The start of the all-star weekend mail
Bonus weekend for you, folks.
There’s this and in a little while there’ll be the usual stuff ‘cause it’s all-star weekend and there’s all kinds of little items you might like.
Enjoy this; be back later. And since there might be some sitting-by-the-pool time this afternoon, if you want to add to the leftovers for tomorrow, you know how to do it.
Q: Hi Doug, two quick questions for you. I'll start with the important one:
Now that we have Real Sports downtown, do you find yourself there post-game most of the time, or do you still frequent Harbour Sports?
If a player is asked to assist in the dunk contest (such as Amir helping DeRozan), would he have to pay his own way to the ASG?
Kevin L, Toronto
A: Oh, I’m pretty much a creature of habit but the fact is, with all the games followed by flights the next day even getting out anywhere is a chore. I will say this, though: Real Sports is far too loud and night-clubby for a Grunt Of A Certain Vintage so it never factors into the equation.
The all-star “helpers” have their expenses covered by the league; except for their personal entertainment decisions.
Q: Hey Doug. With your travels to cover the All-Star game do you get a chance to reconnect with other sports writers or broadcasters that you might have worked with at some point in time or know from your grunt travels? If so is there time to sit down and chat or is mostly just covering the players and the games? Do you get a look into whatever franchise they are working for and their inner workings? Does it give you an inside look especially during this trade-talk time?
Love the blog!
Judy S, Toronto
A: Oh, it’s a veritable schmoozefest at these things, there’s probably a group of 20 or so diehards – other writers, broadcasters, league officials – that you see every year. And the league opens a hospitality suite after the events of each night where we all seem to end up to swap stories, catch up, talk about our respective teams and the players we cover. It’s a really nice time and very informal with old friends catching up. We don’t do a lot of “inside looking” though, it’s more stories of the season.
Q: Hello Doug. I'm not quite sure anymore why I dislike Kobe Bryant, but I basically have since he joined the league. I've never been more scared of a player against my team within the last couple of minutes with possession, or innings. If you can recall or were a diehard fan of specific sport teams, which players would give you the most anguish?
David G, Ottawa
A: There really wasn’t anyone because it’s been decades since I had a true hard-core affinity for a team. In fact, for more of my life, I’ve been far more a fan of games rather than teams so seeing people excel in the pressure-packed moments was a joy rather than anguish.
Q: As you watch the team this year, it’s about the growth of the young players, are they, the players, progressing in the manner that you thought they would be?
Darwin N, Swift Current
A: Some, yeah. I think Ed Davis and DeMar DeRozan, the two I was most interested in, still have some growing to do, and still have to learn to win and play consistently but guys like Bargnani and James Johnson have exceeded expectations to this point.
But there is still half a season to go and that’s a lot of time for growth or regression.
Q: Hi Doug. Will you be attending the All Star game in Orlando, despite no Raptors playing in the big game? Hopefully Mother Star will be sending you and you can enjoy some warm weather.
What is your most memorable All Star game that you attended? Can you give us the a top 5 list of best cities that have hosted the NBA all star game.
Thanks as always,
Monty M, Toronto
A: Oh yeah, I’m here now working furiously.
Memorable? They all seem to fade together, actually, and the ones I like are for varied reasons. I really liked my first one, in San Antonio in 1995 because it was new to me and that’s a great city; Dallas was cool because of the stadium (the freak snowstorm was a pain) and Cleveland was very cool because it was the Top 50 Players Of All Time weekend and that was outstanding.
Hated Atlanta because of downtown gridlock, Philly was the same although that’s an exponentially better city and Houston was just too spread out to be any real fun.
Q: Hi Doug...Who is your favourite game show host? Are you and Art Fleming or Alec Trebek kind of guy? If Colangelo showed up on You Bet Your Life, what would the secret word be?
Can you mention the OFSAAS are on shortly and the people should support the ball being played. Go see some high school ball!
I really appreciate the musical intervals. How about either Chuck Berry or Jackie Wilson? or Little Anthony and the Imperials, or The Mystics, or Don and Juan or...
Bob E, Kanata
A: I’m not going all retro on you and saying Hugh Downs or Bill Cullen so I’m going with Trebek because I still say Jeopardy is the best game show ever because it challenged intelligence and was, back in the formative years, a nice lunch time diversion.
I heard the OFSAAs were coming up – I have a friend who was the convenor of SOSSA, I believe it is – and if you’re in a town hosting one of them, do stop by.
How about this one, which isn’t one of the folks you mentioned but is still a pretty cool ditty I was made aware of by the Legendary Looseleaf of The People’s Wire Service.
Q: So I went to the Raptors game @ ACC for the first time last week. Well, I'm sorry to say you're right, the in-game entertainments are more distracting than anything. Not sure how the season ticket holders stand them. I rather watch the game on HDTV.
Hey, any word on how's Sonny Weems doing? Is he part of the future for the franchise? I miss him a little.
Henry H, Burnaby
A: I don’t really follow Sonny all that closely, I do hear he’s having a good year and will play in the Lithuanian league’s all-star game sometime soon. And, no, he is in no way part of the Toronto future except that he’s still a restricted free agent and is an “asset” for things like sign-and-trades or what have you.
Q: Hi Doug. Heard a radio "personality" the other day go ballistic after an un-named Raptor was quoted after the Charlotte game as saying it was just another loss and something to the effect that all losses are the same. Certainly all losses count the same but to lose to the worst team in the league should have been most embarrassing! You would have to think that the Charlotte loss felt worse than others particularly close calls vs good teams. Toronto does seem to have its challenges against Charlotte and I used to think it was Gerald Wallace who ate them up but clearly their guard play gives the Raps fits. Your thoughts?
Dave M, Puslinch
A: Nah, not really. A loss is a loss is a loss; they all feel bad. Sure, if you look at the relative records of the teams I can understand fans being more choked up about a loss to Charlotte than they were about the loss to the Lakers but the players felt as bad about both of them.
And this may not sit well with some people but players do – and need to – put losses immediately behind them and not dwell on what happened in the past. They need to feel bad for a few minutes, tops, and then start thinking about the future rather than the past.
Q: Hi Doug 2nd time writing but very faithful reader. Love your work. I was going to ask about Davis. Do you see enough potential in him? He seems to have a good pedigree. Is he a case of a 'big' taking longer to develop? I see flashes and would really like to see him make it but wondering if he has the heart.
Matt C, Bonarlaw
A: “Enough” potential? Not sure what that is but he does have very good basketball instincts and an emerging game. But as we’ve pointed out repeatedly, he’s not having the greatest of seasons and needs to gain some strength and experience. He is, however, quite young and it does take big men a bit longer because of the physical strength they need to get and the little nuances of the game they have to matter.
I have no idea how good he’ll be – no one does – but he’s got skills.
Q: Doug, in your profession, the BS meter has to be pretty well tuned. So I'm asking - any chance Anthony Federico is telling the truth about his "chink in the armor. headline? Could he really be young enough, even racially blind enough, to write that with no thought of racism at all?
Could be a parallel with our (youngish) guy in London who apparently never made a connection that tossing a banana onto the ice could be taken as a racist gesture.
In a back-handed way, that would actually be a good thing, wouldn't it... that things we oldsters attach to racist history are too far removed for another generation to recognize?
Or are they just blowing smoke?
TL I, London
A: The meter went off the charts in that London situation – anyone who bought that needs to see me so I can sell ‘em a water falls separating two countries – and only marginally more believable in the ESPN thing. Marginally.
Q: With Linas back from injury, are there any teams that would even consider getting Leandro?
Bo K, Mississauga
A: Leandro is eliciting all kinds of interest, he’s a good player with a manageable expiring contract, which is precisely why Bryan shouldn’t move him and screw up next summer. But it has to do with Leandro, the interest was there regardless of Kleiza.
Q: OK Doug, we've seen Bismack Biyombo play a bit in the NBA (highlights include 11-10-4 in 21 minutes against Dwight and the Magic and 8-13-7 in 32 minutes against the HOTH) and we've seen Andrea blossom at the 4 spot. Now let's say that armed with this knowledge you have the ability to go back in time as GM of the Raptors and re-make the Raptors' 2011 draft pick....would you still take the Euro-dominant but physically underdeveloped and NBA-unproven Jonas Valanciunas, or would you take Biyombo now that he's looking less like a pure project and more like the legitimate defensive presence who has historically anchored Dwane Casey's defenses? And since you're GM Doug, you're not allowed to answer with "they're both projects." This is the pick that could be the foundation of your legacy as the GM rebuilding the HOTH; get this one right and you may never have to buy your own Stella in Hogtown ever again.
Mike D, Toronto
A: I would 100 per cent still take the 7-footer with far more big-game and big moment experience. Biyombo’s fun but he is so offensively limited and raw that it’s going to be quite a while until we know what he truly is. Valanciunas has played in huge international games, comes from a basketball culture that has ingrained in him solid fundamentals and is simply, by all independent accounts, more skilled. It was then, and remains now, a no-brainer in my opinion.
Q: Doug. A couple years ago, to provide room for Turk, Jack and Jose, the Raps sent Jose off to the corner because "he is such a great shooter". I thought this was silly since in the games I watch (and I watch them all at least once, my wife thinks I am nuts,) Jose shoots well off the dibble and except for threes, he is just an OK spot up shooter. Jose seemed to be out of sort that year and confidence seemed to crash.
Against the Bobcats, that was done again. Carter handled the ball and Jose was sent to the corner for a while.
Was that a "hide Jose cause he is tired" or do you think because of Jose's hot hand lately they fell back into that trap?
PS Any half year report cards coming?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: On rare occasions and only when the other team has a small backcourt do they use Jose off the ball and turn him into a spot up shooter. And even then, they run him off screens so he can catch, dribble and shoot. It’s not “hiding” as much as it is giving opponents a different look and I’d guess it happens about 10 per cent of the time.
Report card was done a week or so ago; am sure it’s somewhere findable in the blog.
Q: Hey Doug. I think it's fairly safe to say that the roles on one teams starting five are going to be different than the roles on another teams starting five based on the system he coach runs.
What about the roles of the players from 6 to 10? Those glue roles seem to be universal for any team regardless of their system to be used whenever the match-up requires them.
For the bench you need:
A Scorer to provide offense when your main men need rest
A Backup Pointman to take over when the main PG is tired or worse
A Backup Big who can be rotated in
A 3-pt shooter who can shoot well without much warm-up time
A Defensive Stopper, preferably one who can guard multiple positions.
If these were the 5 roles that need to be filled by the bench, how would you rank them in order of importance to over all team success? How many of these positions are being well filled on this years addition of the HOTH?
Andrew P, Toronto
A: To me, and this is entirely personal preference and I’m sure debatable, I want them in this order:
Point guard so the offence still functions.
Three-point shooter who can light ‘em up in a hurry.
A scorer, although I think that morphs with the first two.
A big because you can never have too many good bigs and it’s often starting bigs who get into early foul trouble.
A defensive stopper because you’d hope you’d have the one guy you need in the starting lineup.