cavsraps

Let’s get this over with because I’m hating myself for starting this series of posts.

Amir Johnson: One thing is settled: his contract is reasonable, or at least it appears to be because it was so overblown at the beginning. The numbers (9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg in 25.7 minutes) are respectable, not for a higher caliber starter but for a hustling reserve who is steadily improving. What improvement you ask? He lowered his fouls and made a higher volume of jumpers, the work with Alex English paying off. Johnson has a long ways to go before he becomes a quality starting power forward, let alone a premier one, and all indication point to another year of steady growth for the the 24-year old. My expectations of him are fairly low so it’s tough to be disappointed in him, I see him as a Marcus Camby type player with greater leadership qualities (hopefully), and a better pick ‘n roll player. He’s three inches shorter and isn’t the weakside shot blocker that Camby is, but the length, zeal on defense and unorthodox jumper all match. If the Raptors are good for points at other positions in the starting lineup, Amir Johnson can be the perfect fit providing defense at one of the big positions.
Verdict: As you were.

Ed Davis: Raptors fans are expecting way too much of Ed Davis right now, already calling a rookie who didn’t make it to the rookie-sophomore game, or first or second rookie teams a cornerstone is quite sad. What Davis has is the right attitude and the proper work ethic to be a solid NBA professional for years to come. His offensive game is raw, he’s an above-average defender, an improving rebounder who will likely get better with experience, and above all he’s a lefty which will help him along. Davis overcame injuries to have a good start to his NBA career, he can look forward to an increased role next year and will have to answer questions about his strength, jumper, pick ‘n roll defense to name a few things. How he responds to those challenges is when we can start debating whether he’s worth taking forward. For now, he’s got work to do.
Verdict: Shape up.

Andrea Bargnani: Er…big men take longer to develop? Um…there’s a greater transition period for European players? Ah, I got it, he’s playing the wrong position. No wait! The Raptors have surrounded him with the wrong personnel. No, of course not! He doesn’t get enough plays run for him. Seriously now, I’m tired of waiting for him to blossom into something that he’s never going to be for the Raptors: a consistent high-caliber starter that will play two-way ball and bring a professional effort every night. Forget the #1 pick status, the very least he could do to earn his badges is to play hard and even that’s too much to ask. We’ve gone over his defense over and over again, to sum it up in a sentence it is damn near impossible for a team to “hide” Bargnani’s piss-poor defense and rebounding. I don’t care how much you overload the other positions to make up for his defensive ineptness, it will never clog the hole his mere presence creates. It’s not even just the defense, his passing game is awful, he’s averaging 1.2 assists for his career, terrible for a guy who operates from the top in face-up positions most of the time and has allegedly high basketball IQ. His offensive game today is what it was in his second year, and that is the biggest indictment against him. His “improvement” is completely a function of the minutes he’s played, there has been little to no true development and growth in his overall game. If you like 7-footers taking long jumpers – 34.5% from three last year – and occasionally gliding in for a layup to the oohs and aahs of Leo Rautins, he’s your man. I prefer more dependable offense which one can count on game-to-game, not every other week. As I’ve already said four times this summer, either move him to the bench (no Eric Smith, salary doesn’t matter – Terry, Crawford, Odom all make same/more) or…
Verdict: Ship out.

Reggie Evans: This guy was the token leader last year and he played 30 games. I kid you not, he was the presence in the locker room and I shiver to think what the state of this bunch will be when Evans and Calderon depart and a team speech is needed after a tough game. My guess is everyone will shrug their shoulders and reach for their iPods before heading out to Real Sports Bar. There needs to be some insurance at the four, and Evans’ injury issues make him anything but. We’ll miss the rebounding, but sooner or later we’ll have to ask Ed Davis to step up and next year will be it. His leadership and vocal presence do need to be replaced, Amir Johnson thinks he can do it.
Verdict: Ship out.

Joey Dorsey: He is 27 years old and will always be a guy on the deep, deep end of an NBA bench. I suppose roster spots need to be filled so may as well hang on to him on the cheap. When he does play he’s not terrible, gives quality effort, and lives up to the hype of being the 13th guy on the team.
Verdict: As you were.

Solomon Alabi: I haven’t seen enough of this guy to comment, but he seems to be a blacker version of Patrick O’Bryant. The Raptors were very high on him and so was Coach David Thorpe, I’m thinking it was for a reason and Alabi is just in a voodoo trance which he will soon awaken from to average 25/13 next season.
Verdict: Shape up.

Alexis Ajinca:

Verdict: Ship out.