Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘NBA Draft 2008’

Draft endorses TJ Ford trade but Colangelo too quiet

Posted by Arsenalist on June 27, 2008

First off, thanks to everybody who participated in the live draft blog, those who stayed through the whole 5 hours and the ones who swung by for 20 minutes. It was fun.

After a night of wheeling and dealing in New York where the Raptors were hardly involved in anything, there is a new light being shone on the TJ Ford for Jermaine O’Neal trade and it’s this: We were most definitely overvaluing the 17th pick to a degree almost dangerous. The fact is that Donte Greene (#28) and CDR’s (#40) stock fell so low that picking them with the 17th pick would’ve been ludicrous. Brandon Rush’s stock rose so high that he became a lottery pick at #13, well beyond our reach. Even Robin Lopez was out of our reach as he went #15.

When our pick finally came Roy Hibbert was still available and I suppose you could make a case that it would’ve been wise for us to draft him (assuming the O’Neal trade hadn’t been made) and address our rebounding need. However, I’d much rather have Jermaine O’Neal than Hibbert simply because he’s a legit former All-Star, lends credibility to the franchise, increases our PINP numbers and provides Bosh help. The way O’Neal’s been talking it looks like he’s over his injuries and that the rest and rehab have done the work. I’m willing to roll the dice with him knowing that there’s no way we could’ve landed the prized Brandon Rush in the draft. Anyway, here’s O’Neal’s quote:

“They have a ton of talent…When I sat out all those games last year, it was a career move, I knew what the situation was. I knew what the significance of me staying away from the game, rehabbing the leg and getting the knee back to its normal usage was. “I think playing alongside Chris Bosh gives us a different dynamic. You look at teams in the NBA, you look at their low-post players, and they always have one good player, and when that good player goes out, you can change your defence a little bit and load up on other areas. Even with us starting out the games together, one of us will always be on the floor. You won’t get a chance to adjust your defence.”

From the same article a mysterious source reported that we could’ve done a Gerald Wallace for TJ Ford deal and retained our 17th pick – more on that here.

The heartbreak of the night had to be CDR being taken with the 40th pick just before Indiana’s selection on our behalf. Those c*nty Nets traded Richard Jefferson and replaced him with CDR and Yi, shrewd indeed. I don’t think the Raptors were targeting someone in particular and were content on just about anybody falling to them, that’s the only thing that can explain us taking Nathan Jawai – the Aussie Shaq – despite having a plethora of big men. We also passed on Bill Walker in the second round who eventually wound up being taken by Washington and traded to the Celtics. The second round was marred by our inability to get more athletic despite some good, serviceable players available.

This is probably a good segue to the Dave Feshuk piece today which hints that Bryan Colangelo isn’t all that he’s cranked up to be and that the O’Neal trade is almost an act of desperation.

Indiana had a great draft, adding Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert to a team with TJ Ford, Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy means they’ve got a nucleus they can build around and maybe rise to semi-contention within a year or two. What’s funny about Brandon Rush is that his and CDR’s games were constantly compared during the pre-draft camps, workouts and just about everywhere else. But once it was all said and done, 27 picks separated the two – a true testament to how good he can be and how clueless us fans really are.

There were many athletic players available in the late first round and early second round but the Raptors chose to remain dormant. They might regret this inactivity because Bill Walker and CDR could’ve easily been had, the latter with minimal amount of maneuvering. As it is, the Raptors select Nathan Jawai, another center who is expected to play for us next year. Bringing him over means he’ll be the fourth string big man behind O’Neal, Bargnani and Humphries. Adding another big man to the roster while not addressing the SF position means that its more and more likely that if Bargnani wants consistent playing time it’s going to happen at the 3 (topic for another day). Didn’t quite understand this pick but it is what it is, a second round pick and if you look at the history of Raptors drafting they’ve never actually come out with anything remotely good in the second round.

Mike Miller who a lot of Raptors fans had an eye on is on the move to Minnesota for a package involving O.J Mayo. The Knick fans soundly booed the selection of Danilo Gallinari, the fear of him being the next Andrea Bargnani is just too much to bear. The Houston Rockets drafted Frenchman Nicolas Batum and promptly shipped him over for Joey Dorsey who in this observer’s opinion will be a rebounding stalwart for years to come.

There’s no doubt that this was a draft with some great athletes, some surefire good players and some sleepers. What makes me feel better about giving up our pick is that the player I valued most was gone four spots earlier. That’s my saving grace. We’ve rolled the dice on Jermaine O’Neal, our hopes of contending next season rely solely upon his health, how well he plays with Bosh and whether our shooters can get cleaner looks. This draft was an opportunity to get more athletic and better our perimeter defense which we failed to do. Bryan Colangelo’s perception of the draft couldn’t have been that great, at least not as good as Portland’s or Houston’s, two contending teams who felt that this was an opportunity to better themselves and made moves which improved them. The Raptors were content with Jermaine O’Neal. Hopefully they’ve just deferred the improvement of this team to summer signings and trades because this can’t be it.

As of right now our roster simply cannot run the break and get easy points nor can we defend the perimeter. It’s not like with TJ Ford we were Phoenix East, but replacing him with O’Neal who is strictly a half-court player and putting the ultra-cautious Calderon at the helm slows our offense down to an absolute crawl. Roko Ukic, if brought in, might be able to change that to some degree but I hope Colangelo realizes that this team will need to be better in the half-court sets and for that you need a creative X’s and O’s coach, which we all know Mitchell isn’t.

I can live with us being a half-court team that runs everything through Calderon => Bosh or Calderon => O’Neal, but at some point we’ll have to address our perimeter defense and athleticism and it better happen this summer, otherwise this mega-trade is all for naught.

Once again, thanks for swinging by last night.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 26 Comments »

Raptors assume greater risk as TJ Ford, 17th pick and Rasho traded for Jermaine O’Neal + RaptorsNation.org

Posted by Arsenalist on June 26, 2008

It actually appears to have happened. TJ Ford along with our prized 17th pick and the expiring contract of Rasho Nesterovic for Jermaine O’Neal. Rasho’s obviously thrown in for salary reasons and is easily the third best piece that the Raptors are giving up in the trade. Whether the best piece is TJ Ford or the 17th pick is up for debate.

The trade is designed to increase our post-scoring, make us stronger on the glass (3rd worst in the league) and is an attempt to build a formidable frontline which will attract more double teams thus allowing our shooters more open looks. If all parties in this trade were 100% healthy, the preliminary “winner” of the trade would easily by Toronto. However, given Ford and O’Neal’s injury histories, only time will tell who won this trade. My money’s on Indiana. Ford happens to be 4 years younger than O’Neal who is 29 and although Ford’s injuries have been serious, they’ve been of the “freaky” type having to do with stingers and aggravations. He basically had one injury and fully recovered from it. O’Neal’s injuries appear to be much more chronic in nature and have a higher chance of resurfacing once again – groin, back and knee. The Raptors are definitely taking on more risk here by putting their eggs in O’Neal’s basket.

Then there’s the matter of giving up the 17th pick in a deep draft. You could argue that the draft combined with TJ Ford provided us an opportunity to fulfill two needs: wing scoring and rebounding. However, we’ve packaged both of our best summer assets and a serviceable center for one player and passed up the opportunity to have a shot at some solid players that are slated to go in the teens in the draft. Granted, it’s early and we could trade our way back into the first round but I don’t see many teams willing to give up their first round picks this year. The pick to me is the hardest thing to give up here because there’s just so much bloody potential out there.

Then there’s the question of salary. O’Neal just became the highest paid Raptor and if God forbid he injures himself and ends up playing 40 games this year, his trade value come summertime will be zilch. That’s 20 million tied up in salary for the 2009-10 season! There’s no doubt that this deal has to a degree handcuffed the Raptors in terms of future trades and signings.

In every sports trade, trade is an element of risk involved and whether the risk needs to be mitigated eventually defines whether the trade is successful or not. If O’Neal puts up 20 and 10 like he did for almost 5 seasons in a row and we win 52 games next year, everybody will applaud this move. If he fails to deliver and doesn’t mix-in well with Bosh and the Raptors continue with their mediocrity, whats the point? When you give up on young talent as the Raptors have in this trade, be prepared to be scrutinized for years to come whenever the player in question is doing well. Before it was Charlie Villanueva, now it’s TJ Ford.

The impact on Bargnani won’t be as severe as you would think – we did give up Rasho in the trade and his minutes should be distributed according to player form. Rasho’s career average in MPG is 23 while O’Neal’s is 28. That’s a five minute difference which isn’t hard to live with for Bargnani and should motivate him to play harder now that there’s more competition. If the talk of Rasho returning after being waived is true, then Bargnani is in serious trouble.

The Raptors acquiring a legitimate starting center in a trade speaks volumes as to what the franchise thinks of Andrea Bargnani. Either they’re prepared to give up on him and traded for an insurance policy (ironic given JO’s health) or they see Bargnani playing the SF position thus giving the Raptors a very big frontline and an advantage on paper (although the Orlando series exposed him like never before). The trade should serve as an ultimatum to Bargnani that he should be prepared to battle in training camp and practice if he wants to see any minutes past garbage time. The other way to look at it is that Colangelo feels that Bargnani is still two more years away from realizing his potential and needs to play second fiddle to O’Neal during this time while learning in the process. Is this trade Colangelo acknowledging his mistake of drafting Bargnani? Not yet, this is simply a change of strategy.

The most glaring aspect of this trade is that we’ve handed our PG responsibilities to Jose Calderon without a certified backup on the roster. Calderon has as many defensive issues (if not more) than Ford and is as liable as going into a scoring drought as Ford. He does happen to be a better fit for the Raptors given his holding style of play which suits our “offense” much better. This isn’t a knock on TJ, he happens to need more athletic, alert, fast-break type players to be successful. Calderon doesn’t, he’s willing to patrol the three point line and be patient with Bosh on posts and re-posts while there’s inconsequential movement on the weak side. To put it in simpler terms, TJ Ford’s a Don Nelson/Mike D’Antoni player. Nothing wrong with it, except we’re not nearly as up-tempo, exciting, fast-breaking or athletic as players in those systems need to be.

The final word on the trade: We gave up too much and took on the greater risk. We gave up the younger player with less chronic injuries, a valuable teen pick in a deep draft and the expiring contract of a good center for a player who was great 4 years ago. I’d feel far more comfortable if we hadn’t given up the pick but at some point you have to prove to Chris Bosh that you’re trying to win.

Here’s hoping the Raptors do some maneuvering and somehow come out with Brandon Rush tonight. On the other hand, if Rush or CDR are gone by the time our Indiana’s pick rolls around, Colangelo needs to be given some credit for predicting that and using the pick’s value in a trade.

Check AltRaps.com for links relating to the story, here’s one however and its Colangelo talking about the trade and how letting Ford go was a foregone conclusion reached by both parties.

“There was discussion with T.J. at the end of the season and also with his agents or representatives since the end of the season where we amicably discussed the scenario that might play out where he might be part of a trade and he’s comfortable with that”.

Note: Live Blogging tonight for the draft starting at 6:30PM on RaptorsNation.org. I’ve never tried to do this before so we’ll see how it goes. Try to swing by so I don’t look like a fool. Thanks!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 45 Comments »

Day 1 of workouts + TJ Ford trade talk heats up

Posted by Arsenalist on June 4, 2008

After the workouts yesterday Raptors Director, Player Personnel Jim Kelly didn’t have much to say but did drop the hint that the Raptors are a “fairly active team in the trade market” and one of the reason for that is because our “wing scoring wasn’t good” last year. That’s good because the first step of fixing a problem is recognizing it exists. An NBA club can’t be relying on Jamario Moon’s offensive contributions and Carlos Delfino’s hot-and-cold shooting to take them anywhere special, maybe a 41-41 finish but that’s about it.

Lot of talk about whether it`s Joey Dorsey or Robin Lopez that can help us but a guy that`s not been talked about is Roy Hibbert who`s currently projected to go 24th to Seattle according to Draft Express. At 7′ 2″ the 6.4 rebounds seem modest but he produces more offensively than any of the others vying for the Raptors banger role. Fox Sports takes a good look at the pre-draft campers and rates Joey Dorsey as the 7th NBA-ready player there. Another big man getting a mention: DeVon Hardin.

On the TJ Ford trade front there are upto 6 teams who are very interested in him despite his recent play and injuries. See, I’m not the only one to think that this guy has it in him to be a great, yes, great point guard. Potential TJ Ford trading partner New York is working out PG Russel Westbrook, if the Knicks fail to find a PG in the draft they’ll have to address it via trade or wait for next year and enter the Chris Paul and Deron Williams sweepstakes.

Michael Grange is giving you the jist of what the workouts included and it looks like we’re focusing on defensive drills, pick-and-roll simulations and high intensity shooting drills. As Jim Kelly said earlier, these workouts are supposed to be confirmations or contradictions of what these guys are supposed to be good at, not the make-or-break performance. There’s an excellent report by Blazers reporter Sean Meagher where he gets in to the specifics of what the players actually do in these workouts.

Forget Maggette, here’s two guys that fit the Raptors bill on both offense and defense: Atlanta’s Josh Childress who has as diverse a game as any SF and Shane Battier who’s a great one-on-one defender and can hit the three. He’s also a true professional and brings that lunch-pail mentality to every game – Sam Mitchell would love this guy. The chances of us signing a really good scoring three are slim, first of all they’re not that easy to come by or trade for and even when they are, you either end up paying too much or giving up too much. These are two players that can help improve this team and provide scoring, rebounding and defense all better than Carlos Delfino or Joey Graham, two of the three players we need to shed this summer. The other guy? Maceo Baston. I never understood why Colangelo gave him a two year deal out of the blue – he must’ve seen in him something Mitchell entirely missed.

If you have a plan for the Raptors, do share it with Raptors Talk and be the GM for a day. Robin Lopez works out today and then it’s CDR tomorrow, player measurements were released yesterday, check them out to break any myths.

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

Raptors set player workout schedule (BTW, we also need a SG)

Posted by Arsenalist on June 2, 2008

OK, the Raptors have a busy midweek ahead with player workouts scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

June 3rd – Tuesday:
G – Wayne Ellington – North Carolina
G – Shan Foster – Vanderbilt
G – Jamont Gordon – Mississippi State
F – Danny Green – North Carolina
G – Malik Hairston – Oregon
G – Courtney Lee – Western Kentucky

June 4th – Wednesday:
F – Ryan Anderson – California
F/C – Kosta Koufos – Ohio State
F/C – Robin Lopez – Stanford
G – Drew Neitzel – Michigan State
G – Jeremy Pargo – Gonzaga
G – Jason Thompson – Rider

June 5th – Thursday
F/C – Alexis Ajinca – Hyeres-Toulon
G – Chris Douglas-Roberts – Memphis
C – DeVon Hardin – California
G – Mykal Riley – Alabama
G/F – Brandon Rush – Kansas
G/F – Bill Walker – Kansas State

I find it very hard to get excited. These kids will come here put out an effort which will equal the interest they have in the Raptors. There’s always the incentive to get drafted higher and get paid more but players have known to target teams and obviously vice-versa is true too. Toronto would be a good place for a swingman to get drafted because of our wide open starting 3 spot. Jamario Moon is no lock to get that spot back and there will be open competition for it come training camp leaving room for a talented rookie to make his mark.

Brandon Rush doesn’t get talked about much with respect to the Raptors and its surprising because we’re also in the market for a shooting guard. Currently, we have Anthony Parker and backing him up is…..er…..nobody! Delfino and Moon end up taking Parker’s minutes when he goes to the bench and neither of them is a good mid-range shooter, something which is mandatory for a SG. Wow, when you actually sit down on paper and work it out, we got holes in every spot save the 4. We have a plethora of threes, albeit very average. We have Humphries, Rasho and Bargnani playing musical chairs with the center spot and we got TJ/Jose/Ukic all competing for PG minutes. There’s Chris Bosh who owns the PF spot leaving us with the SG position, arguably our weakest link!

Robin Lopez who might be the best bet for providing immediate help is being projected to go 25th to Houston by Draft Express and HoopsHype. Is picking him at #17 jumping the gun? I don’t think so. Lets face it, the mock drafts don’t mean shit and if you look back at every single year’s mock draft by the “expert” sites, they’ve always managed to overrate and underrate players, its just too tough to make these calls beforehand. As long as Sam Mitchell is aware that he’s likely to get zero offense out of him and sees his rebounding/Varejao-like potential, take him. He’s got a chance to sneak up in the draft and gets a favorable little review from the Sac Bee. Although as said on yesterday’s blog, I do hope he’s not the only addition to the front-court.

Remember Kenny Anderson? Yeah, that little cunt that threatened to chain himself to his locker if he got traded to Toronto in the Damon Stoudamire trade. He always struck me as a selfish type of player that had a lot of talent in him but never got his head right (kinda what TJ Ford might become if he doesn’t watch out). Well, he’s interested in coaching because he thinks its his “calling”. Maybe he’s found the basketball equivalent of Jesus but I hardly think his NBA playing career comes close to coach material. Just found it odd, that’s all.

I’ll end with a shocker: Jordan Farmar had a higher vertical leap than Rudy Gay back in the 2006 pre-draft camp. I get a feeling Farmar was wearing those shoes George was sporting in the “Jimmy” episode of Seinfeld.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 30 Comments »