Hey, they get mail all the way out here! (I keed, it's nice in B.C.)
Anyway, on with what mail there was before another walk on the sea wall and, perhaps, a downtown local to see Canada-Puerto Rico:
Q: General question: does having a strong roster create a "virtuous circle" in the sense that training sessions are tougher and more intense therefore leading players to improve? Another quick and lazy question: how many raptors in the current roster have won an NBA title? Thank you and enjoy the wild west.
Matthieu B, Biel-Bienne, Switzerland
A: The west isn’t so wild; beautiful, as a matter of fact.
I do think practices, at least on those days when they can get some good work done, will be much more competitive than they were last year and that has to create at least the possibility for improvement. One thing it could also do is create genuine competition for playing time because if one guy’s killing another in practice, everyone on the team will know and that guy will have to see his time increase.
An anecdote: One reason teammates became so enamoured of Jose in his second season was that he was taking it to T.J. Ford in practice, players saw it and came to respect his work ethic, and game, that much more.
A word of warning, however: Once the season starts and the grind of the schedule commences – especially in those stretches of three games in four nights or four games in five – there isn’t a lot of time for intense, hard practices. Once Nov. 1 hits, look for times where there are two days between games, that’s when the most practice work gets done.
Oh, yeah, champions. Rasho’s got a ring from San Antonio, I believe, and that’s it.
Q: Can you give me your scouting report on Carl English? As a guy from his home province I always hear stories of him when he played here, and I'm just curious as to how he turned out (I've seen a few games with him but I figure you'd know more). Also do you think he ever has a shot at being in the NBA?
Jeff L, St. John’s
A: The scouting report, from NBA scouts, is he’s too slow to be a two-guard, to short to be a three, doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to be a true combo guard and has a hard time creating his own shot. That said, he’s making a great living playing in Europe, where his skillset fits a bit better. His NBA shot has come and gone.
Q: Big fan of the blog and your Raptors reportings. I'm a Raptors season ticket holder that's moving out to Vancouver to work for a year - any good sports bars you come across in your travels where I can catch my team in the late afternoon? Safe travels
Evan S, Vancouver
A: I don’t know, for sure. But someone reading this will know and, if they’re nice, they’ll drop a comment with some suggestions.
Q: I know you don't like postulating about future possibilities, but as a journalist would anything in the last five seasons of Raptors basketball compare with the joy of covering a Raptors-Magic first round match-up?
Steve R, Manitoba
A: It’d be cool, no question; and while it would have more layers, I don’t know if it’d capture the raw emotion of the first Toronto-New Jersey game a couple of years ago.
It might, but that was something.
Q: Over the last several seasons, I found that a major problem the Raptors had was defending the opposing team's superstar at the wing position whether it was LeBron, Carmelo, Pierce, etc... At the end of games, we didn't have that gritty wing defender who could slow them down and most of the time, it resulted in a loss.
I felt that we somewhat overcame that issue at the end of last season with the trade for Marion, but with Marion gone now, do you think we have a player on our team who can slow down those type of players in crunch time? Can Antoine Wright fill that role?
Thanks and please keep blogging!
Brian K, Toronto
A: I’ll answer your question with a question:
Really, who does stop LeBron, or Carmelo, or Pierce, or Kobe? Nobody.
So, no, Wright cannot fill that role and if you expect him to, expect to be disappointed.
Q: Hope you enjoyed your well deserved time off. I just had a question about the roster for this upcoming season. Why don't we get ... just joking.
On to my actual question.
I remember a couple years back (I think it was the season of 47 wins) one of the "problems" with the team was that there were too many guys who could play at each position making the team 10 or so men deep.
This created problems for Sam in terms of establishing a set rotation of 8 guys to play on a consistent basis. Looking at the depth on the wings and guard spot do you envision similar problems with this squad?
Also, would you say that this squad is more talented than the one that finished the last season? Thanks
Steve D, Grenada, WI
A: I see that possibility and it’s going to be up to Jay to figure out a rotation – and I can see that being 10 men – and sticking with it with the variable being injuries, of course.
I do think there’s a better delineation this season than there was then. I see 10 men being Jose, DeRozan, Turkoglu, Bosh, Bargnani, Jack, Belinelli, Wright, Evans and Nesterovic. The rest will fill out the 11th and 12th man (Douby and either O’Bryant or Johnson) and three-man inactive list and I don’t think there’s much debate on the issue.
And, yes, exponentially more talented than the one that finished last year-
Q: Do you know what Roko's reaction was to being dealt to Milwaukee? I don't know if I could see him being too happy.
Timmy S, Markham
A: Roko loved Toronto, his teammates and his coaches and the one guy I talked to who knows him pretty well suggested he’s quite disappointed to leave, especially when there’s no guarantee he’ll get more playing time in Milwaukee.
Q: Love the blog. I was wondering what you thought about Turk's post up game. I know that Chris and Andrea both have those skills, but they seem to prefer the jumpshot. Is there anyone that will command a double team in the low post?
Rob N, London
A: Um, Bosh has been doubled in the post for about four seasons now, I presume that will continue. As for Turkoglu, his game is not low post-oriented and there’s no sense in changing it now.
Q: Hey Doug! Hope you're having an absolute blast out west!! So word on the street (interweb) is that the Raptors overpaid for Hedo... what's up with that? I believe Portland was willing to dish out the same amount and I'm sure they would have been heralded for the move of the off-season. What do you think? Big forward who can handle the ball and run your offense for just over $10 million a year... I can think of quite a few more, far worse contracts than that. Top 5 overpaid players?
Joey H, Toronto
A: They’re all overpaid. And who am I to rip on a guy for making as much money as he can, even if it was a general manager in a moment of weakness who gave him the contract. Is Marcus Banks (at $4.5 million a year) more overpaid that, say, DeSagana Diop (at $6 million or so) or Brad Miller (at about $12.5 million)? It’s all relative, lots of contracts are bad, big whoop.
Q: Who would your “Gatorade X-Factor” player for the season be?
Brendan H, Toronto
A: DeRozan. And Belinelli.
Q: Hi Doug, How many tech's do you think Jay will receive this year? I'm going with 6 tech's and 2 ejections. Got to love Jay's emotions. Any idea who might have gotten the most tech's as coaches last year? Thanks as always.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Guessing is guesswork, please don’t hold me to it. Let’s say a technical foul every, oh, I dunno, 10 games. That’s eight. Ejections? I say none. One, tops.
I’ll have to check on the leader last season when I get back to my files (or at least internet access, I don’t have it right now).
Q: I was wondering about the distribution of Raptors games on TV this year. Have you heard any inside information on which channels will be airing most of the games? Also, what happened with RSN totally snubbing basketball from the schedule?
Michael C, Montreal
A: No idea on the TV schedule, probably not ‘til the middle of September. Rogers blew off basketball two years ago because they decided to throw about $750,000 a game at the Leaves. Go figure. Guess they wanted all those hockey playoff ratings boosts from Toronto. Oh, wait ...
Q: I hope you're having a great time. As I have been travelling for over 5 weeks and just returning I feel completely lost in terms of the player the Raptors have actually acquired and the way the transactions occurred. Do you know of any possible summary that I can look at or will you be doing a similar analysis before the season begins. Thanks!
Remy D, Mississauga
A: Oh, I’ll be doing something like that for sure, once we get to training camp at the end of the month. I’m pretty sure if you check the team website, they’d have some kind of transactions list.
Don’t forget, not only do we have a month of stories to write during the pre-season, there’s still a month to go before camp even starts and blowing out the story ideas or lists now really limits what we can do as the next few weeks unfold.
Q: Hey Doug, got a question for you. What's your take on Hamed Haddadi, the big men on the Grizzlies roster? I know he won't be coming to the Raptors (even though I thought he would be a nice fit before the trades and signings) but apparently he wants out of Memphis. From what I saw of him in the FIBA Asia Championships, in the Olympics and the garbage minutes he played for Memphis, with his size and soft touch he could become a solid player in the league. Just wondering what's your take on him.
Behzad R, Waterloo
A: I’d be surprised if he ever played a meaningful role on even a marginal NBA team, frankly. He’s very raw, very limited in the fast-paced NBA game and not really physical enough. At best, he’s an end-of-the-bench guy.