Hedo‘s the worst interviewee ever, it was a real test of my patience to get through 4+ minutes of that but I did it so you don’t have to. All you need to know is that he expects to get some minutes against Boston on Wednesday and that his physical and mental fatigue is wearing off and he’s thankful for Triano and Colangelo to helping him get through this. He’s looking forward to finally being part of the team in earnest. He actually mumbles “Hopefully I’ll do my best” which I thought was a little funny.
You can add Amir Johnson to the “you know” crowd. Get him and Quincy Douby in a conversation and you got yourself a sitcom. Johnson’s saying that he can also guard threes and re-iterates that he was shocked to get traded to Milwaukee but not so much to Toronto. The questions being asked aren’t exactly great which means the interview doesn’t say much. One of the questions actually asked, “Do you think the Raptors know what they were getting when they acquired you?”
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the active nature of his play and what he might bring to the regular rotation. At the same time Reggie Evans has also been impressive with his hustle and rebounding while guarding his position – he had the most success guarding Jamison who is exactly the type of player than can give him fits. The question is with Bosh playing 35-40 minutes, where will these two play? The answer might come at the expense of Rasho who, save for the first game against Philly, has been very unimpressive. His weight loss surprised me because I thought it took away from his main strength – the wide body which clogs up space. Maybe he became more agile in order to extend his career, but so far it’s only meant that he’s not impacting the game with his defensive positioning like we’re used to seeing. What’s also making him look worse is that he can’t knock a single jumpshot down (25% shooting). As with all games, it’ll come down to matchups but you can already see that there are two positions (backup PF and backup C) with three candidates vying for major minutes. Sorry Patrick, but you’re not even close to coming into this discussion.
Triano’s saying Hedo went hard in practice today and could play on Wednesday. He’s praising DeRozan for having a good ear and taking in what he learns and then applying it the next day. He says that the learning curve for him is much steeper than it has ever been and that a lot of his “mistakes” can be attributed to playing the game in a setting he just isn’t used to. You know, rookie mistakes. A-Dub and myself were having a conversation and we decided that DeRozan’s like a sponge – he absorbs everything. He paces his game and doesn’t try to do too much, he takes it one step at a time. If he had to read a book, he’d read a page a day, write a 20 page report about that page the next day and finish the whole thing off in two years. But after those two years you wouldn’t find a guy on this planet who knows that book like he does. Yeah.
The team will be flying to Hartford, Connecticut today and will play the C**tics at the XL Center tomorrow. The game is not on TV or radio in Toronto but we’ll try to get something for you.
Let’s talk about Jose Calderon’s play which is the elephant in the room right now.
Facts that cannot be disputed: He’s been terrible so far. I know its only pre-season but he’s shooting 44%, has an AST/TO ratio of 2.5:1, is getting exploited on defense exactly – if not worse – than last year and has shown zero bounce in his step on offense. He’s been very easy to guard and has not come close to threatening any defense so far this pre-season.
What we’re hoping the case is: He’s pacing himself secure in the knowledge that he’s got the starting job all sewn up. He doesn’t want to expend energy in these meaningless games and is reserving it for later in the pre-season when Turkoglu and Bosh are around so he can play with a truer unit. He’s saving himself for the regular season and is focused right now on learning Triano’s offense rather than proving to his detractors that he indeed is back.
What some are fearing the case is: He’s a great backup but can’t handle playing against starting caliber NBA PGs. Even though Jack is putting up worse numbers (35% shooting, 1.5:1 AST/TO), he’s still looked more in control of the offense than Jose who is simply passing the ball to the first guard who shows himself on the wing, or to the big man who pops out after the high screen. Triano earlier alluded to the competition at the PG driving these two players to greater limits but so far it’s only resulted in us seeing the worst of Calderon. Is Jack actually more capable than Calderon? For the sake of the contract we just handed Jose, I sure hope not.
What is actually the case: I don’t know. He’s obviously better than what he’s shown and I can’t see why he wouldn’t want to get himself off to a flying start, if for no other reason than to quickly erase the memory of last year. At the same time it’s better to pace yourself in these matters, but that’s not an excuse to play like you’ve got wooden shoes on. It’s one thing to pace yourself by going hard for the first 5 minutes and then taking it easy for the next 15, another to appear disoriented for the full 20. Jose’s throwing me a curveball but I can make one statement with relative confidence: his conditioning isn’t anywhere close to where it needs to be. You can see it in the jumper, the man-defense, the way he’s negotiating screens out there and the way he’s struggling to create.
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