Rasho, Reggie and Amir

Which one of these is the first big off the bench? In October I’ll go with Reggie, Rasho and then Amir. In March I’ll go with Amir, Rasho and Reggie. Is this a criticism of Reggie Evans? No, it’s a complement to Amir Johnson and a testament to Rasho’s ability to produce when not statistically producing. I’m expecting Johnson to have his best year, much like Delfino did after coming over from Detroit. It’s a very similar situation – guy who you know has some talent hasn’t gotten the time because he’s buried behind better players. As long as Triano stays in his ear and he maintains his effort, he can make a nice and healthy living off the many, many jumpers we’ll be missing.

Basically, we signed Johnson instead of Pops and I have to say that it was a good deal for us. With Pops you had a very good idea of what he could and couldn’t do, even though I loved his energy and would’ve welcomed him back, I think we had that base covered with Evans. Johnson’s a classic example of a guy who should’ve gone to college, played in the tournament, gotten some experience and befriended some cheerleaders. Instead the only friend he made in his first two years (where he played a massive total of 11 games) was the bench. The bench and him were tight, real tight. The last two years could’ve served him well in developing his game but given his decision to come out, all they’ve done is get him used to the NBA travel schedule. He’s got the tools to be good, lanky frame, high release, good reach, a mid-range game, but the thing I like the most about Johnson is that he doesn’t force the issue, which explains his 58% shooting and 60% TS. In other words, he doesn’t suffer from whatever disease Kris Humphries was plagued with and that should be requirement #1 of garbage men looking to make an impact off the bench.

Even though he’s a garbage man at this point, we can’t just expect him to get off the bench and do whatever garbage-men do. I think they’ll be an acclimatization period for him and Reggie Evans where they’ll come to grips with the tendencies of our guards. For example, when Calderon comes off the high pick, when do we position for the rebound and when do we clear space in the paint for the play to develop. On a side note, you can often foreshadow a play but looking at what the guys without the ball are doing. With 9 new faces the training camp – and more importantly the pre-season games – will have to be something special for players like Evans and Johnson to figure out their role. I think we’ll have to play our starters 30 minutes a game in pre-season just so they can get the hang of each other.

Rasho is like the universal converter that you take with you on your trips to Europe. If there’s an outlet in the wall, he’ll fit in. In our case, if there’s space that needs clogging and some positioning defending required, he’s the guy to call. He’s got a skill that neither of the other two have – experience defending dominant big men. Evans also has what the other two don’t – tenacity and relentless pursuit of the ball. Johnson also has something the other two don’t – length and shot-blocking ability. Other than inside scoring, we have in these three the skill-set of an ideal backup, it would just be nicer if these skills were packaged into two players instead of three.

For the long-time readers you might know how much I wanted a character like Reggie Evans on the Raptors, ironically enough it was the summer Kapono was signed that Evans was available. There’s no doubt that he’ll be bringing the hustle and energy in those mid-second and late-third situations when the Raptors tend to lose their footing. However, it’s his weaknesses that could prevent him from playing key possessions down the stretch. He’s a career 52.5% FT shooter which makes him a liability in late situational play, and he’s 6’8″ with shoes which means a screen ‘n switch with any decent big man will leave him defending a height disadvantage. It’s for this reason I believe that Rasho and Johnson (because of his reach) will stay ahead of him in the depth chart. Barring injury of course.

That’s basically the blog post for the day. I was scouting out some gambling sites where I could place some bets this season. I think I’ll finally break the promise I made a few years ago where I said I wouldn’t bet on any Raptor game – for or against. See, when I bet against them there’s a severe conflict of interest. When I bet for them, I get even more upset when they lose. Most notably, it makes the game very hard to watch for me. 50-win teams aren’t made because of the great teams they beat in the season, they’re made of wins against teams that you’re supposed to beat – byy taking care of the Charlottes, Knicks, Pacers etc. I think this year we’ve got enough talent where we’ll be able to win the games we’re “supposed to win” so I see myself laying a 100 quid down on the Raptors at home (or dare I say, even away) against the minnows.

Have a good day.

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