First delivery of the week
I don’t know how you people do it. It’s the start of September, nothing of substance has happened with the Raptors since about the first week of July yet there are enough questions to fill this 3,000-word opus. And then there are a dozen or so more waiting to be answered for a mailbag I’ll put up sometime on the weekend.
Have a nice day.
Q: I asked this once already, and if you answered it, I apologize -- I was away for part of the summer.
Who do you feel are the top five players who have influenced the style of play, and the game itself, in the NBA? MJ may have been the greatest ever, but I don't feel that he really affected how the game is played. Some contenders: Bob Cousy through defining the point guard role (I started my interest when Cousy was at his peak, so I'm not sure if this is true). Wilt Chamberlain (or George Mikan, but again before my time) by focusing play into and out of the low post, eventually leading to the three-point line. Oscar Robertson as the first 'big guard.’ Any number of people, apparently, including Bud Palmer, for 'inventing' the jump shot and transferring it to pro ball. Thoughts?
Alan C, Kawartha Lakes
A: Wow, good question.
Knowing that these will undoubtedly bring about criticism and comment and discussion, here we go.
I think you have to put Jordan on there because he played the game in the air better than almost anyone.
I’d say Oscar Robertson’s a great choice and I’d add Bill Russell, Doctor J and Magic Johnson for certain.
A fifth? I think you could make a case for Mikan, just as you could for Bill Walton as a passing big man. But if Russell’s gonna be on the list, shouldn’t Wilt be, too?
And if you’re not limiting it to just NBA players, I think you would have to include Red Auerbach and John Wooden on that list.
Q: What, exactly, happens during a "review game tape" session? Do they watch the entire tape and have a running commentary or do the coaches pre-select a couple of minutes that demonstrate something they want to work on or reinforce? Does it vary according to the coach's style, and if so, what would you say is Sam's style?
As if that's not enough questions, I'm also curious if the players or coaches every listen to the play-by-play or colour commentator's comments? It seemed that when VC was trying to get his ticket out of town punched Chuck and whoever was with him were constantly saying that he was settling for bad jumpers and needed to take the ball to the rim more. Seemed pretty obvious, but it also seemed like nobody paid them any attention.
Chris C, Toronto
A: Generally, tape sessions use edited versions of the last game, to specific incidents – good and bad – that need to be worked on. And it does vary from coach to coach, Sam uses more positive reinforcement than a lot, or so I’m told, not being privy to many of the sessions here or with other teams.
And very, very, very seldom to players or coaches listen to broadcasts. What happens more than you might think is that a family member or friend of a player or a coach might be listening and pass on anything they think the player or coach should know about.
Q: Hey Doug, hope you've stopped having nightmares about that "draggon" Scorpion fish. Anyways on to the question: (Now I know that all the roster moves are complete and there will be no additions but just bare with me). There has been speculation that Rasho might be bought out by the pacers midway through the season, now I was wondering would the raptors be able to sign him for the veterans minimum? Because i believe its like $650 000 which comes out of MLSE's pocket and the rest is thrown in from the NBA. I think we would still be able to stay under the cap if this is correct.
Saad H, Toronto
A: I’ve never heard a whisper about the Pacers thinking anything like buying out Rasho, who showed last season he’s still got plenty of game left as a serviceable big man in the NBA.
But even if they do, I cannot envision a scenario that has him back here, unless about three Toronto bigs suffer serious injuries at the same time.
Q: I apologize if you've already answered this question but it just occurred to me that Nathan "Baby Shaq" Jawai did not play for Australia in the Olympics. How come? I would have thought the Aussie MVP of the Australia League All-Star Game would have made the cut? Just interested as I'm excited about the prospect of a new big body coming off the bench.
Stephen D, Toronto
A: According to some Aussie friends I talked to around the Beijing gym, Jawai was neither experienced, nor good enough, to make what was a very veteran-laden Australian Olympic team. He’s never played for the national senior team before and they weren’t about to let him make his debut at the Olympics.
Q: Welcome back. Figured I'd re-ask a question that didn't make the cut last time but hopefully will this time ‘cause I really am quite curious. What do our 7-foot friends do for sleeping arrangements while on the road? Do certain hotels have extra jumbo beds or do these guys just have to curl up in the fetal position all night? Plus, what were their accommodations like in Beijing? Thanks Doug!
Jon S, Toronto
A: All the hotels teams use on the road –- and they are pretty much the same in each city for each visiting team –- add either extra boxsprings or mattresses or have extra long beds for the players to use.
The USA team at Beijing stayed in a luxury hotel, as well appointed as any you’d find in North America, I’m told.
Q: Hey Doug, wanted to get your thoughts. I read an article not to long ago (not sure when it was actually written though) about Hassan Adams in a Jersey paper that got me pretty excited about the signing but I haven’t heard very many positive things about him from you. It was from the perspective of an ex new jersey scout who was part of the process of scouting/drafting him in 2006 when he went 54th overall. He goes on to bash Rod Thorn the nets president for cutting Adams, saying that the talent is there and it was way too early to give up on him and that without a doubt an NBA team will pick him up and be really happy with what he brings. So, I was wondering, have you heard anything about that recently or in the past or is it just some bitter scout who probably isn’t with the team anymore?
Peter T, Toronto
A: It is a well-documented fact that the Nets released Adams because of tax considerations when they added Jamaal Magloire and from people I’ve spoken to, and with the way Magloire’s New Jersey career unfolded, that was a ridiculously bad move.
All I’ve heard from Raptor types is that he’s a hard-nosed competitor with great athletic ability who will challenge for playing time this season.
Q: Hey Doug! Can't wait for the NBA season to start! I was doing wishful thinking the other day and did some trades on my NBA live 2008 game, now my Raptors starting lineup has JO, CB, Maggette, AP and Jose! That would have been an awesome starting 5 in real life....
Do you think the day will come when the Euro-leagues (Maccabi, Moscow, Greece) will merge with the NBA so we'll be able to watch Euro players and Europe would be able to see the NBA players?
Also, how is Jamario progressing right now? What superstar would you compare his status in training camp right now? A potential VC? TMac? or Boykins? I think every raptor fan is eager to see how the summer has shaped Jamario, and what he can do potentially.
Tobi B, Toronto
A: I don’t know if a merger is in the future, but there will be a time, likely in the next decade, where there’s a European division of the NBA. Whether that’s new teams or old ones is up for debate.
Jamario? I haven’t seen him to know first-hand how he’s progressing and there is no superstar I would compare him to, and nor should you.
He is a 28-year-old second-year player who is in the rotation but hardly a focal point of what his team does. He is a role player, not a star and that’s what he’s going to be for his entire career.
Q: I understand your point about training camp, but does that mean that there won't be anything planned for Ottawa fans? What's the point of coming to a different location then?
Alex R, Ottawa
A: There may be some things planned, but it isn’t going to be a lot, with two-a-day workouts, there really isn’t a lot of time for public appearances. If history holds, they’ll be in the gym from about 9 a.m. to noon and back again from about 6-8 p.m.
The point? A little team bonding for a week, a chance to spread the team name around a bit and a chance to pay back fans with that intrasquad game they’ll hold on the Saturday.
Q: I had heard that Nathan Jawai, our 2008 2nd-round pick) was due to take part in the Big Man camp in Vegas.
Have you heard where he has been working out since that camp wrapped up?
I am excited about this kid developing. Not this season, but 2 or 3 years hence. If he could be a banger who rebounds and blocks off the bench in a few seasons, it would be huge.
Brian V, Toronto
A: At this point in the summer, just about every NBA player is working out every single day, I can’t imagine a rookie wouldn’t be. I presume he’s been working a bit here, a bit in Vegas and maybe a bit back home. But he’s been working.
And I think two or three years is a legitimate timeline, anyone thinking he makes a significant contribution this year is mistaken.
Q: Here is a pub recommendation for you while you're in Ottawa. You've got to check out "Pub Italia" on Preston St. The atmosphere is a bit difficult to explain (it's half Irish pub half Italian eatery but looks like a Belgian Abbey) but they have the greatest selection of imported beer I have ever seen in my life. The beer menu (i.e., "The Beer Bible") has literally hundreds of beers to choose from, most being served in their own custom glass. I've never had a bad time at this place.
Question: Since you listed your top 3 worst training camps, is it fair to assume that the Raps players dislike travelling to random Canadian cities where facilities might not be up to par for pre-season training?
Kyle S, Otttawa
A: Hmm, a Beer Bible, you say? I may have to check that out, thanks to you (and the dozens of others who’ve written) for the recommendations. Am quite looking forward to this.
As for the players, if it’s a nice city (which Ottawa is), has a nice hotel and good restaurants (which it does) and the facility is top-notch (which I’m told it is), there’s no real problem with having training camp in any city, Canadian or otherwise. Last year in Europe was a little bit too long, a week in the nation’s capital will be just fine with them.
Q: Hi Doug, I wanted to follow up on your comment about "someone who would know". You had commented that this would vary depending on what you reported, and usually was a source within the organization. Obviously, you won't (and shouldn't) reveal your sources, but I was wondering if you could share with us why the sources actually tell you stuff? Some of the stuff you dig up I'm guessing is what Bryan/Sam wouldn't want you to know, so why would a source tell you something (especially if on the off chance he/she.it is caught, they could lose their job)?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: Most of the times, they don’t offer stuff unsolicited. Sometimes I’ll hear things from people outside the organization (scouts, other assistant coaches, other writers, etc) and when I ask Someone Who Knows, he or she will let me know if it’s legit. This is a group that won’t lie to me. If I’ve got something that’s right, they’ll confirm it off-the-record.
And, of course, there are times when someone in the organization will whisper something to me for reasons such as advancing their own agenda, to put something out there that may force others to react to. In those cases, we always check with a second source to make sure it’s legit.
Q: Doug, it's good to have you back. I was getting bored of the once a week baseball only Q&A.
With the new look 1st & 2nd units, what do you think the sequence of scoring options will be for each unit. Will Bargs be the 1st option in the 2nd unit?
Also, if the Raps are in close contention near the trade deadline, what do you think they'll need to add to make a run in the playoffs a big, a pg or a wing?
Ian A, Vancouver
A: I would imagine Bargnani would indeed be the first scoring option off the bench; as for the starters, I think it’ll switch between Bosh and O’Neal depending on who has the better matchup in any given game.
And if they’re in close contention, I’d imagine they wouldn’t make a move and stick with what got them in close contention. The only way I see a significant move coming is if they get off to a horrible start and look like they’re falling too far behind.
Q: Love the blog, hope you had a great time in ol' Bay Jing
Just wondering your thoughts on how our defence will change with the addition of JO. Do you think we'll try the 3-2 zone at all and dare other teams to come inside? What do you see as changing vs. last year.
Gregg M, Whistler
A: I don’t imagine you’ll see them play any more zone this season than they did last. They used it sparingly then and I would think it’d be used sparingly this season. They have confidence in each of the big men to guard their own guys and with an anchor in the paint like O’Neal, I think they’re less concerned than they were about blow-bys on the perimeter.
Q: Hey Doug, D-related question. Know it's early, but I figure you need the distraction in this basketball bereft time. (I don't have satellite access and Detroit doesn't even radio broadcast the Shock). Philadelphia seems to have significantly improved their frontcourt and will give the Raps a bit more of a challenge. With Dalembert at 5 and Brand at 4, what are the matchups the Raps will be looking for? Bosh's improved on D if the Olympics are any judge, but is he ready to handle Elton in the post? Or does O'Neal get that assignment considering Dalembert's offensive prowess? Thanks for keeping the blog alive,
Hudson P, Windsor
A: Far be it from me to try and read Sam’s mind but I’d imagine in games against the Sixers, they’d have O’Neal guard Brand and Bosh take Dalembert.
And I would imagine they’d like to have the weaker Dalembert guard O’Neal and the slower Brand guard Bosh but I don’t think Mo Cheeks is going to go for that.
Q: Good day sir, not having the opportunity to have The Star in my neck of the woods I stumbled upon your blog looking for raptors related stuff and I love reading it also a great job in Beijing. My question is what do you think Andrea needs to simply get back the confidence in his 3 point shot or can he really develop that low post game. To me these do not compliment each other; there`s not a whole lot of players of his position doing these things
JF P, Trois-Rivieres
A: Sure, he needs to develop some better low post moves but if he’s going to be on the court with either Bosh or O’Neal almost every minute he plays, I think that lessens the need for him to work on the block as much.
He’s got to get his shooting rhythm back, first and foremost, because if he does that, teams will have to crowd him on the perimeter and we’ve seen, every now and then, an ability to put the ball on the floor.
Q: Hey Doug, any news on the new Black Jersey? Have any of your sources flashed any pictures of what they'll look like or key you in on when they'll be available?
Bram E, Toronto
A: Lots of interest in the jerseys. I’ve mentioned before they’re black with red trim and a Maple Leaf strategically placed, I believe. Not sure when they’ll be out but am pretty certain it’ll be in the next month or six weeks.
Q: Hey Doug, thanks for keeping the blog going during the summer, the Olympics coverage was awesome.
I was going through some old books and I found this newspaper clipping from a while back about naming Toronto's new NBA team. They were choosing between the Raptors and the Dragons apparently. Was there a particular reason why they didn’t consider using the old Toronto Huskies name? Copyright reasons? Even a retro Huskies jersey now would be cool... if retro jerseys are your thing.
Sunny R, Woodbridge
A: Huskies was among the choices but I guess they wanted something new. And a retro Huskies jersey would be a great idea and something I’ve been talking about for years.