Yeah, sorry I’m late with this. Baseball coaches meeting took me out of the loop Sunday night and I got caught up on some sleep.
Take care tonight, folks. Be safe and happy.
See you in the New Year.
Q: Johnson firing. Doug, we hear it so often: "We ALL have to get better". Coaches say it about themselves. But HOW do coaches actually get better? It seems unlikely DURING a season. Maybe, for coaches, we should be asking, "Get better at what?" Keeping star player happy? Keeping top brass happy? If you were advising an NBA GM and team owner what 5 things to look at when evaluating a coach mid season, what would they be?
Charles N, Toronto
A: I guess the easiest way to put it is they get better at managing, basically by trial and error, through the course of a season. They improve in managing specific game situations, they get better by figuring out which combinations of players work best together and they get better at handling the various personalities in their charge.
Some more than others, of course.
Q: Doug, a question about the really good pass-first point guards: what role do teammates' personalities (or lack of same) play in ball distribution decisions? We've seen Jose make some great feeds to Amir and to Ed Davis that allowed those guys to make massive dunks, and in each case they've visibly acknowledged the good pass on their way back up the floor. If their reactions had consistently been more self-centered (pounding their chests for the camera, etc), would Jose (or Nash, or Rondo) feel less inclined to set them up for the highlight reel next time there was an opportunity? Or do the floor generals just look for the highest-probability scoring opportunity every time up the floor, regardless of how the recipient reacts?
Mike D, Toronto
A: We have seen familiarity, for sure, between Jose and Amir mainly, kind of like Stockton and Malone, only different.
But it’s not personalities, per se, it’s more about style of play and consistency. Jose, for instance, knows to look down the lane after Amir sets a screen, just like he knows to look behind the three-point line for Andrea or in the lane if DeMar’s coming off a weak side screen.
I think that’s it more than personalities.
Q: Hello Doug! Well, today's breathless reports on the NHL lockout seemed more optimistic than usual and maybe - just maybe - this nonsense is really over and all those millionaires and billionaires involved have found a way to share the wealth - ensuring, of course, that the rich will keep getting richer. But my question for you isn't about the owners and players, it's about the members of the media, who might have to now shake off the dust, the rust and the crumbs and get back at it. So, as someone who's been there and done that - and just about the same time last year - what advice do you offer to hockey reporters to help them 'hit the ground running' and quickly get back into game shape? Bearing in mind, of course, the added challenges/pleasures/pressures of a shortened season! Hopefully you haven't exorcised all of last season's fun from your mind! Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: Kiss the family goodbye and tell ‘em you’ll see them in April. Seriously. What I remember most is the frenetic pace of games, you can’t really prepare for it other than to get ready to write a lot of game stories in a hurry. But one thing I would tell them is to never, ever quote a manager or a player or an agent suggesting they’re sorry for costing part-time workers months of employment and bars and restaurants tons of cash while they played their petty economic game. People don’t want to read it and I would not believe them if they said it.
Q: Over the years, there have been amnay Raptors players with the same last name. In fact, the Raptors have had many duplicate names at the same time. Watching the Raptors NOLA game, I was struck by Anderson/Anderson matchups and Davis/Davis matchups in the same game. So, which team has the most potential for name on name matchups for the Raps? To make it more difficult, was there ever a 3 Williams' team that could have matched up against the Raps?
Sheila C, Ottawa
A: Wasn’t there a time when there were three Williamses here? Aaron, Eric and Alvin? Or was Alvin done by then, I can’t remember.
And a quick glance at the rosters – very quick – makes me think New Orleans is the best match for this group. That was pretty cool, wasn’t it?
And didn’t New Jersey or Atlanta once have three Williamse’s? Maybe it was two but it happened about four or five years ago.
Gimme a day or two and we’ll get this in the regular blog with more research.
Q: Hi Doug. I wanted to ask you what you feel is the best way to teach young basketball players how to play offence. I coach a group of 13-14 year old boys and often find that once they gain possession of the ball, their natural instinct is to run. Often times they get caught in 1 on 3, 1 on 4, and 1 on 5 situations and try to do everything on their own. I've tried to implement simple isolation plays and pick and rolls along with simple offensive systems but I find they often forget what they need to do in the midst of the game and revert back to old habits. Any suggestions?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: My opinion? Teach them every facet of the game. Teach them all to pass and shoot and dribble and make them aware that the fastest way to move the ball is by passing it.
Tell them you don’t want a shot taken until four or five passes are made and stick to it.
Oh, and point out that spacing the court is huge; that they can get open on the weak side with one fake and a move. It’ll be easier for them and perhaps more fun.
But what you want to do more than listent to me is to go to basketball.ca and see what kind of coaching tips or clinics my friends over there have for you.
Q: Hi Doug. Sorry about your Christmas travel adventures, I hope the new year goes really well for you.
I am going to pull a reverse Jeopardy and ask a question in the form of an answer. On the tank issue I decided to look at the record and find teams that drafted number one who then won a championship with that player still on the roster. I started semi arbitrarily the year after the ABA stopped playing (1977).
I found 4 teams out of the 35 champions: Portland with Walton (drafted while the ABA was still running), Lakers with Magic and Worthy (picks acquired by trade), Rockets with Hakeem, and the Spurs with Robinson and Duncan. Nobody since then.
Did I miss anybody?
There are several players (Shaq, LeBron) who won after changing teams.
I would suggest that this is evidence against the idea of tanking.
Do you have any thoughts on why the results look like this?
My thought is that winning requires management competence that's incompatible with winding up at the bottom of the league.
James R, Toronto
A: Good research, I cna’t come up with any others.
And it is as I’ve said a zillion times: It takes good drafting, good free agent signings, astute personality management, solid scouting skills and an awful lot of luck to put together a championship team, a single draft – even with the No. 1 pick – is a small, small, small part.
Q: Morning Doug. If you're Casey, what do you do with Bargnani when he comes back? If history holds (Fields and Lowry), he should go to the bench. Did you ask Casey or anyone connected with the team about it?
Paul C, Mississauga
A: I haven't asked specifically because we are weeks and weeks away and who knows what the situation will be then. It's not worth asking at the moment, to tell you the truth. But you're right, if history holds Bargnani will come off the bench.
Q: Hi Doug. As well as the Raptor's have played this month, they're still 9 games under .500 on the season. In fact, they're only .500 for the month of December.
Seeing as the 8th seed usually needs to have about 41 wins (or a .500 record) what does this do for Bryan Colangelo?
In order to get to .500 for the season, the Raptors will have to win 70 percent of their games between now and the end of the season. For perspective, they will have to finish the season with the same winning percentage that the Knicks have started the season.
Does management honestly believe that's possible with this roster?
My real question is, if you're the GM, do you begin planning for next year or do you go into the trade deadline continuing to try to make the playoffs this year?
Peter L, Acton
A: It doesn't "do" anything to Bryan except validate his long-stated opinion that this group is capable of growth and challenging do for the final playoff spot in the East and would mean he continues to make the moves he things will move them further close to that goal. If anything, the recent spate of success would suggest they are on the right path.
As for the win totals and what they need to get to, I bet the eighth spot will go to a team below .500 but we have no idea.
Q: Hi Doug. This is the first time I've posed a question for you, even though I've read your blog daily for over 3 years. I recently read about DeMarcus Cousins' latest antics in Sacramento and the team imposed suspension. The few times I have seen him play, I've been extremely impressed with his talent and potential (although his maturity level is clearly not up to par). It seems to me that both him and Bargnani are in need of a change of scenery (even though I'm all for giving Andrea another shot at working within the new found team system the raps have shown the last few games). Do you see this as a potential trade?
I am of the opinion that with the right mentorship, Cousins has All-Star potential. I believe Sacramento has had enough of his attitude, and they would welcome an established scorer in Bargnani. Let me know what you think.
Thanks for your time and insight.
Andi K, Toronto
A: I'm sure you know I rarely deal with rumours but this thought needs to be squashed and believe me, you are not alone in this suggestion.
First, not only doesn't the money work and there's not much else in Toronto that Sacramento would want back, I will ask you this question:
What does Bryan value more than anything, perhaps even talent at some level?
Character. And Cousins has been questionable even before he got to the NBA. At this point, Cousins has shown, at times,abundant talent. He also shown an equal abundance of disruptive behaviour.