The start of the weekend mail
Well, wasn’t that something?
Six minutes, two seconds, a dozen or so slips and falls, a few dozen complaints and – poof – the pre-season is over.
Couldn’t have happened soon enough – well, I guess it could have happened before I flew to Milwaukee and away from my loved ones for what turned out to be no real reason.
Anyway, it is over and since there was nothing to discuss about last night, let’s look at the whole of the games and repeat what we’ve learned.
Hands down. Making exponentially better defensive reads, far more successful in the post than we’d thought, seems to have abandon all those silly 18-foot fadeaways and there’s just something different about him.
More grown up, I guess, which I suppose is natural since he’s still really young.
I honestly thought we’d see more out of D.J. Augustin. Now, I’m not ready to throw in the towel on him yet, he’s been around and I have no idea what he’ll be like when the regular season arrives.
Let's make it needs, plural, and go with three-point shooting, a consistent rotation and some size. Not sure they can address the last one -- they have a lot of undersized fours they'll have to rely -- but the point guards have to shoot and make more threes and Dwane needs to settle on a rotation that assures at least two starters are on the floor at the same time. Oh, and they need to get Steve Novak back because he'll help with the first two for sure.
No, it wasn’t the double overtime game, at least that was close and interesting. The abomination in Minneapolis – about 75 fouls, 100 free throws and something like 50 turnovers – set the cause of Real Men’s Professional Basketball back a decade.
It’ll happen sometime today and be officially announced Sunday or even Monday but to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, they are going to keep Julyan Stone and let Carlos Morais and Chris Wright go. Roster will be full at 15 but Stone won’t get a fully guaranteed contract.
And here’s a whack of the mail but I warn you, there’s not an awful lot left for tomorrow so some of you had better get cracking and e-mail email@example.com to ask me whatever’s on your lovely minds.
Enjoy this while I take my first connection flight of the year, the “you can’t get there from here” journey of MKE-ORD-YYZ. Wish me luck.
Q: Hi Doug - we often ask what cities you are looking forward to, but what teams are you interested in seeing this year (at home or away)? Who are you curious about in terms of new talent or coaches, and why?
Thanks, as always.
A: I’m really quite interested in seeing Golden State, and not just because we have an extra day in San Francisco. I think Iguodala is a great add to that team and I’d like to see if they can defend well enough now that Michael Malone is gone to be legitimate contenders.
I think Dallas might be sneaky good, too; at least until the oldsters start to wear down but I bet they just play smart basketball, the kind I like to watch.
Those would be my top two, I think and I’ll round out the top three with a predictable pick of Brooklyn because it could either be really good or a train wreck.
Whether it was the esteem that came with being the first overall pick and his subsequent failure to live up to that hype, I actually think Bargnani somehow surpassed HWSNBN as the most reviled Raptor in the team history. Maybe that's an issue of his struggles and attitude issues being more recent than #15's. Personally, I find it hard to boo Vince anymore now that he's joined the NBA greybeards. Lost in the talk of assets moving in that Bargnani trade is the fact that YOU my dear blogger lost a great asset to your mailbag. Was there any topic more sure to create mailbag/IGBT chatter than entertaining a reader's barb aimed at Bargnani? You would often roll your eyes at the waves of reader-ire at Bargnani's expense, but does part of you miss being able to rely on that steady stream as a point of discussion on the blog? Can't help but feel that the 'blog value' brought by Steve Novak will never meet Bargnani's (duh).
Who do you think will emerge as the new hot-button topic submitted by readers? Is it a potential Gay trade? DeRozan's contract/potential trade? Dwane on the hot-seat?
A: It will depend entirely on how the first 12 or 15 games go but I can see it being Kyle Lowry. He might be a lightning rod.
A Gay trade will be an under-current all season but I’ll warn everyone now – and have to repeat it a billion times, I’m sure – I don’t play those silly “Would you do this trade” reindeer games.
Q: Hello... Would you consider sports as a diversion for the great unwashed? Does basketball keep our mind off of our ridiculous hydro rates, government ineptitude, or chicken cruelty?
How does one explain Mike Puffy and Pamela versus Mr. Harper? Is this a new sport, a la Pickleball? Mr. Harper is certainly in a pickle.
And now as Paul Harvey and you used to say, "the rest of the story," the Raptors need another big, why not Jason Collins? Does he not have more skills, mobility than Aaron Gray? Surely the team can put up with all the dumb media questions that would arise for the first little bit.
Smitch suggests Casey will be coach of the year. Should Casey hope it goes to someone else?
Ah, the regular season!
A: I’m not sure Collins, at 34 and for what he’s been is any better as a fifth or sixth big on this team than Gray is and Gray as that guaranteed contract so I can’t see paying him off to sign a guy with – maybe – better skills. Maybe the question is why Masai thought about filling the final roster spot with a wing or another point guard instead of inviting at least one young big man to camp. I’ve asked him about that and he thought he was addressing needs with the way he went. Time will tell how astute that decision was.
As for coach of the year, I imagine next year’s winner declines the honour.
Q: Hi Doug
Hope you're doing well!
A quick question for you to help settle a debate between a friend and myself. If a player was suspended during a preseason game, would his suspension start within the preseason itself (assuming there were still games left), would it begin at the start of the regular season, or would he be kept out of preseason games but the actual suspension would start once the regular season began? Neither of us can recall for certain whether players are paid during the preseason and since one of the major losses for a suspended player is his salary, it would seem odd to start a suspension at a time when he isn't paid. That said, if a player commits a suspense-worthy offense, it would seem strange to allow him to continue playing during the preseason, only to begin a suspension once the regular season starts. Bottom line: we're confused and we're calling in the expert. We'd love to know how such a circumstance would be (or has been) handled.
A: Good week to ask since we’ve seen a handful of suspensions already handed out. And they all start in the regular season; the fines are levied then since the players don’t start collecting salary until November (training camp is a per diem thing outside of the regular salary). They can finish out the pre-season but I would think that if a player facing a regular season suspension already did something fooling again in the pre-season, the league would hammer him pretty hard.
Q: Hi Doug -- I'm a long-time reader and follow the Raptors when I can these days (which isn't often -- family, two small children, full-time job, you know), but no one ever accused me of understanding basketball (ahem).
Anyway, quick question -- back in the day when DJ Augustin
was playing with the Bobcats, listening to the radio I remembered him as someone who would hurt the raptors with his 3-point shooting. But now that he's on the raptors, at least in the pre-season, he seems to shoot maybe 1 or 2 three-pointers, maybe get one of them – just typical of the team that doesn't take too many threes, and other than Steve Novak, doesn't seem to make more than one a game.
Should we look to him as someone (among others?) to up his three-point shooting off the bench -- thoughts?
A: The Raptors are going to need better production out of the backup point guard role than they’ve had during the pre-season, that’s for sure.
Augustin has the skill – or has shown it in the past – and I wonder if maybe he’s pressing a little bit and playing a bit scared, for the lack of a better word, as he gets used to new surroundings.
I don’t think they will, or should, give up on him, but he does have to pick it up and take those shots that he seems to be passing up now.
Q: Hi Doug
Ok, last night was the most dissapointed game I ever saw. I know it's preseason and all. But both team has just played about 24 minutes and it was like the most boring and waste of time game ever.
I don't have to tell you how boring it was. On the other hand, just one night before, I know is preseason, but it was as good as it gets, last second shot, duo -OT.
So, that lead to my question.
I perfectly understand why people want to tank the season. But more importantly, as a paying customer, no matter is pre/during/post season game. If I pay my money to go in, I want to see both team fight. Fight to win, show they do care. I will be happy to see a top level basketball game, and will leave with a smile of the raptors get a W that night.
If the other team know the raptors will tank, will they bring their A game?
So, I am asking, is that anyway to make the preseason meaningful some how?
Like can they give away some of the tickets to charity
Like home less kid or what ever? Or if the raptors win that night, some rich man or foundation will donate some money to some charity? You know, some motivation for the player and the team? There are 8-10 preseason games after all so why don't they make it matter some how? other then just a bunch
of guys throwing the ball around and running like a bunch of headless chicken for no reason? You think that will ever happen?
A: No, there is no way to make pre-season basketball anything more than it is, a too-long exercise in conditioning and figuring things out and experimenting.
I’ve long been a proponent of taking the tickets out of the season ticket package as a way to say thanks to fans and selling general admission at $25 for the lower bowl and $10 for the upper bowl.
And here’s a new one: Every team should be required to play one afternoon game on a weekend and let kids in free. Give tickets to charities or minor basketball associations or whatever.
As for motivating the players? It ain’t going to happen, their motivation is to get it over with and get on with games that count.
Q: Read your piece on Tyler H. today and I wondered: is your opinion of the young man "evolving.?
The one word that I connect with him from your previous commentaries is "thuggery!"
I'm not a fan yet... think I will be?
A: A bit but I do still have issues with his play for this reason: His over-exuberance defensively is almost too aggressive, he gets quick and often needless fouls that put is team far closer to being in the bonus that needed.
I haven’t seen thuggish behaviour at all, I have seen some things are costly to his team.