Posted on: October 29, 2008 5:28 pm

Raptors 2008-09 Preview

Welcome to the 2008 - 09 NBA season! I trust the summer was too long and the Olympics a good preview to the upcoming season!

The Toronto Raptors head into the new season with hope and a belief that they can challenge in the Atlantic Conference. I will lay out what i believe are some of the good things they are anticipating, and a few apprehensions I feel at this point.

Here is the opening night roster:

7 Andrea Bargnani - PF
Chris Bosh - PF
43 Kris Humphries - PF 
21 Nathan Jawai - PF 
6 Jermaine O'Neal - PF
3 Hassan Adams - SF
14 Joey Graham - SF
24 Jason Kapono - SF
Jose Calderon - PG
5 Will Solomon - PG
33 Jamario Moon - SG
18 Anthony Parker - SG
1 Roko Ukic - SG

The first thing that strikes me is that they offer no true Center! i think that losing Rasho Nesterovic could be something that will haunt them down the road as they are left with a lot of PF's and no one who can bang underneath night after night! Jermaine O'Neal has the POTENTIAL to be the inside help that Chis Bosh has been waiting for, but we won't know that until we see how much and how intense he plays. He has battled the "great potential" tag his whole life and with the Pacers, he was stagnating! i hope that he can play to that potential we all saw his 2001-02 Most Improved Player year! At 30, life for a big man can become a series of aches and pains which we have seen. As much as i like the deal, i am a bit hesitant to say it was a great improvement over what we had! if he can play to his averages of 14.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg, he could fill the void in this talented Raptors front court!

Chris Bosh will mature even more this season and become a greater force as he edges his scoring and boards up, his team will rise the standings with him!

The tandem of Joey Graham and Jason Kapono have the potential to score from almost any part of the floor. The problem we ran into last year was a lack of commitment to outside defense! I am not sure that letting Carlos Delfino walk and bringing in Hassan Adams will help in either aspect, but we can only move on and see which of the 3 will step up and play some defense! I believe that the issue last season was a lack of intensity on defense from the front court including Chris Bosh, but for sure the perimeter defense let too many games slip by them and in the Atlantic Division this season, that won't be acceptable at all!

I would love to see Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon emerge as top level players and become 15 point 7 or 8 rebound a game guys which would see a huge increase in bench scoring or a more balanced starting 5 if Jamario and Anthony Parker platoon as they did last season. If Andrea struggles, i suspect he will become a failed experiment and i am sure there are teams that would love to have him wandering around the perimeter! With the wealth of PF's we have, he could be used to find another SF to shore up the perimeter.

With the offense now in the more than capable hands of Jose Calderon, the addition of Will Solomon could be a huge factor. He looks more than able to step in and run the show and should allow the Raptors an interesting up-tempo option off the bench with Moon, Joey Graham or Jason Kapono with Andrea cutting.

As i see this team at this point, there are many questions i find unanswered! I am not sure that they are a lot better than they were when the season ended in the spring, but the POTENTIAL to be better is left in the hands and hearts of this group of men. I think if Jermaine can play 70+ games, this team will win around 45 which is about what they won last year! The lack of true Center will hurt them in the Atlantic Division as they play teams like the Celtics with Kendrick Perkins and Glenn Davis - though both are undersized, they are very adequate playing and banging it out down low. the 76ers will offer Samuel Dalembert and the Nets will present the rookie Brook Lopez as well as Josh Boone. As the season plays out, I can see this team making a move for either a true post or a larger PF who can help O'Neal contend underneath. I think the SG position is very solid, and i think that the PG position could use another body.

SO, over all, i see the Raptors as a team that is unknown in a lot of areas with the loss of T.J. Ford and Carlos Delfino leaving holes that will be tough to fill. I also see potential as this team can now present a very solid front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O'Neal and Joey Graham or Jason Kapono. With Jose Calderon in the PG and either Moon or Parker, this team will be fun to watch! I see them ending up 2nd in this division with 47 wins. I see them 5th or 6th in the conference behind the Celtics, the Pistons, the Magic, and the Cavaliers. Tonight we shall see if Sam Mitchell is up to the task of guiding this team to play with their hearts.

Bring on the games!

Posted on: May 14, 2008 3:10 pm

Kobe Bryant and his Lifetime Achievement MVP

here is a collection of posts discussing Kobe Bryant winning the MVP this season. I will say that he should have had at least one by now, but this was the wrong year to give it to him unless you are making it a compilation of the past 3 seasons with the slugs he had around him calling themselves Lakers. this might seem a bit random, but i am responding to other posts which i will try to separate when i can.

Please enjoy. Comments and hate always welcome and i will read it all.

here are some posts i have made in the past few days..

here is the first post and the original article


i agree that Chris Paul probably was the more deserving winner this year over Kobe Bryant... but here is how i see the final weeks in the voters heads... humour me abit :-)

"ok, Kobe finally has a team and looks like he wants to play with Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmar.. but this Chris Paul kid with the Hornets.. wow, he has taken a team that struggled for years to the top of the Western conference... young guys like David West, Tyson Chandler, vets like Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson sure have helped make him a worthy candidate... let's see.... o dear, it seems Kobe has NEVER won an MVP, we can't give one to this kid until Kobe gets one... maybe then he and his army of loving adoring homer fans will shut up and stop emailing us about how good he is..."

vote Kobe Bryant for MVP.... not saying he didn't deserve one this year or by now... but i am pretty sure he got more than a few votes that way... next year, it will be LeBron James who will win as he has to get one before anyone else new gets one... maybe the Cavaliers fans will stop whining about how great he is by then.. yes he is good... Bill Russell is was and always will be great. When LBJ can show us 11 rings, he can tell us how great he is.

then the guy responded

Kobe and Paul were clearly the clear-cut MVP candidates this season - both were equally deserving based on their cumulative merits based on this season's performances.  In the end, the balance of the scale finally tipped in Kobe's favor based on one key reality - the Lakers finished the regular season atop the hotly contested Western Conference.


so based on this statement, the MVP SHOULD have been Kevin Garnett since he was the Best player on the team with the BEST record, or is it only based on the best record in the west..?? it seems the playoffs have revealed to you western conference fans that the east is not as full of walkover teams as the west as the Nuggetts barely made the Lakers break a sweat yet were touted as a championship caliber team stuck in the tough west.. same for the Warriors.. the 76ers and the Hawks both put up a great first round battle to teams that had better records than both the Lakers and the Hornets in the Pistons and the Celtics.

Now, finally, in this season, it all crystalized for Kobe - he was finally able to become the team leader that the Lakers always needed him to be - the final result speaks for itself.  Trust in his teammates and ultimately being surrounded by the correct pieces to allow that trust to flourish into confidence and a winning team attitude was the difference in the Kobe of this season from season's past.  Paul was all that to the Hornets as well, but the bottom line is that Kobe was the best player on the best team in the toughest conference this season

i for one am tired of people saying the MVP went to the best player on the best team... if that was the only criteria, the voting would not be done after the regular season. As for the teams themselves.. the Hornets improved by 17 wins, while the Lakers only improved by 15 so that arguement favours Chris Paul not Kobe. and finishing 1 game atop of the pack when there are only 3 games separating the top 5 teams does not mean they are the best team in the division... that is what the playoffs are going to determine... what i have heard over and over again is how this is a team award... that is bs or it wouldn't be called the Most Valuable PLAYER award... i fear that the award has digressed from the days when it was given to the player who was consistently shown that his team is not as good without him in the lineup.. the Lakers can't say that this year.. but the Cavaliers can... LeBron James will win a few as will Chris Paul... Kobe deserved one, but i think he should have won 2 years ago when Steve Nash won his second... that year, he carried a bunch of slugs... this year, he can score or not and the team can win.

then he made the "best player on the best team" comment

i think that simply saying the MVP award goes to the most statiscally impressive player does the award a dis-service - also, then Kobe would have won a couple more as his numbers were more impressive than Steve Nash's except in assists per game both the years he won his MVP and he was statistically better than shaq the year he won. Kevin Garnett won his MVP for taking a bunch of slugs to the Championship round... not because he was the best player in the league or the top statistically in every catagory. this year KG's personal stats suffered as he melded into a system that rewards tough defense and unselfish team play, thus they won the most games of any in the league. i could make a case that Chris Paul means way more to this young Hornets team than Kobe Bryant does to a talented though hurting Lakers team. there have been periods when Pau Gasol has looked absolutely unbeatable and periods when Lamar Odom has been a beast.. Andrew Bynum was on his way to a career year and a possible MVP candidate before his knee said stop and he didn't.. LeBron James is one of the most impressive athletes in any sport. there is no question he IS the MVP of his team as he is about 75% of his teams offense and about the same defensively as well.

so why did Dirk Nowitzki win MVP last year? was he the best player on the best team? well his team did have 67 wins so he was the best player on the team so just give him the award? then Kevin should have got it this year.. the award has to be more than that since Nash did not have the best team in the west the years he won...

true, the last game of the season the Lakers and Hornets played, Kobe took the kid to school... but i offer that made little difference. the award was Kobe's to lose this year as a makeup for the 2 or 3 that got away...  is he the best player in the league? won't go there.. too many people love their team too much to debate that. is he the best player on his team? yes. is he the most valuable? yes, but it is very close as the team seems to be very well balanced and we won't know how beast like Bynum could have been... imagine him down low with Pau!!! wow

and one more for now

I'm really tired of hearing people say that Chris Paul took a WNBA team and turned them into a legit contender for the NBA championship. WIth or without CP3 the Hornets are a good team. Besides CP3 they have 2 allstars and a great defensive center. 

 i agree.. this team was a decent team last year.. 39 wins is decent, but the 17 game turn-around clearly is due to the fact that this year CP3 stepped up big time.. as well, the exact same could be said about Deron Williams who i think should not have been so quickly dismissed. head to head these two gave us a few very good games to watch and the Jazz are not out of the series yet because he has carried them on his shoulders... as he did most of the season... as did Kobe Bryant..

Tyson Chandler has always been a great defender and rebounder.  Before Chris Paul, Tyson  Chander avg 7ppg and since Chris Paul he avg 10 ppg in the last 2 seasons.David West is an allstar. He can create his own shot  and hit the mid range jumper. Before Chris Paul arrived the David West only started 9 games and avg 15 min per game over 2 years. The same year CP3 arrived David West became a starter and his minutes increased to 35 min per game. David Wests numbers and production went up as his minutes reflect.Peja S is one of the greatest 3 point shooters in the game. He is a 3 time allstar and in the 2003-04 season he was 4th in the MVP rankings. Enough said

 i won't disagree with any of this either red, but as we know about the NBA, it is a team game and one that the Magic are so quickly showing us, talented front courts NEED at least an average back court to be consistantly successful. the Celtics are proving how young Rajon Rondo is as he struggles in the few games and the Celtics struggle. David West has struggled this post season i suspect due to the lack of room down low for him to create those shots he made all season.. as Peja Stojakovic has struggled, the defense has packed in around him and Tyson creating a very small area for West to work. and being guarded by Tim Duncan will cause a lot of good players fits.

This team was destined to be a great team this year. Last year they had 3 allstars miss a total of 120 gamges. Peja missed  70 games, David West 30 games and Chris Paul 20 games. It is not a surprise the Hornets are in the second round of the playoffs.

 i understand the injury situation all too well.. the fact is, they won only 39 games last year, this year they won 56, only one behind the Lakers. the play of Chris Paul has been brilliant and that is why he was in the hunt. All i was saying is that i think that Kobe received this award this year to make up for the slight some people think he has received.. not that he doesn't deserve it, that is NOT what i am saying... i just think that his career weighed very heavily on his selection and the fact that the best player on the best team as many say should get the award, Kevin Garnett, already has one.

that of course, is just my opinion...

Posted on: April 29, 2008 5:00 pm

Raptors Post-Mortum

Well we have come to the end of a very disappointing 2007-08 Raptors basketball season with the loss and elimination to the Orlando Magic. Congratulations to the Magic and their starting five who dominated what should have been a closer series. Dwight Howard has quickly taken over the title Dominant Big in the NBA and I would love to see him and Amare Stoudemire go mano a mano for a 7 game series!! Hedu Turkoglu deserved his Most Improved Player award and Jameer Nelson seems to have recovered his form that made him so hard to handle a couple years ago in March. Rashard Lewis was unstoppable and this group will be hard for whomever they face next to stop.


Thus begins the dissection of a team that should have won 50 games this year but seem to lack the drive and intensity needed to put teams away. Here is my evaluation of the key parts of this team and how I assess the overall structure of this team for next year.


Chris Bosh – ALL discussions about this team must start with CB4. The franchise player had a year good enough to be an all-star, but with guys like Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace ahead of him he will have to wait to be consistently there. His stats for the year look like this:

67   36.2      22.3    8.7        2.6      49.4

When compared to the league, he is the 8th ranked power forward, with 6 of the 7 ahead of him being from the west and the other being Antawn Jamison of the Wizards, pretty good company hanging with guys like Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks, Al Jefferson of the Timberwolves, Carlos Boozer of the Jazz, David West of the Hornets and Tim Duncan of the Spurs and the Lakers Lamar Odom. I think we have seen Chris SEE the next level, and now he is desperately waiting for his team to supply the support he needs down low to allow him to create the space he needs and raise his post play from the 4 spot not the 5. I see a lot of Amare in him, but not quite as strong physically. Bosh is very athletic and has the heart of a lion that is often ignored by his coach. More on him later!!


Brian Colangelo needs to go out and find a STUD center that can control the front end. Chris should not be expected to grab 15 boards a night as he plays 10 – 15 feet from the basket most of the game.


T.J. Ford – This team played it’s best team games with him in the hospital and in rehab. I am not sure why that fact was so hard to notice by Sam and Brian. I think T.J. would be a great guard on a team that needs a selfish ball hog who thinks he is Kobe Bryant or Tracey McGrady – wait, he WAS on this team at one point… wasn’t that Isaiah who traded him? Hmmmmm… wonder if the Knicks read any of the deals he made LOL… sorry, I digress! There are few players in this league who can suffer a severe neck injury and sit for 3 or 4 months and then come back and be as sharp as when he went out… Ford is not one of them. The Raptors held on to T.J. leading this team way too long. I think that fact alone is why they are out golfing or what ever it is tall guys do over the off-season. T.J. needs to listen more carefully to John Lucas who could teach him game sense and how to play with his team and rely on them. A lesson I think Kobe has finally caught!!


Andrea Bargnani – I love this kid’s talent, but his heart fails him. He does not have the grit to play an 82 game season with people who want to eat him for lunch… I am not sure you can teach toughness to that level. I think that he has to be a second line guy at best as the pressure of facing top centers on the opposing teams has completely demoralized this kid. He looks beaten up like after a school yard brawl, which is not a bad analogy for action in the post during an NBA game, let alone a playoff game. I know we paid him a lot and I would hate to see him become the next Sam Bowie as he does have NBA talent, just not sure he has the heart of a lion needed to survive there…


Rasho Nesterovic – how can a guy who STARTED for the Spurs when they won a title, sit on the bench behind Andrea Bargnani? Come on Sam; give your head a shake. When he started, he brought energy and a very complete inside game to the mix and he plays well as the second option low with CB4 free to play 10 – 15 feet and in, not the other way around. Am I the only one who saw this? When Rasho played well, they won, when he played ok, they at least had a shot, when he played very little, the got blitzed. MAKE THIS GUY THE STARTING 5 or trade him and the waste of space Primoz Brezec for someone they feel is BETTER… though I am not sure they will find a more consistant center than Rasho at those prices.


Anthony Parkerthis man has blossomed into a top level shooting guard over the course of the season with the following numbers:

<o:p>GP  MIN/G  PPG  REB/G  AST/G  FG %
82    32.1      12.5    4.1       2.2       47.6

Those numbers have him in the top 20 ranked shooting guards which is a vast improvement from last year. He is quick, has great vision and is usually able to provide decent outside defense. Tony needs to step up his perimeter defense and not be reluctant to take clutch shots.

<o:p> </o:p>

Jose Calderon – What this team needs is to decide what to do with perhaps one of the top 4 or 5 young guards in the game.


<o:p>GP  MIN/G  PPG  REB/G  AST/G  FG %
82    30.3     11.2     2.9        8.3       51.9

He comes in at number 8 in point guards, well ahead of T.J. Ford who comes in at 46<sup>th</sup>. I am not sure why the discussion over which guard to start is even thrown about as Jose has clearly demonstrated his ability to lead this team and make this team a winning team. After he gave his “T.J. will lead this team” speech, the whole team started to look lost and aimless as they had no floor leader that was committed to working all the players into the game. That is vital in a point guard and why Chris Paul and Deron Williams can play at such a high level even in this playoff season. They don’t expect to win games alone. That is the secret Jose brings. He had a couple great games but focused on making the game easy for the rest of the team and he was rewarded by a spot on the bench… nice move guys… I hope he stays, but I am pretty sure he won’t put up with that level of disrespect much longer. Jason Kapono, Carlos Delfino, Kris Humphries, Jamario Moon, all of these guys seem to drift the last part of the season as they were ignored by Ford and the “me first” or “ I just want to win so bad” attitude he brought. Which brings me to…


Sam Mitchell – Former Coach of the year in the NBA, 2007.


I could go on and on about how many lousy decisions he made that cost the team W’s so I won’t but I do know that this team should have won more than 41 games and it’s not the talent that was lacking. Sam’s “I love T.J.” attitude took a 4th seeded team to a 6th seeded team only because the teams behind them – 76ers and the Hawks were under .500 % teams. Sam has no sense of what to do with a bench as loaded as his and he showed that nightly as his subs were usually poorly timed and poorly chosen. His overall inability to manage his bench which had pretty good depth this year was frustrating to say the least.


I could go on and on and about Sam, but that won’t do much good. The bottom line is this: 2007-08 was at best very disappointing over all for the team. We saw bright lights in Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon, and very inconsistent play from T.J. Ford which ultimately cost them a higher seeding and an early exit from the playoffs.


What this team needs is leadership from above to make some very tough decisions about the direction of this team. I am sure some team would love to have Ford, toss in Primoz, though I don’t think anyone wants him… maybe add Joey Graham who can’t possibly be happy sitting on a team starved of forward play and acquire a solid 15 and 10 Center who can give Chris some real help down low. The Bench is very solid, and Jose SHOULD be the starter or he will walk.


Just a few thoughts…. I will add more as the playoffs roll on…

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com