Pretty impressive lines for Bosh and O’Neal last night, no? But remember, it’s pre-season and just as we warn against extra angst after losses, we’ll caution against extra euphoria after a good game.
Was nice, and expected, to see both the bigs extended out to more than 30 minutes. I’d guess they get fewer tonight on a back-to-back and then get a regular run Tuesday in Edmonton.
Anyway, on to the good stuff before it's back to the yard work:
Q: Like many of your readers I am mightily impressed with your in-game blogs. There are many observers/writers who could never do that as you do. We are lucky to have you share your way of watching a game with us.
Which brings me to:
Q: How DO you watch a game? And what might you suggest to us long-time (and some, shorter time) fans/watchers? Do you ever pick out one player to watch on d? Are there differences between what you watch for in Q 1 vs. Q3? Is it always specific-game dependent or are there some things to ALWAYS watch for?
Your next book: WATCHING A GAME FOR DUMMIES?
Charles N, Toronto
A: I stole this one out of the comments section yesterday, hope you don’t mind.
I’m not sure there’s a specific “way” I watch a game but I do tend to focus on specific matchups that I think may determine how a night will end up. Like against the Sixers, I paid a bit more attention to Bosh-O’Neal vs. Brand-Dalembert, who was guarding who, which team attacked which matchup, than I did, say, Calderon-Miller.
I will watch a bit differently in the second half than I do in the first, generally paying more attention to what’s been the big story of the night. Say, Bargnani’s going good, or bad, I’ll watch to see just what he’s doing.
Oh, and I always try to find time for a snarky comment or two, but only type them, and game stories, during breaks, timeouts and at halftime.
Q: I enjoy the wit of your comments. So here's a good question. Is the Raptor fan base big enough to call us the Raptor Nation, similar to "Leaf Nation". I'm a part of that too, so I come to Raptor nation forever bitter at the world and ready to celebrate at two or three game winning streaks.
Jason S, Singapore
A: Heaven help us, I hope not.
The whole notion of “nation” nauseates me, as a matter of fact.
Of course, I don’t have the passion that unites us all, which is a good thing.
Maybe someone comes up with something far more original than “nation” which, as I am led to believe, was something the pucks actually stole anyway.
Q: I'm wondering if the players take pre-season games as seriously as regular season. Do they argue calls or, for the most part, let them slide? Has there ever been a suspension during a preseason game?
Sam C, Kingston
A: Well, I remember a confrontation between Oliver Miller and Shawn Bradley in, I believe, the first ever Raptor pre-season (it might have been the second, it was out East, that’s all I know for sure). Don’t think there was a suspension out of that, but I presume there has to have been one at least.
Players, though, tend to give officials a break on calls in the pre-season, they know the refs are getting back into the swing of things, too. And the intensity level just isn’t the same in the pretend games; it’s not that they don’t care because they are all competitors, it’s like they don’t care as much, if you get my drift.
Q: We all know that Solomon has some things to work on, like picking up his dribble too early and too often, too many shots and bad ones at that, being unable (or unwilling?) to execute set plays, etc. I think he'll be able to come into his own though, with some time and work. It may be hard to judge this early on, but how much of his struggles do you attribute to adjusting to the NBA, and how much are just pure deficiencies in his game?
Amanda F, Barrie
A: It is early, yes, but there certainly are some physical deficiencies to his game, he has a tendency to dribble ball about chest high and pound it rather than dribble it. But I think the biggest part of his struggles is speed of the game, the speed at which point guards have to make decisions with the ball and those are things he can get used to as time goes on.
Q: Doug, as with every new season expectations are set. What would constitute a successful season? How are you going to judge the success of the O'Neal / Ford trade by the success of the teams or the performance of the players. Clearly the Raptors should win at least 15-20 more games than the Pacers.
One last thing why do you continue to answer questions on Ford when the debate is over. Most fans got their wish as the Raptors committed to Calderon. End of story what TJ does is up for his fans to follow. The only time the comparison will need to come up again is when the 2 teams play.
Patrick H, Richmond Hill
A: This will only be a successful season is they advance past the first round of the playoffs. I don’t think it matters if they’re third in the conference or fifth or sixth, if they don’t get to the second round, which is just a natural progression, they’d feel – and I’d agree – it was a disappointing year.
Because I value team success over all else, the success of the trade will be who has the biggest impact on the better team. And you can’t, and I won’t, judge it on stats alone. If the Raptors improve defensively because of O’Neal and Ford averages 15 and 8, what’s more important?
And, dude, people are still asking questions about a guy who was trade four freaking years ago and I answer them because, while some may not think so, they are legitimate questions to the people who ask them and they deserve a reply.
Q: I have a question that you've probably answered before but I haven't seen on your blog. In your opinion who is the most under paid (best value) player in the league (excluding rookie contracts), and who is the most over paid (worst value) in the league. I'm thinking that Hedo Turk might be one of the best values and anyone on the Knicks is one of the worst.
John M, Fredericton
A: I’ll start with his disclaimer: Everyone in the league is overpaid.
Okay, that said, and not counting guys on rookie scale deals, I’ll give you Shane Battier ($6.3 million), Derek Fisher ($4.7 million) and Hedo ($6.8 milion) on the underpaid team and Eddy Curry ($9.7 million with $22 million left), Mike Bibby ($15.9 million) and Wally Szczerbiak ($13.2 million) among the vastly overpaid. Of course, Stephon Marbury is the gold standard of overpaid compared to production but I figure everyone would have him at the top of the list and I was going for something different.
Q: I've been hearing a lot of talk about certain players on the Raptors team over and over again. But one player that comes to mind that I haven't heard of lately is Anthony Parker. Is he the same old AP? Has he improved his game? Has he seen enough minutes throughout the preseason?
Thanks Doug, Keep up the good work.
Carlos R, Toronto
A: Same old, same old. Was told he came into camp in as good shape as anyone on the team, still steady if unspectacular. A solid pro. I think he got enough minutes through the first four games and I’m betting they increase in the last four. One thing to look for in the season, though, is this: There is a thought among the staff that his production peaks at about 26-28 minutes a night, usually, and that’s the target.
Q: Hey Doug, I've heard rumours that Anthony Parker is headed to Olympiacos after the season. Is this true? Also, who do you think is winning the backup point guard position battle at the moment? Lastly, what do you think of the chances of Steve Nash coming to the Raptors in two years?
Philip P, Steinbach, MB
A: Olympiacos made contact with AP last summer to see if he’d void the final her of his NBA contract to join them; they may make another run at him next summer when he’s a free agent.
I still say Solomon has the edge, right now, on Ukic for that backup role but it’s closer than many think.
Nash? Slim. Very slim. I think New York and Phoenix would have a better shot. But who knows? Stranger things have certainly happened.
Q: Roy Hibbert is looking REALLY good in pre-season for Indiana. 7'2" 278lb beast. I have a bad feeling we are going to regret this trade in a few years if not sooner.
Please tell me I'm wrong?
Bernard B, Toronto
A: Yes, in five pre-season games, no starts, Hibbert has averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 20 minutes. Overwhelming. And I said when the deal was made, Hibbert will be an okay NBA player, never an all-star, his foot speed is suspect and I think the NBA game will be too quick for him. But a solid big man journeyman? Yeah, he could be that. I have no idea if that’ll be enough to make anyone regret the trade; why don’t we wait to see what O’Neal brings for, oh, I dunno, a real game or two before making any decisions.