one of his season goals was to play in the all-star game. I know they say their relationship is great, blah, blah., but TJ has to be feeling some sort of uh, ______(you pick the word). Your thoughts?
Andy U, Richmond Hill
A: My word would be happiness. Or pride. Really. TJ knows this isn’t his year and he’d be nothing but glad his running mate gets to the game.
Q: Just wondering if BC would trade Rasho and Joey G to the Lakes now that Andrew Bynum is out for 2 months for fuard Sasha Vujacic and centre Kwame Brown. Just a thought!
Jacques L, Toronto
A: I don’t imagine that’s under consideration. If I’m the Lakers, I’m happy to be out from under Brown’s contract at the end of this season, rather than owe Rasho $8 mil next year.
And, really, are Brown and Vujacic an upgrade in Toronto? Not in my mind.
Q: Hi to "Someone Who Knows" or the Sage of Raptorsland. I'm trying to squeeze in my deadened words into your loaded mailbag, and hoping I could be lucky this time again (though not as quite as that Lee Z of Ottawa)
1) I like the idea of Il Mago going for a summer clinic to learn the intricacies of being a center, but to see BC working on a deal to bring Kurt Thomas here would likewise benefit Bargnani and other Raptor bigs in terms of low post toughness and defensive smarts that they sorely need.
2) Whatever be the outcome for Jamario Moon's stint in the All-Star Dunk contest, could you influence the other beat grunts to refer to him as the 'MoonJammer' from then on (buying them a bottle of their favorite adult beverages might add to your persuasive... er, coercive power)
3) How's your man, Walter Herrmann, evolving in his new team? Does BC has any interest trading for him?
4) What's the update of TJ's status? Will he or won't he be back after the All-Star break? If not, Sam Cassell could be the missing link to Raptors success in the playoffs, you agree? Okay, that's it.
Rikki C, Burlington
A: Man, you ask a lot of questions. Do you know Diana from Mississauga by any chance?
I love Kurt Thomas’s game, BC got him in Phoenix and I’m sure when he talks to Seattle, Kurt’s name comes up.
My fellow grunts don’t listen that closely to me, but I’ll ask. Good name, MoonJammer.
My man Walter is buried. Can’t get on the court. Think Pistons like his expiring deal, although they could use a two-guard and Juan Dixon might fit.
TJ’s back home working out, no real word in the last couple of days. Sam Cassell, I bet, is high on everyone’s radar, specifically Boston but his relationship with Sam Mitchell might help persuade him Toronto’s not a bad place.
Q: With the Noah situation uncomfortable with the Bulls, this is a guy who would have the Raps considering him if he went a year earlier, and while he would not impact this year too much for the future he may be what the Raps need off the bench. So Joey and this year's #1 (unprotected) for him?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: If John Paxson suffers a seizure or something. Otherwise, not a chance.
Q: Doug, I know how much you love trade suggestions, but thats not exactly what this is.
I know that you had said BC was looking at Ridnour from Seattle, I was just wondering what you thought about Nick Collison? I think he'd be a great fit for the Raps as he is a really good rebounder and can bang around, but is pretty athletic and can run the court, fitting more into the Raptors up tempo system.
Dan P, Sarnia
A: Nick Collison, while intriguing, has about $20 million left on his deal after this year so I don’t think there’d be any interest here.
Q: I'm just wondering, does your business card say beat grunt anywhere?
Lawrence C, Scarborough
A: You think I have business cards?
Q: I believe Bryan Colangelo has gone on record saying that the Raptors will match any offers that Jose Calderon receives this summer as a restricted free agent. But then what's to stop a team from presenting a ridiculously high offer sheet just to inflate the cost of keeping Jose on our team? Or are there rules to prevent such things from happening?
Chi-Hung T, Richmond Hill
A: Any team that makes an offer to Jose has to have that cap room to work with, they can’t just say make him a $10 million offer with $5 million to spend under the cap. Other than that, the most any team can offer is the mid-level exception.
Q: You know that Kanye "Stronger" song everybody loves to hate - hates to love? I think you should get Sam to "rap" his own version of it for the team but instead of harder/better/faster/stronger use "post it, kick it, swing it, shoot it" based on your blog comments (Thursday) What do you think?
Doug S, Peterborough
A: You want Sam Mitchell to put my words to a rap parody?
If I get residuals, I’m all for it; he’d never go for it.
Q: Let's look into the future and imagine that both TJ and Calderon are perfectly healthy. Is Calderon really going to go back to playing 20-22 minutes a game? Does that even make sense? He is our number two threat right now and I can't see how this guy is going to be happy playing backup minutes anymore.
Here is an alternative possibility. You have each player run the point for half the game and then have them play about a quarter together with each having a clearly defined role as either the point guard or shooting guard. This allows you to get them 32 minutes a game each and ensures that we take advantage of the fact that they are clearly our second and third best offensive players. Of course, you will be giving up a bit on the defensive side but that can be minimized by trying to get those eight minutes where they are playing together against a smaller lineup. Plus, even if you ideally would not want either one of them guarding a shooting guard, I think that their offensive presence would more than make up for any defensive deficiencies. What do you think?
Zack G, Toronto
A: I’m not sure how he’s going to split the minutes up but Sam’s not going to play TJ and Jose together except in very rare circumstances. Neither is big enough to guard twos and neither comes off screens and shoots well enough to be a two. Both create, rather than react.
Q: Thanks for your explanation of fouling at the end of close games. I think I get it now, though I don't enjoy watching 5 minutes of play extend to 30 minutes real time.
I went to the Detroit game a few weeks ago and I was surprised at the amount of marketing that is thrown at you from start to finish. There was a "Spin the vodka bottle" contest. The highly c-oordinated advertisements on the ring separating the upper and lower seats. The worst I think is the "McDonald's 3 pointer.” I mean really - how can a company sponsor 3 pointers? What are they going to come up with next - the Taco Bell two-pointer! The Burger King Assist ... and the Coca-cola Dribble!
From your experience, is the level of advertising similar in other arenas around the league? Has the commercialization of the game increased over the years? Are the timeouts really there because TV channels can show commercials?
Clement M, Toronto
A: From my experience, there are people in the Raptor offices right now dialing Taco Bell, Burger King and Coca-cola to offer them “partnership” possibilities.
The level of commercialization is shocking. Truly. Everything from the Dance Pak to the hallways are sponsored, it seems. But it’s a league-wide epidemic, these guys just go with the flow.
It’s risen incredibly in the 13 years I’ve been around but that’s the way of the world. Everyone has to optimize every chance to make a buck.
Some of the timeouts, two a quarter, are mandatory, which gives the TV folks time to sell some stuff.
Q: Over the last 10 games or so I have noticed situations at the end of a quarter (or half) where the Raps get possession of the ball with anywhere from 30 to 40 seconds left, and have not elected to use the 2 for 1 strategy. Just doesn't make sense to me. With all the decent perimeter shooters and especially with our trouble of defending the last few seconds of a quarter; why haven’t we taken an early clock shot and then get the ball back to run out the end of the quarter?
Chris S, Toronto
A: I think they could do more two-for-ones and often you’ll hear Sam scream “push it, push it” because he’d like ‘em to, too. But it’s also got to be up to the players to recognize time and score and that’s a failing of this team sometimes.
Q: With the league enjoying a bit of a renaissance at the 5 spot - good number of skilled, natural centres - how many other teams would be working as hard as Toronto to turn a gifted perimeter player like Bargnani into a centre? Alongside a Howard, or a Kaman would he just be a very tall three? Could a situation like this emerge for the Raptors and would it be desirable?
Kristian G, Toronto
A: Not too many, as you well know. But Bargnani’s skills are better as a five who can stretch a defence. He can’t defend threes in transition, either. We’ve asked Sam a lot about whether Bargnani can be a small forward and it’s not something he sees happening.
Q: Since you asked: Does Kevin Martin have the skinniest calves and ankles of any pro athlete you’ve ever seen?
No, that would probably be Manute Bol. Keon Clark might be another. Maybe this could be the subject of another top 5 list? My old mind has gone blank on the name of the 7-6 player who was a Mormon, I think, and played a number of years in the NBA, mostly as a back-up. He'd probably be another stick figure for the list.
Richard W, Toronto
A: You’re talking about Shawn Bradley.