With the arrival of free agent Hedo Turkoglu and first round draft pick DeMar DeRozan, Bargnani will have to be more than just a perimeter floater. While his strength is catching and shooting and quick attacks set up by his jump shot, his struggles have been in the post area. He’s been unable to hold inside position, getting bumped off his moves, and hasn’t had a good counter move when he gets jammed inside. And the longer he has held the ball, the more trouble he’s gotten into.
All this means that with better perimeter scorers around him and a weak post game, Bargnani has to become better in the mid-range. This will start with his pick-and-pop game, and his primary focus should be on becoming a much better screener. His screens have been soft and he hasn’t held them long enough, which means the ball handler isn’t as free and Bargnani hasn’t had as much open space when he catches the return pass.
Whenever I see guys in the locker room pregame or postgame while we wait for them to address the media my mind generally drifts back to my first specific memory of each player, or what sticks out in my mind about the guy, be it a particular performance, shot, random fact, interview etc.
I’ve been doing the same thing as it comes to these Raptors and I thought I’d share with you the most vivid memory or impression of each of the new guys who will be taking over lockers in the Raptors locker room.
One player that has stayed in the hearts of Raptor fans since he was acquired in 2001 for Corliss Williamson is Jerome “JYD” Williams. Jerome began his tenure with the Raptors by famously driving from Detroit to Toronto after hearing of the trade. It was this initial gesture that immediately identified Williams as a “working class” basketball player and thrust him into the hearts of raptor fans. You could immediately tell that he was a little different from your average NBA player. This was not a guy worried about shoe contracts and making excuses about being late for “practice”. He was a player who was happy to be in the league and have a job and worked as hard as he could to keep the job he loved so much.
But one has to believe that with the cap space Miami will have next summer, and with the promising young guys the HEAT have assembled, and with the desirable location of the team, Wade understands that there probably will not be a better situation for him next summer. If the team can sign Bosh or Carlos Boozer and extend Wade, anybody else you put around those two guys will be serviceable and the HEAT will be a perennial playoff team.
Besides, does anyone believe that Bosh, Wade, or James won’t get the absolute top dollar they can? Their current teams can even offer them an extra year. It comes down to where these guys think they can win. A betting man still should lay money down that all three guys stay put, but who knows what can happen. Every year free agency proves to us how crazy things can get when big money gets thrown around. Don’t think for a minute that free agency 2010 won’t be exciting. With a class like the one we’re going to see, there’s no way it couldn’t be.
So who should we chose? I haven’t been the biggest fan of Pops Mensah Bonsu as I think his game is limited. However, given our new offensive firepower, he may just be another great role player. Running the screen with a lower minimum minutes played (since Pops just scraped by 250 minutes), shows him as ranked 26th out of 370 players. No doubt the low number of minutes can skew these stats. Who ranks #1 out of 370 in offensive rebound rating? You got it, Pops. Okay, that’s a fluke. How about defensive rebound rate then? Ah… Pops is #1 AGAIN. For a minimum pay guy, this is a no-brainer.
Remember that Udoka and Mensah-Bonsu will not likely be core rotation players. And you’re paying them (likely) the league minimum. Note that when we are talking about veterans minimum contracts, our sample size of players will no doubt have some major flaws – so you’re looking for solid role players. Given the data, it’s hard to see the downside. The price is right.