The end of the weekend mail
Told you there was more coming, lots as it turns out.
Enjoy and we’ll be back with some of the regular fare in the morning.
Q: Hi Doug
I have been following the Kevin Ware story over here in the UK with great interest. It is clear that NCAA March Madness is a massive money maker, and people obviously are making bucket loads of money off of the backs of student athletes. When events are globally televised and have massive advertising revenue it clearly is showcasing professional sports at a high level. The notion that this is amateur is laughable and it seems like blatant exploitation. Now we don't have amazing basketball over here in the UK, but our football (soccer) format is far different from North American professional sports. We have many levels of professional football (10+) ; everything from Junior Mens, where the players are making 100 pounds a game (while holding down other jobs), all the way up to players like Wayne Rooney earning 208,000 pounds per game. My point is, having many different levels of professional sports is a far better way of operating and that the NCAA needs to crawl out of the dark-ages and start profit sharing with their professional student athletes. You thoughts?!
A: Of course, it does. The NCAA is a singularly evil institution that makes billions off the backs of kids and won’t even provide them with a weekly stipend. It’s dead wrong and should be changed. And don’t even get me started on its selective rules enforcement and the awful double standard on kids who want to transfer as opposed to coaches who lie and leave jobs and kids hanging.
But I don’t see reform, the men and women who run it are too much into self-preservation as enlightened leadership.
Q: Hi Doug
I went over the list of past champions and it seems only 2 teams have been crowned NBA champs without a current all star on the roster and both times are because there was no all star game(1950 and 1999). With your comment that you don't see an all start on this team now or in the foreseeable future (can't say I disagree at the moment) begs the question, what do they need to do to acquire an all star or create one? Will it come down to the luck of the draft or a big expiring contract of an aging star to land in our lap? Building a champion in second tier NBA city seems like a long tough road, how does a team market itself to the players to become a destination? Is it as simple as winning? Did Nike get it right?
A: Winning is the biggest marketing tool a team can have but second would be playing time with a promising roster being the third, in my opinion. But the acquistion of talent generally has to come through trades or the good fortune to find some untapped talent in a lightly-regarded free agent.
The draft’s a possbility, sure, but that takes some luck and foresight as well, neither of which is guaranteed.
And there’s always the chance that someting truly clicks with some of your own young palyers and they exceed expectations as well.
It’s certainly not science and there’s no one direct route.
Last week I asked a question about records. This week I'm curious about personal statistics. Somewhere I read that Lebron James wanted to be the triple double king and played till the end even thought the game was clearly won trying to get that last rebound or assist to complete that triple double. It also reminds me of the time last year when Miguel Cabrera was going for the triple crown and the Detroit manager only played him as long as his batting average was in tact. To me it seems a little manufactured, but do you think it's part of the game? In what situations is it ok? And when is it a little much?
Chris M, Toronto
A: I think the game you’re referring to he came out of a rout with about a minute left missing a triple doulbe by an assist, I believe. Sure, he was a bit upset but nothing too serious.
And, yes, pursuits of some records are manufactured and I think they should not be “managed” rather than be achieved in the normal course of a game or a season. Not sure that was right about Cabrera but they should all be like Ted Williams, playing both ends of a doubleheader on last day of season, going 6-for-8 and preserving .406 average.
Q: Well, the Angst of April, which differs only from the Futility of February and the Malaise of March by the ability now to flip over to the Jays' games during Raptors' ones - and rather than dwell on depressing Dino stuff, or the repulsive Rice-Rutgers situation, or even the tentative start by the TOD, let's talk about something bursting with proud potential: the Canadian Senior Women's Basketball Team.
Your interview with Lisa Thomaidis had me wondering about a couple of things. Ms. Thomaidis said that her first target is a third straight appearance at the World Championships, and that she's already begun preparing for the qualification process taking place in Xalapa, Veracruz this September.
Now, the Canadian women's team is currently ranked 9th in the World, so it's not unrealistic to think they will move on to the World Championship next year in Turkey, right?
My understanding is that 6 teams from North and Central America (Canada, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Mexico) and four teams that will qualify from the South American Championships will compete and only three teams will move on to the Worlds. I remember the exciting series of games last year that resulted in our women's team playing at the London 2012 Olympics, but I wonder how many of that great team will be back?
Didn't Teresa Gabriele announce she was retiring? Or is she going to come back? Have Natalie Achonwa and Courtnay Pilypaitis signed on to participate in this tournament? And Allison wasn't the only member of the McNeill family who coached the team - her husband Mike was an assistant; has he retired, too, and if so does this mean the women's team is looking for two new assistants? An additional challenge for Lisa, no?
And - most important - will you be heading to Veracruz to chronicle this tournament? Thank you!
(And, great that Jonas Valanciunas was recognized as being the Eastern Conference Rookie for March; but you know what's most impressive about this to me? That he's played this well with nothing 'on the line', at the end of a long, tough, tiring, disappointing season when so many other players seem to be merely going through the motions. If that. Well done, Jonas.)
Lorie P, London
A: Getting to the worlds is always fraught with peril but with three teams coming out of FIBA Americas not including the USA (automatic entries by virtue of Olympic gold) it’ll be the usual suspects – Canada, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and, perhaps, Mexico – lining up for those three spots. Won’t be easy but should be doable.
As for the roster, Lisa told me she that, yes, Teresa and Chelsea Aubry have retired but the other women had been contacted and no one had said no; it’s a while until they have to start playing so who knows who might change their minds in the future.
We could hear in the next few weeks who’ll be on Lisa’s staff, she did say she expected to have to on-court assistants and hoped to add someone who would work on the video end of things, a much-needed support position.
Me? Mexico? Can’t see it happening, sadly. Not sure the beancounters go for that one.
Q: Hey Doug.
At the beginning of the season, I was led to believe that Kyle Lowery was more of a scoring minded point guard than Jose. Being touted as a score-first guard, I expected somewhere near 16 points per game and only 4-6 assists per game. After watching Kyle play this season, overall I think that I'm disappointed. He did have some injuries earlier in the season and he did have to come off the bench which perhaps effected his play. I'm disappointed not because he not as efficient as Jose, but because he isn't scoring as much as expected.
So Doug, why hasn't this occurred? Is the offensive scheme of the team not allowing him to get the shots he wants? Is he not fully healthy/confident in looking for his own offence? Or were the expectations wrong and he just does not have the ability to score 16 points a night consistently?
One more thing, when Jose played with us and Kyle was injured, Jose was logging heavy minutes (40+ minutes sometimes). Now with Kyle as the starting point guard for the team, he seems to play less than Jose did per game. Even back in Feb when they had those meaningful games, I think he was only averaging just over 30 minutes per game. Is this for a health reason (triceps, foot, back) or conditioning or does the coach just not want him in the game that much?
A: Lowry may not be scoring as much as you’d like but there’s not a lot wrong with this team’s points output, they’re getting scoring from a lot of other spots – DeRozan, Gay, Valanciunas, Anderson – that they don’t need it. Don’t see it being even a bit of an issue, actually. If they really needed him to score more, I presume he would be capable of it. The disappointment, to me, is his defensive play and leadership skills.
Not sure about the minutes thing, either. There were only two times in the entire season when Jose played 40 minutes or more; the split between point guards, when they’ve been healthy, has always been about 30-18, 28-20, 32-16 which I think works out well to keep everyone fresh and to give a backup time to actually get into the flow of the game.
Q: Hey Doug. Watching the Wizards game the other night, was noticing a big pattern that I wonder may point to some answers for the Raps. Seems like we came away with a basket almost every time Valanciunas touched the ball. May have just been his best game in a while, but are there some stats as to our scoring efficiency when Jonas (or Amir) get at least a touch while posted up, as opposed to our scoring efficiency when it's the guards and small forwards only handling the ball? Feels like they should try posting up or running a pick and roll as a starting point as opposed to throwing the ball around the horn to start the set offense. Thanks.
A: He was really good in that Washington game, yeah; and quite average in Milwaukee on Saturday.
And as they get more trust in him and his game evolves, we’re seeing an awful lot of post-ups and more screen-roll than we did in the first 60 or so games of the season and as he gets more adept at passing out of the post, we’ll likely see even more.
I think he’s got some potential to be above-average offensively once he gets more comfortable.
Q: Hi Doug!
The Raptors are paying players like Rudy Gay millions of dollars, why can't they spend a little money designing a new logo? When I watch US coverage of NBA, they still use the dinosaur with the basketball and it makes me throw up in my mouth.
The claw is okay (see: lame), but couldn't they set a little money aside this off-season and improve their overall image with a "cool" or "modern" looking logo?
Just a thought.
Thanks for all you do, and for helping keep a somewhat deflated season, interesting.
Mike P, Oakville
A: Not sure your opinion is held by everyone, you see lame, they see okay and, really, it’s not a big deal whatsoever. It’s not like they don’t sell t-shirts or jerseys or the like; it’s not as if the players all hate it.
And the cost of changing would be high and, frankly, unnecessary at this point.
And what you see as “cool” or “modern” others might see as “gaudy” or “ugly” so it’s a pretty subjective thing that they’re okay with.
Q: Watching the Timberwolves game last night, the rebound that Amir got is due to JVs work on holding the BIG big out of the lane. He wouldn't let Pekovic in and Amir came out with the ball.
TOD - watching them it seems to me that there is a lot of hitters - not just with the TOD but all teams - who are not watching the baseball onto the bat. A hitter you will likely remember by the name of Rod Carew, who wasn't too bad a hitter, always claimed that you had to watch the ball right into the catchers glove if you weren't going to swing at it, and right onto the bat if you were. If you watch Rasmus as an example, he doesn't seem to be doing that.
But as I said he isn't the only one from what I have seen over the last few years. I played all sports as a kid, but never at any high level, and I read everything that athletes wrote about their sports and while the rules change, the balls, the pucks, and the bats and sticks are still pretty much the same and the object of the game hasn't changed.
In baseball, the ball is still round and the bat is still round, but you still have to hit it square on. That means you have to keep your eye on it until it leaves your bat - I think anyway.
A: I teach the kids to watch themselves hit the ball, I’m guessing that the pros are just a bit quicker and may do it; but I have also heard a lot of players lament slumps because they’re pulling off the ball.
Q: Hi Doug
What Landry Fields does that helps the other 4 operate on offense is cheat.
By cheating he keeps the defense honest. If they think, I've seen this play 10 times today, I know the 3 options they run off of it and I know I can lock this play down, he will burn them because he'll cheat and go back door and gets that 2 points in the middle of a 12-2 run that keeps the drive alive and helps them win games. I think his best talent is knowing when to do this and when to stay out of the way. What is your take? What is his best trait or ability that isn't quantifiable and as Alan Anderson moves on to bigger and better things, his role going forward?
A: He’s probably the smartest player on the team but if his jump shot doesn’t get fixed it won’t matter much because when he’s on the floor opponents won’t have to guard him on the perimeter at all and that space for cuts and weak side movement will be taken away by the presence of freelance defender who can float around.
Q: Hi Doug, the recent success of Louisville (and Kentucky last year) in the NCAA tournament made me wonder whether a Kentucky-based NBA team would be viable. I believe the old ABA had a team called the Kentucky Colonels that was well supported. With franchise relocations an ongoing saga in the NBA, do you have any thoughts as to why the league has never established a team in such a basketball hotbed? If Charlotte can support a franchise, why not Louisville?
PS, as an aside I recently travelled to the Philadelphia area and was finally able to order the Yeungling beer you frequently speak of, it's not bad. Thank you for the recommendation!
A: I’m going to debate whether Charlotte can. They did way way way back in the day but that’s a tough college market for the NBA to thrive in. Same with anywhere in Kentucky in this day and age, I wonder whether there’s enough corporate money to make things viable long term and whether there’d be interest in professional basketball.
Besides, there are other, better markets (Anaheim, Seattle, Vancouver, perhaps St. Louis) that they’d look at first and I don’t see four teams moving in the next quarter of a century.
And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Yeungling is a pretty good concoction.
Q: Sorry Doug for a second email in a week. But I have a question about our society and its priorities.. I was reading about CB4 having $340,000 in jewelry stolen. Seriously??? I have not heard much of a reaction to the story but there are a few things that stand out to me.
That is more than some people make in a lifetime.. never mind just for some bling.
Is it any wonder, with those priorities that many athletes find
themselves bankrupt after making multi multi multimillions of dollars and then have nothing to show for it
A house worth 12.5 million??? NO the six million variety that you could carry no mortgage on just makes no sense for a family of three... seems like a case of keeping up with the James's.
A grown man with camels at his birthday party??? Unbelieveable...
The next time I hear an athlete complaining that they are not being paid fairly and deserve more money, I hope I can refrain from laughing in their faces. Many of these men come from backgrounds of very meager means.
I sure hope that they put away for the furture as much as they blow in extravagances.. Camels... wow
A: I imagine there are as many actors, actresses and captains of industry who’d have the same kind of jewelry and excessive natures that athletes do.
Sucks that he was robbed but the narcissistic tendencies of Mr. Bosh are well known (the guy did a TV show about getting a tattoo for gawd sake!) so I’m not at all surprised at the public presentation of what should probably have been a private birthday celebration.
But I could have some camels hanging around Casa Doug, that’d be cool.
I know you don't like to speculate and I know you don't believe in tanking, but you did ask for questions, so…
As we near the end of yet another disappointing season for our local heroes (they didn't even meet your less than lofty expectations of no playoffs but meaningful games in April), I'll suggest we're in a rut with only one way out of given how the NBA structures the draft and rewards futility.
The Raptors current blueprint reminds me of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks refuse to completely blow up the roster or tank. They tinker - ever hopeful that a new piece here or there will be the key to playoff success.
In reality they're doomed to perpetual competition for sixth to tenth place in the East - condemned to the purgatory of alternating as playoff fodder or participating in the latter stages of the lottery.
As much as I hate to admit it, the path to success for losing teams hinges on getting really, really bad for a series of seasons. By doing this you get huge salary cap space (Miami and Indiana for example) and/or you garner enough early lottery draft picks that you can't help but eventually improve no matter how badly you mismanage things (Atlanta, Clippers, OKC, and if they were ever all healthy, we might be able to include Minnesota). It appears that Orlando, Cleveland, New Orleans, Washington, Detroit, and Charlotte are currently embarking on this arduous journey and it will be interesting to see if these teams leapfrog the Raptors and Bucks over the next couple of seasons.
It's true there is luck involved to get all the way to championship contention. You need a Kevin Durant or LeBron James type of franchise-changer to get to the top of the heap, And there aren't a lot of those types out there.
However, early predictions about the 2014 draft indicate there could be at least two of those talents - and perhaps even more. Wiggins and Parker are both to have that kind of potential and Aaron Gordon is drawing comparisons to Blake Griffin. So next season could be a tanking team's dream scenario - the odds for lottery success won't necessarily depend on winning the first overall pick.
As a Raptor fan I don't know that I could bear yet another dismal season, but I also can't see the Raptors going this route. Bryan Colangelo is a few years into his current development path so I can't see him convincing the Board of MLSE that it's now time to tear it down start all over. If the GM's option isn't picked up though, his replacement could sell the idea.
(But with typical Toronto pessimism, it probably won't matter because with our luck we'll probably move up in the lottery and retain this year's pick in a dismal draft and turn over Andrew Wiggins to the Thunder in 2014)
Do you agree Doug or is there another way to succeed in rebuilding an NBA team?
Joe S, Kingston
A: There are all kinds of ways to get better, trades, luck, the emergence of your own players as stars.
But let me ask you this about next season, and I should just save for the dozens of times people bring this up:
In order to have a shot at one of the top picks, the Raptors would have to trade away DeMar, Valanciunas, Gay, Ross, Johnson and likely Lowry for old players with bad contracts. That’s the only way they’d be bad enough to finish with the worst record and hope – HOPE – they’d win the lottery, knowing full well that the team with the worst record has won it, I believe, four times in the last two decades.
And then, IF they won, they’d be able to pick a transcendent player who would join a team ABSOLUTELY DEVOID of talent because it had to get horrible enough to have a chance to win the lottery.
Look at the two major talents you mention, Durant and James. And then go back and see how bad their teams were in their first couple of seasons before, you know, they stockpiled some other good pieces.
So the tanking process costs you all of next season and, if everything goes perfectly, probably three or four more after that.