Tag:Shawn Marion
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:26 am
 

Raptors Post Mortum - 2008 - 2009 Season Review

 

Raptors Post-Mortum

 

The 2008 – 2009 season started with high hopes for this Raptors team. Trading T.J. Ford for Jermaine O’Neal sending a shoot first PG to the Pacers and allowing Jose Calderon the reigns to this team gave us a sense of hope as the team would become the central issue and the focus of the offense, not one guy deeming his team mates worthy of touches.

 

The year started with a quick 3 win streak as the Raptors came out fast with wins against the Warriors, the 76ers and the Bucks. Tough losses against the Pistons and the Hawks followed by two wins against the Heat brought us eventually to an 8 – 8 record and the firing of Sam Mitchell. Jay Triano inherited a team that featured Chris Bosh scoring at a 26+ ppg clip and a struggling Jose Calderon working with Jermaine O’Neal and an emerging Andrea Bargnani. It became obvious very early that Jose would struggle physically this entire season as his hamstring just never seemed to recover and he never seemed comfortable on the floor and the team suffered through a long period where the PG position was handle by a platoon of Roko Ukic, Will Solomon and Anthony Parker who was perhaps the most under rated Raptors player this season and is often the focus of derision from fans because he isn’t a 20+ ppg SG like Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade.

 

To me, the toughest loss of the year and perhaps the franchise, was the December 19<sup>th</sup> loss to the Kevin Durant led Thunder, who had 3 wins at the time. From that point, it was clear this was a season in trouble. Jermaine went down with a knee injury and we signed Jake Voskuhl to provide some depth at center. During this time our back court struggled as Jose reinjured his thigh in a game against the Heat in November and he missed 14 games to that injury, the Raptors would win only 5 games in which he didn’t play.

 

As the new year turned to playoff run, this team was pretty much finished in late February, yet they made a deal that sent O’Neal and Jamario Moon to the Heat to bring Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the team February 13<sup>th</sup>. We acquired Patrick O’Bryant, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and Quincy Douby to fill the roster for the year. Since that trade, we finished 12 – 14 with 2 wins over the Bulls who would love either of those back as they now face the Celtics in the first round. The new guys came in and offered us energy and some depth on the bench that had been lacking all season. With 3 wins to end the season, 2 against playoff teams in the 76ers and 1 against a Wizards team that easily could have won 35 games this season, hope has not left the Raptors dressing room.

 

Here are my assessments of the roster at this point. I will speculate on off-season moves after the playoffs.

 

Chris Bosh – lead the team with 22.7 ppg, ending up 8<sup>th</sup> behind Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets by .1. As the franchise player, Chris provided a level of play that was steady and consistent most of the season. When the team struggled in December and January, Bosh bore the brunt of the criticism – unfairly in my opinion as the team was not able to find a way to overcome injuries and compete with a poorly constructed bench. He ended up as one of 3 players in the league to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game – the other two being Dwight Howard of the Magic and Dwyane Wade. Pretty elite company if you ask me. He has been consistently ranked in the top 10 at his position all season and ended up one of the top 10 players over all for the season. He is ranked only behind Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks as a PF, ahead of Antawn Jamison, David West of the Hornets and Al Harrington of the Knicks and Pau Gasol of the Lakers. He IS the leader of this team and as such, offers a great many skills to the team. He was put on the FT line 607 times – 4<sup>th</sup> behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard and ahead of Devin Harris of the Nets,  shooting at an 81% clip making him a very difficult forward to guard by most opposing players and better than the four ahead of him in that stat. His 771 rebounds, good for 7<sup>th</sup> overall, and 2.5 assists per game make him a well rounded player and hopefully, will remain here a long time.

 

Andrea Bargnani – A slow start under Smitch brought calls for him to be moved out of Toronto, that he was a waste of a 1<sup>st</sup> overall pick in a class that gave the Trail Blazers LeMarcus Aldridge with the 2<sup>nd</sup> pick and Brandon Roy with the 6<sup>th</sup> pick and Rajon Rondo to the Celtics late in the first round, fans were beginning to wonder what this kid had to offer. Well, we began to see him play in the 4 spot with success as he is a deadly shooter from outside finishing the season at 40.9% from outside the arc. He finished the season ranked 50<sup>th</sup> in the league at 15.4 ppg but was closer to 20 ppg for the last third of the season. Under Jay, he was given the minutes he needed to develop both and low post game and a mid post game stepping out when needed and was not out of place on the break either as the team began to open up the offense, he was there with the finish. He led the team not only in 3 point attempts, but blocks as well finishing with 97 on the season. He seems to have found his place in both the offense and the defense and has been given the confidence of the coach. A very deadly combination for a young man looking for a place to belong!

 

Jose Calderon – The speculation of what might have been this past season had Jose been 100% for the entire year will be fuel for many forums. Aside from setting the FT% record hitting 151 of 154 FT’s for a 98.1%, he finished 6<sup>th</sup> overall with 607 assists behind only Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo. When listed by assists per game, he ends up 5<sup>th</sup> as Gilbert Arenas moves up and Jose passes Rondo and Kidd. Among the starting PG’s, Jose ended up first overall with 4.2 a/to ratio on the season. Jose shot 40.6% from outside and 49.7% over all while averaging 12.8 ppg. As Jose returned healthy, this team instantly began playing at a much higher level offensively and defensively he was much more able to keep his man in front of him and make opposing guards take bad shots and make bad passes. He has a long way to go to be a lock down defender, but a healthy Jose can become a very tough matchup for a lot of guards in the league.

 

Shawn Marion – Averaging 14.3 ppg, and more than 8 rebounds per game, Shawn has been a favorite of mine since his days in the high octane Suns teams he played on. Wallowing in irrelevance with the Heat he has found a team here that he can bring his skill set to that can allow him the freedom to run the break, defend 3 or 4 or 5 spots, attack the weakside glass and create havoc in the paint on defense as the help defender. These are all skills that this team has sorely missed all season. I hope the Raptors can find a way to make this man a part of the future of this team as he is one of the best complementary players in the league. He has no need of plays designed for him as he is always lurking and always in position when the ball seems to find his hands. A great trade for us and the promise of next season, should he stay, is growing.

 

Anthony Parker – to me, he is one of the most under appreciated Raptors player on the team. He can play SG, and PG when needed. He nightly takes on the toughest players in the league and usually holds his own. When he is discussed as not being the SG this team needs because he isn’t one of the best in the league, I shake my head! AP is 22 in scoring amongst SG’s, but when you look at the list of those ahead of him, you can understand why. Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Brandon Roy, Joe Johnson of the Hawks, Vince Carter of the Nets, Ben Gordon, Andre Iguodala, O.J. Mayo, Ray Allen and Jason Richardson top the list at this position. AP’s job with us isn’t to score at a 20+ ppg pace, but to offer solid defense against guys like those on the list, score when he can and provide an option on the floor that distracts teams enough to have to keep an eye on him, and he does all of those night after night after night. He is 10<sup>th</sup> amongst SG’s in rebounds with 317, and 12<sup>th</sup> in apg with 3.4. while shooting at 39% and is 18<sup>th</sup> on the list. As a free agent, he might leave and if he does, this team will have to look very hard as to how to fill the void he will leave. Be careful what you hope for, if it comes true, and he walks, he will be picked up by a team that can see the value of his steady hand and extensive knowledge of the game.

 

As for the rest of the team, Jason Kapono has had a good run as 3 point champ, but I fear he has little marketability at this point as he is very much a one-dimensional player at this point. Joey Graham seems to be finding a place on this team, but he has not developed a consistent game that would warrant further investment. He will be at best a 7<sup>th</sup> man on any team he plays, including this one, and he will want more money than we are willing to pay. I look for him to be traded before he is signed. Roko Ukic looks like a solid prospect, but he is not the backup we need for Jose. He could be traded as well. I like the new group that BC brought in and hope that we can find places for them allowing our bench to become stable again, and offer us the option of either by trading our draft pick this season and acquiring another piece of this puzzle or blow the team up and start over. I am not sure I like that option at this point but will offer more thoughts as the playoffs unfold.

 

Thanks for all of your support this season and I hope these musings have been enjoyed and appreciated.

 

Takman_777

 

Posted on: November 24, 2008 11:35 am
 

Raptors - Week 4 in Review

Last week the Raptors would love to forget most of what happened to them. I know Raptors fans are very disgruntled right now with the inconsistent play from the team in general as they find ways to lose games in which they have huge leads. So far, after 13 games, the team is 6 – 7, which is exactly where it was last year after 13 games and at this point, there seems little hope for team fortunes to improve as the next week brings the Bobcats, the Hawks and the Lakers on the schedule.  With Jose Calderon still not even close to 100% healthy, it looks to be a long week again.

Here’s what I saw in the past week and what I am looking at for the next week.

The past week gave us 4 games against Eastern conference teams. Two were in the top 4 teams of the conference last season and the other two are hovering around .500 as we are. The Magic were first up in Orlando on our Florida swing with back to back games in Orlando and Miami for a re-match against the struggling Heat.

The Magic came into the game on a 3 game win streak and were 8 – 3 on the season at that point. We were able to open up a lead on the Magic as we were able to get the ball inside and keep Dwight Howard off the boards and off his game with only 4 points in the first half. He finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds, both off of his season averages. Chris Bosh had a huge game with 40 points, 18 rebounds hitting 14/19 shots while Jermaine O’Neal had 1t points and 10 rebounds. With Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono seemingly lost in their own heads, Sam Mitchell started Andrea Bargnani in the 3 spot and he struggled both on offense and on offense with only 5 points. Playing without Jose Calderon, this team turned the ball over 24 times and squandered the lead and the game away as Will Solomon attempted to run the offense with little success as the Magic just kept shooting the ball as Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis all had 22 points and seemed to answer any run the Raptors threw at them causing turnovers or grabbing rebounds and running the floor scoring an easy 2 or 3 off the transition game.

Next up were the Heat who came into the game 5 – 5 and missing Centers Jamaal Magloire and Mark Blount up front leaving the Heat out manned against the front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani. Having beaten the Heat the previous Sunday, the rematch in Miami presented the Raptors with a good chance for a road win. Jose started the game but looked sore and careful on his injured leg. Though Dwyane Wade had 40 points and 11 assists and Shawn Marion had a 20 point, 14 rebound game, they were just not matched up well as Andrea Bargnani had a 25 point game and Jermaine had a 16 point 17 rebound effort. It was a very exciting game as Dwyane Wade took over and attacked the Raptors inside in the 4th to keep the game close. To me, the play of the game was JO’s rejection of Wade with a little over a minute left. It allowed the Raptors to get the ball back up court and pull ahead and out of range.

Next game was the Nets and Vince Carter. Although the Raptors opened up another 18 point lead, Vince scored 12 points in the last 22 seconds including the game tying 3 from 27 feet with Anthony Parkers had in his face. Then he scored on an ally-oop to win the game on the last shot. Dropping 39 points and grabbing 9 rebounds while Devin Harris, who left before half time with an upset stomach, scored 30. Together, they combined for half of the Nets points. Andrea had his best game as a pro scoring 29 points while Jose scored 26 and CB scored 42 as he and VC went back and forth all evening answering each other on both ends of the floor.

Sunday, the World Champions visited the ACC and from the beginning of the game, the Raptors appeared shell shocked, probably not recovered from the terrible loss Friday. The Celtics had 7 guys in double digits with Ray Allen leading the way with 21, Kevin Garnett, who harassed Chris all afternoon had 15, Kendrick Perkins had 12, Rajon Rondo scored 15 as did Tony Allen and Eddie House added 11. CB countered with 24 and AB added another 14 as this game was never close.

So, the past 4 games have given us a very deep look into this team, and it is very much in a state of flux. Our 4 main guys right now are Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, who is hurting, Jermaine O’Neal, who is hurting as well, and Chris Bosh. Over the past week, their numbers look pretty good with Chris averaging over 30 points per game and 10.5 rebounds. He is shooting 54% from the floor with his first 3 point shot of the season, and 83% from the line. Andrea has stepped up his production as he continues to improve while adjusting to the SF position scoring 18.25 per game, 6 rebounds and 50% from outside the arc. Jermaine has become a very solid fixture on defense and hurt his knee during the Nets game. He has given us 11 points and 9 rebounds with the last two games being injured. It is obvious that he is becoming comfortable with Chris Bosh and his secondary role on this team which bodes well for the future as long as his knee keeps him on the floor, he will continue to add depth and strength up front. Jose Calderon missed one game this week but has continued to contribute 16 points and 10.3 assists per game and is still 100% from the free throw line to lead the league in that.

With all that great play from these 4 guys, all this team needs is someone – anyone at this point to step up and contribute some defense and a little on offense. Most nights, there is no one on the bench who seems willing to contribute other than Kris Humphries who offers good minutes when called on. Every game this week our second unit of Jason Kapono, Will Solomon or Roko Ukic and Jamario Moon has found ways to lose huge leads built by our first unit. Sam has little success adjusting as the guys just aren’t playing well as a group. Last season, our bench was a strong point, but this year, they are anticipated by every team we play as they endure or first line to get to the weak, ineffective second stringers. Until these guys can start adding to the team, we will struggle against every team in this league and will have little chance to make the playoffs as anything below .500% won’t make the playoffs in the east this year. This past week we allowed an average of 46.5 points in the paint per game. An unbelievable number with the guys we have up front! Where are they coming from? Wade and Carter – guards scored 40 and 39 with Harris, another guard adding 30, mostly off the dribble or at the line. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard with 22 and 18 with Nelson driving and dishing and shooting wide open looks over our guards. It becomes pretty obvious that this team can not stop any kind of wing game, as Paul Pierce showed in the first game. Night after night our guards and SF positions are exploited as teams out play our guys and Sam Mitchell seems lost as to how to stop it. With the Lakers and the Hawks coming up, this does not look promising as they are both bringing 2 of the best SG’s in the league with Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson. I hope they can find a way to stop wing and guard penetration soon as we saw Sam unable to attack a zone defense. Should be a very long week for the Raptors and it’s fan base.

Posted on: November 20, 2008 10:27 am
 

Raptors - Heat Round 2 Review

Last night in Miami, Dwyane Wade and the Heat were looking to take advantage of a weakened opponent and gain a sense of revenge for the loss on Sunday in Toronto. Jose Calderon started last night and Sam Mitchell put Andrea Bargnani on the floor again and was rewarded with probably the best quarter the young Italian has played as a Raptors player. A quick 10 points by Andrea got the Raptors off to a good start as they worked to shake off the bitter loss in Orlando to the Magic the night before. He ended up with 25 on the night, a Raptors game high. After giving up 44 turnovers in Sunday and Tuesday’s games, the Raptors looked to Jose to provide some stability to the stagnating offense as Will Solomon tried to step in with Roko Ukic to fill the huge void Jose left.

The game was a very exciting one with the ball flying all over the court. It was fun to watch Andrea run the floor with Anthony Parker who broke out of his slump dropping 19 points while grabbing 6 rebounds including 1 Offensive. Down the stretch he answered several D-Wade dunks with smooth 3’s from the corner. A very welcome sight as his check scored 40 on us while collecting 4 boards and hanging out 11 assists and adding 5 blocks to a very solid game. Shawn Marion added 20 points and 14 rebounds to the mix.

These teams played a very even game as the stats reflect very little between them that stands out as the main reason one team won and the other lost. The Raptors made 38 baskets, the Heat 39, the Raptors hit 9 from 3 point land which was refreshing after the debacle in Orlando, while the Heat were a bit out done here making only 7. The Raptors shot 62% from outside while the Heat began to settle for outside shots when they started getting down in the 3rd ending up at 30% on 3’s. As I have stated many times and will as long as I breath basketball, this game was won and lost at the Free Throw line. The Raptors made 16 of 20 while the Heat made 10 of 15. Those 6 baskets were the margin of victory.

Some other things that I enjoyed watching last night was the steady play of Jermaine O’Neal as he has become the inside force we lacked for many years now. The play of the game from my perspective was the late block on D-Wade from the wing. That play stopped his momentum enough for us to come back down the floor and drop another 3. Defense really does matter in the NBA. Chris Bosh took the night off and ended up with another double – double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Kris Humphries came off the bench and gave us some great play attacking the ball all over the floor and making 6 of 7 Free Throws – an interesting number, no? Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono were both very quiet again, but Jamario did hit a huge 3 for the team and did manage 2 huge steals in the 4th quarter as the Heat were edging back.

Over all, this was a very well played game by the starters who responded to Chris’ huge game Tuesday, as well as the return of Jose Calderon who gave us 8 points, 7 assists and only 1 turnover. Cutting the turnovers in half from the Magic game allowed us to keep the pressure on the smaller front of the Heat and was one of the huge keys to the victory. With 4 guys in double digits and another game with two double-double guys, this team returned to a balance offense with great ball movement. I am still concerned by how easily the Heat were able to find wide open guys, it’s a good thing they didn’t make a couple more shots.

We now prepare for the Nets, the Celtics and the Hawks with the Lakers soon to follow.

Posted on: February 6, 2008 10:30 am
Edited on: February 6, 2008 10:52 am
 

My thoughts on "THE Suns/Heat TRADE"

 

here are my thoughts on "THE TRADE"

The Suns are NOT underachieving - not sure how a 34 - 14 record and 3rd overall behind the Celtics and the Pistons and 1st overall in the West can be described that way, but yes they have lost to the Timber Wolves 2x and bad nights happen or they just lost interest. We have seen the top 5 or 6 teams all tank some nights as the 82 game schedule is made to be endure more than conquered.. not sure how the Spurs survive the Rodeo Road trip year in and year out, but they seem to come back and begin their season after the all star break.

what we saw last night in the Lakers vs. Nets game was the emergence of a new team in purple and gold.. how long has it been since we have seen Kobe Bryant have so much fun scoring 6 points and WINNING???!!!! When Andrew Bynum gets back, this team will power through the rest of the west... i have no problems saying that... even adding Shaq won't help the Suns stop that team... and they will be fun to watch... like the Suns with a very active interior which Shaq can no longer provide.

The lack of inside dominance let alone presence has cost this team 2 great regular seasons with 2 bad playoff years... does this trade give them the strength to get past the Spurs? or the Lakers? or the Mavericks? hard to tell as Shaquille O'Neal is very damaged right now and needs to heal... not sure this was the guy to pick, but i doubt anyone else was available.

Did Shawn Marion have to go? maybe, but as good as he was, he can be replaced.. there are very few men in the league who can't be replaced and that is why deals are made... some times a guy is such a disruption, he needs to go, like Allen Iverson was a couple years ago and Vince Carter was with the Raptors.. when a guy becomes a distraction to the team... any GM will look to move him. I will miss Marion's skill, but i think that bringing in a winner will only enhance a fragile locker room.

Is this a "sacrifice at all costs deal"? i don't think so as Shaq will bring a lot to the table that we will never see... but the Suns will know that he is there and that alone will allow them to play a bit better.. maybe if nothing else, they will all start to play better defense if they really believe this deal puts them 4 on 5 on both ends of the floor...

the team dynamic just changed dramatically... i for one am willing to trust that the Suns know what they are doing... i won't change my Suns to the Raptors just yet... but if Shaq tanks...  i will have to change... this team won't be the same if they give marion away for nothing... which some think shaq is at this point... we shall see...

Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com