The start of the weekend mail
Have a read of this and there’s more fun and frivolity for tomorrow. If you still want to get in on the shenanigans, you must know the drill by now.
Q: Hello. If you drafted a young Lithuanian centre, would you contact Hakeem zee dream, and his low post dance class? Or, would you just show him old Kevin McHale VHS?
What is "called" more in an NBA game, illegal screens or travelling?
What court is the best for being relatively "quiet" when there is a dead ball? i.e. no manufactured noise.
Bob E, Kanata
A: Nah, I’d probably let the coaches I’ve hired and in whom I have some confidence get some work in with a young Lithuanian first. And we’ll see where that goes.
Calling illegal screens was the flavour of the month last year, maybe it’ll be travelling this year. Or flopping. Or carrying the ball. Each season’s like a box of chocolates.
And there is NO arena that’s quiet, although Portland is always a game well managed where the game counts first and foremost.
Q: Hi Doug. Are you a journalist?
Jeffery A, Toronto
A: No but I play one on TV.
I do attract some bright ones, don’t I?
Q: Hey Doug. Long time reader first time yadda yadda yadda. As a Nova Scotian who has never been close to any NBA related events in his life, I was elated at the news of camp coming to Halifax. Me and some friends bought tickets to the intra-squad game and I have a question that you may have the answer to. I know each camp is different but in general, how are the crowds at these intra-squad games? The tickets are sold as general seating, and i wanted to know how early I'd have to show up to get up close. 20 minutes? An hour? Two? Any general advice would be appreciated! It is a 5 hour drive to Halifax from where I live and I'm trying to work out how early I have to leave that morning.
Thanks Doug, keep up the stellar work!
Adam M, Glace Bay
A: It would be prudent to get there at least an hour before if it’s general seating. It’s been my history – and we didn’t have one of these last year, of course – that younger fans like to get there bright and early to snap up good seats. And there’s generally something going on on the court before the actual practice to keep people entertained.
But perhaps a Haligonian Irregular can add to this?
Five-hour drive? That’s some dedication, congrats.
Q: Hey Doug, is there anyone on the current Raptors' roster that can consistently attack the basket outside of perhaps Kyle Lowry? We all know DeMar DeRozan is not the guy who does that, for far too often he would settle for jumpers.
A: Not entirely sure about your DeRozan point, he was 20th in the NBA in free throws attempted per game last year, actually. He was ahead of guys like Tony Parker, Monta Ellis, Lou Williams and a few others that might surprise you, especially considering there were probably two or three times a game when he went to the basket and didn’t get a call.
Maybe he doesn’t go as you like, and I’m sure he could do more, but he’s okay at it, actually.
Other than that, there probably isn’t anyone.
Q: Hey Doug. Other than the PGs, who is the best passer on the team?
Danny P, Montreal
A: I’d probably put Bargnani at the top of that list right now but am unsure of the skills of the other new guys, haven’t seen enough of them to really say.
Q: Hi Doug. Forgive a 50% pucks question. If you're the bigwigs at Castle Stern, are you looking on this Hockey lockout as a boon? Can you take advantage of it and poach viewers, or is it assuming they'll all watch football?
Kerry O, Waterloo
A: I don’t think it’ll have any discernible impact at all, actually. You won’t see a spike in attendance and I don’t think you’ll see more basketball on the news. I would imagine some teams would increase local advertising in an attempt to attract new fans but I don’t think it’ll work to any large degree; and anyone they do get will go racing back to the rinks as soon as they’re open again.
Q: Hello Doug. Reminiscing about the Raps back when they were pretty darn good prompts a few questions. Any idea what Butch Carter, Kevin Willis, Antonio Davis and Muggsy Bogues are up to these days?
Is Boogie still a front man for the Raps? And is Oak's back healthy enough we'll see him again this season?
Finally, what prompted Glen Grunwald's move to New York? Is he highly regarded in The Big Apple and around the league, or is he one of the more under-appreciated GMs in hoops?
Thanks for the great blog.
David M, Ottawa
A: Funny, I’ve run into all four of those guys at some point over the last few months so here you go:
Butch is living in Orlando where he has a handful of business interests and he was interviewed for the head coaching job that Jacque Vaughn eventually got with the Magic.
Kevin’s in Atlanta, I believe still, and he’s got some fashion design business going on.
AD’s also in Atlanta and was, and probably still is, doing some work for the players association.
Muggsy I’m less sure about but he was in Toronto during the Ex as part of a Raptors initiative to bring former players back into the fold somehow. He had been doing some broadcast work in Charlotte and may still be but I’m not sure.
Alvin’s scouting for the Raptors still, was based out of Philly last year and Oak’s okay but not coaching anywhere this season.
Glen’s actually highly regarded as a voice of reason in a rather dysfunctional Knicks organization. He’s been around the league so long (has to be more than 20 years now, I’d guess) that he’s seen as a solid, respected pro.
Q: Hey Doug, I've written in a couple times and always get my question answered, gotta appreciate that from a fan perspective. Got a pretty basic question for ya: What does HOTH, TOD, and the other acronyms you use?
Also I'm originally from Halifax (up until a couple years ago), and I recommend going to The Maxwell's Plum, a classic Halifax Pub. It's down town Halifax on Grafton Street, and if you've ever been to Halifax you should know everywhere downtown is within walking distance. They got over 60 different beers, a lot locally brewed and the rest from around the world. Enjoy!
David S, Calgary
A: Heroes Of The Hardcourt and Team Of Destiny. That’s about all I use these days.
Q: Hi Doug. I was wondering, what do you think the odds are of the Raptors keeping both Amir Johnson and Ed Davis this season? Are there enough minutes for the two of them or do the Raps need to trade one of them?
Patrick D, Toronto
A: I can’t, and won’t, put odds on it because that’s a mug’s game and I’m not a mug. But I would imagine whichever sees his minutes cut a bit because of the emergence of the other might be offered around in trade talks.
But I would have no problem going with a five-bigs rotation of Valanciunas, Bagnani, Davis, Johnson and Aaron Gray so, sure, there are enough minutes.
Q: Here is some early mail or a topic of discussion in your blog. Joel Brigham of Hoops world wrote an article which I cut excerpts from here:
"Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, head of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, believes athletes absolutely do perform better when they’ve got a good night’s rest.
In fact, he suggest teams practice later in the early afternoon rather than 10:00 am, as many teams do, because it gives players more time to rest, particularly when traveling.
The truth is, a game that begins at 7:30 pm ET will likely end at 10:00 pm, but by the time they’ve showered, dealt with the media, and gotten out of the building, it’s often close 11:00 pm. If a flight leaves that night, they might not get to where they’re headed until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, which makes that 10:00 am practice a little tough.
Czeisler, who has actually been hired by teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, and Minnesota Timberwolves to help them plan their travel schedules, says many organizations are doing their players a disservice by simply scheduling their days in a way that robs of them of a good night’s sleep.
It could be as simple as moving practice back a few hours or scheduling a flight for the early afternoon rather than the early morning, but making travel conducive to allowing 7-9 hours of sleep a night could mean better performances from these athletes over the course of a grueling 82-game season.
Of course, there’s still the issue of convincing players to hit the mattress rather than the clubs, but if done right, teams could at least offer opportunities for more sleep for the players who want it."
It makes sense to me. Do you see it as an issue?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: The fatal flaw in the point is this:
At no time in my 17 years in the game has a team played at home, flown that night and practiced that next morning. When that situation arises – a late-night flight – it’s because there’s a game the next night and teams don’t even shootaround on the mornings of back-to-backs.
And they are flying home for an off-day, practice, here at least, is generally pushed back until at least noon.
The issue of sleep management, and time zone management, has been in the forefront more now than in the past, though. The Raptors, for instance, stay the night after road games far more often than they used to if the next day is an off-day so that they can get better rest; they’d fly home the next morning instead of arriving off an all-night flight.
And most teams are moving to flights later in the day in the regular course of a season so that more rest can be had.
It’s a delicate balance, and as that writer points out, you can’t force the players to get rest even if you change flight times.
Q: Speaking of the lockout giving other sports a chance, be careful what you wish for: last time, we got televised poker, and talk about making curling look like an extreme sport!
What non-sports do you think could rear their ugly head this time? I'm rooting for Crokinole.
Brad W, Courtenay
A: Junior hockey. European hockey. Minor league hockey. Road hockey. House league hockey.
Q: Hi Doug, do you see DeRozan taking his game to another level this year? Would you consider this to be a make it or break it year in his development? In his college days he was drawing comparisons to another baller that we are all too familiar with in the city, VC. I know comparisons are a terrible way to measure or set expectations for what a player will turn into but at the very least do you think DD has an All-Star level game in his body that's just waiting to get out?
Also while you’re travelling and hanging out in airports this year I suggest you check out a series called Homeland. It's about a Marine who was captured in Iraq for 8 years and declared dead. Once he is rescued and returns home a CIA agent, played by Claire Danes has uncovered information that leads her to believe that this rescued Marine has been flipped by the enemy and is part of a plot to attack America.
It's a phenomenal show with lots of twists and turns. The second season is starting at the end of the month, it airs on Sundays at I believe 9 on the Super Channel.
Lets Go Raptors!
Dan R, Newmarket
A: Right now he doesn’t have an all-star ability and I wonder if he ever will. He’s a great athlete still learning to be a great basketball player. That’s not a huge knock, not an awful lot of ninth draft picks with one year of college under their belts become all-stars by the time their career is 2 1-2 years old, as DeMar’s is.
Sure, he’s a better player now than he was as a rookie but he’s got a ways to go before you hear him and “all-star” in the same sentence.
And regardless what you think of Vince, he was exponentially a better NBA player than DeMar, it’s not even close.
Oh yeah, Homeland is very much on the schedule, have heard raves about it. Thanks.