Raptors Playbook – 1st edition

In this running segment, I will be attempting to break-down offensive and defensive plays of the Raptors. The purpose of this segment is double edged,. First, it is an attempt to provide a different dimension while watching the game and secondly it will provide insight into the development/digression of Raptors players.

Ex 1)

In the first play Sonny Weems fronts Gerald Wallace without having any help behind or without Amir Johnson pressuring the ball-handler: Boris Diaw. Ultimately, Bargnani provides help after it is too late. The fault here falls squarely on Weems, who does not fight with Wallace at the beginning and gets seal out and he cannot expect Amir to pressure Diaw at the 3-point line either.

Ex 2)

This play is a good example of how Andrea hedges out hard against the pick to prevent DJ Augustin from driving to the hole. Amir picks up the roll guy (Brown) and DJ passes the ball the Diaw. This makes DeMar hedges towards Diaw before getting back to Jackson, which gives Bargnani a chance to get back to Diaw and help disrupt the shot and evidently lead to a fast-break.


Compare the previous Bargnani hedge to the Ed Davis hedge. Davis is worried about his player diving to the hole which allows DJ to drive to the hole, luckily he misses. Eventually, Davis will learn that his help will be there and he can hedge out harder against DJ.


The last play is about DeMar DeRozan. We all know the improvement he has made (https://raptorsmatchup.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/demar-derozan-why-hes-playing-better/). The next step in his player development is his ability as a creator. In this play he tries to make a play in the middle. Generally in this situation, you see most PGs driving baseline and kicking it baseline 3-pointer. DeMar should have went up and hit Sonny cutting baseline towards the basket


RE:RE: Proposal: Thabeet + Mayo for Bargnani

Original Post: https://raptorsmatchup.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/proposal-thabeet-mayo-for-bargnani/

Reply Post: https://raptorsmatchup.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/scrap-that-re-proposal-thabeet-mayo-for-bargnani/

It looks like I’ve been accused of having the worst proposal ever apparently. So lets look at SeanB’s arguments for a second.

First off, I wanna say that although I’m not a Bargnani fan, I not saying trade him for the sake of trading him. I’m looking at the long term implication of keeping him and his team leading salary (10mil over 5yrs, not horrible) in Toronto.

Oh and in case you hadn’t noticed, this is a bottom feeder team for the foreseeable future. Having Bargnani here or not will not change that fact, thats why it’s important that decisions about his future be made now while this team is still in the rebuilding phase.


Now for SeanB:

1) When you make a theoretical proposal and you’re name is not Brain Colangelo, you’re only interested in the main aspects of the trade. Bargnani/Mayo/Thabeet. The fact that theres a 3 million dollar balance in the trade is nothing. Memphis send you alittle cash or you send back a shit player no one cares about to cover the balance. I didn’t even mention draft picks to make it as simple as possible, and I do think the Raps deserve alittle more compensation coming their way.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, I’m pretty sure the Raptors are NOT over the cap, as ESPN has them listed with Peja (15mil) still on the roster. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, ITS A STUPID PROGRAM! Gee ive never seen a Lebron for Caron Butler and Beaubois trade work in NBALive2010 right?? Why not try Pau Gasol for Crittiton and Kwame Brown and Araon Mckie see if that works…

2) “Mayo still has a lot of potential but needs to go to a team like Minnesota”  Hello? This is Minnesota. Same record, same problems, same rebuilding phase. If Mayo came here without Bargnani, he gets a shot at being #1 scoring option. Derozen moves back to his natural SF spot with his new found SG skills, and allows the better shooter Mayo to take the bulk of the shots and Derozen to mold its a Batum type player.

Mayo avg. 18.5ppg his rookie year without Zach Randolph. He avg. 17.5ppg with Randolph and Gasol and Gay and Conley all improving offensively. Bargnani has avg. 15ppg and 17ppg the last two years respectively as the #2 option with Bosh at his side. Hes up to 21ppg as the number #1 scoring option. Theres no reason not to expect Mayo not to have a similar jump in points as the number #1 option on a Raptors team.

3) Memphis is happy with Marc Gasol. Hes a a good center and deserves the minutes. Thabeet is on a rookie contract, so if they’ve decided to move on with Gasol, well then this is a good time to cut they’re loses as his value and salary are still intriguing at this point. Thabeet is still an incredible physical package. Jim Calhoun called him “one of the most dominant players in the history of college basketball.” How different is his game really to Tyson Chandler outta highschool and Roy Hibbert outta college?

Telling teams you have Alabi and Ajinca as your backup centers may cause extreme doubling over laughter. Ajinca is a decent project as a 12th man for now, but Alabi should not to rostered.


I’m not trying to the jeopardize the growth of the Raptors. This team has a lot of good young talent and I’m simply looking to add to that regardless of who the player is and whose toes I may be stepping on.

Scrap That: RE: Proposal: Thabeet + Mayo for Bargnani

Original Link: https://raptorsmatchup.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/proposal-thabeet-mayo-for-bargnani/

So today, Cy made the worst proposal ever. Thabeet & Mayo for Bargnani. It seems that he inevitably wants the Raptors to be bottom feeders for the foreseeable future and I am here to argue the various reasons this trade would never work and should never see the light of day.

Let’s talk about the pros before:

1) Mayo is a really good player – During his rookie year, he tried out for the US Olympic team and many of the starters of team (including Kobe) considered Mayo to be future of US Olympic Basketball. His offensive ability and his play-making skills are quite simply amazing. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been able to spread his wings in Memphis.

2) Thabeet is tall … and that is it.

Now the cons:

1) This trade would never work in real life. I tried it out on the ESPN trade machin. Guess what Cy? It did not go through.

2) Mayo still has a lot of potential but needs to go to a team like Minnesota in order to develop. He needs the opportunity at being either the focal point or at least the second option on a team. There just aren’t enough shots in Memphis and I don’t think Toronto can give him that freedom either when we are developing DeMar Derozan. I don’t think DeMar is cut out to be SF and neither is Mayo. However, I do believe at this point, Mayo is more talented than DeMar but I am not sure about Mayo’s work ethic, exemplified by his declining stats over the last 3 seasons. It seems like he hit is prime when was 22 and now he is playing like a 34 year old player at the tail end of his career.

3) Thabeet can’t even get off the bench before Darell Arthur to backup the center position. D. Arthur is 6’9. Even more concerning, you have to ask yourself, why is Memphis is trying to trade him before his rookie contract is even up? They must know that he is impossible to develop. He is slow, no offensive game, haven’t seen much of his defense either (even though he was drafted for his defensive prowess). The Raptors already have a center project and that is Alabi and we recently added Ajinca (who I like a lot) but our trainers can’t take on Thabeet as well. Sometimes people have to realize that there are a lot of Robert Swifts in the NBA and not everyone is a Hakeem.


So Cy what you are telling me is, we trade a 7-footer with Dirk Diggler like skills for a slow-footed, sushi raw center and an underachieving SG, who would jeopardize the growth of the young players of this team.

Listen, we are still fresh off losing Bosh and Andrea hasn’t had the chance for a team to be developed around him like a Bosh or Carter. To expect results from Bargs, without this important aspect is a premature decision.


Proposal: Thabeet + Mayo for Bargnani

Maybe I’m undervaluing Bargnani. Maybe overvaluing him
Maybe I’m undervaluing Thabeet + Mayo. Maybe overvaluing them.

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not really sure what the consensus is about Bargs around the NBA. I assume it’s much like my friends and I, some love him some hate him, although I think anyone reading this blog probably knows where I stand on the subject…

Mayo is more or less in the same boat. Talented young player but has been inconsistent for the most part in his career. He would give the Raps a deadly shooter for Calderon/Bayless to hit off screens who might thrive with alittle more spotlight put on him offensively. Getting Mayo, would also allow for one of Calderon, Barbosa or Weems to be sent packing.

Thabeet has largely been ineffective so far since coming out of the University Connecticut, but he has the main components of what the Raptors need at the center spot. An intimdating shot blocker and rebounder. I dont see why with a little work Thabeet cant become a cross between Tyson Chandler and Greg Oden.

Losing Bargnani is significant for the team, but in my estimation, a step in the right direction. His points can be made up by guys like Bayless, Barbosa, DD, Ed Davis, and thats about all that needs to be accounted for.

Why would the Grizzlies do this?  Well, this trade probably can only happen assuming they move Randolph like people think Memphis will.   That allows Bargnani to step in at the PF spot and spreads the floor for Gasol to work in the post and opens lanes for slashers like Gay.  The Grizz also get cheaper and younger.

Raptors 2011 Free-Agent Targets PART I


The above link is the list of free-agents for 2011-12 season. The Notables. It’s difficult to know who the Raptors might want to target given that they don’t really have an identity right now (possible upcoming article). Therefore, I am going to give my perspective based on what I think would be best  for the club and that is to target a true center. I don’t think Andrea is that true center and having him play the 4 position might give potential gains. Without furhter ado, I present the the notable centers for the next season and why to target them.

Tyson Chandler – On top of my list. He is currently earning $12.75 million a year and he is in contract year. Now, I know that players play better during their contract year, so his current performance might be representative of his actual production. Still, he is having a career year in Dallas and he is anchoring the Dallas defense, which is currently 6th best in the league in terms of points allowed per game.

He could play a key role for the Raptors from a defensive stand-point should they consider to go in that direction. The departure of Larry Brown was partly due to the Bobcats trading Chandler away.

He has also improved his free-throwing shooting, is great at setting picks and you could throw it to him in the post from time to time (not too often). However, more importantly is to realize his production has been dictated by the strength of his PGs. Chris Paul and now Jason Kidd are arguably the best in the league and they have been feeding him buckets. Now, if Calderon is able to replicate the chemistry with Chandler, it would open up the rest of the floor for Andrea and DeMar to either shoot or attack the basket. MOST IMPORTANTLY, he will allow Bargnani to never ever grab a rebound.

He is only 28 right now. So if there was an offer for 4 years or 5 years, he would be 32 or 33. As importantly, he could serve as a model for Ed Davis, who could carve out a similar role, although Davis seems to have more offensive game than Chandler.

Probability – Not likely. Why? When have the Raptors have ever had a legit center in their franchise history. Keon Clark, Rasho Nesterovic, Hakeem (with bad knees), Oliver Miller, Antonio Davis don’t count.

Nene – King Cy’s favorite player and overall solider and cancer survivor. He is making around $11.3 million this season. What is good about him? Nene is very efficient and is very good around the basket. His post ups are pretty good (CY might say they are amazing) and he can really run and he dunks everything around the rim. He is also having a very good season. He has a bit more range to his game and can step out to the 10 – 15 foot. How consistent? I am not quite sure (might require some further analysis). Nene has never played anywhere else but Denver and it is hard to predict how he would perform under new coaches and with different offenses. However, he seems like a smart guy, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Same as Tyson, he is also 28 right now. A 5-6 year contract might be what is looking for.

Probability – He might also be in win-now mode and might now want to consider the Raptors, who are still the rebuilding phase.

Yao Ming – It seems like there are a million Chinese people in Toronto (no racist) and he could be a marketing tool. Besides, this marketing fact, he was a really talented center and it is sad to consider how much injuries have decimated his once promising career. I am pretty sure all teams are afraid of his injuries and if you give him a big contact, it might be difficult to get an insurance on his contact.

Raptors could still take a risk and get significant gains. If Yao has the capability to be his former self, he is worth it because a team can still be built around him.

Probability – He has stated that he is loyal to Rockets because they gave him a chance and he owes it to them. It is good to know their are loyal people like that given the business aspect of the NBA. So, no chance for the Raptors.

Kinda grim so far, but Part II is coming soon.

Haters Gon Hate – The Andrea Bargnani argument

Listen, we could talk all day long about Andrea and where he should be and what he should but I don’t think it’s fair to the guy and so I looked at the place where I always look for answers, the stats book. Still, lets look at a few issues and arguments beforehand.

1) We have to realize, Chris Bosh just left – that’s a huge talent vacuum that cannot be made up with just a trade-exception.

2) What we are fielding now are a whole bunch of players that no one else wanted, who are trying to prove themselves. THIS MEANS that there is less incentive for players to come together to play the team game but rather take this opportunity to showcase themselves for a bigger contract or better team down the line: a-la Mike James.

3) He wasn’t drafted to be a franchise piece, we had Chris Bosh at that point. He might need time to get accustomed to this role as the sole go-to-guy. Not everyone can handle that.

4) Let us look at some stats

Exhbit a) (www.hoopdata.com)

His inside shooting (at the rim,) is actually worse than the last 2 years. I think this makes sense because really the defenders guarding Reggie Evans, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson have easy decision to make about double teaming or even paying more attention to just Andrea. Even if the defenders come from the wing, do we really have lock-down 3-point shooters. I don’t think so.

It’s really the 10-15 footer thats giving him much of the trouble, that’s that free-throw line shot. I think he will get it soon, that’s just him being in a funk. He is too good a shooter to not hit that consistently.

Exhibit b) http://www.mysynergy.com

His post-up game is not bad. He ranks 25th in the NBA. All this chatter about his post-game are unwarranted. I wish he incorporated a spin move when he was in the post, it would help him a lot. Where he is really struggling is his spot-up and PnR. Nearly 50% of his spot-up shots are coming from the 3-point lin.

What is interesting, is that for him cutting to the basket is his best bet. I suggest setting more screens and curls for Bargs and seeing how he does.