The mail's down but it was a slow week
Okay, I’m going to give you all a pass on smallish mailbag. It was a very quiet week with only one game and not much news punctuated by the all-star break.
But that’s the last time, okay?
Q: Hi Doug. Surmising the theme of this mailbag may be a mix of All-Star Stuff, Upcoming Trade Deadline Speculation and Olympics, I am going to harness the prevailing national mood and go with an Olympics question. Now I know that you have had some pretty interesting experiences covering a few recent Olympic Games, but if you could have been at any Games (of the Modern Era!) can you name, say, three that would you have liked to witness either for a particularly historic reason, or perhaps an outstanding achievement by a specific team or individual athlete, or maybe just because they were held in a very nice location? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Well, knowing what we know now, Berlin in 1936 has to be No. 1 on the list for its historical significance.
I’m not a real big Winter Games fan (mostly because I work at other things when they’re on and don’t know them as intimately) but I understand Lillehammer might have been the most fun games of all time from a social standpoint for Grunts so I’m putting that one on my list, too.
And I’m going with a tie for third between Munich in 1972 because of the turning point in Olympic history it presented and London in 1948 because I think London in 1948 would have been a very cool place to be.
Q: With all-star weekend upon us, I was thinking back and trying to recall various Raps participation in the festivities. Aside from Kapono, have we ever sent a representative to the 3-Pt shootout. I am having a Tracy Murray flashback but I might be making that up. Did Dell ever make it to a weekend wearing a Raps jersey?
Matthew M, Toronto
A: Sorry, no Dell or no Tracy but you seem to have forgotten The Wizard, Walt Williams, who was a three-point contestant way back in 1997. He and Jason Kapono, twice, are it.
There’ve also been four dunkers – Vince, Tracy, Jamario and DeMar – and only three all-stars: Chris Bosh, that Carter fellow and Antonio Davis.
Of course, there’s also been 10 guys take part in the rookie-sophomore silliness, none more out of place that Jorge Garbajosa.
Q: Hey Doug, I have a question for you. How do you know if scouts are in the building? Does someone tell you or are the scouts required to inform the team? I notice that sometimes the AP reports state that scouts from a certain team was present in the building. If you could clarify this, it would be great!
John O, Mississauga
A: Well, if they want a seat on media row, the scouts better let the team know they’re coming. Anyway, there’s a seating chart posted in every press room before every game with that night’s seating assignments on it and you just see who’s in the house. Plus, you get to know a lot of guys over the years and you might run into them the night before if you’re on the road.
Q: Hey Doug, question about the NBA talking about changing the rules regarding age eligibility - that you would have to stay in college for a minimum of two years before being able to enter the draft. Are they talking about this because the young guys who have potential but are not quite ready for prime time are diluting the talent in the games? Is DeMar DeRozan a prime example of this?
Tanome M, Regina
A: Part of the reason they have a minimum age requirement, and why they’d like to raise it by a year, is they want players coming in more mentally mature as physically grown. The NBA is a man’s league, I don’t think teams wanted to worry about the maturity level of high schoolers and what they’ve had to teach them about off-the-court issues.
Q: Hey Doug. You do a great job on your blog. Anyways here's a good question for you.
If the Raptors capture the 4th seed (even if it's unlikely), chances are the Raps are going to play whoever they take over in the first round. So which situation do you think the Raptors as a team would prefer:
We take over Boston and become division champs. But a first round exit is very probable cause well, it's Boston. Or we take over Orlando. Get a more favourable first round match-up, but we don't get the divisional champs title.
Viktor Z, London
A: They absolutely don’t care and just because you or others may think that way, they don’t. You play to win every game, add up the total at the end of the season and find out who you get.
Q: Hey Doug, in Wednesday's noon chat, you scoffed at the idea the Raps could get to 50 wins. I'm not saying it would be easy, but they did just put the finishing touches on a 22-10 run with the win over Philly. Everyone concedes the schedule breaks Toronto's way the rest of the year; surely you have to concede there's at least a chance they can put together a similar run after the break.
Nick T, Oklahoma City
A: I suppose there is, I just don’t think they will. They have more back-to-backs, a couple of three-games-in-four-nights swings and a four-game trip out west.
But, anything can happen.
Q: Doug, I just witnessed the Raptors scoring on a play off of a time out again. Jay has to be among the top coaches in the Raptor's coaching history of calling productive plays out of time outs. Can you rank the Raptors coaches on this stat?
Danny H, Fredericton
A: In my opinion, and some of it’s clouded by the passage of time, I’d rank ‘em: Butch, Brendan, Jay, Lenny, Sam, KO and Darrell.
Q: I work/live in the states and was wondering what kind of record the Raptors would need to be shown on one of networks? John P, Fredericton
A: All the US national broadcasts are set in the summer and early fall and coming off a 33-win season, this was hardly thought to be a team anyone would want to watch.
That said, there’s always a chance a Friday night or Sunday afternoon game might be added to an ESPN or ABC broadcast schedule if they one they originally scheduled in a dog and Toronto’s might have playoff implications or something.
Q: Doug: A question about Bryan C., can he shoot a ball? In other words, have you ever seen him on the court working out? Does he ever interact with the players? I realize that in some circles there shouldn't be fraternization, but, just wondering. Thanks.
Ken B, Matheson
A: Not much more interaction than any boss would have with employees; cordial, hellos, quick chats after practice but it’s not like he hangs with the guys who work for him. As for his basketball skills? I’ve never seen them on display.
Q: Hey Doug, I know you've been asked before about who you'd start a team with if you could choose anyone, but how about glue guys? I know it depends on the team, but if you could start a team from fresh and knew you had a superstar, which glue guy would you bring on as well?
Ted W, Markham
A: Shane Battier. I don’t know him all that well but everyone I’ve talked to swears by his leadership qualities and his willingness to do whatever the team needs.
Q: Hi Doug. You've spoken at length about the potential difficulties of having 12 healthy guys who are arguably worthy of being in the rotation. Do you see any potential chemistry problems developing on the team as a result? Are there guys who seem likely to grouse about their minutes being cut?
Geoff R, London
A: I don’t, actually. But they’re also winning and it’s tough for anyone to whine when the victories are piling up. But I do think there’s something about this collection of guys that might keep any complaints in-house to a minimum when the inevitable slump arrives.
Q: Doug: With the story on Coach Triano's use of new statistical ways of interpreting player performance and game situation options we enter an amazingly interesting field. Canadian contributions to the game of basketball continue! You have done a nice job of introducing us to this important issue: +'s and -'s both appear in your story. Q: How do good coaches make BEST USE of numbers? From your article we can sense you and the GM have your doubts about how much statistical analysis can tell us. Still it must be strange (humbling? scary? ) for you to have well-designed statistical analysis show that what we have taken for granted for years as "the way" - e.g. to handle a late game situation - may not be the best way to go.
Charles N, Mexico
A: I’ve talked to a few coaches about this growing trend of advanced statistical analysis and the over-riding reaction I get is that it’s a very small part of a very big picture. They still tend to manage games by “feel” mostly because no matter what the numbers say, they more trust their own instincts and what they’ve seen developing in any particular game.
Now, I do see the use of some of it, no question, and so do most coaches. But there remains a reluctance to manage games, or lineup or situations by numbers.
Q: Another trade question. Does BC discuss anything with the coaches beforehand? Would he tell Jay that so and so might be available and ask his opinion on whether he might help the team and if so, who would Jay suggest the Raptors give up in exchange? Although I imagine Jay would be loathe to suggest anyone.
Penny D, Fredericton
A: I know Bryan’s quite good at keeping the lines of communication open with Jay and I know if something was cooking, he’d seek input and opinion. I don’t how much sway it would hold but it’d be taken into consideration.
And I think Jay would probably protect the players he has and not openly suggest one gets move.
Q: Hey Doug, love your blog and appreciate all the work you put into it. Just wondering, with Kaman and Billups being named all-stars to replace injured players, what was the largest number of "all-stars" for a single season?
Jen L, Calgary
A: Toss in the presence now of replacements Jason Kidd and David Lee and we’re up to four and that’s the most ever.
Should make for a star-studded affair, no?
Q: Hi Doug, although by the time you publish this question, IF you publish this question, I suggest that Barbara Ann Scott will have lit the flame in Vancouver. Since that's all the buzz on Friday, I figured I'd start that way.
Meanwhile, on to more important stuff: The Raptors still have one spot open on their roster. If a trade is made, which will probably be minor if at all, do you think it will be a 1 for 2 deal or will they leave the space open for an emergency?
Steve W, Thornhill
A: Barbara Ann Scott carried the torch into the House of Commons, if memory serves, in a pretty touching moment.
As for the roster spot: I think they’ll leave it be; I guess they might trade one for two and have to take back an extra body for a salary cap match or something but I don’t get the impression that they want to.
Q: I noticed that we will get 'Basketball Night in Canada' on the CBC next Saturday! What do you think Don Cherry and Ron MacLean will discuss at halftime?
Niels H, Willowdale
A: How Europeans are taking all the jobs from well-deserving North Americans and how Reggie Evans should be in the Hall of Fame?
Q: Doug; Hearing many of those in attendance chant Reggie, Reggie on Wednesday in advance of his first regular league court time made me wonder if you could identify which Raptor players over the years got the biggest noise support from those in the stands and why
Congratulations on how you have matured your blog. Keep it happening.
Bill O, Peterborough
A: Funny you should ask. I ran into Jerome Williams in Dallas on Friday night and the cheers that erupted whenever he got up from the bench were the loudest I can recall.
That’s discounting, of course, bit players who only got on the floor in garbage time and were fan favourites because they tried hard when they played such a limited role.
Q: I have been waiting to ask this question for a few weeks. I figured it was too early to get a serious response from you. But does the fact that BC is in the rumor mill mean that he's a serious contender for Executive of the Year? Oh, and a second quick question: do you think the Raptors are still headed for a 44 win season?
TC W, Toronto
A: Serious consideration? I don’t know if or how you can quantify it, but he’d have to be in the discussion, as would others like Kevin Pritchard Sam Presti in Oklahoma City and even Chris Wallace in Memphis. A lot will depend on the last 30 games.
And, yeah, I’m sticking with 43, 44, maybe 45.
Q: Hey Doug, quick question. Are teams only limited to signing 1 player to a max deal?
Jon L, Toronto
A: No, not in theory. If a team can fit them in under all cap rules, they’re welcome to. Might thin out the rest of the roster a wee bit but it could be done.
Q: Hi Doug. Off to Dallas eh? Enjoy it my friend. Second question of the upcoming mailbag from me. This one occurred to me last night watching the game. As good as the Raps have been I've been a bit concerned by their continuing penchant for letting teams get back into games. It's almost as though they're getting a little cocky and think they can just turn it on when needs be to put teams away. Do you think that's the case, or is it just the normal ebb and flow of the game?
Geoff R, London
A: I think sometimes, and I believe I mentioned this on Wednesday during the Philly game, they have a tendency to take their foot off the pedal and it’s a dangerous game to play. I think it speaks to their “mental toughness” which is still very much a work in progress.
But I do think they’ll eventually improve in that area.
Q: Hey Doug, I really liked the move by Jay to put Weems and Wright on Lou Williams at the end of the game. Great in game adjustment. I was looking at the stats in the arena and there was one I couldn't figure out. 2GP. The Raps were ahead 17 to 3 but I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. I'm sure it is painfully obvious but wondering if you could tell me what that means.
Andre L, Toronto
A: It took me weeks to figure it out, too. Believe it or not, it’s Second Chance Points and they need to either get a better type font for the C in Chance or drop the whole thing.