Before I start with the second part, I just want to make something clear, my projections are based on expectations and not on how their overall play compares to the rest of the competition in the NBA.
Team Report: Part 2 of 3
Coming into the season, there was some cautious optimism when it came to Andrea Bargnani. Preseason showed results that he is an improved player from last year where he regressed unexpectedly. Early in the season starting from the very first game, Andrea showed immense upgrade in his game from a defensive standpoint. He was in position more, not getting lost on D and blocking shots that he would never contest in the first two years of his NBA career. As far as his offensive game? He started playing inside more and played well when he was put in as a backup big. The problem in his case begins from the fact that he was the number 1 overall pick, and if you try to put the same expectations as other number 1, he'll never come through. At least, according to BC, not this fast.
So what has happened to Bargnani since his fast start? It is a combination of the wings struggling and presumably BC wanting to get him more burn to get some consistency out of him. That is exactly what Bargnani isn't giving this team, consistency. That might be the
word for the Raptors' team as a unit, inconsistency. Bargnani has shown in his third year that he can affect games other than when his shot his on, but hasn't proved to anyone that he can consistently have that offensive prowess that he was drafted for. This also goes back to the Raptors coaching staff as a unit, the raptors' players not freezing him out and Bargnani as a player himself. Bargnani had the big man camp under him so he could play a little more in the post and early in the season, you'd see him more from the mid-range location and in. When he is in those areas, good things usually happen, and him being in the high post is where the Raptors should start developing him if he is the inevitable choice for the future for BC.
I like the fact that the Raptors have put him back on the bench and use him as the primary backup PF/C for this team. Don't get me wrong, he could play SF in spurts of games and when matchups are there, but there is no way he should have to guard the Melo's and the Lebron's of the world. That is putting him in the position to fail, and the sooner the whole Raptors organization realize this, the better.
There were some eyebrows raised last postseason when Jason Kapono went on a solid run against the Orlando Magic which prompted even Sam Mitchell to admit, he hadn't been using him the right way. Flip the calendar, and we're back to the same old script and Raptors' fans complaining, he isn't getting the right looks, not having plays run for him, spacing isn't right. With the arrival of JO, there were suppose to be enough spacing for Kapono and the rest of the perimeter players to get their shots up in space.
What many people didn't factor in?
- Raptors were in a pretty slowed down game and with Calderon at the helm, he likes to run the offense in a structural manner rather than the possible success they would have had with Ford.
- Kapono is one of the slowest footed players in the NBA. Even when we had plays run for him, he couldn't break free off screens.
- Kapono's infatuation with the pump-fake, move pivot, then dribble (and become the only surprised guy when the whistle blows)
- Raptors lack of playmakers on the team.
When you factor all this in, you can see that this is not the right team for Kapono to succeed with and many of the fans have now realized this and would be happy to see him gone. However, Kapono in Toronto isn't a lost cause as of yet; not on the offensive end. They need to get a player on the perimeter that is willing to slash and attack the basket excessively, that would keep teams scared of both options on the floor and Kapono can be successful. While offense can be fixed, defensively, he is a lost cause. The Raptors don't have the surrounding cast on defense to make up for Kapono being in the game for so long.
I am a fan of Kapono, but he is just not the right player for this team. We don't have the surrounding cast to make this work and while I want him out like most other Raptors fans, I wish him the best. He is one of the subtle jokers when it comes to giving interviews and has been a class act and he hasn't had much reason not to be one, he's got 24 millions reason to be a class act but a smitch ain't one, not anymore.
Anthony Parker has been a mystery to us all this season. While looking fresh early on, his play dropped off defensively after a couple of games. Just when we thought he was aging really quickly, his play picked up again. What’s surprising from this all was his poor shooting to start the year, and it continuing for a while. Anthony Parker is prone to shooting slumps, and so is any other player, but a prolonged shooting slump from him is very uncharacteristic. We have seen him pick things up a little, and it seems like he has come back to the Anthony Parker of last year. His defense has been shoddy at times, and sometimes he has looked terrific and at this point of his career, these inconsistencies are to be expected.
Saying all this doesn’t excuse Parker from his inefficient start, but personally, I have to cut him some slack for the injury that he suffered. He’s a valuable asset for this team seeing as he is an expirer and he could be a good player for a contending team in limited minutes. Parker would be solid for 23-28 minutes a night as he is not a player already over the curb, but isn’t the one to hold the fort every night either. He is expected to leave the Raptors and the NBA altogether as there have been reports saying that he already has a deal cut with a team in Europe. Amidst these reports; he has continued to maintain loyalty with the Raptors saying that this is where his heart is and he wants to remain here for the entirety of his career if he can.
Solid professional, and is a solid contributor to this team and wasn’t a bad buy for the money he was paid. I would like to see him with the Raptors, but his contract ending and the uncertainty of him returning makes him the second best trade asset and if he could fetch us something valuable, no harm done in trading him.
It seems like a bunch of stuff happened to Jamario Moon over the summer. One may presume that he might’ve got hit with a hammer on the head or his mommy boosted his confidence up too much for his own good. This has been a classic case of an identity crisis, where Moon tried to expand his role and show his improvement in games, but got away from things that made him successful. They tell you not to “forget your roots,” and that is exactly what Moon had done. Early in the season, Moon was trying too many things and his defense regressed tremendously a long with his rebounding. At the end of Sam Mitchell’s tenure and Jay Triano’s run, Moon is seemingly getting back to the things that made him successful.
We see Moon getting those hustle points for the team, using the backdoor cuts for easy buckets and rebounding like he did last year. With this team in dire help of rebounding from their wings, we couldn’t really afford a setback and that’s exactly what Moon got us. Even now, Moon is taking too many contested shots and trying too many things offensively, but he has toned it down and now just trying to find his place.
Moon is an interesting case as he is making peanuts in salary, so he’s not really seen as a valuable trading asset, but then again he is not someone that we’d want on the team back if he commands a decent amount of money in the offseason. I wouldn’t want him for anything more than a 2 year contract making anymore than 2.5 million so if he commands more than that; “thank you for your services, but see you later.” In the end, Moon was seen as a guy while not really young, but a guy who had the potential to take the next step and he hasn’t done that. In fact, his game has gone the opposite direction and something that the Raptors couldn’t afford with their wings already being thin.
Next (and last) Volume:
The last volume would be fairly brief as the guys aren't really key pieces to the successful and the downfall of the team so far. Outside of Joey Graham, they haven't been guys who have played meaningful minutes. You could argue for Solomon and Ukic, but they really haven't had any extended minutes except for that little stretch where Calderon was out.
Also, input is always welcome