You remain out of control
Here we go, one more time. There’s lots here and there’s lots more to come tomorrow. Some day, maybe I’ll get a life and cull these a little. Or not.
Q: A couple of questions. First, do they keep track of who wins jump balls at the beginning of the game? It seems that Bosh wins a lot of them, and he even won against Howard last night. And second, could you name two more obnoxious basketball commentators than the two idiots that work for ESPN at the half, namely Steven A. Smith and Bill Walton. I almost beat myself with the remote when they are on.
Rob S, Winnipeg
A: They keep track each game ‘cause it determines who has possession to start the other quarters but the Raptors don’t keep season-long stats on tips; and, I happen to enjoy Bill Walton. Which all I’ll say on that.
Q: For side dish: With super son, it's safe to deduce the existence of a Super Mom and Super Dad, and with recent revelation of having a super dog - I am compelled to ask... Are you the real life version of "The Incredibles"?
Now, for the main course":
1) Could you provide an elaboration on the concept of 'team rebounding' that Sam is preaching? Do they practice on their scrimmages the art of blocking and good positioning, as well as learn about ball trajectories from different court angles for better tracking of loose balls? Do they designate specific roles for players in order for this concept to work?
2) Can you please explain "trade deadline" in context? Does it mean no GMs are allowed to negotiate and strike deals until after the season ends?
3) Kidd is again a Maverick, same with Van Horn (though expected not to play for the Nets) - Who else among the active players were traded and eventually went back to the original team that drafted them?
4) And what's the salary implication to the player being traded, signed and then waived by the team he's moving to, and then re-signed by the team who traded him? (ala Stackhouse's arrangement-on-the-side) What's the difference (or similarity) to a contract buy-out? Thanks, Doug. I'll look forward to the enlightenment... particularly after the lunar eclipse Wednesday night.
Rikki C, Burlington
A: Man, do you stay up nights coming up with these? (I keed, I keed).
Okay, here we go:
The concept of “team rebounding” is that you do whatever it takes to let your team get the ball. With Bargnani, for instance, they often want him to physically turn and “face-guard” the man he’s supposed to be boxing out, allowing others to come in and grab the loose ball. They do practice it; the trajectory thing is just a learned skill although they do tell them that any three-pointer from the corner is either going to come back at the shooter or go long, it’s not likely to bounce toward the free throw line.
No teams can make trades from the time of the deadline until after their season is complete, either after the regular season or when they are eliminated from the playoffs. Once the finals are over, everyone can make deals.
Guys going back? I’m sure there are some but at the moment I’m swamped with things like these letters so you’ll have to give me a day or two.
If you waive a player, it generally means you pay off the entire amount remaining on his contract; if you buy him out, it generally means a negotiated settlement that may not be for the full amount he’s owed. Either way, the original full salary counts against the cap. And then, if a player re-signs, it’s generally for a pro-rated amount of the minimum value contract. In the case of a guy being waived, it can mean he’ll double-dip; if a player’s bought out, there’s generally a clause in the deal that says any more salary he gets is deducted from the buyout. Those are the generally held principles, each case could be negotiated differently.
Q: I've noticed that Andrea's shot seems very flat this year. Not sure what Hopla's impact was with Bargs but curious to know if any of the current Raptor coaches have been working with Bargs to get some more arc in his shot.
David L, Toronto
A: They work on his shooting every single day in the gym.
Q: A question about ceilings for you.
Dwight Howard is obviously a monster. With all those easy put-back dunks he gets, I can definitely see him averaging 26 and 16 one day. What do you see as his absolute best?
Likewise, what is the absolute best that you foresee from Andrea? I think the best we can hope from him is 25 and 8 (which is not bad at all).
Naweed T, Markham
A: I really don’t care about numbers, frankly. The only one that counts is team wins so if Howard gets 26 and 16 and the Magic win 40 games and miss the playoffs, is it better than if he gets 20 and 12 and they make the finals?
For fun, though, I can see Howard being 26 and 14; I can see Bargnani being 20 and eight.
Q: Hi Doug, I was just wondering if a player can get double-doubles on other stats other than points, boards, and dimes. Can a player who has 10 blocks and 10 steals have a double-double? or even 10 points and 10 blocks? or something of this context. I never hear about it, I guess cause it's rare to have 10 blocks, though Josh Smith had 9 a couple weeks ago.
Bryce F, Markham
A: Sure, you can have steals or blocks along with points, rebounds, assists.
The best one is, let’s say a point guard has 10 points, 10 assists and 10 turnovers. That’s a very cool triple double.
Q: The only more impressive thing than Bosh's 40 points (against Orlando) is that he did it while taking 16 shots (16 shots!!!).
BTW, since talking about efficiency Jose is now top 10 in the league in FG%, 3FG% and FT%. Once we add that to his well-documented brilliance with assist/turnovers it led me to this thought. Has there even been a player named MVP who did not make the all-star team? I'm not implying Jose's an MVP candidate, just curious.
I do think Chauncey Billups won finals MVP without making it to the big show but that's as far as I can note. Up to the challenge?
Ed C, Toronto
A: A quick look at the record book shows no one who’s been the league MVP has not played in the all-star game.
Q: I have a Basketball 201 question for you. I'm sitting here watching the Shaq debut and the announcers keep talking about the triangle offense (T.O.). I've been a basketball fan for a long time, and every time I hear about the T.O., I just shake my head and agree...but I just realized I have no idea what it really is. Please fill me in:
1) What is the T.O?
2) Why is it so effective?
3) If it is so effective, how come Phil Jackson's teams are the only one who uses it ... or do other teams use it as well?
Karthik S, Toronto
A: Basically, it’s an offence predicated on passing and reading defences and cuts. It’s best played by teams with intelligent wing players with solid ball-handling skills (Hello, Kobe! Hi, MJ!) and doesn’t generally rely on a low-post presence. It’s effective because if you’re smart enough to read defences well, you should get a good shot almost every time. It’s also effective if you’ve got guys named Bryant and Jordan on your team. It takes a while to perfect, or even run smoothly, which is why you don’t see a lot of other teams using it.
Q: Please refresh my memory... Carlos Delfino for a second round draft pick. That's what it was, right? Geez. What a steal! I mean, this HAS to be one of BC's top moves since he's taken the helm. Of course, re-signing Bosh (a no-brainer, to be sure) and getting Hump in exchange for Araujo were pretty good too. But acquiring Delfino was pure genius.
OK, so this leads me to ask you for your always enjoyable Top 5's. I know he's only been here a little while, but what do think have been BC's Top 5 moves so far?
Lewis K, Toronto
A: Actually, it was two second round picks. But still …
Top five? I may have done this before but let’s go with, in no particular order because they all are inter-connected:
Signing Bosh to the extension
Q: Say the Raps pick second in the 06 draft and Bargnani is off the board. Who do they take? Would they want Roy for his scoring or Aldridge for his rebounding?
Ryan G, Auckland, N.Z.
A: Hmm, good question. Since they were on the verge of doing Ford for Charlie V, I think they’d have taken Aldridge.
Q: Doug, every game sees at least one hail-Mary buzzer-beater. Do those shots count as a missed 3-point attempt?
Adam G, Saskatoon
A: They do indeed.
Q: I suspect I'm not the first one to suggest that Hump makes the Raptors a better squad than AB. He willingly does the dirty work the team needs, and he gladly accepts this role...even when going against larger/taller 5s. He may not win the game, but he doesn't cost the team with poor shot selection, and ambivalent rebounding. The man actually FIGHTS and WORKS for position, and when he gets the ball in the paint he dunks it...hard!
Now by contrast AB, who despite what his supporters insist, is no better, and possibly even worse than ever.
Hump has figured out what he can do to help this team and does it...I just don't see that in Bargnani. AB's (very over-rated) shooting skill does not let him off the hook.
Steve P, Halifax
A: I’ve shortened this because the 300 words dissecting Andrea’s game, while a nice read, don’t add to your question and there are some space limitations here.
To your question: Yes, you are the first to ever mention to me that Hump makes the Raptors better than Bargnani. I presume that now you won’t be the last but, at the moment, you’re an island.
Q: When I was a kid growing up I idolized Damon Stoudamire and was heartbroken when he left the Raps. Looking back, do you think his career lived up to the promise showed during his Raptor years? Or did he play above himself on a bad team? How would you compare Stoudamire in his prime to Jose/TJ?
Jonathan L, London, UK
A: He was within about five minutes of helping Portland win a Western Conference title one year, he played big roles on good teams, he’s in his 13th year in the league with another shot at a ring so, yeah, I’d say he’s having a pretty good career.
In his prime? Tough to compare because he was more of a scoring guard than a pure point guard. I’d say if either TJ or Jose are on teams that accomplish what Stoudamire’s did that’d be pretty good.
Q: Doug I am a long time reader but I have a question for you that I am hoping that you may be able to answer for me. My question has to do with the surfaces or flooring of the arenas that the games are played on, does having the ice below the flooring during a game have any effect on the outcome of games (ice under the flooring as opposed a hardwood floor with no ice under the flooring) from a players point of view. I recall that several years ago the Raptors had scheduled a game in Newfoundland and the game was cancelled because the flooring was not safe for the players to play on. I was just wondering if there are any types of these problems that may arise during the course of a basketball season. Thanks for taking my question I know that several people that I have talked to have wondered about this so I thought that I would ask you if you were aware of any type of incidents that may have taken place over the years that you have covered basketball.
Stuart R, Campbellford
A: There’s ice under there. Way under there. There’s a layer of insulation, maybe an inch thick or so, that’s laid right over the ice and the court is laid down like a jigsaw puzzle. What happens sometimes, as it did in St. John’s, is that the insulating layer breaks down and condensation seeps up through the court and makes the floor to wet to play on.
A similar situation occurred in Calgary in the team’s second year in a Naismith Cup tilt against Vancouver. But they were able to keep the water off the actual court (I believe the problem was just past the baseline, if memory serves) and the game went ahead.
Q: Rank the top 2 defenders in the league at each of the 5 spots.
Jason P, New York
A: Rankings, of course, are very subjective so here you go:
PG: Chauncey Billups, Devin Harris
SG: Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest
SF: Bruce Bowen, LeBron James
PF: Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan
C: Marcus Camby, Yao Ming.
Q: I was wondering which team had the most representation during the all-star weekend. I know we had 4 players there. Did any other teams top that?
Thanks for providing this link by the way. I had a hard time getting this question to you earlier.
Simone S, Toronto
A: The Raptors had four and so did Utah but the Jazz also had two in the D League stuff so they win.
Q: Doug - I follow the philosophy of maximizing and improving your strengths as opposed to working on weaknesses. I believe in order for Bosh to take the next step into superstardom, he should not work on his power game to compete with Howard and Amare, but to work on his finesse game, specifically his ball handling skills, to distinguish himself from Howard and Amare.
If you were Bosh/Mitchell/Colangelo, what do you do/advise?
Jim K, Newmarket
A: I would say ball-handling and mid-post play rather than a power game down low are what he should be working on because those are the skills that set him part from other bigs. But I also think, to keep defenders honest, he can’t lose what low-post skills he has.
First, though? First would be trying to perfect the things that make him different.
Q: Doug, just wondering if you see any of the teams in the 7-10 slots in the east being a potential "Achilles heel" to the Celtics or Pistons? (Like last season's Warriors team was to the Mavs.) Who do you think gives these teams the biggest matchup problems, and as a result, gives Toronto the best shot at potentially advancing beyond the second round?
Mike B, Toronto
A: Of the 7-10 teams? No, I cannot see a matchup that would make anyone think any of those teams (Atlanta, Philly, Jersey, Indy) could give either Boston or Detroit a series.
Stranger things have happened, of course, but not this time around, I don’t think.
Q: Keep up the good work! You're blog is a great "distraction" from the toils of my labour.
I was proud of the 4 Raptors who represented us at the All-Star Weekend. Yep, four: Bosh, Moon, Kapono, and the Chicken! Last year, I notice the latter was there too during the skills competition. How many years has the Chicken been a part of the All-Star festivities? I'm assuming he's always been invited...not crashing the party. Although, I could see him doing that...with a jet-pack or something.
Reuben E, Milton
A: Dude, you forgot about Andrea. There were five of ‘em, if you count the Chicken.
I tried to ask the Chicken but we all know she/he/it can’t talk so what she/he/it did was claw the ground four times. I take it that meant four all-star games.
And the Chicken never crashes a party, she/he/it is the life of any gathering and is always invited.
Q: Here is my question to put on top of your heavy mailbag!
If a player makes a pass to a teammate, his shot gets blocked but the official calls a goaltending, does that player still get credited with the assist or not?
Stephan H, Quebec City
A: Yes, you can have an assist on a goaltending call. But, remember, there’s not necessarily an assist on every basket.
Q: Despite being one myself, even I have to admit us Raps fans tend to go way overboard with how we feel about this team.
It's like we have a bipolar disorder where one day we'd go crazy at the suggestion that we won't be champions this year, and the next (usually the day after a loss) we call for the entire team to be blown up and Sam Mitchell to be ran out of town. Even the ESPN guys rag on us from time to time.
My question to you: Is our unhealthy fanaticism with our boys in red just par for the course, or would you say we're amongst some of the most irrational fans in the NBA?
Jonathan P, Toronto
A: I know a lot of other beat grunts around the league and, believe me, this is not par for any course anywhere. I guess it’s what makes Raptor fans stand out from others, this Sky Is Falling; No Wait, We’re Winning It All This Year mentality that pervades the area.
One day it’s Trade Bosh, one day it’s Bosh Is An All-Star; the next day, it’s Trade Bargnani, the next day it’s Bargnani’s Back. TJ should go, unless he should stay. Sam can coach until someone blows an assignment and they lose a close game and then he can’t be fired fast enough.
No, this is unusual up here; tiring at times, entertaining every now and then and uniquely Raptor-esque.
Q: Besides Roko I was wondering if the Raptors have the rights to any overseas players that would be able to contribute to the team in the future?
Joseph C, Toronto
A: The only guy they have rights to is Giorgos Printezis, who averages about seven points a game in the EuroLeague for Olympiakos. If he’s going to help, it’s not going to be for years.
Q: I don’t mean to minimize his injuries here, but what do you think the deal is with TJ? What is it now – a “strained abdominal muscle” – from a practice, no less? Could he be faking it? I don’t think there could be any advantage to this – I believe he wants to be with the Raptors – is it maybe psychological? Fear of hurting himself again? Something is up!! It is strange – don’t you think?
Jacquelyn L, Hamilton
A: I think you’re way, way, way off-base. Faking it? He tweaked a muscle, happens often. There’s no faking, or playing scared.
Q: Hi Doug, I really enjoyed the entire NBA weekend and I think the TNT team did an exceptional job of highlighting the positives - and the game was good as well. Is it me or did anyone else notice that Jamario went for his second dunk with his usual 80% effort? It seems to me that he never gives it 100%. It's my gut feeling that's the reason he kicked around the minors for so long. He just never gives it his all like Bosh or Calderon etc. He could be amazing but....
Christopher M, Victoria
A: “His usual 80 per cent effort,” “never gives it his all” … you’re kidding right?
You ever think that he is giving his most and does all the time and perhaps his best isn’t quite as good as Calderon’s or Bosh’s?
Q: With the emergence of Bargnani as of late, the return of Garbo and Humphries being a solid energy guy off the bench – what is Rasho’s place with the team. BC’s number one goal should be locking up Delfino and Calderon in the off-season.
The second question: I hear everyone complaining about rebounding and perimeter defence with the team. But has anyone looked at Delfino’s numbers; he’s putting up 9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 23 minutes, where as Parker’s numbers are 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 31 minutes. What do you think about moving Parker to the bench and Delfino to the starting line-up?
Raymond K, Toronto
A: Rasho’s place is where it’s been almost all season, as a backup big man used when the matchups call for it. And, no, I don’t think they should move him because if they meet either Orlando (Dwight Howard) or Cleveland (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) in the first round of the playoffs, they’re going to need Nesterovic.
The No. 1 goal? The No. 1 goal is matching whatever offer Jose Calderon gets. The No. 2 goal may be Delfino. And, no, he shouldn’t start at shooting guard over Parker right now.