The weekend mail, Delivery No. 2
Promised you more and here’s lots more. Doing it allowed me to avoid the convention of science fiction fans here in this hotel – replete with all kinds of wild costumes Saturday – which was a group of rather, um, interesting folks.
Q: Saw you in your front row seat Wed night, but didn't notice you pounding on the wonky laptop. My question is about halftime at the ACC. Maybe they've cut back the budget, but 2 weekday games I've attended so far this year and nothing happening at halftime except the 4 corners crew playing music and saying something unintelligible. I realize you might be out for some "fresh air", but for those of us who stay in our seats, surely the MLSE can do better? Why not get one of their broadcast partners to do a little channel flipping on other NBA games going on? Show us some look-ins on other games on the fancy new screens. Even split and show us 4 games. A lot of us are actually BASKETBALL fans, not just Raptor fans. Even getting the Filipino kids from Markham to play would be better than nothing. And I await Calderon's blond dye job so he'll look like his bobblehead.
Wilber L, Toronto
A: I do tend to spend most of halftime out enjoying the fresh air but I do either see the start of halftime or the end of it and I have to agree wholeheartedly with your point.
Oh, how we long for the days of Quick Change, or the silly disc-catching dogs or, taking the danger into consideration, Fire Guy.
Q:: Hi Doug, not basketball related but I thought I'd ask you anyways. Do you, or other reporters, get paid extra for doing appearances on other people’s radio shows or on TV? Just curious.
C S, Lakefield
A: Not all the time, no. Some regular gigs carry a regular stipend – certainly not enough to allow us to live large or anything – but a lot of the one-offs are either favours to friends or non-paying appearances.
Q: Another writer was proposing Parker's expiring contract, Graham, and a first round pick as the best package the Raptors have to offer... What do you think?
Andrew R, Halifax
A: Probably is, but they could sweeten it with a draft pick or up to $3 million cash to make a whole lot sweeter.
Q: Hey Doug, seriously I am a fan of yours, keep up the good work, much respect. Do you think keeping Joey in the regular rotation is beneficial for Moon? It seems to me that every time Joey tries hard on the court, Moon tries harder. I guess the internal competition is always a good thing, even if it was bad Joey on that night, perhaps Moon can motivate Joey? Your thoughts?
Talal S, Toronto
A: I think there’s absolutely something to that. Competition for a job, especially between two players who don’t have contracts past the end of this season, has a way of making guys concentrate a wee bit harder.
Q: Whatever happened to those rumblings about getting an NBADL franchise somewhere in Southern Ontario? I'd love to see one, personally, and I bet it'd be good for the Raptors, too, but I could see how the economics might not work. Thanks again for all your hard work. And don't spend all that Mary Deanne Shears money in one place. Unless it's on your roof, I guess. :) Tim M, Kingston
A: The D League idea remains alive but these are tough economic times so it’s not exactly on the front burner, if you get my drift. It’s far more theory now than a probability in the near future.
Q: Hello Doug, covering the Raptors in your 14th season, your play observations from well-trained eyes (plus the glasses), must carry some value to this club, even more now that you're a recipient of a Star award (Well-deserved, Doug, and congrats!). Could you name some of your suggestions that the coaching staff or management has affirmed and honored (assuming these are within-- and not far above from what Sam considers-- your pay grade)? Are they something like this, "Coach, tell Joey, whatever pair of shoes he wore the last couple of games, keep wearing them." Or "Jose is not penetrating as he did last year, the injury doesn't look like bothering him anymore, should he go back to his old set of shoes?"
Rikki C, Burlington
A: In a stunning admission, I’ll say right here and now that all of my suggestions have, to this point at least, fallen on deaf ears.
Now, most of them run to the “why don’t you take the beat grunts out for dinner and drinks more often?”
Q: When the Raptors elect to double-team in the center, how do they guard the corners to prevent 3-shots? I'm thinking of guys like Mike Bibby.
Jack M, Toronto
A: How easy is for me to say they don’t guard shooters in the corner.
Actually, the other perimeter defenders are suppose to quickly rotate to the guys in the corner and who it is depends on how the other team is set up.
But someone is supposed to get there.
Q: I'm confused. I've been to many Raptor games and don't recall seeing "The Chicken" that you often refer to in your blog (which is superb, BTW). I assume when you mention the Chicken, you are referring to "The Raptor". Perhaps you can enlighten as to why you refer to the dino as fowl? I must say, one can always count on the prehistoric reptile bringing it every night - wish I could say the same for the team he/she supports! But hey, it is a long season and we have just begun. Go Raps!
Davie L, Toronto
A: We’ve done this before but, what the heck, we’ll do it again.
I am of the belief that all the stuffed animals at every game in every sport are derivative of the one and only San Diego Chicken, hence they are all The Chicken to me.
That said, the one who prowls the court in Toronto might be the very best in the league and one of the top in all pro sports.
Q: What do you think the odds are that multiple players decide to sign with the same team during the summer of 2010? Since these players all have already signed max money deals, and they make enough money with endorsements, I think it would be genius for say, LeBron, Wade and Bosh to all sign three year contracts with the Knicks for $13 million per year. This would obviously be below their market value, but it would give them a VERY good shot at winning multiple championships, while at the same time, resurrecting the Knicks franchise. (I would also think that veterans i.e. Steve Nash, would jump to sign with this team for below market value) In a worst case scenario, they can sign elsewhere after three years of playing in NYC, the 'Mecca' of basketball.
Alex H, Oakville
A: I think the chances of that, frankly, are slim and none. I know it’s a fun thing to think that two, or even three guys might all of a sudden want to be teammates but at that level I’m sure there would be issues of being “the man” and marketing and all that other stuff.
Q: First off, congrats on the award Doug! You might not admit it, but I'm sure it is well deserved. Q: How come you never see the Raps blow teams away by 15+ points? I'd even take a couple 10 point wins. Elite teams like the Celts, Lakers, Cavs and Pistons manage to do this once or twice a month, at least. However, the Raps are always struggling to hold on to their leads toward the end of games no matter how big their lead going into the fourth.
Aaron J, Toronto
A: It takes a mentally tough team to get an opponent down, hold them down and beat them into submission to win easily. I think we’ve seen evidence this year, with a gaggle of blown double-digit leads, that this team needs to work on that.
Q: Let me begin by saying how much I appreciate this blog. I believe that my basketball IQ is what it is today due in large part to your knowledge of the game. Now, onto my question. Like many, I have been thinking much about this whole 2010 free agency thingy and more specifically of one Mr. Bosh. My question is: Do you think that the Toronto Raptors franchise is rooted deep enough in the city that it could survive the departure of another star NBA athlete? Especially one as revered as Chris Bosh? I got to tell you it's disheartening reading the NBA websites and listening to "experts" down south and how they are all convinced that Chris will leave at the first opportunity. Wouldn't it be nice if D. Wade signed with the Raptors and joined Bosh? I know, I know, will never happen because it's Toronto. Doug, are the Raptors on their way to becoming the Clippers of the East? A team that simply fights to survive but never really accomplishes anything meaningful? For Toronto's sake, I hope not. I truly feel that the loyal fanatics of Toronto (and Canada) deserve better. Your thoughts.
Ben F, Halifax
A: Yes, I’m certain it will survive whatever transpires in, what, 17 months? But whether it thrives or simply exists with the slim hope of a playoff appearance every year and legitimate championship aspirations will depend entirely on who the general manager is and how he stocks his roster.
But survive? Oh yeah, there’s enough of a hardcore fan base – not to mention the financial viability of the franchise – that it’ll survive.
Q: Your blog is phenomenal and my favorite stop on the internet. Rather than boring you with the usual questions about two-toned mouth guards or CB4's hair products, I thought I would inquire into the quirky ways of the Raptors. Who is the most superstitious member of the Raptors? What strange routines do they have?
Andy F, Toronto
A: You know what, this is a very vanilla bunch. They do have some idiosyncracies – Bosh has a strict pre-game workout regimen he likes to do – but there’s really nothing special about any of them in that regard.
It’s not like this guy has to eat this meal at that time or this guy has to put his uniform on this specific way. In that regard, they’re pretty boring.
Q: I read a while ago (I think in the Truehoop blog) and more recently, in a Bill Simmons article, that some NBA teams use statistics to help come up with game plans. Not Hollinger-type stats that determine how effective players are or predict who is going improve or regress. Stats analyzing the in-game trends of opposing players and teams. For example, these type of stats could be used to determine, quantitatively, which plays are the most effective for the other team, which moves work the best for each opposing player, where on the court the other guys are most dangerous from, etc. In turn, these trends can be used to come up with a more effective game plan that exploits trends that couldn't be seen by just watching games. Do the Raptors employ any statisticians to use newfangled concepts like "mathematics" to help come up with a game plan? The Smitch strikes me as the "I don't need no egghead telling me how to run my team" type.
Matt J, Toronto
A: These guys do do a lot of statistical analysis after games they use for future meetings. They can tell you how many post-ups an opponent ran and what the success rate was, how many iso, how many of their plays worked how many times.
It’s a shared job among the assistant coaches, the video crew and scouting teams and it’s pretty standard throughout the league.
Q: Good for you, you deserve recognition for your efforts. I for one would get way more work done at the office if it weren’t for you and those pesky Raptors. I have only one question? In your words, "ascetic" has 6 different versions that I found on dictionary.com, and I am trying to figure out if it’s the hard work part or moral devotion part or morally devoted, how would you define yourself? Keep up the good work and please ask your colleagues to try and refrain from using words that need to be looked up.
Tom B, Uxbridge
A: Um, I’ll take the hard work definition. Definitely.
Q: First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on your recent award. It's time for your bosses to give you a nice raise! The way this roster is constructed, there is an obvious weakness at the G & SF positions. Do you forsee Smitch using Will Solomon at the 2, as Solomon has clearly shown an inability to play as a NBA PG but is known as an offensive scorer?
David J, Toronto
A: No, we’ve asked Sam once or twice about Solomon at the two and been rebuffed every time, understandably. They’re using Parker and Kapono there and there’s no reason to muddle the spot with another guy in the rotation.
Q: I have heard that Carlos Delfino's having problems with his Russian team. Do the Raptors still own his rights and is there a chance that he could rejoin this team. He definitely could help at the SF postion and can help with PG in a crunch.
Roy H, Petrolia
A: I talked to a guy who talked to Carlos and it seems the money issue is resolved. For now. So he’s staying over there and while the Raptors still hold his rights as a restricted NBA free agent there is no movement to do anything about him until next summer. That may change, but I doubt it.
Q: This is the most interesting thing I have heard of in a long time, just thought you might like it, to your knowledge do the Raptors do this... "Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey doesn't play video games for fun or fantasy. Morey uses the EA Sports NBA game for professional reasons. He uses it to help evaluate talent. Morey says he is a statistical junky, an admirer of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and a mathematical nerd. "I've always loved numbers," Morey said. "I don't play EA Sports as a game. I use it as a tool." While the kids plug in NBA 08 to "ooh" and "aah" over how real it looks when Kobe Bryant dunks or LeBron James runs the court and finishes, Morey plugs in for more serious purposes. "Say if you're thinking about acquiring Ron Artest," Morey said from Hawaii, where he was evaluating talent in person at the Maui Classic college tournament. "On the game, you can see how adding Artest can change the dynamic of your team. You can program it to run offensive sets with Artest and any combination of your players. According to the NBA, about half the teams are using the video game as part of personnel evaluation. In the quiet of his office, Morey said he can see how often a player posts up and gets shots on cuts to the basket as well as about defensive and offensive tendencies.
Doug B, Toronto
A: No, to my knowledge Bryan and his staff use more traditional methods, like, you know, seeing a guy and talking to him and asking people about him, than they do video games.
I’m not sure there’s truth to the claim “one the game, you can see how adding Artest can change the dynamic of your team” because he – and other players – are people, not abstract figures on a computer screen.
Q: I notice as of the time of writing this that the top 3 scorers in the NBA are LeBron, Bosh and Wade. This of course makes you think of the 2003 draft in which they went in that order. (If Carmelo Anthony was playing up to his own standards I could have easily been including him in this list) which then of course leads me to the question of Darko Milicic. Clearly this has to be one of the worst draft picks of all time considering what was still on the board at the time of his selection. Who is held responsible for this masterful gaffe? GM's, coaches, Scouting dept, all of the above? Now that it's been 5+ years perhaps you can go over the people who were involved in that decision and what became of them.
Mike D, Mississauga
A: Of all time? I don’t know about that. It was a bad pick but it might not be in the top 10 of all-time, I don’t know.
And the man ultimately responsible for the gaffe is Joe Dumars, who is still doing a pretty darn good job running the Pistons; his assistant at the time was John Hammonds, who’s now the GM of the Milwaukee Bucks. So, as you can see, they survived.
Q: I've noticed this season that Hassan Adams talks to a lot of guys on the bench and during time outs. He's also the first guy up to cheer. Is he having some kind of Michael Cooper/Derek Martin effect on the team, or is it all jokes?
Mark F, Toronto
A: Nah, he’s just a personable guy well liked by his teammates, that’s about it.
Q: It struck me watching the game (Friday) that Joey has the highest ceiling at SF on this team and the best Parker (getting up there) can bring isn't good enough for the Raps to take it to the next level. Yet we have seen over the last 3 years that counting on a "consistent Joey" may not be the surest of gambles. Is this maybe Sam's greatest failure as a coach? But if this team is to take is to be a solid an upper echelon team in the East, it won't be because of the play of Parker, Moon and to a lesser extent Kapono (I agree with you he is not used enough). That said, despite two consecutive solid games, if the height of our season's accomplishments depend on Joey's development, I do not feel great... Thank you for all the coverage. I am sure everyone appreciates it but for those of us who live abroad, it is all the more important.
Colin B, Bogota, Colombia
A: I honestly believe it’s far more Joey’s greatest failure as a player. Lord knows he was given chances over the years and has seldom showed consistency. Maybe he will now; maybe he won’t. But it’s more on him than it is on his coach.
Q: Why do very few teams run the triangle offense? The Lakers use this offense and it works for them very effectively, so shouldn't other teams follow suit and use it?
Harry J, Auckland, N.Z.
A: It takes a lot of basketball IQ, a good amount of reading and reacting, to run the triangle and few teams have enough of that kind of guy on the roster.
But, I will also point this out: It’s an awful lot easier to run the triangle offence when you’ve got guys named Jordan and Bryant who can take over late in the shot clock when all that reading and reacting and basketball IQ goes out the window.
Q: Hey Doug, going old school here if you don't mind. Nowadays we have players like Marbury, Randolph, TMac and his cousin etc with phenomenon skills, but probably won't get into the Hall of Fame because of their attitudes or lack of accomplishments or both. So were there any similar players back in the days?
K X, Waterloo
A: Attitudes? I’m not sure that’s keeping anyone from back in the day from getting in because “attitude” is a rather new phenomenon.
It’s generally held that guys like Bernard King, Jo Jo White and Dennis Johnson are the kind of player who should be the Hall but aren’t but none of them had attitude. I guess you could say King might be being held out because of the accomplishment factor. But certainly not White or DJ.
Q: Question about Bosh's superhuman performance so far: doesn't it hide the fact that the rest of this Raptors team is not very good? Imagine CB4 produces at the same rate he did last year (when he was already far and away our best player) and doesn't post an increase of 5ppg, 2rpg, 1 FT/game, an extra .056 shooting % in addition to vastly improved defense and leadership? Doesn't this Raptor team fall below .500? And doesn't it force BC and co. to recognize this isn't "the best Raptor team yet" and maybe push the action on the trade front?
Fahad S, London, UK
A: Oh, not to worry. If they fall significantly below .500 there will be repercussions. And changes.