Another week of mucho mail
I asked, you answered.
Or, more correctly, I asked, you asked.
And away we go (and there’s more coming on the weekend, so please no snarky notes if yours isn’t here).
Q: I would please like your opinion on where you see this league going in 2-3 years. I am greatly concerned that the NBA only has 2 or maybe 3 more years of elite competition left in the bag. With Euro teams being able to offer whatever they like (no salary cap system) and with big contract deals that have yearly opt-outs
being offered overseas, the attraction level for an NBA free agent is fairly high. I'd think that there’s a good chance LeBron and Kobe might be gone in 2 years. 50 million a year, you'd have to be crazy not to take it and run, and if that were to happen, no LeBron, no Kobe, no Howard, this league would not be as treasured as it once was. Should the average NBA fan be concerned,
Should David Stern be concerned?
A: No, he should not be concerned whatsoever.
First off, no one has ever offered anyone a $50 million contract, the whole thing began when someone asked if players would take $50 million and leave. That’s entirely hypothetical. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.
And, frankly, I cannot envision a time when any European league becomes some rival for talent like the old ABA was, for instance.
I think in two or three years the NBA will be exactly where it is today, far and away the best league in the world.
Q: In these slow times I'm always drawn to your blog when I have a spare minute in the morning. With bad knees I can't physically play too often, so I need my fix somehow.
A comment more than a question: I was reading your most hated/most revered re-entries to the ACC and it occurred to me that though I love this team, when I think Raps I still think of Alvin Williams pulling a trick out of his bag that you never knew he had, A.D going for a 2-handed dunk and then saying something intelligent and insightful to Norma Wick on the post-game, JYD ripping down a board, Mo Pete in his slashing days, V.C in his 2nd and 3rd year when he truly was half man half amazing. Heck, even Chris Childs tossing up a 3 pointer when we..... OK forget that one. Point is, when those teams were in their prime they were so charismatic and great to watch. Are there any teams that you remember that give you that warm-fuzzy feel-good feeling?
David T, Ottawa
A: I really, really liked that 2001-02 team that finished so strong under difficult circumstances and snuck into the playoffs. They had a good group of grownups, experienced hands and a bunch of fine personalities.
The 2000-01 team was pretty good in that regard, too, but the over-achieving nature of the ’01-02 team made it a personal favourite.
And reaching way, way, way back in time, the very first team, chiefly because they really did play hard every night for Brendan Malone, deserves a mention.
Q: From what I'm reading, the starters in practice will be O'Neal, Bosh, Parker, Kapono & Calderon. The subs will be Bargnani, Humphries, Moon, Adams & Ukic. Jawai, Graham & Soloman will rarely see any minutes.
Can you grade the expected performance of each this coming year vs the NBA Average (A, B, C, D or E)?
Bo K, Mississauga
A: Grades, eh? That’s always a tough one.
But if pressed, here’s what I’d say for each of those 10 you’ve got playing regularly. These are graded, in my opinion, against other NBA players at the same position with C being average.
Calderon would be a B point guard
Parker would be a C shooting guard.
Kapono, while it should be incomplete, would, I guess, be a C minus.
Bosh would be an A power forward.
O’Neal? I can’t grade him until I see him play. In the past, he’s fluctuated from an A to a D.
Bargnani? C minus, maybe a D.
Humphries? C tops as a backup, fourth big.
Adams? Impossible to tell.
Q: You asked for some mailbag fodder, so thought I'd try and contribute, so here you go. Edit away as you wish:
1. People seem to love to test your memory and have you rank things. So - how about a top three or so best and worst drafts by our Raps. See if you can do the same for free agent moves as well. Start picking away at the ol' hat rack!
2. I've asked before, and you were kind enough to answer, but let's just see if there have been any developments: any updates on a Raps D League team in Ontario (go Hamilton!)
3. What's the funniest thing you've ever seen a Raptor do on the bench.
4. Are you a fan of Paul Shirley? Another great basketball blogger.
5. Who has been the best Raptor in terms of community involvement - school and hospital visits, charity, etc.?
Thanks, Doug. No need to use all (or any) of this in one shot for a mailbag. Editing will not hurt any feelings.
Good luck and have fun in the upcoming season
Dan D, Hamilton
A: I don’t know about a top three each side, there haven’t been that many. But I’d put Mo Pete as the best, closely followed by He Who Shall Not Be Named. The worst? How easy is that? Araujo, with Mike Bradley probably No. 2.
No updates on the D League team, they continue to work on it.
I like Paul Shirley’s work a lot, wish he had as much game, wish he did writing talent.
I didn’t actually witness this but a player (and I’m not entirely sure who) once ordered a hot dog from a vendor. And I did witness a player send a note over to a comely young fan who was, unfortunately for him, attending the game as a date of someone connected with the ownership group.
Best in the community? Wow, that’s hard. I know Mo Pete did an a lot under the radar.
Q: Wow thanks for answering my question from a few days ago. I actually took time each day to read your blog and your stuff in the Star. I guess you just pick and choose stuff to respond to without even a courtesy reply?
I can tell you are very loyal to your readers and appreciate their contributions. Last time I ever submit a question or read anything of yours. You just lost a fan.
Jordan F, Toronto
A: I am entirely confused here.
So, I answered a question you submitted. I am very loyal to the readers. I appreciate their contributions. Again, I answered the question.
And you’re done?
Q: I read the column daily as I found that you're the best source of info for all things Raptors. I have two questions:
Firstly: Have you/Toronto media had much contact with Matt Devlin ? Thoughts? For a guy to take to the play-by-play throne after the Swirsk, he's got gigantic shoes to fill. I hope he can do it, but I have no idea how.
Secondly : any news on the Raps' third jerseys? God knows we've been waiting years to get a third/black jersey into the mix. Not a lot of teams rock the darkness anymore, when will they be released, and how often will they be wearing them ?
thanks , keep up in the excellence .
Evan R, Toronto
A: I’ve hung out with Matt Devlin a couple of times, once when he was here for the O’Neal-Calderon day and I ran into him in Beijing as well. He’s a good guy, an accomplished broadcaster and will do a fine job. And he’ll do it by being his own man with his own voice and I am sure everyone will appreciate that and let him do his job without any unnecessary, and unfair, comparisons.
The jerseys will be out soon, likely before the pre-season begins. And from what I’ve heard, league rules stipulate they can be worn a maximum of 12 times in a regular season.
Q: Totally not basketball-related. I'm spending a weekend with some students at Memorial U next weekend (19-22 September). I love my job! I've got a Sunday evening and Monday morning/afternoon open after my commitments - you got any recommendations of places to see/eat at/whatever in St. John's NFLD? Perhaps your travels in horrific preseasons past have led to some great discoveries in that great city. Would love to hear your take. Thanks,
Andrew K, London
A: Hmm, been a long time since I was in St. John’s but thinking back to my old days at the Telly and the 36 hours we spent there for no game years ago, I’d say:
You have to wander Water Street, you MUST go sit at the Narrows and just look out over the ocean and you should get in a car and just drive around soaking up sights you’ve never seen before.
See the harbour, check out the colourful homes and, if you can, get out on the water and maybe you’ll see an iceberg or a whale. (Not sure if this is the right season for it, but it was a highlight of the time I was there).
Q: It's 6:25 p.m. on Wednesday and if you happen to have Rogers cable check out the 6:00-7:00 p.m. description of Raptors Game in an Hour. It reads "Toronto Maple Leafs at Indiana Pacers". LOL! Now that would be quite a game to watch. :) Who do you think would win? ;)
BTW, the same program is repeated at 8pm and midnight in case you miss it;)
Rick K, Toronto
A: Is Mats playing?
Take the Pacers and give the points because you know that someone from the Leaves is going to get hurt during the game. Or maybe that McCabe fellow scores another ‘own goal.’
Q: Can you tell me why there isn't more emphasis put on the under performance of Anthony Parker? With his credentials, don't you think he needs to step up his game and become the consistent 2nd or 3rd scorer on the team? Or is he just going to have a mediocre career in the NBA and never aspire to bring his game to a level above a backup?
Dean E, Hamilton
A: Mediocre career? Wow, that’s a tad harsh.
And, quite frankly, quite wrong, in my opinion.
I think over his two seasons in Toronto, AP’s become a solid third scoring option and, arguably, the most consistent swingman of the bunch.
"Under performance?” That’s a stretch. Can he be better? Sure. But find me even an all-star who can’t.
Q: Hey Doug, wanted to pick your brain again this week if I could. I’m sure you caught the BC interview on the fan radio/sportsnet television this week. He was surprisingly honest, whether it was about AP on the decline or how the East still has a lot of good teams and we really aren’t even true contenders yet and Philly is right there or above us trying to become that new contender. What caught my attention the most was his belief that what separates us from that next level of contention (Boston) and was the reason we took a step back last year, was team chemistry. With 5 of the 13 players on our roster being new and mostly unknown (Soloman, Jawai, Adams, Ukic) to our existing roster players why does he believe this years team chemistry will be different/better?
Peter T, Leaside
A: I think you’re probably painting that interview a tad more gloomy than it was but …
Anyway, maybe there were personality clashes that showed up behind the scenes last year that we didn’t see every day that Colangelo thinks won’t be present with this group. What we saw was a group that got along well – maybe not as well as the group the year before – but there were no open clashes that were apparent to us.
But we don’t get to see every bit of interaction and, if the GM thinks it’ll be better with this collection of personalities, maybe he’s right.
Q: Hey Doug - LOVE the blog, and thanks for taking the time to answer all our sometimes-awesome, sometimes-lame questions. Here's another for you: Besides the obvious on-court training sessions, what else happens at training camp for the Raptors? I imagine there's some team building and bonds, but is this just accomplished through spending time together, or do they actually have structured off-court sessions?
Rob E, Toronto
A: Not a lot, actually. They’ll have film sessions each day, primarily in the morning, and they’ll have a couple of team dinners but other than that, it’s a lot of rest. They’re usually in the gym twice a day for a couple of hours at a time and after treatment and rest, there isn’t a lot of time left.
I would think there would be a team outing to see the Parliament Buildings, though. Hell, they went on the Maid of the Mist when they were at Brock one year, I’m sure they can spend an afternoon checking out some legit Canadian history.
Q: I love your blog! I wanted to know what you think about this potential change in the NBA All star game. It’s really obvious that the NBA All-star game needs some sort of change. Now we all know the whole NBA vs. The World can't be done (yet) because there's too much of a talent difference. However, I have an idea which would make the NBA all-star game very competitive and actually worth watching.
The idea is, instead of East vs. West, you have The Veterans vs. The Next Generation. In order to be apart of the "Next Gen" you would have to be in NBA for less than 6 years.
Pg - J. Kidd
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Pierce
PF - KG
C - Duncan
PG's - Nash, Billups
SG's - Iverson
SF - McGrady
PF - Nowitzki
C - Shaq
The Next Generation:
PG - Chris Paul
SG - Dwayne Wade
SF - Lebron James
PF - Chris Bosh
C - Dwight Howard
PG's - Deron Williams, Calderon
SG's - Brandon Roy
SF - Carmello,
PF - Stoudamire,
C - Yao Ming
So what do you think Doug? That line-up looks pretty even. I’m probably leaving out a few names. But I think you get the concept. Unlike what we have now at the all-star game, these guys WILL actually play hard because there is the element of "PRIDE" on the line. You think those Vet's would want to get beat by these up and comers? Likewise, what a feather in the hat it would be for the Next. Gen. if they could defeat these future halll-of- famers. If you can, could you please post this on your blog. I would really like to see what the fans' response would be to this.
Paul S, Etobicoke
A: Sorry, my man, can’t get excited about this idea. No, I don’t think there’d be any huge amount of “pride” on the line the line. The all-star game is what it is, an exhibition of players who, truth be told, would rather have the weekend off. Trying to force them to be more competitive isn’t going to work, I’m afraid. And it’s not sustainable over time, either, I don’t think.
A USA vs. The World thing might give fans something else to talk about, but I don’t think anyone gets too enthused about this plan.
Q: Hi Doug. I had a few questions regarding scoring in basketball. Hope you can help.
1) Is an air-ball considered a field goal attempt? Does the ball need to hit the rim (or backboard?) to be considered a field goal attempt?
2) Is a blocked shot considered a field goal attempt? Is it considered a turnover if as a result of the blocked shot, the other team gets the ball?
3) If an offensive player follows another teammates' missed shot with a rebound and dunk in one motion (ie: grabbing the ball on its way down from the bounce off the rim and slamming it) does he get credit for the offensive rebound?
4) If a shooting foul occurs, is the field goal attempt counted if the player misses the shot? I think it is counted if he makes the shot but not if he doesn't but would appreciate clarification. Thanks Doug.
Jordan F, Toronto
A: Okay, I went right to the top of the list, a woman from the stats crew who knows everything there is to know about this sort of thing and here are the answers:
Yes, an air ball is considered a field goal attempt if it’s a legitimate shot. It can be subjective.
Yes, a blocked shot is a field goal attempt. It’s not a turnover – whoever gets the rebound is credited with the rebound.
Yes, he gets credit for the offensive rebound.
No, no shot attempt if there’s a foul on the miss. If the shot goes in, different story.
Q: Hey Doug, when are the Raptors going to stop investing in such risky acquisitions (TJ, Bargnani over Aldridge, O'Neal) and put some serious money into bringing in a go-to wing player? It's been proven year in and year out you're not going to win in this league when you don't have a versatile wing player to go to at the end of the game.
I'd like to remind you of the 2 plays that essentially ended each of our last 2 seasons: Calderon's pass to Bosh which Jefferson deflected in 2007, and the weird looking 20 footer Bosh shot and missed in Game 2 vs. Orlando. Both of these plays would have never occurred if the Raps had someone like Maggette or Gerald Wallace to take those crunch time shots. I mention Wallace because I think the Raps should have gone after him instead of O’Neal. As much as I love Bosh, big men should not get the ball at the 3 point line with the game on the line. Do you really think the Raps have a chance at going deep in the playoffs with a starting lineup featuring AP and Jamario?
Hooman M, Toronto
A: The lack of athleticism on the wing has been a problem and not having that guy able to break down defences has hurt them in a couple of games.
The two you mention? I’m not sure. That pass to Bosh in New Jersey was a great play, he had a wide open dunk if the pass is a foot higher. The play in Orlando? Yes, it was a jump shot, it wasn’t a three-pointer and it was a shot he could make. I’ll defend either of those calls quite readily.
Now, define “deep in the playoffs.” Win a series? Sure they can. Win two series? Yeah, probably, depending on second round matchups. After that? Who knows, if they get on a roll, anything can happen.
Q: The road can be tough, away from family, friends and the familiar. What are the top things you look forward to being on the road, be they watering holes, local delicacies, hotel amenities in certain cities, etc?
Jonathan M, Tokyo
A: The road can indeed be tough, for all those things you mentioned, and the difficulties of winter travel with flight delays, weather, etc.
But I’ve been doing it so long, there are things I look forward to. Mostly favourite restaurants and microbrews (I can usually think of one good spot in almost every NBA city), and hanging with other beat grunts from the various cities I see only a couple of times a year.
It’s also good for the job, too. At home, there’s always a glut of us around, on the road it’s two or three others, maximum, so you can develop relationships with players and coaches a bit more easily.