This will help you get through the morning
Way to go, folks.
Even on a week where the vast majority of e-mail had to do with L’Affaire Bosh, you still managed to fill the mail bag to overflowing.
So this is long but it’s a nice Sunday to relax and do a little reading.
And I hope everyone did the whole turn-out-the-lights-save-the-world thing last night.
Q: Can you explain this idea of the way the game is played changing in the playoffs? It seems very odd to me and I'm wondering what causes it. The fact that one team can beat another during the regular season but not during the playoffs just because the portion of the season they are in has a different label is very strange, why don't they just play the way they did during the regular season?
What forces them to 'slow it down' and all of those other cliches? Does it have something to do with playing a team of a higher caliber every night? But if so why can they beat a team of that caliber in the regular season? Maybe they want to be more careful so they slow it down? But if that is true and slowing it down is beneficial why not always do it?
David S, Toronto
A: What causes it, mainly, is familiarity. Every play is charted, every play call memorized, every counter has a counter and that’s got a counter. No team can put in any real new wrinkles in an offence, or a defence, over the course of a series so the outcome of almost every game comes down to intense levels of concentration on every single possession and – and this is not me channeling Sam Mitchell – which team makes the shots its gets.
It’s just harder to get those shots.
Q: A non Raptors related question for you: what's up with the terrible free throw shooting in the NCAA? It seems like a lot of teams have low FT percentages in both the tournament and the regular season as well. I haven't watched that many games, but the number of guards I've seen missing free throws is astounding. I also don't watch a lot of college ball, so I can't tell if this just an anomalous year or if it's a skill that doesn't get much attention in college ball compared to other skills.
Marc Z, Halifax
A: I don’t see a whole lot of college ball year to year, either, but people I talk to who do tell me this is not a one-off phenomenon. And I’ve noticed it, too. Those kids can’t make free throws, whether it’s because of the pressure of the situation or – and this is what I think is the reason – they don’t spend nearly enough time developing free-throw shooting skills ‘cause everyone’s hoisting threes or trying to dunk when they’re teenagers.
Q: Here’s a question my friend asked me the other day that got me thinking (it is not Raptor related). If you could have Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in their primes together on your team or LeBron and Kobe, which of the pairs would you take!?
Mario A, Toronto
A: Good question. One I’m sure will spark at least a little debate.
I’d take LeBron and Kobe for sure. Jordan’s talent was singular, either of the two current players are better than Pippen ever was. That’s not say Scottie wasn’t great (not Top 50 of all time great, in my estimation, but great nonetheless) but he was not in the class of James or Bryant, who may end up among the top 10 players of all time at any position when it’s all said and done.
Q: Hey Doug - your comment that the Raps might be camping in St. Catherines this summer got me wondering: are fans allowed anywhere near the players while they're training? Recent training camps haven't really been within easy junket distance for me, and I've always just assumed that these are closed-door affairs. Would be cool if I'm wrong about that, though!
Lyn I, London
A: There really isn’t any formal access at any training camp; you might catch a player or two signing autographs on the way to the bus or at the team hotel but that’s pretty hit and miss.
The one thing they do, however, is hold a scrimmage on the final day to which they sell tickets rather cheaply and it’s a nice, laid-back affair.
Q: If the 2010 FA Bosh, James, Wade stay with their current team and receive max contracts and the same number of years, will the 3 have the same salary?
T T, Toronto
A: Since the maximum value of a contract is tied to a percentage of the salary cap, everyone making the max makes the same money over the course of a maximum length contract if they stay with their teams.
Q: Who are the best columnists in Toronto? (Your opinion) I won’t make you list current ones for professional reasons, for fear you may offend by exclusion, how about past writers
Rick H, Toronto
A: Of the ones I’ve read regularly in the decades I’ve been reading Toronto newspapers?
The gold standard was Milt Dunnell and he will be forever, in my opinion.
Jim Proudfoot at our place was pretty damn good and I’d round out the top three by saying I never ever missed a Wayne Parrish piece.
Some day, when it’s really, really slow, we’ll get into what makes a good columnist.
Q: Question 1: How important is the NCAA championships to the NBA draft. I've read lately that it doesn't make much of an impact as scouting is a process done all year round and yet as I read lists of championship team's players drafted by the many in the first or second round in the championship year or subsequent year. I can't help but think being on a Championship team helps vault a number of role players' stock in the draft.
Question 2: If you were starting an NBA team tomorrow and could only choose one of the following groups upon which to build your franchise which would you choose.
A: Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Denham Brown, Charlie V
B: Marvin Williams, Ray Felton, Sean May, Rasheed McCants, David Noel
C: Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Corey Maggette, Shane Battier, William Avery, Chris Carrawell
Question 3 and 4: Does a guy have better luck getting his questions posted if he asks them individually one at a time? In other words, if I put a question you like and a question you don't like in the same email do you copy the one you like and leave the leftovers or do they cancel each other out and cause you to move on?
Jeffery M, Beijing
A: We’ll go from the bottom up.
Guys, or gals, have better luck getting questions answered solely on my mood. (I keed, I keed). What I try to do is get a representative package together, some Raptor-specific, some league-specific, some-goofy, some about our grunt lives. I think it’s working pretty well but it’s never anything personal if they don’t make it every week.
Now, if I have to take one of those groups (and all have huge flaws), I I guess I go with the Duke guys.
And, finally, winning an NCAA championship has little or no bearing on a players draft status. What teams get in the tournament is confirmation, or denial, of information they’ve built on specific players over years. And I’d guess the reason you see more guys from winning teams in the pros is that they’re better players. Which is why they tend to win.
Q: I vaguely recall a pre '06 draft story in one of the local papers about Bargnani's off-the-charts scores on a Wonderlic-type assessment test. If I recall correctly, the story claimed that Bargs' test scores indicated he was impervious to criticism, failure, success, or pressure situations and that his character type was not only highly uncommon, but indicative of greatness.
It was mentioned that the results were ONE of the reasons either Colangelo or Gerardini was favoring drafting Bargs with the #1.
Do you recall the story? Was it one of yours? Considering Bargs' highly publicized confidence issues in year 2, subsequent reversal of fortune, and the dearth of Raptors related stories in these trying times, a follow-up story might be interesting.
Conrad M, Montreal
A: It was what’s known as the Caliper Test and it’s a psychological exercise in which Bargnani did score off the charts. And I’m not sure it was only “confidence” issues in Year 2, I think the problem with his sinuses was under-played (it’s hard to thrive when it’s hard to breath).
The Raptors this year have enlisted the aid of highly-acclaimed sports psychologist Dana Sinclair to help in assessing potential draft picks. She’s worked extensively with the Indianapolis Colts, who always seem to draft well, my football-knowledgeable friends tell me, and with a handful of NBA teams.
Q: Great work as always. Your remarks and insights are must read for me.
I was wondering your take on why Parker of the Spurs is not mentioned in the MVP conversation. His scoring stats are not as gaudy as Kobe, LeBron and Wade but I can’t help but wonder where the spurs would be without Parker. They have been without Ginobli a fair amount and Duncan has been down more than usual. Seems he has been carrying the team for long stretches.
So I wonder why he is not even in the conversation for 'most Valuable? Or does it depend on how the writers define the criterion for MVP? or is it simply a media driven popularity contest?
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: He’s in the conversation, he’s just not in the first few words of it. But seeing where the Spurs are and how they’ve been hit by injuries, I’d put Parker on my ballot, probably fourth behind the three who are going to slog it out: James, Bryant and Wade. Not sure who I’d put fifth (Howard? Paul?) but that’s the group I’m leaning towards right now.
Q: It has been frequently discussed that Raptors need to upgrade their play at the wing positions. It seems to me after watching the team this season that they need a versatile defensive-minded, rebounding/hustle/energy type of small forwarded who has a bit of an edge (Renaldo Balkman) rather than a scorer/slasher type of player that can create his own shot and get to the free throw line (Corey Maggette).
Do you agree with this assessment? Does Bryan Colangelo have the salary cap room to sign/trade for this type of wing player, address their need for depth at the point guard position (if you think Ukic is not the answer in 2009/10) and re-sign Anthony Parker this summer?
To me these are the three most pressing roster issues facing the Raptors this summer.
George T, Toronto
A: First off, if you’re setting sights on guys like Renaldo Balkman, who is at the very, very, very, very best a deep-down-the-rotation non-scoring backup, you’re setting your sights far too low.
But, yes, with a high draft pick, sign-and-trade possibilities, some cap room even if it’s only the mid-level exception in the event they keep Marion and the expiring contracts he has at his disposal, Bryan has far more than enough resources to make the moves necessary to get the franchise going forward again.
Q: Two questions and a suggestion for you Doug:
1) During the live blog of the Raps-OKC game, I asked what other (besides P-A-R) triple double there could be. (Thanks for the reply.) Which is the easiest to do? The hardest? Does it depend on position played?
2) Non-Rap, Non-BB related. Which of the four pro NA sports leagues would you say 'overdoes' their championship the most? I would say the NFL, with their 42-hour pre-Super Bowl game special.
3) The suggestion (perhaps for the lazy, hazy dog days of summer: Maybe give us fans some insight into the live blog. I really can't understand how you do it: watch the action, watch the comments, make comments, choose what comments to post and reply to. I'm guessing that multi-tasking is one of your many talents.
Tim H, Windsor
A: To me, the easiest triple double is the usual – points, rebounds, assists – and I’d contend it’s far harder to get 10 blocked shots in a game than it is to get 10 steals. Of course, it’s probably easiest to get 10 turnovers but I guess that couldn’t count.
The NFL’s two-week wait between conference final and Super Bowl and the day-long celebration is so far over the top, nothing comes close. And nothing ever will.
The in-game multi-tasking? It’s the way of the world, I fear. And I don’t imagine it’s going to get any easier or the workload any lighter.
Q: With the Douby-ous signing of Quincy yesterday, we've had 5 draftees from the 2006 draft on our team, including 4 this year. Who are they?
Bernie T, Peterborough
A: I didn’t even have to look this one up on the web.
Bargnani, O’Bryant, P.J. Tucker, Douby and Hassan Adams.
Q: Doug I was wondering if you could maybe talk about some of the contributions that Asst. GM and VP Maurizio Gherardini has done for the Toronto Raptors.
From what I hear he is a brilliant man and people speak very highly of him, and I’m not trying to dispute that. However, I thought that he was brought here to be a great Euro scout and bring in some players that maybe he would have an edge on signing.
You could argue he brought Bargs here but regardless he was a Top 5 pick on every teams board. AP wasn’t exactly unknown to the NBA. Garbo is really the only guy. Just wondering what he brings to the table to the Raps.
Andrew P, Oakville
A: He was brought here for a variety of reasons, just one of which was his vast contacts in Europe, which still may unearth that one hidden gem. The simple fact is there aren’t a lot of hidden gems, that whole continent has been picked pretty clean.
But he does far more than that. He’s an excellent judge of basketball talent no matter where the games are played and he’s been scouting the college scene as well as Europe all year.
He’s one of the more astute businessmen I’ve ever met and he does some business-sponsorship deals for the Raptors that maybe other people couldn’t pull off.
He is a smart executive who’s a significant part of the team.
Any decisions that are made, he’s involved in to some degree.
Q: It seems from one of you recent posts that you may have taken some heat for complaining so bitterly about the pizza fiascoes at every game.
I just wanted to tell you that some fans out there like myself are also appalled by this. I have season tickets in the upper bowl and I think the number one factor in my leaning towards not renewing is the game-ops.
Especially the T-shirt bonanza at the beginning of the fourth. If that isn't enough they have to come around section by section coaxing people to jump like dogs for a biscuit for a 2 dollar shirt that is really just and ad for a bank.
Alain B, Toronto
A: There is no question so I have no answer but I’m running this ‘cause maybe some poohbah in Raporland reads it.
Q: Quick question relating to the rebuilding of the Raps and their future. Out of the teams currently sitting in the basement of their division (including the Raps), who would you rather be; and why? I think watching the Clips, it is hard to ignore Randolph, Davis and Camby as 3 solid components; yet they are still among the worst teams. How close/far are the Raps away from a returning to the playoffs relative to the others?
Mark P, Ajax
A: Please don’t hold me to this because it’s simply a guess until teams make whatever moves they are going to make but of the four last-place teams at the moment, I’d much rather have the Bosh-Bargnani-Calderon as a threesome to build around than anyone else.
Of course, Washington with Arenas-Jamison-Butler is probably just as good on paper but that hasn’t always translated onto the court.
The Clippers will suck until the obvious disconnect between coach Mike Dunleavy and point guard Baron Davis is worked out, regardless of their roster; and Memphis is a young mess that needs to find a coach and some veterans. But I’d rather be the Grizzlies than the Clippers.
Q: I here a lot of people commenting on Roko's playing time. A lot of folks are saying he should get some serious minutes so the Raps can see what he's got but there’s one problem; Jay Triano is playing for his job and that means he wants wins. My question is do you think BC will force Jay to play the guys he wants to see or does it not work that way. I believe you play to win until you're officially eliminated and there lies the catch if the Raps go all the way to the last game or two before they're out of the playoffs. Can you explain how this will work out?
Jason H, Princeton
A: Bryan’s not going to “force” Jay to do anything. And I’m sure once it’s mathematically impossible to make the playoffs, you may see Roko’s minutes increase in games against teams out of the race as well but that’s just smart coaching, rather than bowing to the dictums of the boss.
And his time, or time for Pops or Jawai or O’Bryant for that matter, aren’t going to be anything other than the usual in any game that matters in the least or in any game against any team that’s playing for something.
Q: I'm not sure if you answered this but I was at the game on Wednesday and noticed that Herbie Kuhn was not announcing. The people around me didn't even notice! Is he on vacation or ill? I just want to make sure he's still our announcer. No disrespect to the newbie but he missed announcing at one point when the Bucks scored.
Simone S, Toronto
A: The regular PA guy is just sick; he’ll be back. Not today, but next week most likely.
Q: We just had a rule change approved by the league. Do you see any other significant or otherwise rule changes coming this off season. Any talk about what is being considered?
Steph R, Glencoe
A: I don’t see any significant rule changes at all, actually; nor have I heard whispers of even minor ones. They tweaked the instant replay rule last year, cleaned up that “six men on the court” thing this week and there’s no other pressing issues.
Everything done at the board level this summer will be about the economics of the game and the coming contract negotiations; the competition committee’s going to have a quiet summer.
Q: Hey Doug. Watching "The Madness", and particularly coaches like Pitino, Izzo, and Calhoun, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on comparing college coaches to NBA coaches. For example, are college coaches "more important" than NBA? Thanks!
Matt H, PEI
A: Here’s the analogy I use: College coaches are like CEOs, they dictate policy, are the undisputed bosses and can acquire employees they want, rather than workers foisted upon them by, say, general managers.
They enjoy a power base with the workers that’s unimaginable in the NBA.
So, I don’t know that they’re more or less important, they are just different jobs entirely.
Q: When the players travel (I assume they always charter) who picks up their bags etc. upon landing? Do the players stand there around the carousel and grab their suit bags etc., or are their team personnel who look after all of this?
Mike D, Cambridge
A: When they travel out of the country, they have to carry their bags through U.S. Customs, put them on the belt like usual schmoes and the next time they see them is in the lobby of the team hotel.
On the way back, they leave them outside their hotel door hours before game time and the next time they have to touch them is when a cart delivers them to the lobby of the charter terminal back in Toronto – after they’ve cleared Canadian Customs.
If they’re going city to city in the U.S., the bags are picked up in the hotel and the next time they touch them is in the lobby of the next hotel.
Q: I've been reading in this blog over the past couple weeks that theory that we could use Marion in a sign and trade. I've never really understood the concept of sign and trade. How does it work exactly? Does BC and Shawn need to come together on possible destinations he's like to play for, work out a trade with one of those teams, then sign him then trade him away for the agreed parts?
Adam R, Toronto
A: It’s a transaction where a free agent signs with his original team and is simultaneously traded to another team. It’s often cooked up between the two GMs involved and the players’ representatives.
The benefit to the player is that free agents can get maximum five-year deals with 10 per cent annual raises from his own team as opposed to four-year deals with 8 per cent annual raises from another team.
The benefit to the team losing the free agent is that it gets some asset for a player who’d otherwise leave with nothing coming back.
The benefit to the team signing the free agent at an increased wage is that it gets rid of an equally large contract in the move.
Q: I noticed at the Midwest regional (Kansas-Michigan State site) that the court is elevated from press row the benches, etc. It would seem strange to coach and play on such a configuration. Have you ever been on press row when it is a set-up like that? My take is it would be uncomfortable, especially if a player was diving for a loose ball, it would be body, table surfing time, with laptops wiped out.
Doug B, Toronto
A: It is dangerous and ridiculous and, in my opinion, something the league should never let happen. The court’s raised about eight inches or so in Cleveland and the first time LeBron’s chasing a ball out of bounds, steps on the edge and tweaks an ankle, I presume they’ll tear the building down.
Not sure why they do it – I’m sure there’s some weird engineering reason in the various arenas that do – but they should fix it.
Q: The OKC game was certainly among the best for the Raptors in terms of team play / ball movement / unity / etc. I actually witnessed well designed plays that were executed on quite effectively. Your best guess how much can be attributed to: a) OKC's horrid defense b) health of our key players c) a better fit with a Triano system *and* personnel - with several games gelling together d) guys more relaxed playing a (relatively) meaningless game and just out there doing what they do without much pressure.
Tom L, Toronto
A: The most significant factor when the Raptors play as well on offence as they have the past three games is Jose’s health. It allows them to use the high screen and roll more effectively because he’s a threat to go to the rim or at least penetrate and make the first pass in what we should call the “swing-swing” offence where he moves the ball to the wing, it goes out to the top and then over to the other side, where there’s generally an open shooter waiting.
And when that’s going well, everyone starts to trust each other a little bit more, it opens up space for Bosh to operate in the paint and this team’s defensive intensity has always fed off its offensive play. That’s ass-backwards, but it’s true.
All those other factors – crappy opponents, no pressure – sure help but they finally have a guy driving the engine who feels good enough to play the way he did last season.
Q: I know you're of the mind that thinks Pops would be great to keep and with him plus Jawai and Humphries, we can't really afford to take on another big man vet, such as Rasho. Lets say Bosh and Bargnani are playing and ideal amount of no more than around 35 mpg, that leaves around 25 each game for big men. Now I like Pops, but I doubt he's able to perform consistently for those minutes for 82 games. Jawai is likely to only get garbage time again as he goes through his first full season. This leaves Hump, who I personally think becomes expendable if they can retain Pops and also have the chance to sign Rasho cheap in what could be a tough year for free agents.
So would the Raps be able to waive or buy out Hump without eating too much money? Does his lack of playing due to injury hurt any chance of trading him? I'm sure some team would be willing to take a player like him, and I wouldn't even mind just getting back 2nd round picks or cash.
Alex S, Montreal
A: Now, I’ve never said Pops would be “great” to keep because I’m not sure he’s ever a key rotation player on a good playoff team. Good? Yes. Great? Not so much.
They are not going to buy out or waive Humphries and eat salary, we can forget that entirely. It makes no financial sense and I think Hump is like Pops with a better offensive game at the moment. Give him away for a second round pick? Ridiculous, in my opinion.
So, if you can’t take on a veteran big man vet, you don’t. You find a veteran wing vet to provide the kind of professional leadership this team needs.