Same drill as Saturday, only a day later: Mail now, usual in a while
Here we go again; have at this now and I’ll be back sometime before or after a flight to Atlanta with some stuff from the game.
Q: Hi Doug. Which state would you prefer to live in??? Illinois (leads in Pumpkins and Nuclear Power plants) versus Georgia (the state with the most personal bankruptcy filings.)
How about Sweet Home Alabama as the tune for today? I know the game is in Atlanta but I'm tired of Ray Charles.
Bob E, Kanata
A: I truly have such a distaste for Atlanta that despite the huge edge in weather and all those nukes here, I’m taking Illinois in a landslide.
Cubs beat Braves; Bulls beat Hawks, guess pucks don’t count any more and I’m waaaaaaaaay more Chicago than Atlanta.
Oh, and I never get tired of Ray Charles and Georgia but, for you, how’s this:
(Second-best song ever written about the Devil gambling on something?)
Q: Hi Doug. Here's one of the rare questions about the Raptors (as opposed to miscellaneous). I like Casey's approach on defense but I saw a red flag on him riding El mago for way too many minutes, using AC instead of the Blur for backup PG and the Pacers game putting in Big Cat for the crucial possession where he ended up shooting airballs on the charity stripe. Any concerns there? I'm no ball player but I have never shot an airball on a free throw. Yikes for Jamal.
Kam H, Richmond Hill
A: Okay, I’m going to try to rankle a few and debunk this “Bargnani played too many minutes and that’s why he got hurt” stuff that seems to be rampant out there.
Yes, he did play 45 minutes Monday against Minnesota and that’s a lot but it was the only time in seven games he’d been over 38 and he followed that 45-minute night by playing just 29 in Washington, a season low until the Sacramento game.
Even with supposed heavy workload, he’s averaging just 35.2 minutes per game this season, which is lower – marginally – than the 2011-12 season. So, sure, he’s got a muscle problem but who knows how it actually occurred; it certainly wasn’t solely because he’d been shouldering some super-human workload.
And Leandro Barbosa is too pass-adverse to be a point guard, which is why they were grooming Forbes for the third-string spot and went to him when they felt comfortable.
We’ve discussed the Magloire mistake enough, everyone knows it was a mistake and it’s time to let it go.
So, no, there are no concerns right now whatsoever.
Q: Hello Doug. This may not be the best month (year???) to ask you this, but I'm wondering if you'd tell us what you like best about your job - not your profession per se - but your specific assignment of reporting on the Raptors. I think we have some ideas about the challenges you must endure: travel, time zones, the zealousness to the point of outright wackiness of some readers, mis-positioned elevator panels - but what is it that spurs (by 12!!!) you on? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: I have to come up with something, right?
(I keed, I keed)
Guess what it mainly is is the variety that comes with the job; you never know day-to-day what you’re going to get to see or write about; that kind of variety and promise of perhaps something unique developing at any moment is the true fun of the job.
I’ve said this forever when I talk to school groups or adult groups or whatever: There is a great amount of “teaching” in this job, obtaining information and disseminating it to an eager class and that fact it’s a new story every day with these guys is fun. A challenge to perhaps find one every day – sometimes two or three times a day – but fun nonetheless.
Q: Hey Doug. Love the blog. Now that Kleiza is back (and when Il Mago returns), does James Johnson start at the 3 to take on the starting wings of the opposing teams? He would be a 5th option offensively (4th, tops) and Kleiza could bring some offence off of a bench that has lacked an ability to score so far this season? Or would the starting 5 benefit from a spot up shooter (I would think Kleiza is a more reliable shooter than JJ and Butler, who now seems destined for extended stretches on the pine)?
Thanks for making my weekday mornings that much more bearable.
Alex H, Toronto
A: I don’t know what Dwane will do when Kleiza is finally back up to game speed (and he’s nowhere near it yet) and I don’t even think Dwane knows what he’ll do for sure.
I could see them going to Johnson and bringing Kleiza off the bench as the first wing and using Butler in specific defensive matchups but I will tell you this, and you have to believe me: The coaches are not concerned about Butler’s offence, they really love the defence he plays, generally against the most prolific scorer on the other team, so it may not change at all and they’ll use Kleiza and Johnson as threes and fours for a while.
I’d probably go Johnson as the starter in that first scenario I painted.
Q: Random thought. AB gets hurt and goes to the hospital for a MRI. Who pays? In a sense he was injured at work and does he qualify for workers compensation? However he's not yet a Canadian citizen, so does he pay? Does his employer pay or none of the above. Since Hospital has no way of billing the correct party they just do the MRI and let him leave? Talk about a slow day :-)
John P, Waterloo
A: I’m told the team actually pays money for all diagnostic testing (MRIs) for players; and, actually, that puts more resources into the health care system and they also schedule the appointments outside of normal treatment hours so no one is put out.
Q: Doug. We all know that, "This year is not about this year."
Can you give us an idea of when the phase of "retooling" (a phrase used by BC after Bosh departure) ended and the "rebuilding" phase began? Is it when the Raps selected Val? or did it happen with last year's injuries? Is there a point at which you can say the shift happened?
Also, In recent days we've seen teams like Cavs, Kings, and Wolves with upwards of 4 and 7 top 10 draft pics on their roster... and they still aren't successful after. Can you offer you opinion on how the raps might be more successful than these other teams with their "rebuild?" Do we have better initial pieces to build around? Do we have better draft luck/skill?
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A:I can’t say they’ll be more successful, no one can, because it depends on a combination of astute drafting, luck and the development of unproven players. That said, I think in this day and age a combination of young players, high draft picks and a substantial amount of money to spend on free agents puts a franchise in an excellent position. Will they capitalize on it? Who knows, it’s the fun of sports.
And I don’t know if there was an exact moment when there was a change in course, I would think it probably came at the point Bosh left and the situation arose to tear down a bit before building up.
Q: Hi Doug. Let me start off by saying that I like Bargnani. I think that he is a good player who is a victim of high expectations because he was drafted #1.
All of this talk about Bargnani being an All Star calibre player has me wondering, how would you define an All Star in the NBA. To me he's a guy who has an impact on the game in several different ways. It doesn't have to be all statistics. For instance, I don't believe Bargnani has to get 10 rebounds a game to be an all star, but I do think that an all star player is the kind of player that brings several things to the table. Guys like Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, and Steve Nash are all guys who, regardless of their nightly stats, are regarded as players who impact the game and make their teammates better.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that, in my mind, if you're not leading the league in a number of statistical categories, than you should at least bring a healthy dose of intangibles to your team that will help you win even when you have an off night and don't dominate in one particular statistical column. I feel like Bargnani is scoring like an all star but I have a hard time saying that he's playing like an all star, despite the fact that he's having the best season of his career.
Peter L, Toronto
A: How do I define an all-star? That’s hard to do in one blanket statement. But I think, as with everything, there are a combination of factors involved, not the least of which is individual skills and they don’t necessarily need to be multi-faceted, I believe a gifted scorer and average defender can be an all-star, just as a gifted defender who’s offensively-challenged can be. And I also think you can have one player have one great year that makes him an all-star that season before he fades into obscurity. I don’t think it needs at all to be “career achievement” kind of thing.
Is Andrea an all-star? You can make that case this year, I supposed; I don’t know that you will be able to make it in any future season.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm just wondering if a healthy scratch or DNP is one of the tools Coach Casey may use to get one of the potential franchise players thinking about their role on the team. Your thoughts on the subject?
Kevin M, Maple
A: I don’t see the benefit in that, actually. Players know when they’re playing poorly, they don’t need to be reminded in such a publicly-humiliating way; that may cause more harm than it does good.
Q: Hello Doug. Really appreciate your commentary. Do you think that this NBA season with all, all the games diminishes the product. The duds are very frequent I think. It is actually sad. What do you think?
Bill W, Toronto
A: There are probably more bad games this year, all told, than in a regular season and I don’t think anyone’s surprised by that, given the rapid-fire nature of the games and the toll they take. Sad? I guess; I’d say predictable might be a better word.
Q: Hey Doug: I read the little 'blurb' under your picture on the blog page and found it amusing. Did you write it? And, you don't 'get into' modern music?
Reading that blurb, it sounds like you run the gamut on the events you have covered. Can you estimate what percent of your life (since you've been a sports journalist) you have spent in various gyms, rinks, fields, courses, etc.?
Thanks again for all you do for us - you certainly do go above and beyond the call of duty!
Tim H, Windsor
A: If I recall, the blurb was a bit of a collaborative effort between myself and a former Tall Forehead who’s gone on to bigger things. And, no, I don’t get into “modern” music because a lot of it isn’t music. But that’s a debate for another day.
I’d say I’d spend 70 per cent of my time – and have for several years – in various venues or airports or hotels. Too much? Sure. But most of it’s fun.
Q: Hi Doug. It seems like there are a lot more players getting injured due to the amount of games being played in a short period of time. Do you think we will see this eventually impact how teams perform in the playoffs?
Monty M, Toronto
A: I guess we’ll have to wait to see who’s hurt when the playoffs roll around to be certain, I presume there will still be a few key players nursing sore muscles and joints; how teams rest them and get them ready will be interesting to see.
But look at it this way, too: Maybe guys who are banged up in January and February will get some rest and be more healthy when late April rolls around.
Q: Hi Doug. Watching Andrea play this season has been absolutely a pleasure. He has been said to be playing like an all-star, which got me wondering ... in your opinion, will there ever be a day when he will be called a franchise player? What exactly is the definition of a franchise player (what will he have to do to become one)?
M S, St. John’s
A: There is no exact definition, I’d guess the most vague way to put it is a “franchise” player is the best player on the team and he can be seen as that right now. But it’s such a nebulous and relatively meaningless description, I wouldn’t give it much thought.
Q: Imagine you are being inundated with angst from the HOTH faithful, too bad we don't play the Cavs more often. As a b-ball consumer hate paying a top ten ticket price for a lower third product. Off to southern cal from the 14th to 21st, just miss the boys in LA, it’s a ball buffet that week, plenty of Clippers/Lakers games, will try to make it out to a game, love checking out other arenas’ vibes. Are you on the road for LA and Phoenix, lots of choices in both cities. I'm going to check out the food truck scene and Mexican in San Diego. Don't understand the angst with Hump, thought the signs were repugnant. Enjoy your road trip
John C, Mississauga
A: On the LA-Phoenix-Salt Lake-Denver part of the journey, no time in LA, long flight Saturday and with Sunday 12:30 p.m. got a night flight to Phoenix, a city I prefer. If you do one thing in Phoenix, get to Pizzeria Bianco, you can thank me later.
Q: I was wondering. When I played basketball, going "over the back" on a rebound was about the most automatic call that a referee would make. But it seems like NBA refs don't make that call now. Is it no longer an NBA rule, or do the officials simply not call it anymore?
Ken M, London
A: They make it, just not a lot; it’s usually the loose ball foul you see on an offensive player chasing an offensive rebound so, yeah, it’s still on the books.
Q: Hi Doug - Long time reader here. I’ve mentioned this in the comment section a couple times over the last year or so and you may not be able to address it as yet, but I’ll ask it again in case you have anything. Ed Davis’ Dad, Terry Davis. As an ex-NBA player and Ed’s Dad, he must be very proud of his son - he was at the recent Raps game in Washington - and I’ve often wondered about his thoughts on Ed being drafted by the Raptors and how he feels about it today. I’d be real curious on a detailed read on the man - he seems interesting to me - what he likes/hates/stresses about/etc, on the NBA and his son’s career. If there’s a story there and it’s ever to be told, you’d be the man for the job.
William G, Toronto
A: Thanks. Will get it on the to-do list for sure and see if it fits into both our schedules.
Q: Would you say the decline of Boston this year has been sudden or expected? Also, which teams do you think the shortened season hurts most? Which teams will benefit most from the shortened season?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: I think a lot of people thought Boston would struggle out of the gate because of their age, the fact Pierce didn’t start the season and the loss of Jeff Green. But I wouldn’t count them entirely out; they have a way of making themselves relevant when the post-season rolls around.
Q: Hi Doug. Great job with the Blog and all the hoops related stuff you do. I really leveraged your in game blog while at the Sacramento game. I saw Andrea walking down the tunnel and being at the game had no idea what was going on ... so I pull out the Blackberry and Googled “Doug Smith Blog” and within seconds I find out he hurt is calf.
Well now on to my question. Did you find it strange that a couple of days after you blog about how the D league is full of washed up players one of them (the first one named in your Blog ... Mike James) gets signed? Could this lead to more washed up guys signing on to D league teams? Antoine Walker to HOTH?
Alex H, Oakville
A: I fear it could and while I don’t really care a lick what happens in the D League, I find it a bit troubling that a league set up to “develop” young players has teams chasing washed up ex-NBAers.
Q: I am a big fan of pass-first point guards and very much like José's game. Having said that, it seems that he has problems when he is put under tough man-to-man pressure. I compare that to Steve Nash who seems to thrive on the pressure. Perhaps it is that he can beat almost anyone one-on-one which means the opponents have to help - when this happens he can take advantage of any flaws in the transition to hit open (momentarily) teammates. Does that analysis make sense?
Also if you could have any point guard in history to build a team around who would it be? To me it would a tough choice between Oscar Robertson (can you imagine what his rep would be if he had played in Boston, NYC, or LA) or Nash. Decision gets complicated if you consider Magic to be eligible as a point forward - he was a unique talent.
Bruce M, Mississauga
A: Analysis makes sense, but I think Jose does quite well on the very, very few times team press.
And since I always have Oscar near or at the top of my Best Ever list (even though I saw him a lot at the end of his career, I take the opinion of greats who saw him in his prime – Hi, Wayne! – into consideration), I take him. But Magic’s got to be second, for sure. A close second.
Q: Hi Doug. I know the season is still early, but one obvious is that the 2011 rookie class is mostly a collection of project players. So for those who wanted the raptors to draft Biyombo, Vesely or others, hoping to find an instant impact player, no such player existed at #5. The pick of Jonas seems to make more sense as time evolves. Also, is it just me or does it seem that most basketball players have lost the physical ability to stand up on their own after they fall on the floor? The waiting for a teammate to lift them up is a bizarre practice that would be embarrassing in any other sport.
Martin J, Toronto
A: Yeah, I have to give a draft years to play out before it can be fully assessed.
And I’m kind of amused myself at the rushing to pick up a fallen comrade that I see. Guess it’s good for morale; I’d probably be just as impressed if a guy got himself up quickly and got on with the game.
Q: Perhaps some irregulars have slumps like the players - I think I'm coming out of mine after laying awake at 4.30 this am following a shoulder scope operation yesterday and coming up with these for you:
Coach Casey is seen as a strong teacher for this team. Do you see/hear him talking (directing) a lot during the on-court play? Compared to previous Raps coaches? Other NBA coaches? (a Top Five List question maybe?)
What - if anything official - determines if an injured player a) sits in civvies on/near the team bench at home games b) travels with the team on the road (or is it strictly up to the player)?
Cold streak shooting is most frustrating for the player himself (I know that from personal experience for sure), then his coaches/team-mates, then the fans (so fans try to be patient with the player!), what do a) players and b) coaches do to try and back to normal, consistent performance? ie Butler
I've got more questions but there's always tomorrow..._PS since all our signatures show first name/first initial of last name, I want to make clear I'm not related to Lori P from London (blame this submission on the meds I'm taking...)
Barry P, (BBall Barry) North Bay
A: I’m not sure about a list of NBA coaches and how they “teach” during games because I don’t see enough of them up close often enough and haven’t been talking to many of my spies in other cities yet. But I will say Dwane is the most active defensive coach – I’m sure you see him up on the sidelines, gesticulating and yelling on almost every defensive possession – that I’ve seen here since KO. He’s always telling guys what to look for, urging them to stay up and shooters and giving instruction. How much the players hear or absorb is open to debate, though.
As for the injured players, each team has its own policies, I’m told this year here, they want all players to travel to road games (some teams want injured guys to stay home and get treatment, the Raps get their treatment while travelling) and most teams want players to be on the bench during games if it’s physically possible.
And you know, as an old shooter, that shooters just get in the gym and work until they’re out of whatever slump they’re in.
Q: Ciao Doug. For the first time I agree with the Colangelo's (rebuilding) plan about the Raptors. This year could be the last losing season after many bad years. It's early in the season but The Big Kid (Andrea), with Casey's help, is becoming what we hoped. Demar is a growing kid, with a lot of talent. Jose is a solid and very clever player (and man). Amir and Ed Davis will have a solid career in the NBA. With Casey, Valanciunas, a good 2012 pick and just 1 good (not exceptional) FA (Wilson Chandler?) the roster could immediately be a playoff's team, with a core of very young players. The future could be very brilliant and for many seasons.
Paolo P, Roma
A: I’ve said it often and will often in the future: With the combination of coaching, existing players, young kids coming, picks and money to spend, they are well positioned to make giant steps quickly. It will depend on Bryan staying true to his plan and not trying to hit an immediate home run, the continued development of the existing group and Dwane’s ability to teach the young kids who’ll come next year.
But those are giant variables and we have to wait and see how they play out.
Q: I see in today's Star that Dwayne Casey confesses that he made a bad decision having Magloire handle the ball on the throw in last night. DUH. Do you think? He says he should have had the ball thrown in to Ed Davis. My question.
Why not have the top 5 free throw shooters on the court at that time? What is Leandro Barbosa doing on the bench at that time?
Final question...How much time do the Raps spend practicing free throws? Very frustrating last night for a game that the Raps could have won.
Paul N, Oakville
A: I might have had Barbosa in for Magloire, sure; but if he was going to happy with a quick two to extend the game you want rebounders in there and flip-flopping where Magloire and Davis were on the court would have been the right move.
And they – like every single player in the NBA – shoot free throws every day of their lives, before, during and after practice and shootarounds. Sometimes you make ‘em, sometimes you don’t.
Q: Hi Doug. I know you check out Grantland.com so maybe you've seen this article about the NBADL: It states that 6 teams directly own teams and 3 fund and operate teams.
A few years back there was talk of getting a DL team in Toronto, but you said that idea died off. Have you heard any talks of new ownership possibly buying an existing team?
Personally I'm not sure I see a lot of benefit to it considering the DL still has yet to become the farm league the NBA probably wanted it be. It seems to be a dumping ground for players rather than an actual Developmental League. If Bell/Rogers were to say they are considering the idea what would be your thoughts?
Ian M, Maple
A: I don’t think there’s any appetite whatsoever for a D League team any more. And I don’t see really see any benefit, actually. And I’d also be afraid if they put a D League team in, say, Hamilton or their arena in Oshawa, it would hurt the NBL eventually and that’s not a good thing.