Based on the comments in yesterday’s post, I think some clarification is needed as to what the “All Good” category means. Most of the comments didn’t agree with DeRozan being “all good” because the literal meaning of the phrase was assumed, i.e., everything about him is good. Of course not, the category meant to indicate that everything about his trajectory is acceptable and if he improves at the same rate blah blah blah you get the point. So I’m changing the name of All Good to “As you were” meaning keep doing what you’re doing and you should get there. If that is also mistaken, my next step will be to change it to “Not Solomon Alabi” just to avoid any confusion.

Today we tackle the small forwards, or as I’ve incorrectly referred to them in the title as “wings”.

Sonny Weems: His shooting percentage between 16-23 feet fell 9% to 38% from the year before. An even more dramatic drop was seen in the 3-9 feet range where he fell 16% to 38%. The jumper is pretty much 80% of Weems’ game, and when that wasn’t falling he was utterly useless. Two things frustrated me about Weems: 1) He obviously has the athleticism, agility and body-type to be a good defender, yet he’s more or less a pylon because of a lack of commitment to the cause, 2) That lacking effort and seriousness came in a contract year after the Raptors took a flier on an unknown commodity, highlighted him in marketing campaigns, and even created a supporters group around him and his friends. The injury bug did hit him for 23 games, so that had something to do with his dip, but from I can recall he was quite crap right from the beginning. He was also slightly out of position playing the three and being guarded by taller guys, which could have impacted his shooting percentage. The problem in Toronto has always been that we’ve expected players to play beyond their means despite them sparingly showing any evidence of doing so at any point in their career – Weems fits squarely in that group. With due sensitivity to his injury and fairly young age (turning 25 very soon), I’m inclined to give him a “Shape Up” but…
Verdict: Ship out.

Linas Kleiza: Kleiza is a bench player thrust into a starting role by Bryan Colangelo. Sound familiar? Yes, of course, the two other Colangelo mid-level exception signings were escalated to a starting role as well: Jarrett Jack and Jason Kapono. Yes Bryan, I understand you blew the MLE on him, but that doesn’t make him a starter in the league. As seen in Denver, Kleiza is obviously a capable and productive role player who can pose (and has posed) mismatch problems, while being a real spark off the bench. In Toronto, he’s asked to face the other team’s starting small forward who is only too eager to test Kleiza’s slow-moving feet on close-outs, one-on-ones and in transition. The issue with Kleiza needs to be seen in context of the Raptors’ desperate need for three-point shooting – he shot 29.8% from three last year, and is a career 33.6% shooter from downtown. That would be acceptable if he was a consistent offensive threat otherwise, or a good defender. He’s neither. He can’t dribble more than three times without getting a nervous twitch, and his little fade in the lane is easily stopped by faking help or having a lengthier guy on him. In other words, he can’t make much of his bulk advantage at the three, and isn’t skilled or strong enough to take on fours. Despite all this, I’ll still take him on my team because he’s proven NBA bench stock. It’s time to move him there and use his strengths instead of letting his weaknesses be exposed, because he’s certainly better than an overpaid underachiever and can bring a sense of much-needed grit.
Verdict: Shape Up.

Julian Wright: Aah. Very good defender, surprisingly good ball-handler and playmaker, but above all a terrible, terrible shooter. In the modern NBA (or even in the old one), there’s little use for a guy whose man on defense will be allowed to roam as he pleases because he can’t make a jumper. Wright would make a great fit on a contender where he’s asked to play situational, assignment-specific ball. On the Raptors, he’s just a guy whose ceiling is only too evident, and doesn’t tempt a club to invest any time in him because players like these are found anywhere between pick #23-60.
Verdict: Ship out.

James Johnson: Not sold on the guy as some, but am willing to give him another look on account of him only playing a half a season of somewhat meaningful basketball. His defense isn’t up to snuff, but he does have the athleticism and length to improve. His ball-handling is above-average for his position and it’s easy to see that he can be a passing and scoring threat if his mid-range game improves. You have to wonder just how much more of an impact players like Johnson and Bayless can have if the Raptors had better outside shooting which would force the defense to spread, thus creating more room to operate for players adept at taking it to the rim. Johnson’s undecisive play in playmaking situations sometimes stains his labour as a passer. At this point I don’t see it as a weakness, but a room for improvement, especially for a man who just turned 24. Of greater concern is his sometimes carefree attitude on the floor, reminds me to much of Sonny Weems,
Verdict: Shape up.

Have a good Sunday. I’m going to watch a re-run of Barcelona’s spellbinding demolition of Manchester United.

  • Cal S

    This post makes me want rudy gay that much more

    • Beaverboi

      “That’s Rudy Gay. NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Not that guy!!! F*&$ing Rudy Gay”

  • sky

    You said “Shape out” for Weems in your paragraph but then your verdict is actually “Ship out”. Anomaly?

    • Arsenalist

      Nope, was debating shape out, went with ship out.

  • Statement

    James Johnson = Julian Wright

    Both are terrible shooters.  Lets see if Johnson can improve.

    Right now, I’d keep Wright over Johnson because he is a vastly superior defender.

    • mountio

      Disagree. JW might be a marginally better on the ball defender, but JJ trumps him in scoring, blocked shots, help D, shooting, versatility. And while hes not a great offense player, hes at least not a liability when he gets passed the ball in the half court as he can take it to the hole or at least be a somewhat credible threat to shoot from 15-18 feet.
      To me, JJ>JW pretty much all around. JW is thus reduandant and not worth keeping.

      • Nilanka15

        I totally agree.  I just much more potential in Johnson than Wright, especially considering their respective levels of experience.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B32FGJ2BOTMWNQTMO2XEDRGBCA JW

      I think when its all said and done, a lot Raptor fans are still consuming the JJ Koolaid.  The hype machine in this market for new acquisitions is insane.

      Considering playing time and the green light have been shoved down JJ throat I can’t say that I am that impressed.

      He never dominated a game, and is looking more and more like a role player.   I still have questions about him fitting into a stricter style of play, the sort of restrictions that playoff teams usually have. 

      He was put in a situation where he was allowed to do as he pleased and was nourished with as much time as he could handle.  He basically was put front and centre into a style that only he could benefit from, and I can’t remember him ever being a significant factor in a game.   What is more he is not showing the sort of consistency on defence that a lot of his hype machine is generating. 

      • Raptor4Ever

        “The hype machine in this market for new acquisitions is insane. ”

        Well Said…..

      • Theswirsky

        “He never dominated a game, and is looking more and more like a role player”

        call me crazy but isn’t that exactly what he is?

        “with as much time as he could handle”

        27 minutes a game is as much time as he could handle?

        James Johnson is never going to be a stud player. I don’t think people should expect that from him.

        • mountio

          Exactly. He is a role player .. I dont think anyone is thinking otherwise. BUT – he appears to be a lot better role player than JW. And feels like he could actually fit into a decent team and not be a liability (and perhaps add a little something on offense) .. whereas JW does not.  

      • c_bcm

        I think its debating between 2 mediocre bench players. Like debating between the differences in consistency between 2 piles of shit.

        Look at the forest and not just the trees.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RCWVIXH72H7GPHMFZ2B3HGJ3TM Alec

    Just think about them from other perspective.

    Everyone is drooling about rookies and at same time want our guys gone.

    Julian Wright is better than Kawhi Leonard (#7 pick probably) and Sonny Weems is better than any SG in upcoming draft. And that was while playing injured.

    Both are prime defenders and team guys.
    Weems can lock down opposing star PG and SG
    Wright was even used as PG last few games, wasn’t bad at all.

    • AJM

      JW is not in JT’s plan and that’s all we need to know. So there is no reason to bring him back.
      Also I don’t see how JW is better than kawhi. Kawhi on averaged 12 and 10 at his first year in college while JW had 12 and 7 in his second year at Kansas. (Kawhi took more shots but he was San Diego’s best player)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RCWVIXH72H7GPHMFZ2B3HGJ3TM Alec

        Right now Wright is more experienced and a better player than Leonard.
        Sure its awesome to hope a rookie turns out great, but a long shot

        • Jonathan

          Considering Wright has been far from great after so many years in the league, it’s not a stretch to expect Leonard to be better.

    • Beaverboi

      I think you lost credibility when you said Weems can lock down anybody.

  • Rpsfan95

    these position breakdowns are depressing, lets get back to chasing our “stars” out of town

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B32FGJ2BOTMWNQTMO2XEDRGBCA JW

      We don’t have any left.

  • Daniel

    We suck at SF. Weems, Johnson, Wright: Ship out.
    Kleiza: Get well – he played injured last year. He should be a back-up to a true SF starter.

  • enlightenment

    3 pt shooting is necessary.
    our team has fallen dead last (from one of the best) 3 pt shooting teams in the entire league!
    Not enough people are outlining this, but I believe the 3 pointer is the most important shot to have when trying to close games, and one of our biggest issues when trying to win is closing out the game!
    Trading bargs and calderone (like most want to do) will only LOWER the leagues worst 3pt shooting team to even darker depths.
    Has no one seen what a kyle korver can do at the end of games? or how often Orlando (one of the best 3pt shooting teams) shows up at the end of games?
    Im not saying to live or die by the 3 like orlando, but we need a STARTER that can stretch the defence, spark runs, steal momentum, and close games with their 3 pointers.
    Preferably our new SF.

    • knowledgep

      I agree with you, but I believe that’s something we can develop within with DD, Bayless through the draft and free agency. 

      I think the best way to move this team forward is addition by subtraction (trading bargnani, calderon) and continue the true rebuild. 

      My fear is that we keep bargnani and continue to build around him, we all know how that ended off with our last attempt to build around a big man right?

  • Bo4

    I agree with you on all counts, but for different reasons. We should keep JJ, but only as a sub. We have to keep LK until he’s healthy, but I’d trade him asap. He’s a Clydesdale.

  • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

    Weems- keep Weems as the back up ‘SG’ as he (will) comes relatively cheap while offering more talent than his contract pays him for plus he can defend when coached that way. It wasn’t his fault that the Rap’s have no pre game stretching rituals for practice/games as should be required for every player before they step on the court- stretching, thus his injury in the middle of a contract year may have been weighing heavily on his mind not to mention losing his starting position to JJ.

    LKlieza- ship out/buy out- amnesty. This guy is another one of BC’s over hyped free agent signings. He is not a starting SF in the NBA as he had trouble keeping SF in front of him all season long. Not to mention anything more than 2 dribbles is an adventure with LK. I can’t believe that both BC & Jay named LK one of two guaranteed starters (AB was the other) back in training camp- solely based on his FIBA play at that. I just hope that BC doesn’t draft his fellow countryman- JValanciunas. 

    JWright- keeper, he gets my respect for standing up to Jay and not entering a blowout game after sitting on the bench the whole 1st half- with a short roster at that. JW brings defensive intensity and hustle something the Rap’s sorely missed last season on a consistent basis. JW is a solid guy on and off the court and a good guy to have at the end of the bench and in the locker room.

    JJ- keeper, was brought over and handed a starting position in order to make it look like BC acquired a starter for Miami’s draft pick- slight of hand. While JJ played care free he had good games and bad games but wasn’t consistent enough all around for my liking. He arrived in the TDot out of shape and remained that way. There is a reason why he didn’t get off the bench in Chicago despite his overall talent- no discpline to his game. When JJ has the ball it’s a hold your breathe moment. Outside shot needs improvement. Plays tough defense at times. Will he improve his game & shape by next training camp/season- time will tell.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B32FGJ2BOTMWNQTMO2XEDRGBCA JW

    RE: Julian Wright:   For a guy who can’t make a jumper he surprisingly shot 513 this season.   How many plays do you think are designed for him? Also do you think he ever was given the same chance/green light that JJ was? (and why is he shooting 50 points higher than him? Shot selection?)

    • mountio

      They shoot pretty close on jump shots (JJ a little better at an eFG% of .385 vs JW at .366) .. but JW takes a lot more shots that are closer to the basket. So .. I guess to answer your question, JW does have better shot selection (or perhaps gets more fast break points etc vs the jump shots he takes).

  • Raptor4Ever

    This is the position that we need to upgrade badly. None of these guys are Starting material player in NBA.

    Keliza: Great PF for Europe but too small to play that position in NBA and too slow to be a SF here.
    Wright: Too limited to be a starter offensively.
    Weems: Well, he lost his chance to a big contract the way Amir Capitalized last season. He got exposed and that is that.
    James Johnson: Lets give him another season but he is at best a good bench player and next season will prove it.

    • Theswirsky

      Yes Amir got exposed as the best defender on the team and perhaps the most efficient offensive performer this team has ever seen.  His hard work and effort also got exposed.

      What a chump.

      • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

        i think he was saying that weems got exposed. don’t be so sensitive.

        • Theswirsky

          I see that now.

          I will very much be as sarcastic or as sensitive as I please.  Get over yourself.

          • Raptor4Ever

            Feel Free to stay Stuck on Stupid Pal. 

    • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

      re JJ: nothing wrong with a good bench player/solid rotation player as a high first round pick.  someone like a taj gibson is a fine guy to have on your team, and he was a lottery pick.  JJ has a reasonable contract, so it’s worth it to see what he can bring to the table.

      • Dkoop10

        Plus it seems to me that sucking has two main advantages: you get a high draft pick and you have room to take chances on players with high upside who haven’t performed so far. Look at the Blue Jays’ luck with ‘journeyman’ Jose Bautista. The Raptors ain’t winning it all next year, why not give some burn to athletic young guys J Johnson and Bayless. If they stink out the joint you get a higher lottery pick, if they come through you could find a jewel in the dumpster

      • Raptor4Ever

        I am actually all for giving Johnson another season to show case what he can do. I just don’t think he is a starting material if we are really looking to build the right way. I will be very happy if he can even be a solid bench player for our team.

  • Mahcnay

    Just hope James Johnson is not another Jamario Moon…

  • barenakedman

    Last year nobody stood out as head and shoulders above their competition. We saw some flashes of good play from everyone but nobody deserved a starters job. I’m looking for a better level of play at the wing than what we saw last year. Somebody must have the brains to realize there is an opportunity here they may never see again.
    As somebody else pointed out before Weems is better suited and has played much better at the 2.

    • Bukowski’s Toilet

      I have no problem resigning Weems as long as it is cheap and he understands that his role is as a backup to Demar who should work on his defense, not be chucking up shots every chance he gets 

  • Bigbalboski79

    two words:  rudy gay.

    • Dkoop10

      I almost had heart attack when I saw that trade rumor. Sounds too good to be true though. Jettisoning Bargnani and ending up with Rudy Gay while keeping our No. 5 pick? I will forgive Colangelo everything if he pulls it off. But as I said, seems too good to be true.

  • Guest

    i think that your comment on james johnson’s defense is a sign of your stupidity. james johnson hustled on every play on defense because he was fighting to prove himself. i doubt you even watched the raptors closely for the last third of the season.

    • Arsenalist

      If James Johnson was hustling on defense the last third of the season, then I have no doubt that he is a definitely a terrible defender. 

      He wasn’t but he’s got the makings of a good defender, some ways to go.

  • kaboom

    CAN WE JUST TRADE BARGNANI? WOW 

  • LinuxFTW

    You guys have to keep in mind that Sonny was hurt most of the year.