A little mail to get you through the workday
Oh, wait, it’s you who is supposed to welcome me home, at least for a little while.
Anyway, still trying to get back onto eastern time, it may take a day, which means a slight delay in this. (And I had to finish a couple this morning because instead of working the whole flight, I watched about four episodes of 30 Rock on the trip home and I may now have to rethink my opinion that Seinfeld was the greatest sitcom ever. 30 Rock is hilarious and Tina Fey is my new unrequited crush.)
But I digress …
And now I answer, before I rest to be back here well-rested for the game (that’d be the NBA game at 9, not the big baseball game to coach just before)
Q: How often do you get tips or leads on stories from off-the-record sources? Are there times when you're just not able to find someone to confirm the story on-the-record? In other words, do you have a bunch of interesting stories that you're not able to tell the readers because they were told to you off-the-record?
Andrew H, Washington, DC
A: Sure, those times exist, but usually when the original information is wrong. If a guy (say a scout, or another beat guy, or a coach, or a low-level exec) says to me, “hey, I hear the Raptors are going to do such-and-such” and I check with people who’d know and they tell me it’s wrong, does that count as a “tip” that doesn’t pan out? If so, that probably happens two or three times a week right now. And, no, I’m not going to give you an example because it will likely start some conversation on why it’d be a good move or a bad move when it’s not even a move being contemplated and that’s a waste of time.
But, yes, I’m sure I know stuff in confidence some would find interesting. But that’s the problem, they’re told in confidence and I won’t betray that.
Q: Do you see the Raps adding a shooting coach, at least part time, for this season. They had one a few years ago but since dropping him it seems their shooting has dropped off considerably.
Mike S, Calgary
A: This is what I don’t get: All this love for Dave Hopla (who is a nice guy but no magician) and perception that a guy like him makes all, or even any, difference.
In 2006-07, the only year the Raptors have employed a “shooting coach” they shot 46.3 per cent from the field, 36.3 per cent from three, 78.8 per cent from the free throw line and scored 99.5 points per game.
In 2007-08, they shot 46.8 per cent from the field (an improvement), 39.2 per cent from three (an improvement), 81.2 per cent from the free throw line (an improvement) and averaged 100.2 points per game (an improvement).
Last year, the overall field goal percentage dipped to 45.8 per cent, three-point percentage was 37.2 (down from ’07-08 but higher than when they had a “shooting coach) and the free throw percentage was at an all-time franchise high of 82.4 per cent. They scored 99 points per game.
The impact of a “shooting coach” is hugely, vastly over-rated.
Q: Why is it that LA gets another All-Star game while Toronto hasn't even had one yet?
Rick K, Ottawa
A: I should have done this is the blog Monday because I had about four e-mails on the issue.
Toronto hasn’t even applied for an all-star game for a couple of reasons. They didn’t want 2010 because it coincides with the start of the Vancouver Olympics and no corporate money would be around; in 2011 there were issues with space for things like the FanJam since convention locations are already booked. Maybe 2012? That’s the earliest and always ways, regardless of where the 2011 game went.
Q: How much of the Iavaroni signing is Jay's idea? Seems to me that BC is hedging his bets here, and that, perhaps not this season, but next, any slip up by Jay is going to result in Iavaroni taking over. Not that that is a bad move, but I was always under the impression that a Head Coach picks his staff, and Iavaroni seems to have been inserted in the mix regardless of how Mr. Triano felt.
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: Your impression is right so your contention is wrong. Look, there are people who are going to see conspiracies in this hiring no matter what anyone says. But if you want to know the truth, and this comes from unimpeachable sources, the Raptors brass feels that Marc is one of the best assistant coaches – not head coach, assistant coach – in the league.
But if he and Jay did not get along, if Jay had any concerns about their working arrangement whatsoever, he wouldn’t be on the staff, it’s that simple.
If there is cause to fire Jay in the next two seasons – which I highly doubt – who knows what will happen but I am here to tell you Marc Iavaroni was NOT hired to be the next head coach of the Raptors and if Jay wasn’t on board with his hiring, it wouldn’t have happened.
That comes from the highest levels of the organization.
Q: Hey Doug, why is it so many writers and sports show anchors make such a big deal about a series being 2-0 for the team with home-court? All the Lakers did was take care of business, that doesn't mean that Orlando is toast yet - a la Kobe "the job isn't done" right?
Ryan M, Ottawa
A: Because history shows that if a team wins the first two games of a best-of-seven series, it goes onto win the series in 90 per cent of the cases.
Pretty compelling statistical reason right there, no?
Q: Hey Doug, here is a historical draft question. Which was the strongest draft class of all time? Could you give me you opinion and also which class had the most inductees into the Hall of Fame?
Mich G, North Bay
A: My opinion? I’d put the Jordan-Olajuwon draft of 1984 at the top of the list, with the proviso that we don’t know for sure how 2003 (LeBron-Wade, etc) will pan out. The other one that’s usually in the discussion is 1996, with Kobe and Iverson.
As for cross-referencing drafts and Hall of Fame lists, that’s not something I have the time or inclination to do right now.
Q: Hey Doug, just out of curiosity why does the NBA switch to a 2-3-2 format for the NBA finals? Why don't they stick with the 2-2-1-1-1 like the rest of the series? The only reason I can think of is for travel purposes, unless there's something else I'm missing.
Simon S-G, Toronto
A: It’s travel, pure and simple. It lessens the wear and tear on the players, which is why they made the switch originally back in 1985, I believe it was.
It’s much easier on everyone – and theoretically provides for better play – to make two cross-continent trips (one after Game 2, one after Game 5) during a seven-game playoff series rather than four (one after Game 2, one after Game 4, one after Game 5 and one after Game 6).
Q: Hey Doug, I met Scottie Pippen last night at a restaurant/bar here in Beijing. A friend asked him what current NBA player reminds him most of himself. Pippen was offended when my friend offered Lamar Odom as a possible comparable talent. Pippen suggested of all the current players in the NBA only LeBron has a similar game. I wonder your thoughts on where Pippen rates on the list of all time greats.
Also, humor me, what current NBA player is most similar to Pippen's game.
Jeffrey M, Beijing
A: I’d say Pippen was better that Odom and I really can’t think of a guy in the league who does the same stuff as he did. I guess maybe Odom’s a comparison but I’d be chafed if I was Pippen, too.
That said, he was a marginal inclusion on that Top 50 players of all-time list, in my opinion. I could probably argue that Dominique Wilkins could have had that spot.
Q: Hi Doug, I've got one for the mailbag. Why did the Raps let Uros Slokar go? I remember (from what I saw of him in his little floor time) that he was at least half-decent and even Leo was a big fan of his game and possible future. He could hit some mid-range jumpers and seemed to rebound well enough. Any possible return to the NBA or Raps for him?
Binson S, Markham
A: It was simply a case of them not thinking – after watching him in games and practices for a season – that he wasn’t going to develop into an NBA regular. Plus, I think he got about 700,000 Euros to go play overseas and he would have been foolish to turn it down. Return? Highly doubtful.
Q: Knowing BC's fondness for Euro's, do you think there's any chance he can move up in the draft and steal Rubio?
Dave W, Toronto
A: No, I don’t. Bryan himself said the night of the lottery the only thing he’d even think about trying to do would be to move up to get No. 1, which is rather far-fetched.
Q: I've been following your blog for awhile and enjoy the comments. If grit seems to be a big issue with the Raps, how come we don't hear any comments about Tyler Hansbrough as a pick?
Greg B, Toronto
A: Because, while Hansbrough bled a lot and played with intensity at North Carolina, there are serious questions of whether he’ll be anything but a marginal NBA player and Lord knows the last thing Toronto needs is a marginal NBA player.
Q: Hi Doug! I think the real question behind CB4 is, not if he can perform to the best of his abilities, because he has proven that since he took over VC as the franchise player of this team, but if he makes the other players around him perform better, which I think he drastically fails in. Do you agree? It doesn’t matter who you surround Kobe, LeBron or D-Wade with, they will still win ballgames. Does CB4 have the same worth?
Tobi B, Markham
A: No, I don’t agree. It does matter greatly the calibre of player on the roster; Kobe didn’t win for a while with marginal talent, James is the exception that proves the rule, I suppose, given the marginal talent he had this year; and Wade? Well, Wade’s team won 10 more games than Toronto’s this year but I could make the case that the Raptors, at the end of the season with everyone healthy and settled into roles, was at least as good as the Heat.
So, better players, more wins. It’s quite simple.
Q: Hey Doug, I remember you saying that Jorge Garbajosa looks like the "same old Garbo" playing for Khimki. Do you think he'd ever come back to the NBA? And how do you think he was affected by the whole mangled leg/Olympic qualifiers/insurance lawsuit thing? Thanks for your consideration.
Jeff W, Ajax
A: No, Garbo will never come back to the NBA. And I know people chastise me for saying never but that’s the absolute truth here. Affected? Barely at all. He’s making a great living playing basketball still,
Q: Hey Doug, I was watching game 2 of the finals and I thought of something. Do you think the Raptors should pursue Trevor Ariza during the off season, if I'm not mistaken he's a free agent and he fits what the Raptors need.
Steph M, Ottawa
A: He is a free agent, he is exactly the kind of player I think the Raptors need, but his salary demands and the fact the Lakers like him an awful lot, too, makes it a virtual certainty that Toronto has no chance whatsoever to get him.
They don’t have the cap room, nor the pieces to do a sign-and-trade for him and I can’t imagine the Lakers letting him go.
Q: Your contention that Bosh, Bargnani, Humphries, Nesterovic, O'Bryant, and Jawai will be the 4's and 5's going forward is a sobering one. Do you really believe that the Raptors can be a materially better team with respect to toughness, energy, defense and rebounding with this group?
J Lawson, Oakville
A: Over the course of 82 games, given better health from Bosh, Bargnani playing at the level he did in the final 40 games last year for the entire regular season this year, a healthy Humphries who accepts his role and the veteran savvy that Rasho brings, yes.
Those are the ideal circumstances necessary but if they are met, that is almost exactly the front court that won 47 games two seasons ago. Yes, Garbo was a part of that for the first 67 games of that season, but he played a significant amount at small forward.
Q: Can you review the various recent BC signings and enlighten us on which have been "good" values (ie production for $$s). Humps or Kapono comes to mind as a potential "poor" values, especially when considering Kapono doesn’t play D (which is not his thing) nor shoot many 3s (and that is his thing!) ... when I see role players like Pietrus or Ariza I wonder what the difference a few of the recent signings might have made to move TO into the playoffs.
Oliver B, Victoria
A: Humphries, when he’s healthy, is entirely worth the relative pittance he’s paid; Kapono was a mistake. But the value for money they get out of guys like Parker and Garbo for the year he was here was pretty high.