Trying to find Raptors news this time of the year is akin to a polar bear hunting for seals in the middle of the summer, and if you know your polar bears, you’d know that’s very hard. Since the ice is all melted and watery, polar bears don’t have a platform to hunt for seals and can die of starvation. There’s no threat of starvation here because even if we don’t have actual Raptors news, we can rely on some I-only-care-about-this-because-there’s-nothing-else-going-on news, in the form of Chris Bosh insisting that he played hard and never gave up whilst in Toronto.
I can believe that he thinks he played hard, but him saying that he “would have done anything to win” is a joke, if that were true he’d come back with a mask to play the Chicago game. Leaving opinion aside, I don’t even know why he’s even answering such questions to begin with, dignifying them with a response is a slight admission of guilt and he should realize that. Next time somebody questions him about his Toronto effort, he should simply point to the ridiculousness of the question and move on. It’s like when I go to lunch with co-workers and the money for the cheque is short, someone will ask, “Hey Arse, did you not put in enough?”. At that point, I don’t enter into a debate of whether I put my share of the money in, I just angrily retort, “What the *&^%? Don’t ask me dumb questions”. Case closed. It doesn’t matter how much money I had put in, the appearance of being greatly offended at the accusatory nature of the question has answered the question better than any response would have.
Moving on to the other half of “The Killer Bees” (haha, Devlin, you salesman), Andrea Bargnani hasn’t been talked about much this summer. It’s because he’s in Europe playing with the Italian team, while others like Weems and DeRozan have been active in summer league and have paid a few visits to Toronto. If and when Jose Calderon is traded, Bargnani will become the top-paid Raptor and the spotlight on him will shine even brighter. This attention will be in sharp contrast to that received by the Young Guz (YGZ® – I will never use the phrase Young Gunz again). While greatness and expectations were thrust upon Bargnani the day he got drafted, YGZ® have gradually raised the expectations based on their play last year. Going into next year, the question of whose team it really is, will be answered. Either Bargnani will finally make an imprint on the team, thus forcing everyone to acknowledge that he is the man in Toronto, or YGZ® will pry the spotlight away. If successful, this could finally plant the idea in Bryan Colangelo’s mind that Bargnani might not be untouchable.
The previous scenario assumes that the two parties won’t mix well, as was the case last season. It could turn out that Bargnani and YGZ® will form a great partnership and work like a well-oiled machine tuned to a perfect balance. As a fan, that’s what you hope for, but there’s a part of me that thinks that consolidating Bargnani and the YGZ® to function in the same team is going to be tough due to the polarizing style of their play. One of the ways a synergy can be achieved is through an equal distribution of offense.
The 16.5 shot attempts freed up by Bosh’s departure will need to be accounted for. Supporters for the Bargnani cause will feel that a good chunk of that should go to the Italian, who hoisted up 14.3 FGAs per game last season. Others might suggest a more equitable distribution that sees the guards’ thirst for the ball be quenched, maybe DeRozan’s 6.6 attempts should increase to around 14 or so. After all, this is a guard-dominated league and there isn’t much point to having a “star” shooting guard that doesn’t shoot enough. The commonly held belief is that your best player “deserves” the most shots, and that may be true, but if you compare the Raptors’ FGAs/player with the rest of the NBA, you notice that our shot distribution was simply too Bargnani-Bosh heavy.
The Raptors had only two players averaging more than 10FGAs per game: Bosh (16.5) and Bargnani (13.4). When you compare the difference between first and third (Hedo Turkoglu with 9.1), the difference is 7.4 shots – that’s a lot! Let’s look at other teams:
You can see that even though the Raptors had the NBA’s 5th ranked offense, their shot distribution was skewed compared to pretty much every other team except Indiana where Granger dominated the shots, much like Bosh did in Toronto. The impact of a certain offensive style cannot be discounted on the defense; a team which shares the ball well on offense is likely to keep everyone happy and they’ll be willing to play more defense. Personally, I prefer organized team-ball than focusing your sets around one player, the offense in the latter gets boring and is much more liable to get shutdown during crunch time as defenses will focus on one players instead of worrying about multiple threat. Only one of the reasons why the first Raptors player to be seen on the “clutch stats” list is at #24.
I’m not presenting these stats as solid proof of anything, merely killing the time and giving some ideas for discussion. I do however feel that these numbers need to straighten themselves out, the Raptors should have at least four players averaging 10 field-goal attempts a game: Bargnani, DeRozan, Johnson and one more. This would make for a much more balanced offense, better team spirit, and would motivate these guys to play better defense.
Finally, thanks to everyone who contributed their stories yesterday, some really neat stuff.