The start of the weekend mail
Here you go, at least a start.
Not a whole lot this weekend so far, and not a whole lot leftover for tomorrow so if you’re so inclined, here’s how you can help a fella out.
Now, give a little while and we’ll be back with the usual post-game fare.
Q: Greetings, man, oh man did the Wikipedia link turn into a digression of huge proportion Wednesday night and into the following day!
Joined the blog at the start which preceded the family dinner gathering by a few a minutes, kept having to find excuses to get up from the table, "I'll get your milk Boo!", in order to follow along with the blog. So anyway, the fifteen year old hears me say something about Wikipedia which turns into a two-hour (!) discussion over our government's attempt to gain some level of control and accountability of the Interweb, much to the teenager's credit, he passionately and commendably presented his very idealistic view of the impending "censorship" and "destruction" of his beloved Interweb. Teens as a rule don't spend that much time and energy discussing anything with a parent, consider myself quite fortunate to have had the opportunity.
So, Wiki answers the question and, of course, YouTube has the episode available (at least for now) and all that leaves me with something to watch when I get home tonight. Fully twenty four hours after the search began!
I actually do have a basketball question today as well. Mention has been made of DeMar's (and others) need to bulk up. What level of pressure might be laid on someone in that position from the team, or perhaps their agent? It would strike me as a potentially slippery slope towards "quick solutions".
As always thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: There’s nothing untoward about it, nor is there a huge sense of urgency to the issue. I’m sure that when it comes time to develop off-season plans that the team can follow closely because there will be no lockout that weight-training will be high on the list of things to do and I’m sure there is an added emphasis on weight work even now during the season. But it’s not as much a “quick fix” type of thing as it is an obvious long-term training issue.
Q: I was wondering if you felt that some of the offensive woes, especially of DeRozan can be traced to Alex English not being in staff. I know that he played a role specifically working with players offensively and they ALL seem to have dropped off from last years production except Andrea. Any connection? Also I know you don’t really address draft issues but with a lottery pick seemingly inevitable, do you draft for need or best available. While this draft projects as deep, it seems that projections are that this year is good for big men, of which we seem to have plenty... so which philosophy would you take?
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: I love Alex for his personality, his accomplishments, the work he did here with the Raptors but, really, his departure has nothing to do with the offensive struggles for most of this season. And, really, we’re only talking about the games Andrea’s missed. What’s behind team’s lack of production has to do with overall talent level – they don’t get nearly the production out of the small forward spot or the combined big men that they got a year ago – coupled with a shift in emphasis and total dedication of practice time from offence to defence for the first third of the season. And it’s not like Alex, bless his heart, was the choreographer of the offence a season ago, he was an okay teacher in practice but designing plays and calling sets was Jay’s bailiwick.
Draft? Take the best player, or the one you hope will be the best player but when it comes to make that decision, there’s all kinds of subjective reasoning that goes into deciding who the “best player” is so I’m not sure there’s a clearcut distinction.
Q: Hey Doug. Zero Raptors in ESPN's Top 25 Under 25. Yet, it doesn't look like they're going to be bad enough to grab a top 3 or even top 5 pick. As a fan, should I not be really, really concerned about this?
Bevan L, St. Thomas
A: Sure, if you want to obsess over a subjective list put together by a website about some kids who have yet to really prove themselves in the NBA, you should be “really, really concerned.” If you’d rather wait and see how things develop, it might be a bit easier on the nervous system.
Your choice. But I give the ESPN guys credit, they got you talking about one of their lists. And that’s what they’re there for.
Q: Hi Doug. I shouldn't but I do. I am never happy when the Raps lose, but when they do it allows me one of my guilty pleasures. I love watching the look on Casey's face during interviews after a loss. There is something about the expression on his face that leads you to believe that beneath this stoic exterior is a man who is gritting his teeth through this experience, so he get to the work of tearing the flesh off of someone in the locker room. I don't know if he really is prone to tirades or not, Doug where would you rank him among Raptor coaches according to their use of ballistic tongue lashings?
Rob N, London
A: Oh, he’s not at the top, that’s for sure, that’d be the domain of guys like KO and Sam and Darrell Walker back in the day.
One of Dwane’s best attributes is his patience, he knew what he was getting into before he even took this job and while it has to be killing him to see the failings of his roster, he’s got the big picture in mind, he holds his breath, and his tongue, and soldiers on.
But, trust me, inside he’s got to be going nuts.
Q: Hey Doug. When you were growing up did you ever collect any sports cards? If so do you have a favourite card? Does your son collect any sports cards?
I use to and I'm starting to get back into collecting basketball cards again but I feel like this hobby has taken a HUGE dip and the value of cards are going down too. Why do you think so?
Gerdie S, Scarborough
A: Nah, I wasn’t anything like a “collector” other than being a kid who’d buy a package every now and then and do some trading with other kids on the block. And that was generally baseball cards because that was my sport and I’m not even sure there were basketball cards back in the olden days.
And I presume the market has fallen off so drastically because people finally came to their senses and realized THEY’RE PLAYING CARDS and not real estate. They should be used for that old 'flicking-up-agaisnt-the-base-of-the-wall' game or for trading; not as investments.
Q: Hey DS. The Raptors seem to continue to suffer from the B-T-B syndrome. Can't seem to win the second game of a back-to-back. While they came close on Monday, the beginning of that game was a blowout. What can the boys do to improve on this and even win that second game?
Simone S, Toronto
A: Oh, I wish I knew so I could sell the secret to Dwane and Bryan and retire. Most of it has to do with the willingness, and ability, to fight through the inevitable fatigue. That takes a mental toughness, and level of experience, that this team doesn’t have.
Even last year’s team, hardly a juggernaut, was better at it. The Raptors were 6-13 in the second game of back-to-backs in 2010-11 and they are 2-6 so far this season.
Q: Is it my imagination or does Amir nearly always seem to be open, rolling toward the rim? I'm thinking most recently of the most recent game @ Washington. Why not hit him with a pass more often?
Eric H, Broad Cove, NS
A: I think it’s a bit of your imagination, actually, especially now that Andrea’s not in the lineup. Without that other big man picking and popping at the top of the key, not only is there much less room for Amir to operate in because the other big man – the one who’d normally be guarding Bargnani – can simply drop back and clog the lane, Johnson’s sometimes in a different position on the court. It’s still something they look for, it’s just not there as much as it used to be.
Q: Doug. We all know you are a laptop guy. But have any of your confreres switched over to tablets (iPads or one of the Android-powered versions ... can't see ANYBODY using a RIM Playbook)?
Gary M, Brampton
A: I can think of one guy who uses a tablet with an external keyboard but that’s about it. I’d find it way too hard to use one for that very reason, those keys are really tiny.
I do know some assistant coaches around the league use tablets during games to track stats and have instant video.
Q: Hello Doug! So I was just reading an interesting article by Eric Koreen in the National Post comparing Paul Pierce and HWSNBN. One sentence caught my eye: "Of course, Pierce has turned out to be a Hall of Famer, while [HWSNBN]'s case will be an interesting one for voters."
Will it really be interesting? Because, from where I'm standing, I don't know if he should get much more than cursory consideration. He had a few great seasons and a relatively long career, but a Hall of Fame career? Not even close! Maybe if there was a Hall of Missed Potential or a Hall of No Killer Instinct, but can you really see there being any sort of serious discussion about inducting him?
Andrew B, Toronto
A: Considering that there’s a chance Vince will finish with a decade and a half in the NBA, more than 22,000 career points, an Olympic gold medal in a Games in which he might have been the best player on the best team and a popularity that was global in its reach, I’m sure there will be some legitimate and serious discussion on whether he’s a Hall of Famer or not.
I don’t think he will ultimately get in because of the failings of his personality and will but the discussion will be absolutely serious and it should be.
Q: Hi Doug, thanks, as always, for the blog! It's required reading around these parts.
The other night when Chauncey Billups was hurt, I read an article in an LA newspaper that said Orlando's doctors looked at him after the game. I was wondering if this is a common practice in the NBA? Do teams have a bit of a reciprocity agreement wherein if visiting players are injured more severely the home team's doctors will look at them, or was Billups a special case?
Thanks Doug, keep up the great work.
Peter R, Regina
A: Very common, during the regular season.
The medical staff of the home team, after consulting with the visiting team’s training staff, will offer any treatment, support, examination, what-have-you for injured players. And at the end of each game, the home team’s doctors will make one final check with the visiting team’s staff to see if anything is needed.
Now, that generally changes in the playoffs, when members of a team’s medical staff will travel to road games but in the regular season it’s all about reciprocal medical consultation.
Q: Doug. Love the Linsanity hype. Could you provide insight as to why we didn't take a flyer on this guy when he was waived by the Warriors, and then waived again by the Rockets before Christmas? Instead, we held onto Anthony Carter as our 3rd string PG. Even if the difference is minimal, Bryan must have known about the draw of having a player of Asian descent in Toronto.
Victor L, Markham
A: Does the fact he was waived by two teams – including one twice – and sent to the D League by the Knicks sound like reason enough. Look, it’s a really nice story right now and I’m sure there are lots of GMs wondering why they took a pass but hindsight is 20-20 and if anyone said they saw this coming, they are pulling your leg or smarter than all 30 NBA general managers.
And forget the “draw” because it’s little more than tokenism and not something that does – or should – ever come into a roster decision. Besides, Mengke Bateer sure didn’t juice either attendance or ratings.
Q: Hi Doug - Here's a two-parter for you.
I saw an article on another website talking about a 7'5" teenager in California named Mamadou Ndiaye. Couldn't see if there was any relation to the fellow who played here by the same name. Any idea? And the follow-up, somewhat related; Any thought about adding a weekly Where Are They Now feature on some of the more memorable Raptors players and coaches? Keep up the good work.
Bo B, Toronto
A: I’m actually told the surname N’Diaye, or one of the variations of the spelling, is quite common and there is no relation to the one and only ex-Raptor.
A “where are they now” is something we’ve kicked around but it’s a bit easier for me just to do it when I hear about a guy or run into one on the road somewhere. And, of course, it’s all about me.
Q: Leo has mentioned a few times about the affect of Howard's trade request must be having on Nelson. Basically Howard is saying he wants to play with a good Point Guard. Not great for Nelson's confidence.
Do you think that all the talk about Jonas coming over next year to be the saviour of the HOTH affects Amir's and Ed's confidence, self-esteem and playing this year? I am also concerned about the pressure that will be on Jonas next year.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: I’m not really sure that Howard’s issue is aimed at one specific player or position but I guess that’s neither here nor there.
But no, I don’t think Valanciunas, or the prospect of him coming, has entered into the Davis/Johnson dynamic even one iota. I’m not even sure, if pressed, they could tell you where he plays, let alone how he plays.