Just the start of the weekend mail
I had great intentions Saturday night of puttering around and getting this all finished and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Then the couch got comfortable, dinner was being digested and naptime came up very quickly. And after naptime, it was bedtime.
So, there’s lots I didn’t get to, I have a bunch of stuff to do here this morning before the game so take these 3,000 words worth of stuff and I’ll be back with about the same amount later tonight or tomorrow.
Sorry about that.
Q: Hi Doug. As a long time student of the game in particular and of life in general, I've wondered about with whom in the Raptor's history I'd like to spend time with talking about both. Mitchell, Embry and Wilkens seem to be the most intriguing. From your experience, who among the non-players, from assistants to GM's and advisors, would you choose to chat with about the game, and about politics, culture, society? You can list two groups if you wish.
Frank B, Toronto
A: You mean the proverbial dinner party? That’s always a good one.
With the proviso that all could speak the King’s English (that’s in the players’ spot) and that they all worked for the Raptors at one point, I’ll give you these:
A consultant in the early years, Coach Mac actually knew James Naismith. Fascinating man I spoke with often when he was around but not nearly enough.
Yes, we’ve spoken often about many things but in the context of this night, it’d be incredible, I bet.
He has worked all over the world, has stories of international basketball that are wonderful. He’s also worked for some of the richest men in the world at a very high level.
With all he’s done and all he’s been involved in, wouldn’t he be a natural?
Sure, his years here were a failure on the court but what a life he’s led.
Another part-timer, I hope he’d open up about opportunity wasted and lost and provide some cautionary tales I could impart to others.
What was life like in Mongolia? How strange a trip was he on.
And, thanks, this has given me a few ideas of how I’d like to expand some takeouts on current players if I can convince my bosses to invest the space.
Q: Hi Doug. Now that people are back on, would you "cast" the broken ankles, or use a couple of screws for all those band wagon jumpers?
What is a band wagon? Is it like the old mini-van?
Is JV working on shooting with his non injured hand?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Bandwagon? Or chuckwagon? And when someone says chuckwagon, what do you think of?
(Aren’t you worried about how my brain works? I am).
Q: Any news on the injury front? Is super son still out of action? Maybe he can visit dad at work and get some therapy!
John P, McLeod Hill
A: Thanks for asking.
He’s working out, doing his rehab like a dutiful patient. Sax playing has resume but buggy pushing for a living hasn’t and if I know him, the thing will flare up every time there’s snow to shovel.
Too bad for Super Wife, isn’t it?
Q: I know how much you hate discussing trades but i was wondering if you would chime in on the recent reports concerning the Lakers. Pau Gasol for Josh Smith? Also, have you ever considered Champix. I know a few people who swear by it. Terrence Ross is exciting for a one dimensional player isn't he?
Racket R, Toronto
A: Dude, or dudette, I’m not sure. I hate doing trade rumour stuff involving the team I cover, I’m sure not branching out into others. Sorry
And Ross is more than one dimension; I’d say one and half, he drives it okay for a rookie.
No, after consulting with my physician, Champix was not an option for a variety of reasons.
Q: Hey Doug. Could you and your intrepid research team give us an idea of when Team Canada will be playing again, and when the next major international events are?
I know it will be a little while but there are a ton of really exciting kids coming up right now and I can't wait to see how they look in red and white.
I'd also love to see some more coverage of the kids and their college exploits, most ball fans have heard Andrew Wiggins name but I think Stauskis Bennett and all the rest could still use some more local support.
I truly believe by the next Olympics we should be a force to be reckoned with.
Dave W, Toronto
A: Lots of interest all of a sudden this week on the national men’s and women’s teams. Each will play in qualification for the 2014 world championships later this summer. Dates and sites have yet to be firmed up and we’ll get ‘em to you when we can.
And I guess you missed the huge takeout we had in the paper this week on the Canadian men in the NCAA? Too bad, it was pretty good. Am sure if you search our site’s basketball page you’ll find it; sorry that with all your apparent interest in it that you missed it.
Q: Hi Doug. What strange times we are in. Popeye Jones son Seth playing elite level hockey and a Canadian destined to possibly be the #1 pick in the NBA draft in 2014. Unfortunately, the Canadian media doesn't talk nearly enough about Wiggins, but we are regularly reminded about the talents of Nathan Mackinnon. Do you have any stories about Wiggins you are able to share? Also, keeping in mind that you are not a prognasticator, can you give some insight as to his ceiling and future impact on Canadian basketball. I personally am amazed that a Canadian could be the #1 pick in today's global game yet so few Canadians are aware of him.
Terrence Ross - I love watching him shoot, but also very impressed with the quickness of his release and how he runs the half court to get open. Where does he rank on your list of best Raptor rookie shooters?
Mike M, Victoria
A: I really don’t have any stories, actually. I’d say if you listen to people who are paid to predict the basketball future that 17 or 18 months from now when he’s eligible for the NBA draft that Wiggins will be the No. 1 pick and have a great impact on the team that chooses him. He also seems to be the most anticipated Canadian player perhaps of all time.
And perhaps after we see him take part in even one NCAA practice or game we’ll get a better idea about his talents. There is all kinds of hype now, that’s for sure. I’m going to wait a calendar year before I start paying rapt attention, though.
Ross? Might be the best shooter since Mo Pete, and might even be better. And Damon could shoot it, too.
Q: Season greetings from Spain! Maybe this is too soon for the weekly mailbag, but as the Blazers are coming midweek I'd like your expertise sight of Portland's Victor Claver. Spanish grunts aren't impartial with our players in NBA. Claver is always been in Spain's national team since he was very, very young, but has had a secondary role playing at the 3 (behind Rudy Fernández) or at the 4 (Pau Gasol and Jorge Garbajosa were ahead). IMO he's got all the fundamentals and the talent, but I feel he needs "something". I really appreciate your opinion, but I know that just one game is a poor sample, so maybe you can get any insights from your Portland's colleagues. Many thanks and a very Happy New Year to you and Super Family.
P.D.: Don´t take too much of this, but been a long, long time reader I feel free to say that your great blog has evolved to outstanding this last months. Aren't the rest of Irregulars O.K.?
Pablo E, Oviedo, Spain
A: Sorry I didn’t get to this before the Portland game but in a way it’s a good thing since I got to see him a second time and got a chance to ask some people about him, like Jose and members of the Blazers staff.
I, and they, think he’s got a chance to be a long-time regular in an NBA rotation but that his future here in North America is as a small forward and he has to work on his shooting and ball-handling skills. But he is young and everyone I spoke to thinks he could have a promising future ahead of him.
I’m kind of hoping I get to see him at the worlds in your great, great country in 2014.
->Q: Apparently the world did not end on December 21, but with the snow falling in epic proportions in Southern Ontario and the Raptors stringing together a nice a little run, I am looking over my shoulder for that great big asteroid a little more often. Having said that, can you give us a glimpse into the temperature of Rap-fandom in comparison to earlier in the year? Have we bounced right back to our pre-season highs or did the early season funk/panic truly take the wind out of the sails of the fanbase?
As always, thanks. Happy New Year Doug.
John D, Oakville
A: Oh, it’s exponentially calmer around here. And judging by the numbers I see on the regular blog and the IGBT, we’ve either attracted a whole bunch of new friends or all those people who said they were fed up and would never watch or read again were fibbing.
I suspect the latter.
Q: Hi Doug. One aspect of your job that I envy is that you get to watch games from courtside. Having seen the game from a close up perspective, do you think the premium for a court side seat is worth it? What are some of the obvious things that we would notice but may have missed after watching games on TV for years (or from cheaper seats at the ACC?)
A T, Niagara Falls
A: Now, if I was a paying customer and I had a choice where I could see seven games a season from anywhere in the arena or two from anywhere in the arena and two from the premium courtside seats, I’d take the seven.
And about the only thing you’re missing are some of the sounds of the game and an up-close appreciation for how physical it is.
Remember when Dwane said: “You can hear good defence?” If you’re in the front row and paying attention, you’ll understand how right he was.
Q: Hey Doug: I assume your first two preferences for watching a game would be a couch and a stool (not necessarily in that order!).
But, when you are working in an arena, where do you prefer to sit? Baseline? Corner? Mid-court?
Tim H, Windsor
A: In a perfect world we’d be on the baseline, maybe elevated two feet, but right next to the bench of the team we cover so we could hear and see interaction on the benc and still have a great view of the game.
Our seats in Indy are like that and I think they’re the best in the game.
Q: Hello Doug. Looking at the NBA standings, its seems quite plausible that in the East, you'll get one or two teams with sub .500 records making the playoffs while in the West, a winning regular season record may not get you into the playoffs. Do you think the NBA might want to look at changing the playoff format and perhaps taking the top 16 out of 30 teams instead of doing it by conference?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I don’t think they want to, at least every time we ask about it they don’t. Things tend to be cyclical and it could very well turn around in a couple of years.
Maybe the only thing they should look at it – perhaps – re-seeding when they get to the last four teams but I’m barely on board with that.
Q: Is Terence Ross a better player than DEMAR was his first year, He seems to be a better shooter in his first year.
Sandy L, Ajax
A: Yes, he’s a better shooter, by far. A better player? I don’t know, I’d rather use the word “different” to describe them.
Q: Hey Doug.__I figured id ask you this, simply cuz you know smitch. What do you take from his comments about bargs? Do u think hes a wee bit bitter about what shook down in TO with his situation? Or do you think hes spot on? I kinda remember hearing that bargs had a hard ass coach in Italy... so why baby him here?__Another small lil question.. Im from winnipeg, and i definitely dont see all or hear all about what goes on around the team. But why is everyone pro trade bargs? I mean the guy still averages 14 points (granted, down from last year) but can go off any given night. Please ease my mind! Lol
Travis T, Winnipeg
A: I said this the other day in response to a comment in the regular blog and this is going to be the end of it:
Sam didn’t “baby” Andrea on anyone’s “orders.” He coached him differently than other players because that’s what coaches do. Any good manager of any staff at any job anywhere in the world will tell you methods to get the most of an employee differ from person to person.
And Sam, who I love and who I think was in many ways a good coach, coached Bargnani and the team well enough to get to 47 wins and a division title in Bargnani’s first year and to the playoffs again in his second. So something worked and I don’t remember Sam telling me, even privately, that people were messing with his coaching moves.
Q: Hi Doug. The other day our old friend Chuck Swirsky tweeted that he hopes Basketball Canada is taking note of how well Tristan Thompson is playing right now. That got me wondering, does Basketball Canada have the resources to regularly monitor and evaluate the progress of potential national team members?
Joe S, Kingston
A: Oh yeah, sure they do.
Not only is the team’s head coach an assistant coach in the NBA where he can talk to players and scouts and executives and not only is the team’s general manager a player in the NBA where he can talk to players and scouts and executives but his assistant GM – Rowan Barrett – works tirelessly out of Toronto tracking, and staying touch with, college players.
Q: Top of the New Year to you! I am going to reword a question that I proferred in the IGBT the other night. For the sake of the discussion let us, for the moment anyway, assume that the HOTH continue on their significantly more successful run. To the point that they finish higher than hoped for and perhaps even see some playoff action (I know I may be jinxing things). From those associated with the team and from the context of their less than fantastic start to the season, whom would you feel either happiest for or, perhaps, who can feel the most vindicated?
Regarding school dance songs, and if memory serves, Stairway To Heaven. Was/is something of a Lynyrd fan then and now and when I had control of such things "Tuesday's Gone" was my finisher.
On the topic of Led Zeppelin, highly recommend Celebration Day the DVD. They are a little tentative at first but really get going as the concert progresses. Only complaint with it, for me, was the style of the editing of the visuals, jarring jump shots aplenty.
I have added another thing to my list of stuff that I actually miss about Hazelville, (warning blatant plug to follow) after visiting the Crooked Cue in Port Credit in recent days I can fairly say that I sure do miss shooting pool there.
Thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: Well, if they do go on to do what you suggest – or even get close to the post-season – wouldn’t Bryan, who put a plan in place after Bosh’s departure and stuck to it regardless, feel the most vindicated. If I were him, I would.
Me? I’ll be most happy for the behind the scenes guys like the media relations staff, the travel and equipment guys and the front office support staff because it’s been a long, hard slog for them without any of the perks that go with be a player, a coach or an executive.
Q: Doug, how are medical staff, doctors, trainers, etc chosen by teams? You always hear that some teams have excellent medical personnel, other teams are branded as horror shows rightly or wrongly (Portland anyone?). You'd think that with Pro sports leagues usually having about 30 or so franchises, that they'd be able to get the best medical and training staff, be all specialized to the given sport, be more or less equal in ability, etc but this doesn't seem to be the case. What gives? Is it just up to the owner how much they want to spend and invest?
Vito C, Toronto
A: Most teams have three local physicians of their own choosing on retainer: A general practitioner, an orthopedic specialist and, in most cases, a dentist. They are all accomplished and are chosen by the team from the medical people available in their own cities.
But all teams are able to send their players – after consulting with their staff medical staff – to the best specialists in North America, which is how a guy like Jonas Valanciunas got to see a hand specialist and, way back, a world famous doctor like Dr. James Andrews was looking at injured Raptors like Vince Carter when he was asked to consult by the team’s staff.
Q: Hey Doug. Happy New Year and all the best in 2013 to you and your family!
Quick question for the mailbag.
The silver lining of the JV injury could be that he is getting some mid season rest, which could maybe allow him to avoid the rookie wall.
I know that the downside of that is the slower learning progress, and I know nothing can replace the actual on the floor experience, but can you give us any insight in the off court activities that JV is doing now? Is he still reviewing film with the coaches, learning tendencies of opposing players, understanding the defensive and offensive schemes better etc... And also is he doing any cardio, maybe pool workouts?
Thanks for all the great work Doug, hope you enjoy the prolonged home stay and the easier travel schedule.
Vanja G, Toronto
A: I see your point on the forced rest he’s getting, makes a lot of sense to allow for a stronger finish to the season.
And, yes, he’s getting all kinds of work in. Both in video sessions before each practice and he’s going a lot of cardio work since it’s only a hand that’s injured. Saw him the last two days working out with Alex McKechnie post-practice on all kinds of strength and conditioning things.
And, yes, it’s the same with Andrea.