Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘Will Solomon’

Roko Ukic vs. Will Solomon, Sam Mitchell vs. Media

Posted by Arsenalist on October 16, 2008

It’s the only question mark left on the Raptors squad, who will be Jose Calderon’s official backup? In the black corner is an unheard of European journeyman that resembles a poor man’s TJ Ford in what he can do on the court. Unfortunately he also reminds you of Mike James. In the white corner we have an NBA rookie and another European professional, Roko Ukic, who happens to be a remnant of the Rob Babcock era (bringing that tally to 4 – Bosh, Calderon, Mitchell). So far Solomon appears to be ahead in the race but that’s only because he’s been getting more minutes, if you extrapolate Roko Ukic’s play and numbers over the course of 48 preseason minutes he’s averaging 84ppg, 39apg and 16 spectacular plays per game. In hopes of making this race a little tighter (and fairer), Mitchell will be cutting back Calderon’s minutes and giving them to the wannabe backups, with Ukic getting a major bump:

“Right now we are giving (Solomon) an opportunity. I haven’t decided yet because Roko is getting better every day. Roko is doing some things and I have to get him more (court time). I’m probably going to be trimming Jose’s minutes back a little bit and start playing those two guys more so I can really, really get a good look at both of them.”

Fun fun and Giggity Giggity Goo. My money’s on Solomon but my heart’s with Ukic, there’s something about him that says “I’m actually better than Jose”.

Chris Bosh isn’t going to be lured by the European millions (Article, Video) that will apparently be offered to Lebron and Kobe. Bosh says he’s happy where he is and it’s comfortable at home and he needs to prove himself and the grass is sometimes greener on the other side and that he’ll go for what he knows right now but let’s not kid ourselves, if he gets offered 35M/yr he’s out of here. Like. Now.

I hate the way Sam Mitchell talks to the media. Listen to this interview. So annoying.

“You don’t have a question, you don’t have to think of something..you going aaaawww…now something dumb can happen…you guys complain when I’m mean but now I’m nice and you still complain…”

Name me one other NBA coach that talks like that. Worst part is that he thinks he’s dropping knowledge on us by saying simple common sense generic stuff. Today he’s talking about being aggressive and working on our offense because we always work on our defense and something about personnel, team, leeway, screens and other generic scrum talk. Funny part is that whatever basketball specifics he says the team’s working on in practice is exactly the area where the Raptors under-perform in games right after. So watch our offense against Minny tonight, it better be pristine and running like a Japanese railway.

Back to the press briefly, there are few people that are more annoying than the morning show guys on the Fan 590 but I find myself rooting for them every time Mitchell’s on because the condescension starts from the second he’s on. It’s too much to bear for even an outsider and casual observer like me. Now these guys aren’t exactly Rick Reillys but they’re just doing their job and the least your millionaire ass could do is answer a few questions without sounding like a jerk, you know, like the rest of the team and management does. Somebody should slap Matt Devlin’s personality on Sam Mitchell when it comes to talking to the press.

Quick thought, does the title of this article apply to Jamario Moon? Moon’s playing time last year and so far this year is the ultimate indication of just how shallow we are at our wing position. It says a lot when you’re a starter and wander on the court aimlessly for 30 minutes and nobody talks about your game. The starting SF is a foregone conclusion and for yet another year Joey Graham fails to challenge for it for whatever reason. At least last year Delfino had Moon on his toes but this year who’s the challenger? Will Solomon? Kapono? Sad state of affairs this.

There’s a game tonight, Minny at home. I’ll be watching out for how Jermaine O’Neal handles Al Jefferson. Not a lot going on in Raptorland so I’m off to bed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 18 Comments »

Early “statement game” against Philly + PER madness

Posted by Arsenalist on October 10, 2008

Did you watch the Knicks game? If you did, how many time did you see Jamario Moon “drive the basket aggressively”? You didn’t because it didn’t happen so I’m going to go ahead and say that Mike Ulmer didn’t watch the game or if he did he was baked out of his skull at the time. A worthwhile quote from that article is Andrea Bargnani admitting that his mid-range jumper is much better and how its something that he’s been working on. I was surprised at how much softer it had become since last year when the only destination for it was the back-rim.

Sherm the Germ mentioned it during the Knicks game and the Toronto Sun is insinuating it too: Will Solomon is Jose Calderon’s primary backup. Two pre-season games is not an indicator of how good or bad a player is so I wouldn’t read much into his decent games except that he’s a feisty little guard who’s looking to stick in the league. He’s not TJ Ford but I could see him coming off the bench and providing a defensive lift while sparking the offense; ironically that’s the role Jose Calderon was asked to play the last two seasons. I think Roko Ukic is on line to have a season like Mo Pete’s rookie one where he moved without the ball, played hard and converted his open shot opportunities. I wouldn’t hand the job to Will Solomon just yet, he might get the early dibs on it because of his experience but Ukic is the guy you want in that role.

From the same piece we learn that Jermaine O’Neal will play about 30 minutes in Sunday’s game so we should see a bit more of him this time around. Our twin towers are going head-to-head against Philly’s and it should make for an interesting dynamic. I would count this one as something more than just a warm-up game, you want to send a division rival an early message just like Boston sent us one last year. Hopefully Mitchell realizes this because for a team that’s looking to find an identity its games like these that help towards building one. The matchup features the two teams who made the biggest acquisitions in the East in the hopes of usurping Boston but before we can attempt to do that we should try settling the score between us. This will be a good test for our interior defense, Bargnani’s post-up ability and our perimeter defense which Iggy licks his chops at.

Lang Whitaker finally finished reading the Pedowitz Report and finds a sentence in it which summarizes it succinctly:

We have discovered no information suggesting that any NBA referee other than Tim Donaghy has bet on NBA games or leaked confidential NBA information to gamblers.

I suppose this means Scott Foster is off the hook and we can go right back to respecting and loving NBA referees and pretending their personal biases don’t come into play (ahem Hue Hollins, Steve Javie, Joey Crawford, Jess Kersey). I think a lot of the referees in the league are arrogant little power-tripping ****s, sure there’s always the honest hard-working “the game is above me” type ref but they’re in the vast minority. The only thing that I can say in their defense is that the NBA is the hardest league to referee.

There’s much being made about Bill Walker’s dunk on Theo Ratliff (YouTube) but the only thing that it convinces me is that you can find some talent in the second round if you’re prepared to look hard enough. Adding a young athletic winger can never hurt, especially as a second round pick since there aren’t any contractual commitments. It’s not like it’ll become a “Joey Graham situation”. Of course I’m referring to CDR being picked a spot ahead of us because we didn’t bother targeting him and picked a Sashimi raw big man that’s got heart issues even though we needed to get more athletic.

Bleacher Report time. Relax, nothing bad this time. It’s a piece by Messiah2315 where he argues how Jose Calderon is far from an ideal point guard. It’s a great read if you doubt Jose’s PG abilities, not so much if you don’t. This might be a good time to mention that according to Hollinger TJ Ford is better than Jose Calderon. That’s from his PER rankings where we also learn that Chris Bosh is deemed the second best PF in the league along with other meaningless rankings. I really hate this system.

Frank Zicarelli reminds us how David Stern cost us Greg Oden. I’d like to remind you that Voshon Lenard cost us a shot at Lebron James (think about it). Vince Carter left a game injured and Ball Don’t Lie is picking the Sixers to win 50 games.

Finally a little quiz. Who do you think Draft Express is projecting as the #1 pick in the 2009 draft? Think about it and when you’re done click for the answer.

That’s it for this morning, feed anyone?

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

Mike Ulmer and his pointless interviews

Posted by Arsenalist on September 19, 2008

Been busy for a couple days, got something brewing. Wait for it, its good.

Let’s get to some Raptor talk. The official website’s interviewing Anthony Parker and Willie Solomon. We don’t learn much except that Will Solomon’s thinking the contract from the Raptors is a “gift from God”. He sure sounds like a scrub that’s just happy to be there, reminds me of Jamario Moon all over again. What I can’t get past is Anthony Parker getting excited to play alongside Willie Solomon and labelling him as “ready to contribute now”. Maybe he’s just being nice, Parker’s like that. We did get further confirmation of one thing from the two interviews and that’s that Mike Ulmer needs to be fired. Now.

Jermaine O’Neal’s been spending a lot of time in Vegas this summer, he was training there in August but September’s dedicated to having some fun. He’s hosting a strip poker tournament alongside Robert Horry and some other NBA players. So far the knee’s holding up.

How about Josh Howard dissing the US national anthem and citing his race as the reason. He sounds like he lost his home in Katrina or is listening to too much Kanye. I’m not saying the government’s been kind to black people down south but that reaction might be a bit much. There’s also talk of Stephon Marbury getting waived, a move that’s about three years overdue.

By far the best article this week has been Hoops Addict’s interview of Sam Mitchell where he talks about the development of Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani has to feel the pressure to produce along with O’Neal, both have a lot to prove this season and should be heavily motivated. Chris Bosh wants to follow up his great Olympics with a good playoff run and that should add fuel to his fire. I just hope all three come through by staying healthy, playing smart and avoiding choking. I’m actually confident that barring injury O’Neal will have a strong year and make the doubters of the trade eat their words, its the other two that I’m more concerned with.

Speaking of Bosh there’s a psycho-analysis of Bosh in Slam this morning where there are two points that come up, one which I agree with and one that I don’t. I think you’ll feel the same way. Point I agree with: Chris Bosh is not a true franchise player. Point I disagree with: Sam Mitchell is the ideal coach for Bosh. The article’s subconsciously reiterating a lot of the points Charley Rosen made a couple days ago but this time its padded with enough fluff and niceties to make it sound not so harsh.

Not since the summer we signed Davis, Williams and Carter has there been so much expected from a Raptors team, let’s just hope the results are better this time around.

More tomorrow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 79 Comments »

What does signing Will Solomon say about the Raptors?

Posted by Arsenalist on July 29, 2008

The multi-faceted player that Bryan Colangelo hinted at acquiring didn’t turn out to be Bonzi Wells or Michael Finley but Will Solomon. The Raptors have signed the 6′ 1″ guard to a contract for the upcoming season and it’s logical to think he’ll be playing the role of Darrick Martin. The combo-guard played the last two season in Turkey and was the 33rd pick in the 2001 draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He also happens to look a little like Milt Palacio and if his play is anything like the former grandmaster, we are in good hands.

Once again the Raptors tap into the international market to address a need. Nathan Jawai, Hassan Adams, Roko Ukic and Will Solomon were all snatched from foreign teams and combined the quartet has very little NBA experience. With the exception of Adams who played a year with the Nets and Solomon who played the better part of a season with the Grizz, the Raptors incoming crew lacks meaningful NBA experience which could come back to haunt them. If Joey Graham and Kris Humphries remain on the 15-man roster come November, we’ll practically have 6 “scrubs” on the team. This evaluation might seem harsh when applying it to Roko Ukic but until he’s gotten himself in a groove and played through his initial NBA season, expecting anything significant out of him is probably unfair, just like it would’ve been for Calderon’s first year.

When Colangelo was talking about “concentrating talent” on the team earlier in the year I didn’t expect this degree of said concentration. After Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Jason Kapono, we are severely reaching for talent and ability. The “Big 3” will need to produce at a very high level and with great consistency if the Raptors plan on hiding their weak bench, something which used to be their strong-suit only a year ago. Say what you will about Carlos Delfino but the man could come off the bench and spark the team with his offense and defense, albeit not with great consistency. Right now we’re asking Hassan Adams to fill that role which you would think would be a drop-off. We’re asking Ukic to make-up for TJ Ford which you would also think is a drop-off (at least next year). We’ve basically replaced Rasho Nesterovic with Jermaine O’Neal which by itself is a great improvement but when you look at all the overall addition/subtractions, its hard to definitely say whether we’ve actually improved or not – especially considering the relative improvements other teams in the East have made.

If Colangelo is to be believed this signals our last signing of the summer which has to be disappointing. Colagenlo’s most important off-season has consisted of one big risky move and a few signings that are unlikely to have an impact given the talent of the players and the coaching philosophy on this team. Asking Mitchell to integrate half a dozen new players with below-average talent is asking too much and will result in us putting too much pressure on our Big 3. Taking Boston’s example last year this might not all be bad but keep in mind that Boston’s supporting cast was superior and their three stars are future Hall of Famers. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, we’re nowhere close to the Celtics in terms of core talent or supporting cast.

Maybe Colangelo’s thinking is to test out the Bosh/JO combo and see if it actually flies and if the team is doing exceedingly well by the trade deadline or is one player away from legitimately contending, then make a move to acquire another true talent. This “wait and see” approach makes some sense but it sure puts a damper on a summer where much was expected of the Raptors. There were obvious weaknesses at the end of the season (rebounding, perimeter defense, athleticism) and we’ve addressed them to some degree but this pessimistic observer feels its hardly going to be enough.

The last thing I want to see on the Raptors is players being stretched out of their ability and ask of them things that they’re not capable of doing. We saw this last year with Jamario Moon and are poised to see the same complaints being directed at the likes of Hassan Adams, Will Solomon and Nathan Jawai. It’s a slippery slope when you start expecting things from scrubs and get annoyed when they don’t deliver. The supporting cast Bryan Colangelo has assembled does not fill me with confidence, mainly because of their lack of proven talent and experience. Sure, they might have potential to be good players but how long can we afford to wait? I though the plan was to fix the Raptors this summer, not sign players that in the best case will turn out to be average NBA players.

We’re not even close to contention.

Jason Kapono talks about the O’Neal trade and how it’ll help him get his shot off. He reckons O’Neal will do for him in Toronto what Shaq did for him in Miami. An optimistic view of things but I see what he’s saying. If you combine Bosh’s quickness in the post with O’Neal’s back-to-the-basket game you’ll get a diverse set of double teams which can open up the offense given the right pass out of the double.

“If O’Neal’s playing well on the block, that’s going to help us out. The more shooters and post players you have, you have the balance to create problems for the guys on the defensive end. Defenders must choose between helping out on the post or guarding guys who can make shots on the perimeter. It makes you want to get training camp started just so you can get him in here and used to our system and our sets and used to the guys. You can’t expect J.O to learn our system in two weeks. Obviously we are going to have a tough time in the pre-season and have a few bumps in the road.

I give Jermaine two practices to learn our entire “system”.

Matt Devlin finally replied to my email and it was a long one too. The Swirsk’s replies were never more than 10 words and I suspect Devlin’s will get shorter too once the season begins. He sounds like a very humble and honest guy but that’s what they said of Charles Manson. There’s an article about him in the Globe where he talks about how he’s going to focus the attention on the players and how he’s not a “hometown announcer” aka homer.

Ricky Davis signed with the Clippers and Renaldo Balkman got traded to the Nuggets in a move that fails to make sense for the Knicks. Andris Biedrins got re-signed for 62 million over 6 years, sounds like overpayment but given today’s NBA market its almost fair value.

Till tomorrow.

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