The start of the weekend mail
Okay, here’s the deal.
It’s Friday afternoon, I’ve been puttering around for a couple of hours on this and don’t want to work any more.
So we’re done for the day and since I have no life we’ll be back Sunday with more after I putter around a bit sometime Saturday? Sound cool?
And, yes, there’s still time to get in on the hilarity. You know how, right?
Oh, before I forget. I wasn’t a fan by any stretch of the imagination but if you hear this song, you kind of take notice, don’t you? May not be entirely my cup of tea, or yours, but no disputing the talent.
Q: Greetings, have found myself thinking about questions of parity and the relative lack of "dynasties" across the professional team sports' this week. While there are, obviously, both basement and penthouse dwellers it would seem to me that at least currently one would be hard pressed to look at any current team and say, "they are/were/going to be a dynasty". Perhaps the sample size of time isn't fair to make any judgements from, but at this point even the Yankees' team isn't one that looks invincible.
My take on this leads me to wonder if the athlete's ability to become a free agent is the main cause of the parity that I believe we see in professional sports these days? Perhaps, on the other end, there are just to many positions to fill for the available talent. Between affordability issues from the team's perspective and the fact that the athletes themselves have a greater amount of say as to where they ply their trade there is sifting action that occurs that makes it hard for a team to accumulate a steady stream of "A" listers.
Curious on your take. As always thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: There are two factors, of equal significance I believe, at play here and I don’t imagine either ever changes.
And I guess the common denominator among them is impatience.
The first, obviously, is the financial investment that franchise make in those players who can either make, or break, a “dynasty.” In basketball, at least, the way contracts are structured, and the realities of the cap-and-tax system, means franchises have to make relatively quick decisions on whether they “pay” this guy or that guy or the other guy. And few and far between are the owners who are willing to tie up the significant, long-term money in a few player without any assurances that results will follow.
The second, and this might edge out the other in importance, is the ego-driven nature of some good young players who tend to believe, wrongly in many cases, that the grass is greener somewhere else and that they deserve to be The Man, with the subsequent place in the financial pecking order.
And that, sadly, has lots to do with youthful impatience; I think if we asked them honestly and truthfully, neither Tracy McGrady nor Damon Stoudamire would have left and who knows what would have happened.
It takes time, and some luck and some willingness on the part of all “stakeholders” to build anything approximating a dynasty – in any sport – and society’s desire for instant gratification, at the pay window and in public perception – runs counter to that.
Q: Hey Doug. You stated in the blog that you know how to make a jump shot. I was curious about how much organized basketball you have played. If you did not play a lot of basketball growing up, and you were able to magically go back in time to tell your younger self what your future career would be like, would that change things? Do you think that playing a lot of basketball would be of any advantage when writing about the game? Or is it apples and oranges comparing it to the game the pros play? Thanks for keeping the blog interesting everyday!
Jason G, Port Elgin
A: I played sparingly in high school and college; games were a bit slower when before they cut the bottom out of the peach basket. I told Dr. Naismith that from the start.
But, no, I don’t think it’s prerequisite at all, nor does it help you do your job. We tell stories, and backgrounds don’t matter.
And, as my man M. Grange ™ used to say (he knows waaaaaaay more about playing than I do), and I concur wholeheartedly, if you think you’re a good basketball player who has an idea what it’s like to be in the NBA, think of the highest calibre game you’ve ever played in. Now, take that same game with the same skill of all those “great” players, put two more guys per team on the court at the same time and move the basket down to eight feet. Then tell me how you survive.
Q: Hey Doug. What is your prediction for the outcome of the NBA playoffs and how (if at all) has the Derrick Rose injury affected your predictions of the final outcome of the finals?
Apologies if I missed your predictions in an earlier blog.
Starting pitching has been solid, if unspectacular thus far for the TOD. Would you go after another bat or a veteran arm to shore up the staff?
Alex H, Toronto
A: You can never, ever have enough pitching.
And, yes, I did first-round previews before they began and, yes, losing the current MVP will probably greatly effect what happens in the East.
Q: Doug, in the season end briefing, both coach and GM put some emphasis on needing better shooters. I hope we haven't come full circle from the Jason Kapono signing and see the Raps give obscene bucks to pure shooter and fall back again on the defensive front. How do you interpret what they said? Is it a matter of making current players better (although Casey's comment about shooters being born rather than made argues counter)? Is it a sign to look for the selection of someone like Lamb or Beal in the draft? Or are there free agents/trade targets you could see meeting this need (Novak, Mayo)?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I don’t think it’s a sign of anything, actually. There is no question that perimeter shooting is an issue with this team’s offence but they aren’t going to sacrifice their defensive principles or needs just because of it. They want multi-dimensional players; whether or not they can get them is the question.
Beal or Lamb? Pretty good projects who, like almost every rookie, will be a couple of years from being major contributors.
Q: My mailbag question for you is sort of multi-pronged. I hope you don't mind.
To what extent did the lockout and its aftermath - which resulted in zero coaching contact in the offseason, no training camp, and reduced practice time in-season this year - hinder the development of all of the young players the Raptors were hoping to develop?
Further to that, is it reasonable to expect more development from our young players next year, compared to this year, because Coach Casey and his staff will have considerably more time and contact with the players between now and the end of next season? It sure would be nice to be able to count on continued improvement from within.
Craig K, Winnipeg
A: It killed them, I can’t tell you how much. Dwane and his staff are single-minded on helping players improve individually not being able to give them a grounding in what was expected at the start of last season was critical. And having that opportunity this year – a mini-camp of two or three days before summer league, the games themselves and the various visits that coaches will pay to players this summer – will allow them to really hit the ground running in late September. It’s reasonable to expect this team to get off to a far better start this season than last.
Q: The abundance of injuries in the post season made me wonder what roster moves are allowed in the post season. Can a team make a trade, sign an inactive/no contract or amnesty guy or promote a D-league guy? Or, are rosters frozen once the post season begins?
David W, Oakville
A: Rosters are frozen in early April so it’s go with what you’ve got once the post-season begins.
Q: Hi Doug. I know a lot of teams kept some of their players out of the final one or two games of the season - for rest or maintenance. Do you know if Michael Jordan was ever kept out of a last game - the reason I am asking is that from a fan's perspective it would have been unfortunate to pay good money on tickets - only to have star players being kept out in fear of injuries for the playoffs.
Thanks for the great work as always!
Monty M, Toronto
A: To the best of my knowledge, no, he wasn’t. Not sure he would have gone for it, not sure it was the same factor way back then as it is now and, yes, sometimes fans get screwed but, and this is just a fact, it’s buyer beware. A player could just as easily be injured mid-season as rested late in the year; I don’t entirely agree with it but what can you do?
Q: Doug, first a chance to say how much I enjoy reading your blog and in game comments, very entertaining and fresh air as against others.
Your comment about the attendance is not surprising. Toronto is not now and never has been a baseball city. Toronto is a hockey town which supports a really bad team. Even in the late 80s and early 90s, they came to the Dome to see a winner, not to see baseball. Attendance never spiked when the Braves came here with the great 3 pitching.
Your comment about the possible coming problem of declining Raptor attendance if improvement doesn't come next year says the same thing.
Michael K, Toronto
A: I’m going to put it this way: I don’t think Toronto is a “hockey” town in the least; I think it’s a Leafs town. And there is a difference. But I could be wrong.
And, sure, attendance dips with winning and losing, I believe that to be the case pretty much everywhere. I covered the Jays when they were drawing 54,000 people a night and it was a combination of the fascination with a new stadium, a team that won and a time when the entertainment dollar wasn’t as stretched as it is today that created that perfect storm.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm sure there will be plenty of off season moves again this year in the NBA and I was wondering, are basketball players more transient than other professional athletes? Is there any data showing the average number of teams a player is with in the NBA during his career compared to the other major sports?
Trevor B, Saskatoon
A: I don’t know of any data comparing the main professional team sports yearly. Anecdotally, I’d think football might be first, baseball second, basketball third and hockey fourth but that’s just me thinking aloud.
And I think what causes that would be the limits on lengths of contract for one; and perhaps the relatively small number of players on an NBA roster makes it seem like more move each year.
But I do think, over the course of a career, basketball would probably rank at the top because so many players find one-year deals that keep them in the league perhaps past their best-before date.
Q: Hey Doug. I have some thoughts on the draft, specifically regarding the Raps and the Canadian kids that will be available.
I've long thought that we would reach a point where the Canadian content on the HOTH, needed to be considered. This may be the year. At the very least, there are 4 young men, that deserve a pre-draft workout.
Andrew Nicholson - in my opinion already has a more complete game than either Davis or Johnson. Most mocks have going in the mid-20's. I'd be trading down to get him.
Kris Joseph- intriguing small forward prospect from a winning program, slated to go just about where our first second round pick is located.
Robert Sacre - coming out of Gonzaga with more skill and toughness than either Solo or Grey. slated to go late in the second round, right around where our pick from Indiana falls.
Junior Cadougin - pass for first point guard with big time leadership skills from a big time program - not likely to be drafted - but a workout and an invite to our summer league team would give the Raps a chance for a closer look.
I'm not suggesting be waste picks on guys who won't play much but I think there is a multitude of good reasons that quality Canadian content would be good for the Raps and good for the game in Canada.
Your comments would be appreciated.
Robert K, Toronto
A: Some prospects in that group, most of ‘em flawed in some way but I would venture to guess at least three of them will get looks in some kind of pre-draft workout scene.
But I also don’t think nationality should ever, ever enter into the discussion. It is in no small way tokenism; if they can help in some way, as Magloire did, it should be on the basis of their talent, not their passports.
The NBA is a business about winning and getting better and building an organization; it’s not a place to worry about where a kid is from. Sorry, but that’s the way I feel.
If they think Nicholson or Joseph can help – and I would be a bit surprised if either of the other two get drafted – take ‘em on their own merits.
Q: Doug, I would like for you to tell me why the Raps are not going after.... Blache and Nick Young?? They are crazy if they don't...Coach could and would whip Blache into shape..Starting line up pg Bayless,sg Young,sf Derosen,pf Bars,c Blache...that's a no brainer with an easy 75pts just from them..look in to it and do the numbers and Yong and Derosen can play sg/sf
A: Real words typed by real people.