Thunder 115, Raptors 89 – Box

You know, this might just be a good thing after all.

Only after a good spanking like this one will people begin to realize the truth. We have a flawed team, to the core. I had the good fortune of doing the Atlanta postgame, and some people took offense to my inclusion of the world “luck” in describing the Raptors comeback, feel-good victory. Now, what do you think?

Over 4 years ago, Bryan Colangelo became the general manager of this team. The only successful year we’ve had was his first. It was a great turnaround, Colangelo won executive of the year, and all Raptor faithful felt “lucky” to have the superstar executive who was going to build a championship contender for the city of Toronto. Now, what do you think?

Look at Oklahoma City. Size, speed, athleticism. A bright young future. You may not have known who Sam Presti is, but you should now. Build from the ground up, drafted complete players. Build around a young superstar. Out of Colangelo’s core, Bosh and Calderon were inherited from the previous regime. and Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu are his additions. He has neglected the concept of defense at every turn. It’s obvious that he’s been trying to recreate the Phoenix Suns, but the Suns are a unique team that are able to succeed due to the unique talents of one Steve Nash. He’s the reason that it worked, and even then, it’s not been very successful in the playoffs. Not even an NBA finals appearance in all those years further solidifying the point that you need defense to succeed in this league. It’s so obvious its laughable that Colangelo keeps ignoring it.

There is no system in place. Switches occur automatically on the perimeter. No one’s fighting through screens, minimizing mismatches. It’s been like this from Day One since Jay Triano started. If you ask any of the good defensive teams in the league, many of which are also the best teams in the league, the coach usually allows for a lot of freedom on the offensive end. But on the defensive side, it’s all business. Players play tight, aggressive. What do we have, weak switches, along with man-to-man D with no real system in place? Just catch phrases like “Protect the House” Good teams funnel ball carriers towards help. We have no help. On practically every drive last night, our center stayed stuck to his man. Didn’t even budge. All people see is that he will cover his man when he’s got the ball. Never does he try to bail another teammate out, especially with a couple of fouls on him. It’s not just about covering your man. Andrea. This is a team sport. But no one is holding you accountable for it. That’s what winning organizations do. They don’t continue to try to justify selecting you first overall selection. I would respect Bryan Colangelo for accepting his mistake and moving on, more than I would his stubborn, misguided attempt at making the Andrea Barganani experiment work.

Is it even an experiment anymore? I think the results are in. With the rebounding prowess of Chris Bosh, with an even adequate rebounder whould have given us a formidable rebounding tandem like Memphis has, simply out-possessioning teams to victory. Instead, we’re just barely passable as a rebounding team. A potential strength turned into a liability. 15 offensive rebounds in the first half last night. Offense is not the problem, it all comes down to this: Basketball is a game that comes down to 3 key elements for me. One is putting the ball in the basket, shooting efficiency. The other is stopping said ball from going into basket, defensive efficiency. The other is getting more chances at putting the ball in the basket. That’s called possessions. We keep giving other teams too many possessions, by giving them second chances on the offensive boards and not generating enough of our own second chance points. Even to the point where we’re clearly outshooting them and still losing badly. You can’t survive with this kind of margin of error. You just can’t.

So the problem was Jarret Jack. Get in Jose Calderon, and exacerbate the defensive problems. It’s like the entire city of Toronto knew that was a useless move except for the GM and head coach of this team. Get some defenders in there. Pick and roll Calderon and Bosh all night, I don’t care. The offensive is not the problem on this team. Going to keep repeating this over and over.

Colangelo’s reputation is clearly on the line here. He knows it. That’s why this might be a good thing – he’s finally run out of excuses. People talk about Colangelo making MLSE money? How? By 2 first round playoff exits in 3 years? I hope he realizes that the all-offense zero-defense approach is flawed and this team needs to at least adopt a defensive mindset first, before actually bringing in the right personnel. And that has to start with the center on this team. We have to realize that 74% of his field goals are assisted on, implying that he cannot generate his own offence. We must realize that for such an offensive weapon, he rarely generates assists or consistently gets to the line. We have to realize that you don’t just sign aging guys like Hedo Turkoglu to mammoth long-term contracts just to show your star player that you’re “trying”. You sign who’s right for your team. And Hedo is so not right for this team. He has little space on the perimeter to operate with, and is on a team with two offensively talented point guards. And doesn’t rebound like a champ to make up for our center’s deficiencies.

That’s why humiliating exposés like this one are a good thing for an organization that’s so horribly misguided. Who wants this team to lose to New Jersey? Isn’t it sad that some of us are, because we feel that this loss still wasn’t embarrassing enough to warrant any action from our stubborn mule of a GM and his little sidekick of a coach? It probably won’t happen, because this team does take care of business against the weak sisters of the league, but don’t let it fool you for even a second, that this team is built for any kind of short or long term success.

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