Arsenalist

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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Bosh’

“We’re going to play physical and we’re going to play tough”

Posted by Arsenalist on October 7, 2008

Pre-season will never tell you how good your team is but it might tell you how bad it is. That’s probably why Bryan Colangelo’s making the trip to Cleveland to see his team and prized acquisition in action. He’s also sure to keep a close eye on Sam Mitchell, Colangelo’s not a GM that meddles in coaching affairs but he might make an exception this year if he sees players like Bargnani, Kapono or O’Neal being misued or not used to their full capabilities. He made some comments towards the end of last season about player misuse and this time around I highly doubt he’s going to wait that long before letting Mitchell know what he really thinks. The leash is short.

The Raptors practiced on Monday and Mitchell’s saying that it’s all about getting better and acclimatizing O’Neal into the team. A veteran like O’Neal’s in cruise control and his pre-season performances hardly matters because its all about familiarizing yourself with team concepts. He also says the Raptors don’t do anything different than any other NBA team, they just call things differently. So pre-season is all about getting the nomenclature right. Andrea Bargnani gives a little more interesting interview where he stresses that he “needs to get better in the low-post” and thinks that his off-season regiment has given him new weapons which he can use this season. He’s also saying he gave up international ball in favor of following the regiment the Raptors had set for him. I think that had a lot to do with Maurizio Gherardini whispering something to Andrea as much as it had to do with him wanting to get better. In short, Bargnani’s talking the right talk heading into pre-season and so far his on-court results aren’t bad.

Basically the same thing is being rehashed here and here.

Now I don’t know if this is all talk but it makes me feel nice when I see a quote like this:

“It doesn’t matter who we play against, we’re going to play physical and we’re going to play tough.”

When was the last time a quote like that came out of training camp? I’d say not since the Oakley/Davis years have we had anyone close to an ‘enforcer’ in camp. I’m not saying O’Neal’s an enforcer, I’m saying he’s a big solid talented body that welcomes a physical challenge and won’t shy away from it. We’re counting heavily on O’Neal to provide a scoring punch, rebounding boost, interior defense and raw toughness in the paint. If he can deliver 3 out of 4, it ain’t bad. It’s sort of putting all our eggs in one basket but at least we have a basket.

Funny quote from Roko Ukic as pointed out by Lang Whitaker whose take on the Pedowitz Report is something I’m looking forward to:

“I got some air balls in the practices so far. I just need to reduce this.”

Joey Graham didn’t practice on Monday and neither did Nathan Jawai who was sent to a medical facility down south to get a second look at his aching heart. I’m telling you, he’s just homesick. Given the 13 players we have on the roster I’d put Graham, Jawai and Sampson at the bottom of the pecking order. If Humphries early success spills over to the regular season we’ll be seeing practically nothing of Sampson and barely anything of Jawai; they might end up being strictly practice players which Joey knows all about.

So we’re in Cleveland tonight and get the Knicks tomorrow at home. Lebron is expected to get some time along with Mo Williams and the Cavaliers will be looking to play some fast-break basketball and pressure the ball 90 feet which should provide a good challenge for Ukic who’s likely to get a good chunk of playing time. Just like us they’ll be testing things out so most of what will happen tonight shouldn’t carry much weight. There is the matter of the first quarter and a half which is played fairly hard by both teams and since Cleveland actually has excess players in camp they’ll be going hard at it for most of the game. We on the other hand have our roster set in platinum encrusted diamond.

Michael Curry’s been comparing Rodney Stuckey to Chris Bosh in a good way:

“As a player, I was in Toronto when Chris Bosh was a rookie, and their demeanors to me are the same. Both of them are very quiet but aggressive. Both of them had to work at it, but both of them want to be great.”

We (I) like to criticize Bosh for not being a “true franchise player” but I have never doubted his desire of wanting to be great and respect the work ethic, seriousness and commitment he brings to the team. I’m just waiting for him to elevate his game to the next level and maybe O’Neal can provide the backdrop for Bosh to rise to the NBA’s elite level – a constant MVP candidate.

That’s it for this morning. Have a nice Tuesday.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 23 Comments »

Joey Graham tweaks something

Posted by Arsenalist on October 2, 2008

Before I get to today’s piece I want to talk about Hwy 427. What the f*ck gives? There’s been construction on that bloody thing for the past two years and nothing has gotten done. Every night they close the northbound lanes at 8PM so that only one lane gets through. The southbound express (which already only has two lanes south of Bloor) is closed 80% of the time if not completely shut down in favor of the collectors which is also reduced in lanes. I can understand if this was a one-time thing but I kid you not when I say its been going on for years on end. Somebody fix something.

There are indications that Jamario Moon will be in the starting lineup instead of Jason Kapono because of defensive reasons. We’ve talked about this all summer – Kapono needs as much playing time with Bosh and O’Neal for him to be successful. Jamario’s a scrub and can adapt to any situation so it hardly matters who else is on the court with him for him to do his thing. As I said before the old ‘defense over offense’ argument usually wins here and this is no surprise, just a little disappointing. I would actually buy that argument if Moon was a shutdown-type defender who actually could lock you down but he’s not, he’s athletic and has great reach but does not have great defensive mechanics (cheating and recovering doesn’t count). Last year I was in favor of him being in the lineup because we needed his rebounding but with O’Neal already complementing Bosh we can afford to have an offensive weapon out there in favor of another rebounder. Matt Devlin thinks otherwise.

More on this. Bryan Colangelo is expecting big things for Kapono which is great but you have to put him in a position to succeed. We can’t do the same thing as last year and hope the results are different. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is stupidity. You could go ahead and blame Kapono’s performance of a season ago entirely on him but so far what have we done to mitigate that? The only thing I can think of is that we’ve kicked out Delfino whose 23 minutes will supposedly be given to Kapono resulting in more shots (hopefully). I understand that point of view and strategy but would just like to see Kapono get as much playing time with Bosh and O’Neal as possible.

Great quote from Sam Mitchell about the lack of depth on the roster and how the talent is more concentrated:

“That’s why we thinned out the roster – it makes it easier for me to coach.”

You don’t say? The less-is-more theory is great for golf but for a team that hopes to compete for an NBA title it doesn’t work. But wait! Are we actually competing for an NBA title or trying to win a playoff round? What is our measure of success this season? I wish Colangelo could answer this question. All those of you with press passes, do me a favor and ask this question of him. Please. Concentrated talent is a good thing though, it allows a coach to define roles properly, make sensible substitutions and manage expectations of players. If Mitchell manages to properly do that for his 8-man unit I think I’ll be more than pleased with him. Just please don’t bench Humphries for a month and then play him in the fourth quarter of a tight game for 8 minutes.

There’s tons of interviews on raptors.com, here’s one of them with Roko Ukic. He says that being healthy is the biggest thing and that he needs to “get better everyday”. Asked what he does well he says that he can pass the ball well, especially with the larger NBA court. Roko my friend, you’re right. There is more space to pass but the defense recovers and takes away passing lanes so fast that what looked like a good idea ends up being a turnover. I’m not worried though, he’s looking to impress and sounds like he’s got a good head on him and I do think he’s going to surprise a ton of people.

Slam is ranking the Top 50 players in the NBA and Chris Bosh comes up at #22. More importantly they dropped this old-school YouTube vid on me which just made my day. There’s talk that Vince Carter is a different man at camp this year. I remember watching those Training Camp shows on Raptors TV last year and they had their cameras on the Nets training facility and Vince appeared to be taking it ultra-easy and not coming within 500 miles of breaking a sweat. If he does decide to play to his potential it might up the Nets win total and make the four automatic wins we’re counting on against them harder to get.

Oh yeah, Joey Graham tweaked something. Why even bother playing rest of the season? Let’s just concede all 82 :)

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Ranking the NBA’s best Power Forwards

Posted by Arsenalist on September 17, 2008

I can’t tell if Charley Rosen is being serious about Chris Bosh in this article because the piece has an air of harshness about it while at the same time having elements of pure truth. You decide. When you rank the top PFs in the NBA the list inevitably narrows down to the likes of:

Tim Duncan
Kevin Garnett
Elton Brand
Carlos Boozer
Chris Bosh
Amare Stoudamire
David West

and reaching into the C/PFs:

Dirk Nowitzki
Paul Gasol.

Where Bosh ranks in this list is debatable, obviously Tim Duncan is the cream of the crop and David West hasn’t been good for long enough to claim title to being “the best” but the rest of the PF crew remain very comparable. Bosh’s main advantage over everyone else on that list is quickness but that is offset by his lack of a post-up game, something which is almost unseen of PFs. I like the following quote from Rosen:

“He’s really an outsized small forward with excellent rebounding skills.”

There’s no doubt that Bosh is an unorthodox power forward which relies on his quickness/length more than his size/low-post game, much like Dirk Nowitzki except that the latter has developed his game to be of an all-round variety with the only lacking area being defense. Rosen is right, Bosh might be a tweener who’s tweening between being a SF and PF but there’s no team that’s ready to call him a SF just yet.

I look at this unique tweeneyness of Bosh as being an advantage. Aside from Kevin Garnett nobody in the NBA can stay with Bosh based on lateral quicks which is a fact the Raptors need to exploit more (no jumpers). But at the same time when the likes of Trenton Hassell have success shutting you down its time to expand your game into the low-post so that opposing teams are forced to match not only your quickness but also your strength in order to stop you.

In other news 1300 tickets will go on sale for the club’s intramural game on October 4th at Carleton University in Ottawa. If you’re in the area, check it out.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Raptors finish 23rd in the NBA…

Posted by Arsenalist on September 4, 2008

…in nickname rankings. That’s your Raptors headline story for the day.

I was going to do a big spiel about how crazy Raptors fans are and how we should all try to get along despite our differences and opinions. It seems Raptors nation is split on our off-season and any point of view supporting an argument is quickly rejected by the other party. It makes for some good conversation but after 3 1/2 months a lot of the arguments get redundant to the point of eye-rolling. The dissent that exists in Raptors nation is a little sad to see. Or at least it was until I was reminded of the great Chinese sage Confucius who said:

When everybody says things are right, something is very wrong.

Aah, who knew you could get a dose of philosophy in this space. Point is that despite people questioning each others’ sexual orientation in debate and referring to each other as genital organs when discussing Andrea Bargnani’s effectiveness, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just humbly request that an argument is somewhat supported by some facts other than the accusations mentioned above.

Our boy Mike Ulmer interviewed Raptors strength and conditioning coach Keith D’Amelio and asked him some inane questions. I was hoping he’d ask him what Andrea Bargnani’s situation was because by the looks of it he had gained a few pounds. No such luck there, instead we find Ulmer suggesting the Raptors eat hemp hearts and husked hemp seeds, he’s basically one step away from recommending pre-game weed.

Training camp starts around September 29th with our first pre-season game being on October 7th at Cleveland. You can check out the pre-season schedule here which takes us all across North America. From the East coast to Moscow to the Mid-West to the West coast and then to Western Canada and finally home. Last year when you asked the Celtics what was the turning point of the season, many pointed to their European trip in the pre-season as being crucial since it allowed them to gel together as a team. I don’t have any such expectations of the Raptors but you have to wonder whether Sam Mitchell can integrate 5 new players into the team. I’m sure having no system actually helps in this case.

Of course we’ll talk a lot more about training camp as it approaches but its imperative that we establish a rhythm early on, especially concerning Bosh/O’Neal/Bargnani usage.

The Fan House has a video of Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard sitting on a bus as Bosh makes the “Hoowaaard, Hoowaaard” chant from the playoffs. Didn’t know you could do that when you lost the playoff series.

Later.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Raptors contingency plan

Posted by Arsenalist on September 2, 2008

The nature of risk management is to be prepared for the unexpected and much like in the corporate world, the Raptors also need a “fallback plan” in case things don’t go the way they expect to. In other words, if the shit hits the fan we need to be ready. So although we’re all counting on Jermaine O’Neal to return to All-Star form and combine with Chris Bosh to become the most formidable frontcourt in the NBA, we need to have a plan in case they don’t. We’re counting on Jose Calderon to play 82 games at the same level as he did in January and February when TJ Ford was out. We’re counting on Jason Kapono to shoot more than 10 threes all spring and we’re counting on Anthony Parker to show up in the fourth quarter. We’re counting on Jamario Moon to make the 18-footer and we’re counting on Roko Ukic – a rookie – to spell Jose Calderon. We’re counting on Hassan Adams and Will Solomon to play meaningful minutes at the SF and we’re counting on Bargnani to have his best year ever. In short, a lot of things need to go right for this season to be successful.

There’s one thing that really concerns me in the case where things don’t work out: we don’t have any young talent on this team. Its one thing to say that we can ‘reset’ if the O’Neal experiment doesn’t work because of his salary coming off the cap in 2010 along with Bosh’s but its another to say what we’d do if we have to start over. If Bosh and O’Neal bolt we’d be left with the ‘nucleus’ of Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon to lead the Raptors past 2010. Calderon is obviously a damn good player but I don’t think anyone but the staunchest of Bargnani believers would be comfortable in seeing them as the two best Raptor players.

Our failure to take advantage of the draft over the last three years has left us devoid of any young talent (19-23) resulting in all our eggs being in the Bosh/O’Neal basket. It’s a tricky situation because drafting young talent and giving them significant playing time is a sign of rebuilding which isn’t all that attractive to someone like Chris Bosh. But at the same time you must draft and develop talent which will either take over or supplement whats already there. To this day the only two legitimate Raptors players we developed from rookies to having a significant role are Morris Peterson and Chris Bosh. Both of them have been great servants of the Raptors organization and have followed a good course in their development with the organization. When Damon left, we had T-Mac. When T-Mac left, we still had Vince. When Vince left, we still had Bosh. When Bosh leaves, we still have…….Bargnani? See what I’m talking about?

I’m not sure when Bryan Colangelo’s contract is up but if this experiment doesn’t work, I would not be surprised if he bolts during the summer leaving someone else to clean up his mess and spend the plethora of cash we’ll have at free agents who’d be skeptical to come here. At the end of the day he’s going to have to answer to his bosses and if their priority is to win NBA playoff series, his job will not be considered secure but if its to run a profitable organization, he’ll even get extended.

This summer was considered a “make or break” for Bryan Colangelo and he’s made a move which demands results this coming season. Its not far-fetched to say that if things blow up in his face he’ll be the one who’ll be looking for a job in a summer or two. Of course he’ll fire Sam Mitchell well before that since he’s setup to be collateral damage. The moves of this summer aren’t ones which are designed to produce results two or three years down the road but next and next year only. While we’re challenging for home-court next year we’ll also be keeping a close eye on Bargnani who by all accounts is setup to be Bosh’s successor in Toronto. If things go wrong and Bosh opts for the exit, all our hopes will be on Bargnani.

Given the talk coming out of the Raptors camp we can see that they’re very confident in the team that they have. A preview that was done a while back on Raptors Talk slotted the Raptors finishing at #5. This of course assumed a lot of things going our way including Orlando and Philadelphia stepping back despite adding Elton Brand. If you’re an optimist you can subscribe to this seeding rather easily but the question really isn’t where the Raptors finish, its what the Raptors do once they make the playoffs. You can question the Raptors depth all you want but this year’s Raptors talent is more concentrated and more likely to meet with success in the playoffs than the last two versions. Assuming everyone’s healthy, I can honestly say that we actually might have a legitimate chance against the likes of Washington, Orlando, Philadelphia and maybe even Detroit if we face them in the post-season. When was the last team a Raptors team could say that?

There’s definitely hope in the air but if that hope is crushed, there’s darkness to follow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 47 Comments »

Chris Bosh had a great Olympics but who really cares?

Posted by Arsenalist on August 26, 2008

Word to the wise: Chris Bosh is good. If you didn’t know it already the Olympics were supposed to remind you of that. His defense in the Olympics is being hailed as one of the key factors for Team USA’s win and you can’t disagree with that. I’d like for the media to halt the praise and wait for him to get out of the first round before labeling him an NBA superstar. Don’t get me wrong, I understand a fan’s need to have a superstar on their favorite team but right Bosh is a very good player, not a superstar. Winning Olympic gold is great but frankly if you ask him if he’d rather beat the Magic in the first round the answer might be surprising.

It’s a apparently been a great Olympics for Bryan Colangelo. I suppose Ukic, Calderon and Bosh getting international playing time is supposed to be great for the Raptors. I remember the summer Vince Carter had when he exploded for Team USA only to flop during the NBA season. Buyer beware the hype of international success. I’m inclined to agree with Frank Zicarelli’s article in the Sun where he talks about what exactly Chris Bosh’s Olympic means for the Raptors. Very little. It’s one thing when you have 4 other legitimate All-Stars on the floor to relieve the pressure off of you, its another thing when Jamario Moon’s man is sagging to double you.

There’s some discussion about Calderon’s rough Olympics where he couldn’t play in the Gold medal game, whined about the refs and made a stereotypical gesture at someone. I hardly call it rough, I do all these things in a day and people still return my calls. Seriously, summertime is so slow that if a crow shits on a cow it’ll make front page news.

Raptors Talk has an analysis of how the time is now for Andrea Bargnani and how we can’t wait anymore for him. I stopped waiting for him a while back, I’m in the “hoping” stage now. The article compares his progress to Elton Brand, Dirk Nowtizki, Kenyon Martin and Tim Duncan. I suppose its a fair comparison for a #1 pick but it doesn’t factor in the minor problem that he wasn’t supposed to be a #1 pick but a mid-lottery selection which our trigger-happy GM and his fat sidekick jumped on. I feel bad for Andrea, he was probably as shocked as anybody when they told him he’d be the first overall selection. I hope he turns it around this year, I can’t bear to listen to the sound of his clanged jumpers, they’re like a thousand church bells ringing at once.

I’d like to end with commenting on the Mo Williams trade from a week or so back. Very good trade for Cleveland, the 1-spot was an obvious weakness for them. Delonte West wasn’t cutting it and struggled from the perimeter since the trade was made, Williams is a much more reliable scorer that can penetrate and finish. Just another example of a team we’re competing against getting better.

So far here are our roster changes:

Out: TJ Ford, Carlos Delfino, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, Primoz Brezec
In: Jermaine O’Neal, Hassan Adams, Willie Solomon, Nathan Jawai

Can’t wait for training camp to start.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

Rod Benson talks about summer camp

Posted by Arsenalist on July 22, 2008

Uber NBDL blogger Rod Benson talks about his summer camp with the Raptors including how Sam Mitchell doesn’t accept anything less than defensive perfection (insert a big f*****g joke here). I sat through watching this team fail to close-out and rotate the entire freaking year, I’ll attribute this slip of Benson to not getting any PT:

The first practice was all about instruction. Head coach Sam Mitchell made it very clear to all of us that our focus would be defense, so I was making every effort to be in the right spot and to talk. Only an idiot would do otherwise, I thought. Still, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t escape the ridicule that seemed to catch up with everyone who failed to employ the correct defensive tactics. If there was one thing I learned from coach Sam during that first two hours, it was that he doesn’t accept anything less than perfection.

Beijing’s getting closer and the reason I’m picking the Americans to win isn’t because that they’re a much better team than any other country but simply because they have Lebron James. An experienced Lebron James. In tournaments past they’ve lacked that one go-to guy that could get them out of their doldrums when things weren’t going their way or when there was one too many defensive gaffes and offensive Larrybrowness. Safe to say that getting points will not be as hard as it’s been the last two tournaments given how Lebron’s learned to suck the defense and even give out contracts to people named Boobie.

Chris Bosh talks about the lack of size in the US frontcourt and how its not a concern since talent-for-talent they matchup against any team’s 4/5’s. Bosh is likely to play backup center to Dwight Howard which is a good thing. In the upcoming season he’s going to be asked to switch around and play the C more often since Bargnani and O’Neal’s natural position is the PF.

New Jersey made another nice acquisition: Keyon Dooling. A defensive-minded guard who can shoot and plays hard, much like Darrel Armstrong who he’s likely to replace. So far NJ’s acquired Eduardo Najera, Yi, Jarvis Hayes, CDR, Dooling and Brook Lopez. That’s a nice young core but aside from Vince I don’t see legit proven talent on that team. They almost seem to have too many role players at this point.

Juan Dixon wants to be a Raptor again apparently. Actually, Juan Dixon would like to play anywhere and would be more than happy if any team would take him.

Matt Devlin’s loving Toronto, he sounds like a very humble guy that’s got his head on straight. John Bitove’s in the news.

Off to work.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Phoenix targets Rush + Very depressing stuff

Posted by Arsenalist on June 16, 2008

Brandon Rush might be Phoenix’s top prospect. This saddens me to no end because Phoenix is picking two spots before us at #15. It would amount to nothing short of tragedy if the Raptors fail to get a chance to pick Rush who by all accounts is raising his stock higher than most in the pre-draft workouts. The only reason it was low to begin with was because of his knee injury but he’s shown no sign of that this month. I don’t see the Raptors having the temerity (balls) to anticipate Phoenix and trade up to get Rush, it just amounts to doing too much work. Also, Phoenix would like nothing more than to stick this one to Colangelo.

If you’re interested in checking out workouts of players, look no further than the Blazers who’ve worked just about everyone out there.

Chris Bosh faces some competition to get into the US Basketball team, namely Tyson Chandler and Carlos Boozer. Chandler’s the better defender of all of them but they already have Dwight Howard on the team and need some frontcourt scoring so you’d think its between Boozer and Bosh. It’s a toss-up. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bosh sit the games out for his own good and get some rest before training camp starts. The flip side is that he gets into shape well before training camp and gets into mid-season form sooner. Again, its a toss-up.

Chad Ford’s thinks the best international player in the draft is Danilo Gallinari followed by Nicolas Batum. The little blurb about Gallinari says this: “He plays very hard, possesses great leadership skills and has an extraordinary basketball IQ”. Screw the basketball IQ, I like the first two attributes much better.

The Celtics failed to close out the Lakers last night which means the stage is set for Kobe Bryant to pull some Jordan-type performances. Beating the Celtics three straight times sounds like a tall task but you’ve already won one game and need to pull together for one more before forcing Game 7 where anything can happen. I say the Lakers aren’t as dead as everyone thinks and just need Kobe and Gasol to up it. On a side note, the Celtics will play the most playoff games in NBA playoff history this year, at least 26.

Finally we turn to the downright depressing shit – Adriana Lima and Marko Jaric are getting married. Hasn’t Adriana seen this?

This article about ex-Raptor (technically speaking) Jonathan Bender’s post-retirement life is something good.

See ya!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

CDR vs. Rush + Raps get high-tech + Detroit fire sale

Posted by Arsenalist on June 6, 2008

Stop the presses, put the phones down, ignore the workouts, screw the draft – we have some breaking news: Starting this fall the Raptors will play under a brand new 17-screen scoreboard supplied by Mitsubishi Electric which uses the “Black Package” Diamond Vision high-definition technology! The idea is to distract the other team by having them in complete awe of the scoreboard. This will easily be Colangelo’s most influential move of the summer, let’s see how it pans out.

Let’s turn now to Jim Kelly who talks about the workouts of Bill Walker, CDR and Brandon Rush on Thursday. The Raptors were concerned about Bill Walker and Brandon Rush’s injury problems and after the workouts today they feel Rush has fully recovered and has gotten even better than before, not to mention more athletic. Walker still hasn’t regained the athletic and jumping ability he had a year and a half ago and it appears that its making the Raptors wary of him. There were concerns about CDR’s shooting ability when he’s tired and it looks like he didn’t do as well as they would’ve hoped. Kelly seemed generally impressed with Brandon Rush, especially his composure on the court. You can see all the interviews here and Doug Smith’s article is basically a transcript of Kelly’s interview.

The Rush vs. CDR battle started in college and looks to continue in the NBA. They were matched up in yesterday’s workout and it was Rush who got the better of his counterpart because of his defense. You would’ve thought if there’s one thing CDR has over Rush it’s got to be his reach and athleticism on the defensive end; then again it was one workout….and one national championship. How much can missed FTs tell you about a player? I’m not saying CDR is a Nick Anderson but there’s something to be said for a guy who’s 6-7 from the line and then goes 0-2 in the clutch. So far Rush has the edge over him and if the Raptors are going for a swing guy at #17, they need to pick up Rush. And I’m not even saying this because I’m a Kansas supporter, seriously.

Chauncey Billups is considered to be the likeliest candidate to be traded on the Pistons. At this point a team wouldn’t touch him unless they’re looking for that final piece of the puzzle in a championship team. As suggested a while back in this space this is the start of the fire sale in Detroit which could also see Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince depart. Richard Hamilton is the one you’d want to pick but he apparently falls in the untouchable category. We already have a great trading relationship with Detroit so if Prince is on the outs the Raptors would be fools not to call.

A little to the side now. You know most of us bloggers just do this unpaid shit because we love the Raptors and want them to be part of our daily routine (Its sad but much better than masturbating). Take me for instance, after every game I angrily get up from the couch, swear at the TV, give my wife an angry look and storm off to the computer to write a heated PG recap. Others, like Ryan from Hoops Addict, actually go to NBA workouts, take notes, record audio, have one-on-one interviews and end up presenting a report that’s better than any TV or newspaper reporters’ out there. So if you’re going to click on one link in today’s post, click here and here and here. Much, much respect.

Rowan Barrett wanted to play some ball and Leo Rautins obliged. Now only if Magloire could grow a set of balls and play for Canada he might even be able to resurrect his fledgling NBA career.

Chris Bosh did his thing with Jay Leno last night and it was hilarious. Check out the video, it’s funny stuff. Nothing else going on really, oh yeah, Channing Frye is complaining about spending 25 bucks. Those cunty Celtics won again, if they win the title I won’t be able to eat for months.

Posted in Raptors, Sports, video | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Crosshair: Chris Bosh

Posted by Arsenalist on May 16, 2008

Criticizing Chris Bosh doesn’t seem natural to most Raptors fans including myself. I almost feel guilty saying anything negative about him or calling him out because he is clearly our best player and without him we’re a lottery team.To some degree this franchise indebted to Bosh for carrying it over the last couple years and for doing the dirty work needed to become a playoff team twice in a row. You can question his offensive decisions all you want but his effort is always there and the desire to win shines through. You can make a case that he’s the only proven NBA player on our team and slinging mud at him should be considered blasphemous, if not illegal. Then again this is a blog and I don’t have anybody to answer to or an employer to speak of so let’s let it rip.

Let’s get the major complaint out of the way: He takes too many jumpers. Yes, it’s true and if you’re defending that point with the “he’s worn out and needs to pace himself” argument, you’re lying to yourself. He is not a great jump shooter and has no business making the 15-18 footer his first choice on offense. Although he’s gotten better from that range over the last two seasons, the defense will still concede that shot and be content in keeping him on the perimeter where he won’t tire them out or draw fouls. Just like how Jamario Moon tries to prove the defense wrong by attempting jump shots, Bosh tries to draw in the defender by proving that he can indeed be a threat from 18 feet out. So far in his career he hasn’t shown that he can hit that shot with the dead-eye consistency that he needs to in order to make the defense tighter. However, there are other ways to make the defense play you tighter and one of them is establishing a low-post game so that the defender would rather challenge you to drive by him than post him up.

If the reliance on the jumpshot is complaint #1, the lack of a true post-up game has to be #1a. Chris Bosh does not have a go-to post move. It’s very sad, but it’s true. The jump hook and the up-and-under are nice but the latter can only work so many times in a game and the former isn’t fluid enough to be a consistent weapon. When Bosh tries to score with his back to the basket he inevitably throws a mini-hook which seems rushed and often comes from outside a big-man’s comfort zone. It’s that or a baseline fadeaway that makes you cringe as it hits the front of the rim. He has trouble backing other PFs down and is susceptible to picking up offensive fouls when being guarded by smaller and more athletic forwards. Unlike Dwight Howard, Bosh is yet to master the art of early post-positioning which can be a big man’s best friend. He tends to catch the ball much further out than what’s desired which ends up making the post-game that much harder to establish. It doesn’t help that the Raptors’ main play is the pick ‘n roll which dictates that the big man start the possession 23 feet from the basket.

Bosh’s confidence in finishing around the rim needs to improve and that can only happen if he decides to operate closer to the rim and make scoring his first option and drawing the foul second. The only power forward that can laterally stay with him is Kevin Garnett and it’s no secret that his quickness at the PF position is what has made him an All-Star for three straight years and running. There’s not any other area of his game that you can point to and say that it’s world-class or a definite advantage every night. He needs to develop another facet of his game so that he can be a true multi-threat PF, one of those facets can be his finishing around the rim after back-downs or some post-moves that can momentarily send defenders the wrong way – something Tim Duncan has mastered.

Finally, the major complaint about Bosh is that he holds the ball for too long. It’s an obvious problem that’s been there for as long as he’s been in the league. Sam Mitchell’s stagnant offense doesn’t help matters but this part of Bosh’s game is more a bad habit than anything. The quicker you make your move, the less time the defense will have to figure you out and the more chance you have of actually executing it successfully. It’s become routine of Bosh to waste 5-7 seconds per possession when facing up a player and its ripple effect is that our shooters have less time to move the ball around to get that clean look after the Bosh double. To conclude Bosh’s offensive weaknesses, he needs to throw his fadeaway in the garbage, develop a post-up move or two, work on establishing position early and use his skill and length to finish plays rather than hope for a foul.

Chris Bosh also happens to be our best player and the primary reason for our mild successes. He remains the only Raptor capable of consistently drawing a double team, playing solid defense, scoring, rebounding, getting to the FT line and being a team leader. Without a central figure that can draw a double team, our plethora of shooters become worthless and it is thanks to Bosh that the likes of Kapono, Bargnani, Parker, Moon and just about everyone else get any room to operate. Bosh has increased his FTA/game in each of his five season and has become an excellent FT shooter finishing the year off at 84.4%. He obviously understands the need to get points in the paint and focuses a large part of his game on getting the defense off-balance and drawing a foul, often with success. This has become a Catch-22 situation because it is exactly this attitude that contributes as a cause to our late fourth quarter offensive issues. The inconsistent NBA referees always swallow the whistle in crunch time and since Bosh relies on trips to the FT line a lot, it follows that we get burned a lot.

On a defensively challenged unit that the Raptors are, Bosh is the only player that truly understands the concept of defensive rotations. If you see his man end up with a big scoring night it’ll be largely due to him providing help to the penetrating guard as one of his teammates fail to pick up his man. At 1.0 BPG he’s not a real shot-blocking presence but he does contest everything that comes into the lane. His man-defense has always been good and this year was no different. His rebounding is excellent at 8.7 per game and he’s the only Raptor who appears to want to rebound the ball by fighting for it. Contrast this to Andrea Bargnani who will only rebound if the ball happens to fall to him. When you’re sharing the frontcourt with that type of a player, your responsibility doubles and your job becomes even harder.

He’s not a superstar in this league but he is a damn good player who teams will make a run at when he’s a free agent. If Colangelo’s plan is to build an All-Euro team, I highly doubt Bosh wants to have to do anything with it. Over the next two years he’ll either become a superstar in this league or establish himself as a top 2nd tier player that is welcome on any team. His future with the Raptors is largely dependent on who our next best player is, it was supposed to be Andrea Bargnani who would take over from Bosh but that turned out to be nothing more than a Colangelo pipe dream. If the plan is to build slowly and surely around Euros, having Bosh on this team makes no sense and is unfair to him. Unless we give him some legitimate scoring help, asking him to be part of a similar Raptor team is a recipe for trade demands.

Bosh’s future and the direction this team is going will all be revealed this off-season when Colangelo’s ability to acquire help in obvious areas is tested. He’s got some trade bait in Kapono, Ford, Parker and draft picks so let’s see what exactly he can do. This will be the most telling off-season in Raptors history and will determine where Colangelo sees Bosh fitting in as a long-term part of this team, if at all.

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