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.