The start, and likely finish, of the weekend mail
Enjoy this while I figure out if there’s a stool to sit on and watch the big tilt this afternoon.
We’ll be back with something tomorrow morning (there don't seem to be many questions left to get to) and, of course, the IGBT for the Magic tilt.
Q: Hi Doug. So I see by his tweets and his blog that Chris Sheridan thinks you and your team did a terrible job filling out the All-Star nominees and calls the ballot "a joke". They even name the selection committee members - so look out there may be upset fans around the world looking for you!
Are there league requirements that your committee has to adhere to? For instance, Sheridan kept harping about how ridiculous it was to list Omri Casspi while far more deserving players were omitted.
Joe S, Kingston
A: Yeah, I saw Chris’s critique, guess he lost my phone number or e-mail address to talk about it. Too bad.
Yes, there are league requirements, we need to find a minimum of three players from each team to put on the ballot and, yes, I’ll give you Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao from the Cavs and then who? Maybe we missed on Casspi but he’s at least as worthy as, well, who? Alonzo Gee? Tristan Thompson? Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Chris’s other rant, about Damian Lilliard would have been, you know, accurate, if he had taken the time to call any of and found out that we do the ballot before the regular season begins and traditionally only include that year’s No. 1 draft pick for ceremonial reasons more than anything.
Did we miss on Casspi? Maybe. Does it matter in the long run? Not a whit.
Q: Hello Doug. Well, Monday's titanic trade sure messed up Tuesday's paper as far as Raptor's coverage; that improbable win and Jose's first career triple double sure didn't get front page coverage. Now truthfully, I couldn't tell you what page the game story was on because all the Blue Jay fans in my neighborhood seemingly snapped up the ever-decreasing number of papers delivered to my local outlet, but I'm guessing it was tucked somewhere on a back page, in the bottom corner, where the high school sports scores are listed. Anyway, it was a great win and a nice milestone for Jose.
Now, the question: I was watching (I think it was) Jack Armstrong interview Amir Johnson on the court post-game and in the background saw Mr. Jim LaBumbard leaving the court with a basketball in his hands. Now is that a normal part of his duties, was this particular ball being 'saved' because of Jose's achievement or maybe it was a case of something else entirely? Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: Nice catch in the background of TV shot. That was indeed Jim wandering off with the game ball and it was indeed him getting for Jose to mark the triple-double. Things like that don’t happen often and it’s certainly not part of the job description but Jim knew the magnitude of the performance and figured Jose would appreciate a keepsake. And I’m sure he did.
Q: Hey Doug: I was listening to the halftime radio show of a Pistons game last night (not by choice - it just happened to be on when I got in the car). They had one of the staff of the Pistons on, talking about 'metrics.'
He said that he categorizes shots as 'valuable,' 'less valuable,' etc.
The most valuable shot, according to him, was a free throw - he stated, that historically speaking, free throws were made 75% of the time, much higher than any shot. That was why it was so important to get to the rim.
The next shot from within the restricted area, zero to three feet from the net, which has a very high success rate.
Next was the three-pointer. I may have forgotten the exact percentages, but it was something like 37% for threes, which would be the equivalent of 52% for twos, in order to score the same number of points.
The least valuable shot, to him, was what he called a 'wood' shot - inside the three-point line, but out of the paint.
Do you agree with his evaluations? Would you change the order?
Thanks again for all the time and energy you put in, just to keep the Irregulars happy (and others, unhappy)!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I wouldn’t change a thing, actually; and all my friends in the advanced metrics world would unquestionably agree with me.
I’ll give you a little anecdote, locally: The DeMar DeRozan shot chart looked, in large part, like a “DO NOT DO THIS THING” last year, he took far too many long twos for anyone’s liking. That’s why they are insistent that he either get to the rim or go back a step or two and shoot a three this year, it makes far more sense. Whether he does it or not remains to be seen but it’s something they want him to do.
Same with Rudy Gay, who takes too many long twos for anyone’s liking, despite his skillset.
Q: Hi Doug. With the way Caldron is playing it's only a matter of time until PG controversy questions are going to come up. Now, clearly, there is no controversy, but it’s becoming fairly obvious that Jose and Lowery are 2 out of the team's 4 if not 3 best players. A point could also be made the Jose has been their best player over the last 3-4 games (since Lowery went down). You cannot play one of your top players for 20 min a game, especially after he posts a triple double.
Also, Jose is a PG, playing him at 2 next to Lawry for 5 min doesn't fully do justice to him.
Any idea how to solve it, or how is the team planning to go about it?
Can Lowery play the 2 for extended periods of time? Can Derozen play the 3?
Jon A, Toronto
A: There is no point guard “controversy” anywhere except in the imagination of fans. And they can, actually, massage the minutes so that one of Calderon or Lowry spend some time off the ball, as they did for the first few games of the year. If you want a breakdown, consider this: Calderon plays 20 minutes at the point and 12 at shooting guard, and Lowry plays 28 at the point and 10 at shooting guard. It works, has worked and will work.
People tend to see demons where none exist.
Q: Hey Doug. I was the fan with the giant Jack Armstrong head at the Pistons-Raptors game last season. I'm getting it ready for next Friday, just wondering if you knew if Jack is calling the game (otherwise I have some arts and crafts to do! Maybe a Matt Devlin with real hair?).
Josh R, Windsor
A: Well, Detroit’s a TSN game so Jack should be there. Am sure he’ll appreciate whatever it is you have in store. I won’t be there to see it, that’s a Cathal Joint, I have some Grey Cup duties to attend to.
Q: How about The Beast wear those wide receiver gloves in practice, so that he can get used to catching the ball? Could he wear them in a game?
Any pressure on BC to respond to the TOD trade?
Boys High School ball starts next week, will you catch any games?
Are you ready for the Mayan calendar mania about to swamp our airwaves?
How about a little Barry Mcguire...you know...The Eastern world it is explodin, violence flarin, bullets loadin...
Bob E, Kanata
A:Not in a game but it'd be fun to see.
And seeing the workload of my seamhead friends this week, I hope Bryan stays the course; don't imagine he will, but it'd be fine with me.
High school ball? I vow to get out somewhere sometime and there are days when I wished the Mayan calendar was right, to tell you the truth.
Great, great tune. Thanks.
Q: Hey Doug. Great blog. I enjoy the fact you incorporate different types of news and some entertainment in your daily blog. I know your love for Grace Kelly so thought you might want to know this is happening:
Keep up the great work!
Judy S, Toronto
A: I don’t do many movies, this is one that’ll draw me in for sure.
Q: Is this already DeMar's team? Will it become Kyle's team?
Bo K, Mississauga
A: I don’t think it’s anyone’s “team” and nor should it be. I think Lowry is a rather more demonstrative and vocal leader but DeMar is a longer-serving member of the team.
And having spoken to all of these guys extensively, I don’t think anyone sees it as anybody’s team now.
Q: Hi Doug. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I disagreed with DD getting an extension to start the season. It has been a small sample size but, the young man looks be ready to take on a leadership role with this team. Intangibles make it an interesting game.
Kevin M, Maple
A: I still think they jumped the gun on bidding against themselves on the deal and just eight games in – and maybe five above average – I’m going to hold off on any suggestions that he’s turned any kind of corner with any consistency.
He’s been good but there is a long, long way to go.
Q: Doug. Last year when discussing the Raps there were two glaring holes. Small forward and centre. Can it not be argued that the same issues are present with the current roster? With Valanciunas finding his way as a rookie the Raps still fill the centre position by committee. At the same time Fields, and a resurgent Anderson are hardly the athletic, slashing, 3 the team was/is lacking.
Additionally, I’m wondering your thoughts on Kleiza. He was returning from a serious injury last year and maybe deserved a shot at a more pronounced roll this season. He has shown he can average 10 and 4 over the last 5 seasons. With a more offensive minded point guard in Lowery, DeMarr’s demanding more touches, and Bargs still jacking 16 shots a game… is there room for a scoring 3?
Maybe the answer at the Small forward has been there. A gritty, tough, hard nosed Kleiza. (note, I’ve always been a Kleiza fan… this is not a view prompted by his performance the last two games. )
Jeff M, Saint John
A: There’s always room for more talent, don’t think anyone would dispute that. And Kleiza is more than serviceable in the right matchups where he’s able to use his strength to post up other small forwards. But he’s not good enough defensively to cover quick, fast ones and that’s what is going to hold him back.
So as for that position, I still think it’s a sore spot that needs to be addressed.
It’s okay now but far from great.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm interesting to get your take on the Royce White 'fiasco' developing in Houston. By no means would I look to discredit the seriousness of his illness. What I do question is his decision to take his frustrations out on his employer over Twitter.
What are your thoughts on his choice to take his frustrations public: appropriate or unprofessional?
Blake J, Leeds, UK
A: I wrote a little bit about this in the Nothin’ But Net main for Friday’s paper but to your specific question, I think twitter is a wildly inappropriate avenue in which to air your anger at your employer.
As a reporter, I sure don’t mind it; as a boss, I would be livid.
Q: If they were all healthy, who amongst Kleiza, Fields and Anderson would you be playing as the starting small forward and main back-up?
J L, Oakville
A: Six of one, half a dozen of the other, actually. I know that’s a bit of a cop out but there isn’t a lot of discernible difference in the three that would allow two to stand out over the other.
Pressed? I’d probably go Fields, Kleiza, Anderson but, really, if it was some other way, I’d be fine with it.
Q: Not sure if you've already commented on this. Was the Indiana game the ugliest win you've witnessed? Any others come close? Thanks.
Barry W, Barrie
A: Was the ugliest Raptors fourth quarter I’ve ever seen, and the rest of the game was no great shakes, either. But ugliest ever? I tend to blank the worst ones out of my mind as quickly as I can, leaving me only the last game of last season to think about.
It was butt-ugly and I’m sure there were others.
Tuesday’s would be high on any list.
Q: I'm sure this has been asked before so, if so, please refresh us. It never fails that injuries mount among the Raps year in and year out. Particularly ankles and muscle strains. Having played basketball at levels miniscule to the beating that NBA players take I can understand the risks. However, it seems like a disproportionate trend exists among the Raps. Is there a difference in the off, pre, and on season training regiment among the Raps compared to other teams? Not trying to know the training staff. Just wondering if there are some "system" issues at play regarding the amount of resources directed towards training and conditioning compared to other teams.
Chris P, Guelph
A: No difference at all and I think, like so many others, you tend to be a bit myopic because this is the team you follow closely.
I’m sure people in Portland over the years, and Minnesota this year and New York last year with Shumpert, Lin, Davis, Chandler and Stoudemire may have asked the same question.
Stuff happens but no matter what your “system” issues are, you cannot possibly plan for a player to go over on an ankle while trying to offensively rebound a made basket (Lowry), suffer some inexplicable deep nerve issue (Fields) or fall awkwardly during a game (Anderson).
Yes, it’s a group of three in a hurry but it happens elsewhere, too.
Q: This isn't meant to be a criticism of the job that Casey is dong, but I'm genuinely curious about why Jonas isn't playing a bit more than he is. Again, not an irate fan demanding an explanation; I'm just curious.
Matt M, Hamilton
A: He’s not playing as much as people would like, or expect, because he’s still got a lot of things to learn defensively and Dwane would rather have Amir out there if possible. The other night in Indy, for instance, when the Pacers went smallish with West and Hansbrough for most of the fourth quarter there simply wasn’t a cover good enough for Valanciunas to play and it’s not like he gives them a dominant offensive force, either.
It will come but, and everyone needs to go back and read the stuff from the summer and training camp, it’s a long, hard learning process for a rookie.
Q: Hi Doug. This is probably a stupid question. In the tail end of last year's season, The Raps were seriously depleted due to injuries. We called up Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson from the D leagues, and they helped admirably for the final few games.
And of course, Alan Anderson was rewarded with a full year contract.
My question: When drawing from the D leagues, can a team pick anyone from any team? Or only from their affiliate team?
Gary D, Stouffville
A: They can take any player from any team on either a 10-day contract (which can’t be signed until early January) or one that’s for the rest of year, as long as that player isn’t under contract to an NBA team.
And there are no stupid questions.
Q: Hi Doug, long time reader, big fan of your blog (and former Doug TV)._I usually send you questions re the HOTHC but today's in more of a complain.
You have compared several times beach volleyball to 3-on-3 hoops, and as I former University basketball player and current beach player I can tell you the comparison is way off. I will not argue anything regarding outfits and the whole marketing side of beach volley but you would have to have played the sport to realise how much of a different sport beach is from indoor. Not just the number of players, but the surface is different, which really isn't the case in 3on3 hoops. Same surface, same size of court, same ball.
I will remain your fan and enjoying your blog every morning.
Abe S, Kelowna
A: I understand your points and they are all valid. What I’m saying is the similarities is that each is a somewhat bastardized version of the “real” game but beach volleyball is far more bastardized than three-on-three basketball.
Q: G'day. Do you know anything about Bargnani's off season program, as in was his entire off season about rehabbing his calf, with little or no basketball training? I ask because I wonder if that's the main culprit in his terrible start.
There are several signs that lead me to think this. Coach Casey has stated that he's working his way into shape. That either means he was lazy over the summer, or he was restricted in any conditioning program. Though it seems, to my eye, that his energy level is slowly picking up as each game is played, I also look at shooting stats and his overall first quarter shooting percentages are actually very good, but drop off drastically as the game goes on. Just wondering if you have any insight to how the season is playing out for Andrea to date, and if we can expect a continued progression of his conditioning and game energy.
D G, Calgary
A: No, he didn’t play a lot of basketball over the summer to work on his calf; he didn’t participate in the EuroBasket qualifier with the Italian national team, for instance.
And I don’t think anyone’s mentioned conditioning for quite some time, actually.
The season’s playing out slowly, he hasn’t had one of those big scoring games we’ve seen and his defensive intensity has to pick up. Will it? I have my doubts but there’s a long way to go.
Q: Love Dwane Casey as our coach, just wondering if you think maybe some of the scoring woes are partially his fault?
End of games the ball should be going to Demar every time! Agree?
Blake U, Toronto
A: Disagree. Rather vehemently. You find out what matchup works best and mix things up. I think people tend to forget that if you’re giving the ball to the same guy every time down the floor, the other teams are good and smart enough to realize it and may change defensive looks.
There are times when 1-5 or 1-4 pick and rolls are more effective than isos, there will be times when clearouts for Lowry are more effective.
You cannot, and should not, make sweeping generalizations.