Safe predictions and looking forward to Leo’s return

Predictions about Julian Wright, Alvin Williams and David Andersen. There’s also some Leo talk thrown in there.

I haven’t exactly paid great attention to the events in Turkey so my opinion on the matter counts for next to nothing, but this casual observer of the proceedings did observe that the True North went a humbling 0-5 in their group. As a Canadian, a showing so poor is disappointing but I wish I could say it was surprising.

Critics might say that at the very least, whether Leo Rautins should be allowed to continue as head coach should be a matter of debate, and at worst, he should be fired before he boards the plane back home. But glancing at the FIBA rankings, the only team Canada lost to that was ranked beneath them was Lebanon, and that’s by only five spots. Would a better coach have delivered better results? I’d hesitate to think so, because international success in any sport is dependent on the level of commitment and quality at the grassroots level more than it is on a coach or a particular player. That’s my two cents, which are likely worth less than a penny.

I’m also looking forward to Rautins coming back as an analyst and trying to break down a key possession in a game. After every word he’ll say people will think back to the tournament and question his take on everything. I think it’ll be quite funny.

Leo: The Raptors need to isolate DeRozan in the post, and have Weems cut baseline.

Devlin: (dripping with sarcasm) That’s a great suggestion Leo, you really should try your hand at coaching.

Leo: Err..I’m..

Devlin: Oh wait, you’re the head coach of Team Canada, how’s that going for ya?

In Raptors interest, Barbosa chipped in with 17 points in a win over Croatia, and Kleiza had 15 in a win over France. The games didn’t mean much because all four teams had pretty much qualified for the next around. Barbosa is the player that I’ve been paying attention to and if there’s one conclusion that can be drawn from this tournament, it’s that he’s completely shaken off his injury problems from a year back. He looks fit and ready for the season to start.

Here’s something I just thought of doing about 10 seconds ago, three predictions for next year.

Julian Wright will be more hated than Antoine Wright: Antoine didn’t turn out to be the defensive stopper some thought he was going to be, mostly because in order to be one you have to have a good system around you. A good defensive player on a bad defensive team will look like a bad defensive player. Wright’s redeeming quality last year was his unexpected three-point shooting, which was at a career-best 33.5%. If the Raptors continue to be a poor defensive unit, Julian Wright has nothing to fall back on, he’s a career 27% three-point shooter with no mid-range game. Either Julian Wright will make a serious mark on this team because of his defense, or he’ll be completely useless.

Alvin Williams will replace Micah Nori on the bench: This move is a long time coming, and finally it’ll happen. A sidebar to last year’s horror of a season was Alvin Williams trying to cover his eyes as he couldn’t bear to see the team give the piss-poor effort that they did. This franchise has employed figureheads like JYD, Jermaine O’Neal and Reggie Evans in the name of toughness, but Alvin is a man that happens to bring it mentally. I would think a player can learn a lot more from a person like that than a tough guy who insists on being called ‘The King’.

David Andersen will surprise some people: For the record, I think Colangelo traded for him because he dominated the Raptors in one game last year. Since the depth at center is minimal, and any defense/toughness Andersen will bring will be better than what Bargnani will, he’ll look good by comparison. Solomon Alabi has a chance of being something decent some day, but Andersen is our best defensive option at center right now and it’ll show.

Amir Johnson’s working on his dribbling.

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