Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘jamario moon’

Moon and Parker are below average NBA starters

Posted by Arsenalist on October 11, 2008

No longer does it have to end with Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani. Krish Humphries is now part of the “Big Four” that Sam Mitchell will be relying on for muscle. A strong training camp and a couple good preseason games later Humphries is feeling good about his new heavier frame which he isn’t shy to throw around. He seems to have cracked the rotation and maybe this time around he’ll stick. At the same time I wouldn’t put it past Mitchell to play him for 10 games in a row only to be given December off. Managing player expectations and playing time was a problem for us last year but to Humphries’ credit he didn’t complain even though it looked like he had a right to. In other news he shaved his head which is a bit sad because I dug the newer Hump model, it had a serious air to it which said “Don’t mess with me or I”ll drive my station-wagon right through your living room”.

Steve Nash is already looking for his next pay cheque and a logical choice are the Raptors. As he grows older (34 right now) the list of suitors will start to decline along with his play and that’s where the Raptors come into the picture. Nostalgic heart-warming feeling aside I can’t see the Raptors using their $25M in cap space on a 36 year old (although they did sign Olajuwon). That’s a logical line of thinking until you consider the “box-office impact” Nash could have on the franchise and the number of black jerseys he’d sell. Since the first goal of this organization is to run a profitable business I wouldn’t be shocked if they do it, although the signing will come about 5 years too late.

Back to the current roster and the most suspect position happens to be the swingman spot which has been a problem since the last three seasons. Starting Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker on a roster speaks volumes about the depth of the team but it looks like we’re going to have to make-do with what we’ve got. Neither Moon or Parker are NBA starters and look stretched playing their roles last year. We’re going to be out-talented at those positions on a nightly basis and are looking to scrape by based on what we feel is an advantage at our other two positions – PF and C. I’m not sure things work that way, having a balanced starting five where everyone can hold their own seems to work more often than having two above-average and two below-average players in the lineup.

The traditional off-guard is supposed to be your go-to guy in clutch situations and is relied on to provide key scoring but Parker’s 12.4 PPG (good for 19th amongst SG’s) is hardly what you call a scoring punch. Combine this with Jamario Moon’s meager offensive game and you realize they’re not exactly a potent threat. Below average actually and susceptible to offensive droughts which we know can kill teams in the post-season and if that’s the season that this team is supposedly built for, these two will have to have phenomenal years for us to be successful (whatever that measure is). Of course we could always acquire help at the trade deadline but Colangelo hasn’t shown an urgency to boost his team the last two seasons so there’s no reason to think he’ll do it now, unless of course there’s pressure from the top.

I could talk about the lack of bench-depth again but frankly speaking I’ll just wait for the regular season before we analyze Will Solomon and Hassan Adams any further.

There’s a look back at training camp in Carleton and some of the things that went behind organizing the event and a few thoughts from someone who was at the intra-squad game.

Minor trade last night – Pacers sending Shawne Williams to Dallas for what is left of Eddie Jones.

Have a nice Saturday.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Should we worry about Jason Kapono’s defense?

Posted by Arsenalist on September 11, 2008

The man is a dead-eye shooter who needs an inch or maybe two to get his shot off. Not since Dell Curry have we seen a marksman of his caliber and yet he manages to get lost in the Raptors offense which is designed almost exclusively for the three point shooter. After going through a dreadful drought last spring Kapono managed to pick himself up in the playoffs and had a post-season that made us fans re-think just how valuable he could be to this team.

Kapono came off a decent year in Miami and basically conned Bryan Colangelo into giving him a huge contract. It surprised a lot of us and the fact that it happened on the first day of free-agency made some of us question Colangelo’s priorities (remember, defense and rebounding were problems back then too). Since he’s come here there’s been a constant ebb and flow in his game which borders from being anonymous to lighting it up, there’s very little middle ground. Despite all the inconsistency I think I speak for most Raptor fans when I say that we’d rather have him on offense than any one of Jamario Moon, Hassan Adams, Willie Solomon or Joey Graham. We know his shooting is an asset for us but how much are we willing to give up on the other end?

I personally think his problems on defense are highly exaggerated and we can and should be able to do things to increase his floor time while still being able to make a half-decent defensive stand. Listed at 6′ 8″, Kapono has more than enough size to stay in front of a shooting guard and take away the dribble penetration by laying off of him. He doesn’t have the quickness to take away the jumper by playing tight but 1 out of 2 ain’t bad here. The same holds true when defending SFs except they have posted him up with great success. We obviously need to provide him help here just like we did with Jose Calderon or Anthony Parker. Kapono’s case is no different.

Sam Mitchell has generally done a terrible job of hiding player weaknesses on defense and Kapono is Exhibit A. Kapono started 7 out of 81 games last year precisely because Jamario Moon happened to be a better defender. Keep in mind that this is on a team that has trouble getting off to good starts. Instead of allowing Kapono to have an impact on the game Mitchell often became gun-shy and chose to err on the side of caution by not playing him in favor of Moon who proceeded to miss countless jumpers in the fourth quarter costing us games aplenty. There’s no doubt Kapono has defensive issues, he doesn’t have great lateral movement or great speed but we knew that before signing him. There has to be an effort on the part of Mitchell to utilize Kapono and hide his weaknesses by clever double-teaming, cutting off baselines, forcing his man in an uncomfortable direction or even some ball denial. We saw none of this last year, the reaction to Kapono being posted-up was usually always a double-team coming out of nowhere which segued into an open three. C’mon, we need to be smarter and stop using the “bad defender” label to waste his offense. It’s very mid 90’s New York Knickish.

Kapono’s showed in the playoffs that he’s got the ability to be crafty and score in ways you wouldn’t have thought he could. His leaners, floaters, mid-range jumpers and even drives to the rim are something neither Jamario Moon or Joey Graham could dream of doing. We beg Moon to drive to the rim but ignore that Kapono’s only 3% behind him (Moon, Kapono) when it comes to “Close” shots and has a higher eFg. Granted the rebounding numbers aren’t there but starting next season when the rebounding duties are off-loaded to Jermaine O’Neal, why not play Jason Kapono even more?

Kapono’s major problem is that he’s very cautious about his FG percentage and shot selection, almost to a fault. Instead of taking his changes with a semi-contested three he’ll fake the shot, dribble-drive, do some more Reggie Miller fakes and then end up passing the ball. After such plays you just wonder how bad shooting the ball early on would’ve been. Leo Rautins asserts that this quality is a great one which keeps the defense honest. If you look at his playoff performances, I agree, if you look at the second half of the regular season, I disagree. You have to ask yourself what changed between the regular season and the playoffs. The answer is not a technical one, it’s simply that that Kapono started to assert himself on offense and started to look for his. If we can get a full season of his playoff performance last year I don’t think any one of us will mind whether Tracy McGrady goes to town on him in the post as long the Raptors as a team are doing their best to circumvent the situation.

Jamario Moon may be a better defender and come up with some spectacular plays on occasion but how many times have you seen him get absolutely burned by the likes of Bonzi Wells, let alone McGrady? The point is that if Moon is 5 apples better than Kapono on defense, Kapono is 10 apples better than Moon on offense so overall Kapono’s got 5 more apples. It’s time we recognize that and switch the playing time of these two players around. The result of this switch will not affect our perimeter defense to the degree most people think it will and more importantly, it’s imperative for the O’Neal experiment to succeed. As I mentioned in my previous post, we can’t afford to let the defense seduce Jamario Moon into jump shooting.

Check the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 27 Comments »

Jamario Moon needs to make a jumper

Posted by Arsenalist on August 30, 2008

This is from a couple days ago but the Pacers did an interview with TJ Ford where he talks about a bunch of things. It was hard to focus because of the interviewer. The segment is quite boring but he does mention how in Toronto he got into techno music. Good luck to him, hopefully he has a career year where he only has 4 extremely crappy games all year long. If his head is sewed on straight he could’ve been an All-Star next year but I actually think Jim O’Brien is a worse coach than Sam Mitchell so the odds aren’t good. If I’m O’Brien I let TJ run loose, excite some fans and have some fun. There’s no pressure on that team and they should be fun to watch.

Jermaine O’Neal made Hoops World’s list of NBA Nice Guys. It made my heart melt until I got to the end of the list and saw Alonzo Mourning’s name on it. Kinda ruined it for me.

Yesterday Eric Smith had this inside info on Bargnani:

By all indications, things are going well for Andrea. I spoke to a few folks within the Raptors and they seem happy with the progress Bargnani has made. Personally, I haven’t had a chance to see Andrea since the end of the season but it sounds like he may have put on a couple of pounds as well. Jermaine O’Neal had a lot of great things to say about Bargnani following their workouts together in Las Vegas. The two hooked up in Nevada when Andrea was down there for the Pete Newell big man camp. He also showed his commitment to the Raptors and to this upcoming season by deciding to NOT play with the Italian national team this summer. Instead, he’s been following a strict workout program that is/was coordinated by and supervised by the Raptors basketball department.

I know its not much and there are no eye-witness reports here but it looks like Bargnani’s been following his off-season regiment in a committed fashion. Him not suiting up for Italy does say a lot given the nationalism of the European players and how much they enjoy playing for their country. In a pic I posted a while back he did look like he had gained a few pounds. Getting stronger and gaining weight is one of the first steps in developing a low-post presence and I’m hoping Bargnani can use this new weight to throw some people around in the block. I’ll gladly accept a decrease in his jump shots and an increase in his post-ups.

Our roster doesn’t have much depth on it this year and its imperative we got the most bang for the buck out of every player – especially the starting five – if we want to compete for home-court advantage. The guy that’s not getting mentioned much this summer is Jamario Moon who last I heard was representing the Raptors out west in Edmonton and playing hoops in someone’s driveway. We obviously expect improvement from Bargnani next year but if Moon even repeats the feats of last season, it’ll be considered a disappointing year. He must get better and make up for the lack of a true SF signing. It’s asking a lot.

I’ve accepted that he’s not going to be a player that consistently takes it to the rim even when the opportunity is there so I’ve switched expectation gears. If he just drains the 15-18 footer with dead-eye consistency, it’ll open up things for us. Last year we got angry when he started taking those jumpers, this year I’m hoping he takes them and makes them. If Bargnani’s off-season regiment involved working on footwork, getting stronger and developing post-moves, Moon’s should simply involve launching 1000 jumpers a day.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Bryan Colangelo and Steve Nash you should go to this event. I know I’m reaching in these posts but there’s nothing going on at all.

Grab the feed for Raptors talk all year long.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 22 Comments »

Raptors second best in the East?

Posted by Arsenalist on August 6, 2008

The title of this post is an example of how you can put a question mark is front of even the most ridiculous statements and give them a serious air. To get to the point we now know that Jamario Moon’s using his new found money to buy the finest cocaine in the land. That’s the only way I can explain him annointing the Raptors as the second best team in the East. I love the confidence because it’s a prerequisite to being great but expectations need to be kept in check. I’d prefer it Moon started saying things like, “We want to prove the cynics wrong” rather than “After Boston, its us”. The latter has a work-ethic theme attached to it that both Moon and the Raptors need to adopt if they want to even come close to the former statement.

Matt Devlin reports from Beijing about the makeup of the Olympics and how Team USA will kill everybody. He drops an interesting fact about the Olympics: There are 29 current NBA players participating at the Beijing Games along with 17 former NBA players and eight international players whose rights are held by an NBA team. Compare this to only 12 years ago where there use to maybe two or three non-US players in the tournament and you get an idea of how basketball has grown. There’s a Fox Sports article that tries to find things to warn Team USA about but its reaching when making every point.

On a side note, I hate the Olympics. I hate everything about it, I hate the torch, I hate the IOC, I hate the corruption of the people running it, I hate the false sense of ‘sportsmanship’ and ‘unity’ that it insists upon itself and last but not least, I hate 80% of the sports in it. Sorry, but I’d rather watch more summer league than watch a Canadian ‘realize his dream’ when finishing 7th in the swimming pool. The whole amateur thing has run its course; the mixing of professionals like NBA players and athletes who have part-time jobs is getting to be a bit much and sends a lot of mixed messages about the spirit and nature of this competition. What does Olympic Gold mean anymore? Does it mean that you’re the best at what you do? In most cases, no. So why the hell should I care? The only reason people even care about this event is that they’re told to do so by the overwhelming hype created by the marketing machine that is the media.

The NBA schedule will come out any second now (New Years Eve vs. Nuggets) and here’s hoping for an easy November. Nothing can be more deflating than ending the first month with a record like 4-10. The only thing that’s going to do is get Sam Mitchell closer to being fired which of course isn’t exactly undesirable to many. Regardless of how we start the season Mitchell should be given at least till the end of December to prove whether he can handle the new look Raptors. After all this is the East and even though teams have gotten better there’s no reason to believe a team can’t absolutely suck for the first half of the season and make a run to grab a playoff spot, so bad start will not equal impending doom. Update: Here it is.

In yesterday’s post I said the NBA need not worry when petty free agents sign in Europe and should only be concerned if the stars start moving aboard. Well, today Lebron apparently said that he’ll be down with Europe if it gets him a salary of $50 million/year. If that actually does happen I wouldn’t be shocked to see the NBA personally offer Lebron $100 million to stay, it would be a matter of saving face. Meanwhile the exodus to Europe continues and this time its one of the stalwarts of the league, Earl Boykins, leaving us to join Virtus Bologna on a 1yr/3.5M deal which will make him the highest paid player in Italy next year.

That’s about that for this morning. This is going to be the last Raptors post till August 25th. I’m going home for two weeks. Thanks for reading the blog and posting comments, it is greatly appreciated. I’ve asked eastcoastrapsfan to fill in when he can, he might write a post later on where he’ll talk about what it means to be a Raptors fan who is getting up there in age.

Cheers.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Proof that Andrea Bargnani is working hard this summer

Posted by Arsenalist on August 1, 2008

Andrea Bargnani working on his game

Andrea Bargnani working on his game

I’ve been known to read peoples facial expressions and judging from the picture above the Paul Bunyan look-alike muscled an offensive rebound away from Bargnani and then put it in for a 3-point play. Seriously though, aside from working with John Lucas and attending Tim Grgurich’s big man camp I have no clue what Bargnani’s been upto. Pete Newell’s big man camp starts off next week and there was some talk earlier in the year of Bargnani attending it.

In a HoopsWorld article from a couple days ago it was suggested that he could move out of the four spot and onto the perimeter which somehow is supposed to be a good thing. In a perfect world he would be able to defend the small forward position and score using his size on offense but realistically speaking he’s still a lot closer to a PF than a SF. Jay Triano alluded to two of Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani being on the floor at all times which would mean there will be minutes for Bargnani at the PF as one of Bosh or O’Neal moves over to play center. Lest we forget Bargnani’s “natural position” is the power forward and so far in his Raptors career he’s been asked to play center.

I don’t think the difference between defending the C and the PF is much different in the NBA, both require him to box-out, rebound and use his quickness as an advantage. Last year a lot of fans felt that he was playing out of position and if we moved him over to PF it would fix a lot of his problems, I don’t buy that argument. At the end of the day he’s got to play big-man basketball and both positions offer the same defensive challenges and offensive opportunities, in fact you could make a case that he should be able to take advantage of centers more easily considering how they’re usually slower. Regardless of which position he plays Sam Mitchell has to try to use him as a plus point rather than a liability.

Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon were playing pick-up at some guy’s house and gave their thoughts on the Jermaine O’Neal trade. Both are counting on a “renewed” O’Neal to lead the Raptors this year. Parker gave his thoughts on ex-teammate Will Solomon joining the squad and says its another shot at the NBA for him after being very successful in Europe. Sure, whatever to not give the impression that we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Jamario Moon will be heading down to Vegas again to work out with Joey G and O’Neal later in the month.

Resident fruitcake Mike Ulmer got to interview Nathan Jawai and once again failed miserably. My favorite gem from this interview has to be the question, Are Australians just like Canadians? No Mike, Australians marry kangaroos, eat their offspring and run around naked in shopping malls trying to set off fire alarms. WTF?!? You get a chance to interview a player, ask him basketball related stuff like his impressions of Mitchell, what he thinks of his teammates and other interesting stuff. Who cares if he thinks Torontonians are nice?

Jack Armstrong will replace Chuck Swirsky on the Fan 590. He’s paired up with some hockey coach just to even the balance for the puckheads. I might actually listen to a Fan 590 show after years of boycotting it because of their idiocy when it comes to covering basketball. Eric Smith is a fair enough analyst but after that the drop down is so significant that its not worth it.

The folks over at Rush the Court have compiled a list of schools which have produced the most NBA draft picks (Google Spreadsheet) and not surprisingly UCLA and North Carolina are #1 and #2. You might be surprised at #3, its not Duke. My Kansas Jayhawks are #8.

Could they have found an uglier picture of Bosh? On a non-basketball related note, this has to be one of the craziest stories I’ve read this year.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for swinging by in the summer time. A special thanks to the ArseBlog for linking it up.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Roko Ukic sale and some potpourri including Dalembert being kicked out

Posted by Arsenalist on July 16, 2008

Danilo Gallinari’s play in the second half against the Cavs’ summer league team was very impressive. He played aggressively and with confidence, he mixed it up by shooting the three, going inside and displayed a tight mid-range game. Along with that he showed he had the handles to actually take slower defenders off the dribble by going either way. In short, it was a performance that might make skeptical Knick fans believers. He looked far more fluid than Andrea Bargnani and was a threat to do multiple things, not settle on one. Then again it was only one game. This kid might be a player.

During the broadcast of the Knicks/Sixers game Quentin Richardson was asked what he thought of the moves around the league including Elton Brand’s, he generally gave praise until they brought up the Jermaine O’Neal trade. Awkward silence ensued. That trade was “weird to me” said Quentin because it entirely changes the Raptors’ makeup and style of play. He’s got a point, we’ve gone from being a somewhat quick breaking team to an entirely half-court one with the addition of the big-man O’Neal and the loss of speed-merchant TJ Ford. The Raptors used to win games by having 5 guys in double digits and racking up the assist totals but next year the formula for success will be different – vastly different. You’d expect the points to be less spread out across the box score, a shorter rotation and more emphasis on post-ups and interior ball movement than ever before. The way Colangelo envisions the Raptors next year might be a complete 180 from his first two years! Call it a change of philosophy or a return to common sense but I like the direction. The execution is an altogether entirely different matter.

Barcelona have sold Roko Ukic to the Raptors for $650,000. This figure does not count against the salary cap, it’s just the transfer fee.

A bit surprised to see Marcus Camby traded to the Clippers for just a second round pick. Obviously the primary reason to make the deal for Denver is to shed nearly 16 million dollars in salary over two years. From the Raptors perspective you have to step back and say, hmmm..we could’ve gotten him here to solve the rebounding and defense issues and traded TJ Ford to satisfy the SF need. Hmmm…wouldn’t that have been something, eh? Either way, it looks more and more like Josh Smith isn’t going anywhere.

Nathan Jawai’s reminds us that he’s only been playing basketball for five years and still getting adjusted to the NBA style of play. He’s realizing the difference in talent and athleticisim between the leagues which is obvious but he also points out a key difference between the Australian league and NBA – no defensive three-in-the-key. Combine this defensive issue with the fact that he can’t simply tower over smaller players and get his on offense and it speaks of an uphill struggle to get in the NBA. He does have the right attitude so he might have a chance. A chance. If you didn’t catch the Denver game, there are highlights.

There’s no indication that the Raptors are remotely interested in Carlos Delfino unless he signs an offersheet for a ridiculously low amount which the Raptors could match because of them extending a qualifying offer to Delfino. It’s likely that Delfino’s next destination is somewhere in Europe, probably Russia. You have to think that Hassan Adams is essentially the replacement for Delfino which means that one of our most glaring weaknesses coming into the offseason remains unaddressed. The sad part about this situation is that aside from swings like Josh Childress and Ron Artest who aren’t coming here, there’s not much Colangelo can do. Realistically and salary-cap wise speaking, we can’t acquire someone like Gerald Wallace or Josh Howard or anyone who’s in the upper-echelon of NBA swings so we have to look at tier-two options like Andres Nocioni or Gordon Giricek. But hearing Colangelo speak, his main target for the rest of the summer is a combo-guard on the cheap and a player that I’ve always liked is Quentin Ross of the Clippers.

Some absolutely shocking news – Canada released Samuel Dalembert after their stunning victory over Korea, Leo says:

“Without going into too much detail, it’s a situation that we decided to move forward with the players who have the passion and desire to play for Canada. It’s disappointing for sure, but I think you have to have players who are a 100% committed to it. If not, it’s not going to happen for us.”

Leo Rautins showing some big time balls by kicking out a legit NBAer out of a roster that’s lacking any.

Michael Grange had some brief but key points about Canada’s loss to Slovenia. NBA Live ’09 is around the corner, check out the screen caps – very sweet.

Next Raptors summer league action is against the Sixers on Thursday. Approximately 110 days till the season starts. Later.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Jamario Moon gets to launch 20 footers for another year

Posted by Arsenalist on May 15, 2008

There’s a sense of emptiness in the time between when the Raptors get eliminated from the playoffs and the last game of the post-season, you sort of want the whole thing to be over and free agency to begin so that the Raptors return to whatever significance they deserve.

The Raptors did pick up the option on Jamario Moon which was a no-brainer in the sense that he’s somebody you want to bring back on the team, the only request from this observer is that lets not have him start 75 games. It ruins the fun of watching what he does well when he’s asked to produce beyond his meager means. The other way to look at it is this: Moon’s trade value is higher than it deserves to be right now and you could package him along with TJ Ford for something valuable. A potentially great point guard plus a defensive swingman? I see the Knicks biting, Jamal Crawford please. Anyway, enjoy the money Jamario.

Danny Ainge was named the EOY after Boston’s good season which has a very good chance of coming to an end after this series. The Cavs lost Game 5 but there’s all indication that they’ll take Game 6 and with Lebron at the helm, Game 7 is up in the air. I sense a Detroit Game 5 type performance coming from him.

As the Mike D’Antoni regime in NY begins, Isaiah Thomas is back to doing something he’s good at: scouting. He’s on a mission to Europe to check out Danilo Gallinari and Nicolas Batum. I’m guessing Bryan Colangelo and fat little Maurizio Gherardini have already been down this road and are looking to trade up to grab one of these two. Wouldn’t it be a shocker if they trade TJ Ford to the Knicks for a lottery pick and draft a Euro? Haha, I think I’d kill myself. Really.

Talk about different expectations from coaches, Flip Saunders might just get fired if Detroit doesn’t win the title this year while Sam Mitchell’s getting a free pass after a 41-41 season and a quick playoff exit. Yes, I know the teams have different talent levels but ask yourself this: Did Mitchell come even close to doing a good job this year? Are we just hoping that he figures out how to make proper substitutions, not ignore players for weeks, exploit matchups, come up with an offense? If we’re not making a coaching change this year, we need to at least add an assistant coach that can contribute in these areas.

I’m starting a Euro 2008 pool, feel free to join. I have no idea how you’ll get me the entry fee.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 19 Comments »

Crosshair: Anthony Parker

Posted by Arsenalist on May 4, 2008

Next up on the crosshair is Anthony Parker. These are going in no particular order.

He reminds you a lot of Voshon Lenard – a capable scorer that can be effective as long as he’s not being stretched past his physical ability and talent. Parker’s got a textbook jumpshot that rivals Allan Houston and a fadeaway that can be considered deadly as long as the legs are fresh. His low-post game consists almost entirely of the fadeaway which can be used with success on shorter players. Once you put a bigger defender on Parker, his offense quickly degenerates as the fadeaway isn’t nearly as effective and the fake-the-drive-pull-up-for-the-j becomes too contested to be consistent.

Parker is the best mid-range shooter on the Raptors and can come off screens and into the 15-18ft area and drain the shot. On occasion he can drive to the rim and finish with authority which keeps the defense somewhat honest but even then they always play him for the shot – 82% of his shots are jumpers. Parker’s ability to score deteriorates as the game goes on and his legs get tired. This often results in him missing big free throws and jumpers late in the game. There have been over a half-dozen games where he’s missed a shot that would’ve iced the game or brought the Raptors completely back in it which has negatively affected his clutch rating. Maybe in his younger days he could’ve sustained his field goal accuracy for longer durations but as he approaches 33 it’s only going to get tougher.

Parker’s tendency to become anonymous for large parts of the game is very troublesome, as a starting shooting guard playing 39+ minutes a game you have to be a constant factor in the play. There are times where you almost forget that he’s in the game until you look at the box score after the game (see Orlando) which makes you wonder just exactly what the hell he was doing while he was in there. This phenomenon is partially because he’s not a good enough scorer to demand the ball and score consistently like better 2-guards such as Crawford, Johnson, Hamilton, Allen or Richardson. It’s also because in a Bosh-central offense his primary role becomes that of a three-point shooter. If the defense has him covered on the three-point line, he basically becomes a non-factor. Although there have been a few times where he’s carried the team offense over a 4-5 minute stretch, it doesn’t happen nearly enough for him to be considered a go-to guy when your offense is in a funk.

Overall, Parker’s offense only flourishes when teammates are setting great screens, Bosh is being doubled off his man and he’s being guarded by smaller players. If that’s not happening, Parker finds getting his points much harder and becomes that much less of a factor. He doesn’t have any go-to moves in his arsenal, something which is almost mandatory for a shooting guard on a team that hopes to be contending. The 7% dip in his playoff shooting percentage (48% – 41%) is a great example of how a limited offensive player like Parker can be neutralized in a controlled and planned playoff setting.

Just like his offense, Parker’s defense also suffers as the game wears on. This is completely natural for any NBA player but since the Raptors’ perimeter defense is leaky at best, a drop-off in Parker’s ability to keep his man in front of him is highlighted even more when we lose. Nobody can question his effort when it comes to man-defense, but if he’s guarded by a quicker player his lateral quickness can be put to the test quite easily. In many cases this year the offensive player has tried to create space by shaking Parker and shooting over him, he’s done an excellent job of contesting those shots. It’s because of these types of possessions and his on-court demeanor that he’s built a reputation of being a decent defender, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty he has some serious issues.

The biggest complaint about Parker’s defense is that he drifts from his man for no reason, especially when he’s guarding him on the weak side. This has resulted in countless open threes for the opposition and has effectively negated anything else he does on defense or as some might argue, what he’s provided on offense. Sam Mitchell’s tenure has seen the team refuse to double team legit scorers (Kobe) while sending help when its not needed (Howard 12 feet out). Such inconsistent defensive philosophies have resulted in players like Parker, Delfino and Calderon not understanding their defensive duties as they should and they are always found cheating and getting burned. How many times this year have you seen Parker wildly flail his arm as the shot is being released? Those aren’t shot-contests at all because they don’t actually bother the shot, they just underline how late Parker is on his close-outs.

Jack Armstrong’s been saying it all season: down and dirty defense, quick close-outs, shot-contests and a determination to keep your man in front of you is what the Raptors need to do. Anthony Parker can give you the grittiness but if it isn’t accompanied by the lateral quickness and a defensive system that puts a premium on close-outs, it doesn’t mean much. Leo Rautins’ metaphysical love for Anthony Parker is largely because they’ve both bounced out of the NBA and played in Europe. Parker’s return to the NBA is something of a vindication for Rautins’ career, you know, European ball matters. Leo constantly referring to Parker as a clutch performer couldn’t be farther from the truth but his claim that Parker is a leader carries a lot of weight.

Just like Moon’s getting too much playing time because of lack of other options, Parker being a starter who plays close to 40 minutes a game tells you how thin we are on both offense and defense at the SG position. The closest thing to a backup shooting guard we have is Jason Kapono and he was missing practically the entire season, thus forcing Parker into playing heavy minutes which his body isn’t made for.

Parker probably should have been playing in the NBA a couple years before he started his Raptors stint. It would’ve been interesting to see what he could do with younger legs. At this point in his career Parker cannot be a starting shooting guard for a team that hopes to win a round or two in the playoffs. Maybe earlier in his career, but definitely not now. His contract is reasonable at 4.5M and he’s coming off the cap after next year. He should be playing approximately 20 minutes a game coming off the bench and become our Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson. Bryan Colangelo has to sure up the starting SF and SG position at some point and whether he can address both this summer is the question that will determine Parker’s fate. Colangelo has to decide whether Parker’s best value is in a trade to a contending team which puts a high value on his outside touch and veteran leadership or letting him come off the cap next year.

Personally, I like Anthony Parker’s attitude, on-court demeanor and what he can give on offense. He’s simply too old to be a factor the way a starting shooting guard should be. I think he has a place on this team as long as his role his reduced and better defined, right now we’re asking too much of him and when he doesn’t deliver (12.5 PPG – 32nd among guards) we tend to get upset without realizing that he’s just another player on the Raptors thats being asked to produce beyond his means.

As for the present today, George Washington anyone?

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Crosshair: Jamario Moon

Posted by Arsenalist on May 3, 2008

Since the off-season is slow as molasses and there isn’t a damn thing Raptor-related going on, I thought it good to pick a player and just break him down until we finally decide what we have in him and whether he’s worth keeping on the team.

The reason Jamario Moon played 28 minutes a game and started 78 of them was because we didn’t have anyone better on the roster. The extended playing time he received goes to show our lack of depth at the small forward position. After a seemingly inconsequential summer signing who would’ve thunk that this man would become our best defender and a staple of our starting lineup? Not many. After trading away Morris Peterson, realizing Kapono can’t play the 3 and finding Joey Graham useless, Moon bubbled his way up past Delfino on account of being a better defender.

Jamario Moon’s defense can be very affective. He’s shown that he can use his athleticism to defend his man well, sometimes his defense is too eager to get the block and it gets him in trouble because he’s very liable to fall for a good pump-fake. After starting the season by shutting out a few swings, he ran into trouble when facing the better ones such as Paul Pierce, Lebron James, Caron Butler and such. It should have occurred to him at that point that athleticism alone does not make a good defender, but Jamario Moon is a bit slow when it comes to learning lessons, after all he’s a rookie.

Continuing on with his defense, the best part of his defensive game has to be the help he provides from both the strong and weak side. His jumping ability and reach surprise a lot of offensive players and he ends up getting a block here and an alter there (1.4 BPG). He does a good job of not fouling (except vs. Portland) and averages only 1.9 fouls a game, a great number considering his defense. When Moon plays the passing lanes and is active off-the-ball, the Raptors actually become an average defensive team, he can get deflections and steals (1.2) for you at the expense of late close-outs, something which is a systematic problem with the Raptors and not confined to Moon.

Overall, Jamario Moon’s defense has been great, he’s fallen prey to some bad games where his judgment in playing a player to shoot or drive hasn’t been there and he’s been taken to school in the clutch on a few occasions, but we should cut him slack given he’s a rookie. The fact that he claimed to not read the scouting reports is a sign that he’s still maturing as a player and needs to study the game more if he hopes to replicate his success this year. The scouts will have caught up with him by next year and the ball’s in Moon’s court to improve.

Finally we get to his offense which can best be described by terms such as unreliable, sporadic and inconsistent. Although Moon does possess the quickness and athleticism to drive by a defender who’s playing him relatively tight, he rarely uses it. The times he does use it and gets to the rim it ends up being a low-percentage shot or a pass that should have been a shot. His jumper is very inconsistent and can’t be counted on but that doesn’t stop him from using it. It is because of his offense that him playing 28 minutes a game for a team that hopes to be competitive beyond the first round is unacceptable and worthy of an upgrade.

It’s no secret that Moon’s jumper is whacky and that’s why teams give him ample space which he’s a sucker for. Fans want him to drive but he wants to shoot, it’s probably because 1) he wants to prove that he can shoot the ball so he can get the defense closer and then drive or 2) he doesn’t want to drive. It’s probably a bit of both because when a man is tempting you to shoot, you have to have great patience to pass the ball off and realize that its not what the team wants, so Jamario tries to prove himself but comes up short. On the other hand he’s been guilty of launching the jumper even when the defense is in his grill, so go figure.

His finishing ability is lacking. Unless he has an open dunk, any drive attempt by Moon is rarely a source of a field goal. He can’t absorb contact and finish nor can he alter his shot once he goes up, something which is critically missing for a guy of his physical ability. His refusal to take it to the rim is very unbecoming of a NBA starting small forward and his weak jumper is stuff made for energy guys coming off the bench.

Any time Moon launches any sort of a jumper you can’t help but cringe. He does make a few but it gives him false confidence because in crunch time he’s left wide open by the defense and instead of either passing it up or making the defense pay with a drive, he always falls for the bait. Some of this can be blamed on Sam Mitchell who’s offense/defense substitutions have often gotten Moon into trouble in crunch time offense, a time when Kapono is a far better option to have on the floor. Moon can never be considered a good option to take the jumper because he’s simply not a good enough shooter at 38%.

Half his offseason should consist of practicing the 15-18 footer to the tune of 600 shots a day. The other half should see him develop a low-post move and some finishing ability around the rim. I believe the drive is in him, its a matter of building the confidence in him that he can finish the play or initiate contact and get to the FT line. The most alarming statistic for Jamario Moon is that he only went to the FT line 85 times in 78 games. That’s 1.08 FTAs per game! Unacceptable.

So what do we do with him? He needs to be reevaluated over the summer and unless he’s significantly improved his jumpshot and shown an obvious tendency to attack the rim, he should be demoted to the bench in favor of a trade/FA acquisition who can do what Moon can’t – score. Moon can’t be blamed for our stagnant and choke-in-the-clutch offense but having him on the floor has never been great for the Raptors offense.

If he comes to training camp with the same skill-set as this year, he deserves a 15 minute role off the bench where he can provide energy, spark the defense and run hard on the break. His defense is good, but not nearly good enough to compensate for what he lacks on offense.

If you got to the end of this post, you deserve a prize or two.

How about them Hawks? The chance of a Game 7 victory is unlikely but the point is made – the Hawks are a legit team and the Celtics are vulnerable. The fourth quarter offense was brutal for both teams but the Hawks continued to drive to the rim and got the calls – 47-25 FT in favor of the Hawks. Boston was all perimeter in the final quarter and Ray Allen missed some big shots down the stretch. Go Hawks!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 20 Comments »

T’Wolves hardly challenge as Raptors aim for a 8-4 month

Posted by Arsenalist on February 28, 2008

Minnsesota Timberwolves 85, Toronto Raptors 107

A nice evening for the Raptors, not too much effort expended in an easy win over the Timberwolves which takes us to 8 games over .500. February’s almost over, a home win against Indiana will put us at 33-24 and we’ll end up going 8-4 for the month instead of the earlier anticipated 9-3. The Orlando win offset the Clippers loss but it’s the breakdown in NY that’s going to stop this month from being an ideal one. Even so, we’ve put enough space between us and the .500 mark that even if we struggle in the tough month of March, we’ll have a chance to secure home-court advantage in the first round. And with Orlando’s easy schedule and Cleveland bulking up, it’s all you can hope for.

Before we get to the game (and there’s hardly much to talk about), there’s news that the Celtics have signed PJ Brown for the remainder of the year. It’s a nice pickup for the Celtics and a signing that will pay dividends come playoff time, this is the third key pickup for Boston aside from the Big 3. The key signings of James Posey and Eddie House went almost undetected when they happened but they’ve been a big part of Boston’s success. PJ Brown will add a gritty inside presence and a reliable mid-range jumper, it’s something that’ll fit in Boston. Primoz Brezec looks to be an entertaining pickup that also happens to hit the boards and I’m glad to have him, but if we’re playing rent-a-rebounder, a proven veteran like Brown would’ve also been sweet.

A possible second round matchup took place tonight between Boston and Cleveland (I’ll get to our game soon, don’t worry) and the Celtics controlled the proceedings and maintained a comfortable margin throughout the game. Cleveland looks to have failed their first real test and immediately one tries to look at it from a Raptors perspective and ask the question, can we beat Cleveland in a 7-game series? The logical consensus is a ‘no’, we’re 5-10 against Cleveland in the LBJ/Bosh era but have always managed to play them tight. If you go along with the “let Lebron go off and contain everybody else” philosophy, you notice that there’s not anybody else who can really threaten you offensively. Wally Szczerbiak and Joe Smith will be battling to be #2 on that team, that’s not exactly great. Their advantage against us lies in their rebounding line of Ilgauskas, Wallace and Varejao and if we’re able to play even on the boards through a strategy as simple as pulling their big men out of the paint, we might have a fighting chance. It depends entirely on how well we shoot the ball and box-out on the defensive boards. It’s quite a tall-order and the odds are stacked against us but we’re capable of the task if we get scoring from Bargnani and strong defensive efforts from Brezec/Rasho/Hump. Am I thinking like a homer? Probably.

Back to the game at hand. For the second straight game we managed to outrebound our opponent on both the offensive and defensive glass. Bosh met with little resistance en route to his 28/7 (why he played a game-high 41 minutes in a blowout is mind-blogging) and TJ Ford was stellar again with 16 points. Bargnani had some nice drives to the rim and Kapono found the stroke (from 2-pt range) to ice this one in the third. The T’Wolves started well enough but the effort they exerted in building their early 10 point lead was far too great to sustain and they fizzled gradually starting from midway through the first quarter all the way to the end. Towards the end you felt sorry for the hard-working Al Jefferson and the situation he’s in, a poor salary situation and a GM who often mistakes mediocrity for talent. Minnesota’s not exactly a hot spot for NBA players and Garnett was the reason anybody signed there as a free agent, they’re well on their way to being as obscure as they were before KG came to town.

You’re probably heard about TJ ‘s comments that Jose should start the rest of the season; here they are in case you haven’t:

“I think Jose is doing a good job as a starter, he should continue to start probably for the rest of the year. I don’t think starting is a big deal to me, I just want to get out and help the team win, and at the end of the day it’s all about wins and losses.”

The reason I bring this up is that there’s a general perception that TJ Ford is a selfish player who looks for his shot first before anything else. That he is easily upset when things aren’t going right for him and tends to jack it up and singlehandedly carry the team. Calderon is obviously a very nice guy (I mean, the guy used to end hsi blogs by saying ‘hugs and kisses’) and people view him as being the ultimate team player which he very well might be. However, that does not mean that TJ isn’t. Sometimes his high shot count is interpreted as being selfish and to the detriment of the team. The problem with that line of thinking is that if TJ doesn’t do that, he’s not going to be nearly as effective. Part of his shtick is to score on opposing PGs via a short jumper so that they’re forced to come out and defend him, that way he can use the real advantage of quickness to create for his teammates. A TJ who’s not making his mid-range jumper is a TJ that’s ineffective. That’s why I’m of the belief that he needs to get his shot going, before his injury he was nailing everything in the 14-17ft range and over the last couple games it’s clear that he’s on his way to regaining that form. Ultimately, Ford like Calderon, will be happy if the team is winning. They’re both fierce competitors that take a lot of pride in their game but want to be measured by wins and losses.

Once the off-season arrives, one of them may very well end up being traded to tend to some other need. If it’s agreeable and financially feasible, there’s no harm in having both PGs stay put, in the Eastern conference, the PG spot still remains the position where this club will have an advantage every single night. Bryan Colangelo in a Fan 590 interview gave all the reasons why this team is still pretty good and firmly believes in Bargnani’s game and attributes his struggles to injury et al. If you want to hear the interview with Chuck and BC sounding like chipmunks, go ahead:

His assessment of the Cavalier trade isn’t that great.

The T’Wolves coming off a back-to-back didn’t give us anything interesting to talk about. If you missed the game, check out Eric Smiths’ blog, he’s got a nice little recap of the game. This game was so boring that even Raptors Talk is at a loss for words. Top Rap? Hmmm….let’s give it to Jamario Moon who ran the floor well enough and only took two bad jumpers, making one of them. Indiana on Friday should be similar and then things get very interesting in March where we have a stretch of 8 out of 10 games on the road. That’ll tell us just exactly how good this team is and what we can expect in the playoffs.

On the subway coming home from work I saw this young couple getting so excited to watch the Raptors. I hoped it’d be an exciting game so they’d get their moneys worth. Poor bastards.

Till tomorrow.

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Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 25 Comments »