The end of the weekend -- and the year's -- mail
I hope you all ushered in the new year in fine fashion and had wonderful evenings.
My best wishes for a prosperous 2012 full of good times, personal success and the love of good people.
Now, go take something for that hangover and be back here at 6 p.m. for the game.
Q: Hey Doug: Since there were a number of questions/comments about HWSNBN, I thought I'd ask another.
First, on a scale of 1 to 10, how good was he compared to how good he might have been?
Second, what (in your opinion) held him back from reaching his full potential?
Here's wishing you, Super Family and all of the Irregulars a prosperous and blog/mailbag-filled 2012!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I’d probably give him a 6 1/2 or 7 out of 10 for realizing his entire potential and he just seemed to lack that killer instinct, or crazy-mad work ethic of the truly great Hall of Famers.
That said, at 6 1/2 or 7, he was something special.
Q: Doug, I hope you continue to enjoy the holiday season. Can you please comment on why DeMar is considered a shooting guard and not a small forward? I think the Raptors best lineup might include Leandro and DeMar playing at the same time, with DeMar moving to the 3. I think he has the height to play the 3.
Thanks, Happy Holidays,
Chris F, Ottawa
A: As we saw in Dallas, Dwane’s not adverse to having Calderon, Barbosa and DeRozan on the floor at the same time in certain matchup circumstances when they need points. But the defensive liabilities – not sure DeMar’s really good at guarding 3s – would make me think that’s going to be a rare occurrence; but he’ll do it every now and then.
Q: Happy New Year!! I totally agree on the incessant crap the NBA passes off as entertainment during timeouts.
I used to go to about five Dino games per annum. I stopped because of the constant noise. I just wanted to hear the squeaks of the Chuck Taylors or equivalents. I also moved five hours away.
Seeing Iggy and Granger playing so well, can you tell us what Joey and Hoff are doing these days?
How about a tune from Solomon Burke? (Cry to me)
Thanks for doing this every day!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Both, as far as I can determine, are unemployed. Hoffa played last year in Brazil and I’ll check with Leandro again soon to see what’s up but last I heard, he was out of work.
Q: Hi Doug. Sorry to hear that Hump is now the most hated player in the league. Kim sure has had a lot of people drink the kool-aid.
I was wondering if the NBL is making any room for Canadian coaches to learn the trade at a higher level? Any follow up would be appreciated.
Kevin M, Maple
A: There are no rules or even league guidelines telling NBL franchises they have to have Canadians on the coaching staff. I believe one or two teams did, or do, and I think you might be on to something: There has to be some kind of apprentice program where Canadians are at least on staff as workout coaches or something; I’ll make sure I bring that up to the big shots at the league the next time I’m talking to them.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm currently reading Scott Raab's "The Whore of Akron" which he began writing during Lebron's final season in Cleveland. He made an interesting observation that NONE of the beat writers asked questions about Delonte West's bi-polar issues - which he felt was hugely impactful on the Cavs season.
Just wondering if you have ever observed any similar off-court stuff in any Raptors that seemed too personal to report on, even if it did have an impact on the team's performance.
Any stories that would have been inappropriate at the time, but may be reportable now that some time has passed?
Paul C, Brantford
A: He felt they were hugely impactful but he didn’t know that for sure because he wasn’t around the team every day to see if it was in fact true. It may have been, it may not have been, that’s a rather bold statement to make from someone who didn’t write about the team every day.
And, no, I really haven’t seen anything too personal to report on, actually. In fact, I think there have been times when, in search of stories, that we’ve gone a little bit too far. I don’t care if guys get engaged or have family issues that have nothing to do with basketball or their ability to do their jobs.
Q: Hi Doug. I noticed Dwane Casey wearing a Tiger Woods hat in a few interviews...Since Woods has been a polarizing figure of late, just wondering has anyone asked if there is a significance to that or 'just a hat'?
Trevor B, Saskatoon
A: Sometimes, a hat is just a hat.
Q: Doug. I know 2 games in but...._Which squad do you think can produce more wins this year's Raps with new coach Casey or last year's starting line up with Jay? Forever a Raps optimist I think they will win more games playing hard D and winning ugly than trying to outscore opponents "looking good" which style do you prefer watching? The Suns or Celtics (in their prime)
Thanks for keeping us entertained - I'm about as Irregular as it gets (that didn't sound too good). Happy New Year to you and all the fellow Irregular United - we need some sort of chant.
M C, Winnipeg
A: Oh, I prefer the good offence all the time; the Showtime Lakers and Suns were two of the absolute favourites. As for number of wins, though, that’s not a guess I’m going to make, I’m afraid.
Q: Thanks for all the effort you put into this. I follow your blog religiously and appreciate your mostly unbiased reporting. Hopefully the Star recognized you at Christmas with more than an “Attaboy but do better next year”.
First a list. Who would you rank as the top 5 free agents signed by the Rap’s. I think we forget that a few years ago the Raptors seemed to be a destination free agents would seriously consider.
Second: Which group of Raptors would you say were the best rebounding team?
Third , in the Indiana game I would have had “the Blur” out there for the last 2 minutes instead of James Johnson. Is he a defensive liability ? Thanks
Mike S, Calgary
A: My initial reaction to the best free agents signed by them would be Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Charles Oakley, since all three re-signed as free agents when they first could have bolted.
But since I don’t think that’s the direction you’re going, I’ll go with Jose Calderon, Dell Curry, Anthony Parker, Garbo, Tracy Murray back in the day.
Best rebounding team? Any of them that had Oak and Antonio Davis on them.
Leandro is a bigger defensive liability that Johnson, yes; and they got back in that game on stops, not scores.
Q: Hey Doug, happy holidays! Do crappy shooters who have made it to the NBA ever remake their shooting technique after they have spent a couple of years playing professionally?
Good luck with the schedule.
Kim A, Toronto
A: Sure, players work on jump shooting form for consistency every day and a lot of players have “re-made” their shots after they’ve arrived in the NBA. The list is long but I’ll give you two that might be familiar:
Jose Calderon came to the league with terrible form and worked on it to the point where he’s quite an accomplished shooter.
Same went for Amir Johnson, who pretty much doubled his range simply by developing a new, more consistent stroke.
Q: Hi Doug. Raps playing with energy this year - win or lose I gotta say I like it! I think the future looks bright: Davis, Derozan, Bargnani, a high draft pick next year, that Jonas fellow and some cap space. Not too shabby.
My question is: Do you see any expendable veteran-like role-player on our team that a contender might want to "get them over the hump"? Something we could turn into more young potential or draft picks? (I'm thinking possibly AJohnson or Kleiza or Barbosa or even Calderon) Any of the top tier teams have a need for one of those guys in your opinion?
David W, Toronto
A: No, I don’t simply because of the rules regarding trades and matching salaries. I would fully expect teams to call about Barbosa, who has a lot of value as an energizer or scorer off the bench but unless Bryan can turn him into someone with the same contract (one that expires after this season) I don’t think he’d do anything.
Q: Hey Doug With all the talk about the compressed sked and back to backs coupled with travel at what part of the season do you foresee a wall being hit by the Raps? After 10 games, 15 games?
Ian B, Barrie
A: It’s either going to be after eight, or 17 or 29 or 43. Not sure, can’t tell, it’s a rather subjective thing you’re talking about anyway.
Q: Hey Doug. First time long time, and all that. Not a huge hoops guy, but I really love your writing. My question (and I'm sure you've answered this before, so I apologize but I can't locate it) is about where to go near the ACC for reasonably priced pre-game adult beverages. Maybe a top 5, mostly for pints but maybe a snack.
You're the hardest working grunt in Toronto, sir. Thanks for that.
Riley S, Montreal
A: In no real order, and all within easy walking distance of the arena (and places I’ve been where I can vouch for the staff, the ambience and the choice of beverage), I’d give you:
Harbour Sports Grlll at the corner of Harbour and Yonge.
The Fox, a new joint on Bay just south of Lakeshore.
Jack Astor’s on Front; I know a young woman who works there and it’s a cool place.
Real Sports, if you feel like giving Maple Leaf Sports more of your money.
And I can’t remember which chains they are but in the same proximity of Jack Astor’s there are about three or four others. But I’d choose from the first three I gave you, take Real Sports fourth (it’s far, far, far, too “clubbish” for me) and you’ll be okay.
Q: Hey Doug, say for a second the Raps wanted to get serious about this season, could they still sign Andrei Kirilenko if they wanted to, without having to make too many moves to squeeze him in? Even if it was just for this year, so they still have their precious cap space for next year to sign more bench players?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: No, they really couldn’t, not without cutting someone and paying them not to play and then finding a way to convince Kirilenko to play for what they’ve got left to assume in salaries, which is about $7 million if my math is right, and it seldom is.
But why would they want to get him just for this year? Doesn’t it make sense to wait and fish in a deeper pond of free agents next summer when they could have up to $17 million or so to spend? Does to me.
Q: Greetings, curious as to whether there has been a conscious decision to change the tone or content of the IGBT this year? Haven't been able to quite put my finger on what seems different but something seems to be. Maybe the Irregulars have evolved or perhaps there was a stated desire to move the IGBT in a more specific direction. Regardless, it is still a destination for me in my spare time and I hope that you find some enjoyment in doing what you do for it and, certainly, many others enjoy what you do.
Thanks as always for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I have to admit your opening comment caught me a bit by surprise. I know it’s only been three games but I hadn’t noticed a difference in IGBT tone or content; if you did, it’s certainly not intentional, I’m trying to keep it in the usual fun format.
Q: Hey Doug. Sent this one through the IGBT but I figured it wouldn't get through... maybe you can clarify.
I was working at the office during the Dallas game and wanted to have it on in the background on my computer. I noticed that NBA.tv is doing a free preview until Jan9 so I decided to give it a go. However, the Dallas game was on blackout as were 2 others. So 3 out of 11 games that night were on blackout I believe.
I took a look as to why they may be blacked out and found this on wikipedia: If a local team is playing and the game is televised in the home market, the associated feed on League Pass is blacked out and unavailable for viewing.
With that in mind, that would mean that the bulk of the games played that night weren't on local tv for their respective cities. Is that really the case? I figured that most cities would have a local broadcast occuring so you would figure that most games would be blacked out. Even with national broadcasts, I figured that there would still be the local one for most cities that would put this blackout rule into effect.
Finally, since most games for Toronto are locally broadcasts, my gut feeling makes me think that they would be regularly blacked out.
Just wondering since then it makes no sense to get NBA.tv after the free preview (being the diehard Raptors fan that I am).
Chris L, Maple
A: The entire purpose of the league pass thing is to bring out-of-market games to fans; they don’t want to interfere with local broadcasts and take viewers away from team sponsors and the like. It’s obviously not for everyone and I would imagine there are more than a few Raptors fans who share your opinion.
But teams don’t want “competition” from the league for their own shows, understandably.
As for the number of games not on local TV, I think Raptors fans are a bit spoiled by the fact all 66 – or 82 in a regular, regular season – are shown. Some teams don’t have all their games available.
Q: Doug. A repeat of OTR had Oak, Vince, and T-Mac.
Oak discussed the treatment of the cousins and implied that it was part of the lack of understanding basketball, (opposed to Vince going to the Knicks circle at MSG and jumping with them after the Raps lost to force the trade issue.)
Do agree that Toronto didn't understand basketball at that time?
I find it simply a dumb statement. Every city has fans that do not understand the game as well as coaches but every team has players that don't seem to understand the game as well as some fans.
I understand the NBA better since the internet has become an everyday thing, but I understood the game before.
Is this a "Canadians can't understand an American game" thing?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: No, I don’t agree at all and I think that was just Oak being Oak and saying things as much for effect as anything. While there are undoubtedly some Toronto fans who, back then, weren’t sure if the ball was blown up or stuffed, in general it’s an audience of average intelligence about the NBA game.
Q: Hey Doug: I know that you say that, in your opinion, NBA refs have the toughest job of all officials, and that, in general they do a pretty decent job.
Two questions then:
What call do you feel they get wrong most often?
Do you think it is fair that fines/sanctions against players/coaches are made public, but those against officials are not (assuming they get fined/sanctioned)?
Thanks again for all you do for us - I don't know how you find the time!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I think they probably get block-charge wrong the most; it’s also the most difficult call in the game and they have actually started making public some instances of sanctions for officials. Could they do more? Sure, but I don’t know how many fines, suspensions or reprimands are given in a typical season, I wouldn’t think it would be that many.
Q: Doug. Can you give us a brief run-down of what to expect from a few of the more intriguing players / players with most upside on the Raps in 2012? Ed Davis, James Johnson and DeMar?
Is Ed the real deal? Where will he be in a season or two? Will he ever be a 20 / 10 guy?
Is James Johnson a keeper? Where does he fit in the longer term plans?
What is DeMar's ceiling realistically? Can he be a 25 / 6 guy?
Eric B, Toronto
A: No disrespect intended, and you’re certainly not the only one with this problem, but what is it with numbers and stats?
There were, I believe, four 20-10 guys in the entire NBA last season; it’s folly to think Ed Davis will be one anytime soon and I doubt he will ever.
DeMar 25/6? Doubt it, go find out how many players in the league had those numbers in each of the last few years.
Or if he does get to those numbers on a 25-win team, is it better than being, say, an 18/4 guy on a playoff team?
James Johnson? If he doesn’t either develop a jump shot or the knowledge of his limitations, I’d say his future is bleak. If he does, he’s a keeper.
Q: Doug: A question for seamheads.
Why don't you see more MLB batters who are being intentionally walked, swing at the first 2 pitches? Even though the ball is being lobbed to a catcher standing 10 feet from the plate, it would call for 2 more pitches that could ultimately, be thrown in the dirt, allowing a run to score, or at least help build up bad muscle memory. Thanks as always.
Ken B, Matheson
A: That’d be cool to see; I guess they don’t just because, well, because it’s just not done and not in the spirit of the game.
Q: You want mail - okay , chance for another list - as we are coming up to New Years eve- most memorable sporting and non sporting related NYE in memory. (Mine might include the stint when I was driving cab as a Western student with a load of passengers form a late plane - or firing off shotguns with older brothers when I was ~ 13. Sleeping in a bathtub and being found by someone who eventually became my wife should be on the list as well.
Bill W, Dresden
A: You may find this hard to believe but I’m not really a big New Year’s Eve guy and haven’t really done an awful lot. Far more interested in a quiet night with friends.
I will tell you this, though: A couple of seasons ago, the Raptors played a 6 p.m. game on New Year’s Eve in New Orleans and a walk up Bourbon Street right around midnight yielded some of the more, um, interesting sights I’ve seen. That might be the biggest one of the last decade; generally it’s either on the road and a night in a hotel bar or a night at home.
Q: Doug, what are the odds we might see DeRozan and Bargnani run a few pick and rolls? I know DeMar's handle isn't the greatest, but with his ability to slash and Bargs' ability to hit from anywhere, it would seem to present some matchup issues for opposing defences.
Chris W, Yellowknife
A: Nah, don’t see it. First off, DeMar can’t really dribble effectlvely around people yet; I don’t think for a second he has the requisite decision-making abilities and, if he had, when he came off a screen and Andrea was guarded, who’d he pass to? He needs to the recipient of that pass, not the maker of it.
Q: Greetings, got wondering this week about the differences between Jay and Dwane. Initially my take was, in the coaching change, the Raps were looking to a different style of coaching rather than correcting a specific deficiency in Jay's abilities. By no means do I intend any insult to Jay, but even at this early juncture it is beginning to appear that Dwane is at a totally different level than Jay was at. I guess the actual question here is does Dwane present the same expectations (relatively) in a more easily assimilated way than Jay? Or is Dwane's experience and knowledge just further developed than Jay's was?
As always, thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: Dwane’s got a bit more experience than Jay had, and a different philosophical bent, given his near-total focus on defence. I think the expectations are pretty much the same in the big picture, sustained and consistent growth of young players; that really hasn’t changed much.
They are two different people, coaches and personalities; I’m not ready to say one is “better” than the other, just that they’re different.
One thing Dwane has going for him that Jay didn’t is experience working in different NBA programs and that’s something.
Q: Doug. Methinks you'll be having a Happier New Year then many others surmise. Not a Happiest New Year, but happier none the less.
Question: When you read stories by fellow Brothers of the Keyboard (formerly known as Ink-Stained Wretches United), do you ever wonder at times whether they saw the same game as you did? Do you end up talking about those differences? And can you explain why one of the BotK has such a hate on for Jose Calderon? Did Jose steal his milk money or stand him up for an interview some time in the past?
Not asking for names. Just asking if you are as confused as I am by some of the views and opinions expressed elsewhere.
At any rate, keep up the good work.
Gary M, Brampton
A: I will fully admit that there are nights or early mornings when I look at things written elsewhere and thing “hmm, did I miss something?” And then I read my piece again and feel pretty confident I got the right angle and right approach.
But, no, we don’t end up talking about our stories amongst ourselves outside of the odd case when we all go “wow, did that guy just say that? There’s the money quote.”