What Signing Dampier Could Mean For The Raptors

Adding Dampier to the Raptor front court isn’t a slam dunk, there are some challenges that need to be addressed.

When MJ pulled the plug on the Calderon/Evans for Diaw/Chandler trade earlier this summer, it actually upset me more than Bosh signing with the Heat. Figure in Barbosa for Turkoglu and the Kleiza signing; this team was actually in better shape than anything we could have hoped for (and probably better than the one that just missed the playoffs).

Pairing up an athletic big (Chandler) who specializes in defense, rebounding and alley-oops with another big (Bargnani) who specializes in scoring without the overlap of both needing a lot of touches on offense is ideal. I know what you’re going to say: Amir Johnson. Yes, in theory he is the athletic big specializing in defense and rebounding who takes good shots. The only problem is that he has a hard time staying on the court. Put aside the fact that he got the big contract and think objectively for a second: what makes you think Amir Johnson, who’s never averaged more than 18min because of foul trouble, can give this team more than 25min a night?

The front line depth chart makes me nervous:

PF – Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Reggie Davis, Joey Dorsey
C – Andrea Bargnani, David Andersen, Solomon Alibi

  • I don’t know what to expect from Davis and Alibi seeing as they are wet behind the ears, so if they give us a combined 15min a night of solid production (with most of it going to Davis) that’s really all we can ask for since they start the season banged up
  • Evans makes a whole lot of commotion without really contributing anything, sorry but it’s true, figure 8-10min a night
  • I would be more than happy if Dorsey got all of Evans’ minutes, but if he’s playing more than 5-7min a night I’ll be surprised
  • David Andersen…he’s a poor mans version of Bargnani without the athletic ability, God help us; 3-5min

So with some uncertainty up front I found it encouraging/interesting to read about the Raptors being in the mix for Erick Dampier’s services. If he’s signed, it would mean that for the second time this summer, the Raptors have moved away from their Euroleague aspirations, and brought in a guy who plays a traditional role (Julian Wright is a slashing/defensive small forward, even though he hasn’t shown a whole lot so far). I appreciate guys like Dampier; they go to work, and do their best. No complaining, no arguing, they just ball. We haven’t had many of those cats recently.

Adding Dampier to the existing mix of forwards isn’t as complimentary as adding Chandler, or the pairing with Amir. Eric Smith recently interviewed Triano where he said that:

Andrea Bargnani is a defensive five (center) and an offensive four (power forward)

With Johnson (and Chandler if the trade went through), they play an offensive five (in the paint with their backs to the basket), and a defensive four (athletic and mobile enough to cover power forwards who can shoot and put the ball on the floor). Offensively they mesh since Bargnani plays outside in, but defensively, Dampier can only bang in the blocks with other big lumbering centers to be optimally effective on defense, same with Bargnani.

This gets even more interesting when you have a pairing of Johnson/Dampier. Defensively they can cover the front court effectively, and possibly be a solid defensive duo; but on offense, they both play in the post with their backs to the basket. No hi/low post action, and with neither of them having the offensive game to consistently draw a double in the post, they wont be giving the perimeter shooters much room to get a clean look.

You could have a set where Kleiza facilitates from the hi-post, with Damper playing in the low block and Amir on the weak side. It has it’s merits, but if you shut down Kleiza in this scenario, neither Amir nor Dampier can create anything tangible on offense and it all just grinds out painfully.

With all that being said, if Dampier is available and is willing, you give him the veterans minimum and don’t think twice. Worse case he plays 20-25min a night (off the bench), contributing 5pts 7rebs. Best case, Miami or Orlando realize the Celtics are too big, and offer us a pick, some marginal player and cash for his services and we’re no worse off for it.

I know it’s two days in, but anyone else concerned about player focus when Triano has to cut a practice short because he can’t keep his players attention? This speaks much more to this teams youth and lack of experience than Triano’s ability to manage them. I guess I was expecting more considering all the big talk the young guns have been spitting all summer.

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