All -- maybe -- of the weekend mail
Okay, I had to shut this down late afternoon on Saturday to head to the peninsula, see Super Grandpa, perhaps have peanuts for dinner while tossing the shells willy-nilly on the floor (Hello, Mick and Angelo’s) before the night unfolded.
I’ll check sometime Sunday afternoon to see if there are enough questions to warrant another edition.
Q: Hello Doug!
Well, once again, we Raptor supporters are wallowing in the misery that is the end of this season: thirteen games and counting. Not that we're counting. Except that we are. Again. And I'll tell you something – just between you and me - I think that if it wasn't for the fellowship and fun of your IGBT, I might've already turned the page and the dial on the Raptors. So, thank you for doing what you do to keep so many of us engaged
and educated - and, somehow even entertained - by the HOTH.
After reading the USA Today interview with George Karl that you linked to in your 'Nothing But Net' feature this week I've got a couple of questions.
Now, I know you're not privy to the workings of Mr. Karl's mind, but I'm wondering if, based on your own experiences, you could offer some insight for me.
First, this quote from George Karl: "There should not be an entitlement that because you get paid the most money, that you should finish every game. But if you don't do it, then the agents are going to call and the players are going to mope and so you negotiate that. It's a compromise as a coach."
My question: Was that a figure of speech that 'agents are going to call' or do players' agents literally call coaches if the players they represent aren't happy? Seriously? Don't most players have someone on the team - if not the coach, then an assistant, even another player - who they can confide in if they're unhappy about, for example, the number of minutes they're playing?
And my next question is based on his quote about leadership roles on teams. Here's the quote from George Karl: "No, I think Andre is the pro in our locker room. I think Iguodala will get there. I think Ty is coming there. I think Gallo (Gallinari) - I always think it's a little harder for a European player to take that responsibility, but I think Gallo has that personality and mind to do that."
On the teams you've seen, do you agree that it's harder for a European player to take on a leadership role? And if so, why do you suppose that's the case? Thanks.
And good luck at your poker thing! Do you have a 'lucky' game? Are you a serial bluffer? And, do you wear a cool pair of Ray-Bans while you're playing like they do on TV?
Lorie P, London
A: Oh no, sadly, that’s very true. Agents might not phone coaches directly but they will phone or meet with general managers with things like “why isn’t my guy playing” or “why isn’t the coach using my guy this way where he’s more effective” and it’s all part and parcel of life in the NBA. For most coaches and GMs it goes in one ear and out the other but if it’s incessant, it could cause trouble. And while that’s all happening, players are indeed whining to each other or a staffer or someone.
And I think Europeans, or Africans, or anyone, do have a problem quickly assuming leadership roles for a lot of reasons. It could be a language thing when a guy first comes over, it could be unfamiliarity (a lot of the North Americans would have played college or high school or AAU ball against or with each other and have a comfort level and a pecking order) or it could just be the “foreign” players take longer to let their personalities come out.
But it happens, I don’t think anyone can dispute who the leader is on the Dallas Mavericks and I’d suggest Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have risen to the top in San Antonio.
Poker? I generally just wear the look of abject disappointment at another bad hand dealt me.
Q: Hi Doug
The challenge for me in writing this question is to not come across as overly negative (I have suffered your wrath before so kudos to you that I keep coming back).
This morning in your blog you mention you think the Raps may need a leader to help them through rough patches during a game and help avert the poor play before it turns into a quarter or more of lousy basketball.
This brings me to Kyle Lowry. When we acquired him he was sold to us as a tough Philly kid (backed by Alvin Williams who we all love) who was full of fight, great character and toughness. What I didn't know was that he had an average to below average NBA point guard handle, that he wasn't a particularly great one on one defender nor that he pounded the ball into the deck ala Mike James (I know, I know, he got 10 assists last night)
My question is does he not have the makeup to be the team leader either? Can he not serve in this role you describe?
If the answer is no what exactly does this player bring to the party?
Thanks Doug. Love your work and read you faithfully and please understand that some of your followers have sunk a lot of money (3 seasons being a season ticket holder and countless years of mini-packs) into the team and sometimes our frustrations are just a result of not even being in the hunt for a playoff spot for I don't know how long. I know some nights we get entertained in losses but after a while....
Mike in Cambridge
A: I don’t know that Kyle has the strength of personality or the temperement to be the kind of vocal, get-in-your-face leader most very good teams have.
But he brings quite a bit, actually. He may not be the best point guard in the game, or the conference, or the division, but he can play. Not the way most people like or anticipated but he can make shots, get to the rim and while he gambles too much on defence, that kind of attitude does set a tone. Is he an all-star in the making? No, never was. But he’s not a bum by any stretch of the imagination.
Q: OK Doug, you leave your current gig to become the super-commissioner of the new NBA with the job of creating a world bball structure. How about something like this?
A world super league of sixteen teams, initially with eight from North America and four each from Europe and Asia. Three continental leagues of at least sixteen teams each. At the end of each season, teams are promoted/demoted to/from the super league, say four for NA and two for the other leagues. In addition to the league play there would be a tournament involving all the teams in all four leagues with single knockout format.
There are obvious practical and financial difficulties to be overcome, but it would be fun.
A: I see your idea but it needs some tinkering, that’s for sure. Mainly because there aren’t nearly as many competitive club teams in Asia or Europe (not mention Africa or South America) to make it work.
I’d suggest – without the difficulties of “relegation” and the financial woes that would bring – that 14 in North American and 10 from anywhere else would be a pretty cool thing.
And, who knows, once they build enough suitable arenas in Europe and develop the finances in sponsorship, TV deals and ticket costs, we might see a European NBA division in a decade or so. I’ll be the first to sign up for the London-Madrid-Rome-Istanbul road trip.
Q: Hi Doug
I'm asking on behalf of a couple of friends whose basketball genes may be less than ideal: can you think of an elite perimeter defender, currently playing in the NBA, who's on the shorter, stockier side for his position?
I'm looking for someone whose technique they could watch. Most of the perimeter stoppers seem to be spidery types a la Bruce Bowen.....the best I could think of on short notice was Dwyane Wade, but I'm a ways behind you in games watched.
Mike D., Toronto
A: I’m not sure I’d call Tony Allen short and stocky but he’s also not long and lithe and he’s a guy every player should emulate defensively. And I guess this guy might be more backcourt than perimeter but I really like Avery Bradley in Boston for the way he disrupts teams.
But short and stocky in the commonly held perception among normal humans? Not sure I can come up with many names off the top of my head.
Q: Hi, Doug,
Please change back to old photo. You look old and tired in your new picture From my heart!!
A: Actually, I think old and tired is a true representation.
Q: Good Morning
Earlier in the season I asked how many games have been lost to injury. I was wondering if you give us an update. Probably not a record but a telling stat none the less.
A: They’re up to 144 with Saturday’s game (Gay and Bargnani are hurt). I haven’t gone through the other teams individually but I’d suspect that would be on the high side of the league average.
Q: Greetings, between a season running out, a baseball team not yet playing real games and a winter hanging on an aggravatingly long time the last few weeks certainly have been kind of dull. However we have the Masters to look forward to, and would imagine the Mother Ship's golf guide as well(unless the economy has snuffed it) so things are looking up.
In reaching for questions, one did come to mind. Often spoken about our local pucks is the effect that coming to Toronto can have on opposing players. Perhaps lots of friends and family to attend the game, memories of their junior days in and around southern Ontario and as well, I suppose, the stature of the Buds. Effect, in the sense that as players on the visiting team they find extra incentive to play a strong game in front of friends and family. Admittedly the population of the GTA would play a role here but if we were to look for an American city that shares the same situation for the hoopsters, would there be one?
Secondarily, beyond the obvious (New York and LA) is there a NBA city that the players find particularly distracting? A city that most players really like to play at and enjoy the opportunities off the court?
Regarding weekend choices, a chance to be with old friends is something that should not be lightly dismissed. In my own group of fifty-somethings we have already lost a couple. Time marches on and stuff that we tend to take for granted can be taken away while we are not paying attention.
Thanks for what you (and the Irregulars) do
Doug T, Brantford
A: Because of the wide disparity in backgrounds and hometowns of NBA players, and the lack of any kind of junior system, I’m not sure there is a city like the one you describe. Maybe New York? But even that’s a stretch.
You may find this hard to believe, and I did, but Atlanta is at, or near, the top of that list, taking out New York, LA and Miami, that is.
Q: Hi Doug,
Sorry no basketball question today, but I know you have some interest in baseball. So a sporting related question none the less.
Given the result from the WBC and how many key players from the blue jays play on the Dominican Republic's national team. Do you think it's possible or appropriate for the jays to play the Dominican Republic's national anthem one time maybe during the home opener? I'm sure they would recognize them somehow it's just what teams do.
I would think it would be cool though, no?
Has anything like this happened before in basketball or any other sport?
Chris M, Toronto
A: Might be cool but might also set a difficult precedent given the cyclical nature of rosters these days. What would happen if they had a team with several players from other country, would they have to do it again?
I don’t have knowledge of that ever happening in North American pro sports; what lots of teams do is have “heritage” nights for various ethnic groups that includes pre- and post- and even in-game entertainment geared to specific nationality. I would presume the Blue Jays might look at that at some point this season.
Q: I now live in eastern Ontario, but had the pleasure of living in Alberta (Oilberta) in the early 1980's and was there for Calgary mayor Ralph Klein going off about the " "bums and creeps" from eastern Canada coming to Calgary and living off of welfare.
Oh and I am looking forward to an article about the new Women's basketball coach. My daughter played for her as a Husky and has all good things to say about her.
A: I’m actually supposed to sit down with Lisa this week when she’s in Toronto for some meetings and presume we’ll get to know a bit more about her following that chat.
Q: Hey Doug,
I have a list question for you. I would like to know who have been the most disappointing Raptors players over the years. Not the worst, but the most disappointing, say top 5. So which player fell the furthest from their respective expectations. I think we would all agree that Araujo was a disappointment but was he further from expectations than say Fred Jones, or Hedo, or Joey Graham, or Andrea, or Jermaine O'Neal. I'm sure there are other
players that you can think of over all the years that I haven't mentioned.
Also, when I say expectations, I mean the team's expectations not the fans.
Thanks as always,
A: Well, first and foremost would be Hakeem Olajuwon, followed by Jermaine O’Neal and Hedo Turkoglu with Jason Kapono on the list and here’s one few ever mention: Remember Nate Huffman and how he was going to come back from Europe and fit right in? Not so much.
That’s a pretty good five, no?
Q: As I have commented on a few occasions (maybe more than a few), I've been watching the NBA for about 50 years, since growing up in New York and going to games at the old MSG in the 1960s. In those decades, I don't think that I have seen a worse year of officiating. A small example is that on Wednesday night, near the very end of the game, a foul was called on Amir when he was clearly hammered from behind, shoving him into a Bobcats player. A blown call, as I saw it, at least. It had no outcome on the game, this time, and I'm not sure if it was Violet Palmer who screwed it up (I think she is pretty incompetent after watching her for several years).
I'm not directly asking about that (unless you'd like to comment). My question is, what is the average turnover in officials between seasons? How many of these are retirements and how many does the NBA remove for poor performance, on average? Care to guess what that number might be, above or below or on the average, this off season?
Thanks and, as always, love to read your daily blog, your stories, and from time to time your in-game commentaries.
Richard W, Toronto
A: I don’t have the ability to officially track departures every year over the past year but, anecdotally, I’d say it’s between three and five each year. On average, that is. And I would say the vast majority are retirements rather than dismissals.
Enjoying your blog almost more at this time of season when you're branching out into all types of topics now that the season is basically done.
I'm sure you've seen the article at Grantland talking about how the Raptors are spending a huge amount of time and money on the development of sophisticated analytic tools. Did you know about this? Is this investment part of the reason you're so confident Bryan is staying on (i.e. have to allow him to run with this experiment for a while to see if there are results)? Why do you think the team decided to open up to the media on what it is doing; doesn't that defeat the competitive advantage they're trying to gain? Do you think all this effort will help the team in the long-run?
Here is the article: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9068903/the-toronto-raptors-sportvu-cameras-nba-analytical-revolution
A: Oh yeah, I saw it and wrote on it the day after it came out.
Now, I have no clue exactly why they put it out there and gave Zach such unlimited access but I would guess that they wanted to show that they are on the forefront of some technological “scouting” techniques when many might not know it.
But how they didn’t think far enough ahead to realize it might expose a fracture between analytics and the people who do the work on the court is beyond me.
Ever more than putting out some proprietary information for everyone to see – and that was the first reaction of the coaching staff – I think they pulled the curtain too far back and the men quoted in the story took it far too far and made it more about what they can do rather than what the team can do with a bit of the information they process.
It was a bad idea poorly executed.
Q: Hey Doug.
Was that Neil, or Tim Lincecum!?
Great version of "Old Man". Thanks.
John P, London
A: Any time there’s a chance to run some of the same Neil Young, I’m going to take it.
So, you be the judge on the question.
Is this guy …
This guy’s doppelganger?
Q: Love your blog Doug. The only one I read with any consistency. Great musical links yesterday Canadian Brass and Trouble and Daughter. Eclectic and very good!
Woe is the Raptors. I was so looking forward to some meaningful games at least this spring( if not the playoffs).alas it is not to be. I am still rankled by the trade for Gay. Yes he is very good yet.. I was digging Eddy and the thought of all these good young guys 'growing up' together and building something... adding a couple more pieces to the puzzle. I feel like BC kinda shot himself in the foot. I can't see as he is going to have much flexibility now and somehow we have taken a couple of steps backwards. Lawry
has been a bit of a disappointment as well. You probably have already been asked and have answered this question a number of times so I probably have missed your answer, but do you think BC has played out the string and it's time to give someone else a kick at the can? I really question the moves this year especially. Other years calculated gambles, sometimes they work, sometimes not, but I think the mistakes are starting to pile up.
Matt from Bonarlaw
A: No, I think there are pieces there that are intriguing, I think there is wiggle room to do some stuff to tweak the back end of the roster this summer and I think the option year on his contract should be picked up. I don’t know that I’d offer any extension beyond that right now but another year is fine with me.
Q: Hey Doug,
I love your column and blog, keep it up! (And the music videos, just not sure how you forgot L. Cohen in your Canadian icons list!)
Although I am from Saskatchewan, I have been visiting TO this past week, and was able to get to both the Charlotte game and the Heat game.
Gay & Amir are playing VERY well.
What's up with Kyle Lowry? He was brutal in both games? Is he hurt? From what I have seen, I don't think he is the PG to lead the Raps to the Promised Land. In fact, I miss Calderon.
Also disappointed in DeRozan on the weekend, I thought he looked tentative and even disinterested. Thoughts?
Does Fields have a role to play on this team? Is he just not very good or is Casey not using him correctly? Bit of a bust so far , in my opinion.
Thanks again for all your hard work, and the "not quite pink" shirt was noticed on Friday night!
Danno, a prairies Raps fan
A: Yeah, Kyle and DeMar were pretty ordinary in those games and better in others. I think both have shown they can fine contributors.
Fields has a role, a small once since his shot is broken, and as a defensive guy and a small four and a smart player who makes the right plays almost all the time, I’d suggest he might even have an expanded role.