There’s many “X moves the Raptors should make” type articles out there, and I’m here to tell you that all of that is nonsense. The Raptors don’t need to do anything, all they got to do is fill out the remaining roster spots with minimum salary players, preferably D-Leaguers with short fuses, and then add that big man or whatever Casey feels is necessary to get his offense/defense thingy going. I can sign off on that. If something nice like Marc Gasol can happen, great, if not, wait. In short, at this juncture in this team’s evolution, any acquisition we make has to fall into one of two categories:

1. Guy who will be a key piece for the next 4-5 years and can turn into an All-Star, even though he’s not one right now. This is the Marc Gasol type signing I’m talking about, other guys here could include DeAndre Jordan, Arron Afflalo (very happy in Denver), Wilson Chandler etc., I don’t need to name them, there’s a list here. This to me is where a GM makes his money, the question is whether Colangelo can find someone and hasn’t realized his potential due to some reason, and have him do it in Toronto. Supplying a player like this with a change of scenery and a fresh smart can make all the difference. See Zach Randolph for more details.

2. Oh shit man, we are so bad in this area of the game that we need to get a stop-gap in here just so we can run a few plays without being torn to shreds. An example is the big man that we’re led to believe we desperately need. The sexy signing is Tyson Chandler, the smarter one is Kwame Brown, Marcus Camby, actually wait, we did compile a list of these dudes in the summer. Same idea as before applies here too, it’s one thing to pluck out an established player from the market at a high price (Battier?), that’s fairly straightforward GMing, but can you get someone on the cheap who becomes good while in Toronto instead of fading. Colangelo’s done this (sort of) with Amir Johnson, that kind of a trade needs to be struck again.

Speaking of Colangelo’s attempts at buying low, James Johnson is back in town and talking big:

“I’m not afraid to work harder than my opponent and I think that starts on the defensive end.”

Well James, that’s news to me and just about everyone who saw you play last year. I’m not going to rip on JJ here, and will say my peace by pointing out that Johnson is a very good example of a player that should be a good defender, but is not. Andrea Bargnani gets to be the subject of discussion when Casey’s influence on the current crop is brought up, but a guy like Johnson is likely a better example. Johnson has the “tools” to be a good defender and hasn’t quite made his mark in any capacity yet, granted his playing time has been in shortly supply.

We focused on his point-forward role in a post over the summer, so I thought I’d complete the circle and look at him in defensive situations. Here are 20 plays from last year, 10 are of him in pick ‘n roll situations, and 10 are in spot-up (closing out a guy etc.). Have a look:

What do you see? Do you want me to tell you what I see? Sure. I see tons of issues ranging from coaching to individual: soft coverage on PnRs, poor spacing, late reactions, half-hearted contests, the list goes on. I also see a guy who isn’t quite giving it his all when given a chance to finally play (these are clips from his first few games with the Raptors). Before you slag him for not fully appreciating the PT given to him by the Raptors, you should know that it’s very difficult to start D’ing up like a madman when you’re the third-worst team in the league. I don’t care what kind of a competitor you are, when the team sucks and is going nowhere under a soft coach who isn’t holding anyone accountable, it’s awfully hard to pick yourself up. There are exceptions like Reggie Evans, but Reggie is crazy.

The technical influences Casey will have on James Johnson, Andrea Bargnani and the rest of the defensively challenged Raptors will be carefully observed, but that’s not what’s going to be the key driver of success. If success is indeed in the cards, what will be critical is how players heed the example of professionalism and commitment set by others, something sorely missing under Triano. The fact is that when your team leader – say DeRozan or Bargnani – is busting their ass on defense, you as a teammate will be inclined to do the same. If they’re hustling down the floor and taking charges, there’s no doubt the James Johnson types will take note and follow example. Up until now these examples have been provided by fringe players like Reggie Evans who don’t have the influence many fans think they ought to, simply because they’re scrubs and don’t carry influence. This has to change. It makes a massive difference when Bargnani dives for a loose ball than when Evans does. The former can lift a team, the latter is ho-hum.

What this goes back to is how your team leaders – remains to be seen who they are – act and play. When Chris Bosh was the silent leader (whatever the *&^% that means), he wasn’t able to raise anyone’s game through his play or presence. The Raptors will likely not end up having the type of personality in the lockerroom that makes sure you bust your tail out of pure fear, because there aren’t any Charles Oakleys around. This group will have to pick each other up collectively, it’s Casey’s job to make sure that the perceived franchise-type guys such as DeRozan, Bargnani, and Davis commit to playing at a high level. The rest will follow.

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  • J_Hoss

    That first play against the Bucks was Ed Davis’ fault. Terrible D by Davis. Disinterested. Way too slow to react.

  • TParks32

    Personally, I agree with you. I think James Johnson can be a lock down defender in this league. He has the size and athleticism to not only guard forwards, but also to contain smaller guards.

    I think JJ finally had his “rookie year” with the Raptors, because while with the bulls he was solely getting playing time based on injuries and never contributed other than that. I also think you should give him a little more credit.

    Speaking strictly off the video, you made out his defense to be terrible. Yes, there were some clips where he was a step behind or appeared lazy, however in a majority of the clips it appears as if he is doing what was asked of him by the coach. He constantly was attempting to force his player baseline, not allowing him to use the screen, and where his help from the big man was. However, it is the big mans responsibility to contain at that point. To force the offensive player to not use the screen, you take yourself out of position for an instant. It appears that he is doing what is asked in those clips.

    Then the off the ball situations. There are a couple times where James has a poor closeout or a bad contest. However, more times than none, James is helping and recovering. Sometimes he’s helping another player and forced to rotate because another player’s poor defense. In a lot of the clips, James is contesting and altering shots. These were only over a few games. What about his defense on Kevin Durant?

    I think James deserves more credit as a defender. Never once did you give him credit as a good defender. Stating, “soft coverage on PnRs, poor spacing, late reactions, half-hearted contests, the list goes on,” is kind of ridiculous. Before you judge a player, it is important you understand a lot of things. Scouting report? Some players you don’t need a strong closeout and you’d rather live with the shot. Coaching strategy? Most of the clips form the PnR are the big mans fault and help side. Personally, I think he deserves more credit.

    • Nilanka15

      “I think JJ finally had his “rookie year” with the Raptors…”

      Agreed.  We can think of last year as a write-off for Johnson, and the 11mpg he averaged in Chicago probably didn’t provide much opportunity to learn through his mistakes, so we should theoretically ignore it altogether.

      As far as I’m concerned, Johnson’s only played 25 career games worthy of evaluation.  There’s a lot of basketball to be played before we can accurately label him one way or another.

  • Puffer

    Towards the end of the season, JJ’s defensive coverage was quite good, as I recall. I don’t think anybody else was better. Maybe Barbosa. But he was definitely lacking earlier on.

  • 2damkule

    the thing that’s bugged me about JJ’s D from day 1 is his tendency to let his man get by him (purposefully) so he can go for the ‘from behind’ block.  it’s simply poor fundamentals, something that is coached out of most players by 8th grade…yet we saw him do it time & time again.  if the only thing DC is able to get through to JJ is to use his size/length/strength & relative quickness to close angles & keep his man in front of him (with the realization that doing so is likely the hardest single thing a perimeter defender is tasked to do in today’s NBA), all while gaining a better understanding of when to help (and when not to) & a better overall feel for rotations, then he (JJ) could become the elite defender that he already thinks he is.  he does those things, and he’s going to have a long career, despite his offensive short-comings.


    get rid of this bullchit player ANDREA and sign TYSON  CHANDLER  a guy who brings more than ten things that the raptors need to the table ANDREA bring only one thing to this team,and i’m starting believe that this team will never get anywhere with this guy on the team and if BC gets rid of ED or AMIR that tells me we need someone else to do his job. 

    • cesco

      The ONE thing that Andrea bring to this team , is it spreading the floor ? or one on one defense ? or guarding the likes of Shack , Superman and Duncan ? or breaking people ankles like he did a few years ago to Reggie and only this past summer to Noah at the Euros ? reverse dunks maybe ? or forcing the other team to double team him ?. I do not know which of these things you think he helps the team with , please advise .

      • 2damkule

        i think he was referring to padding his teammates’ rebounding #s.

      • NEWS FLASH

        not good enough you can find guy like that anywhere they may not be 7fters but you can find them NATE ROBINSON

        • Emichael

          You don’t understand that it isn’t easy to just dump one guy and pick up another guy who just won a championship and entice him to come to a losing franchise. The NBA is not that easy, or else the Raps would be a superior team. There’s more to it than saying, “Oh, let’s get this guy and get rid of this guy…” It’s not that simple.

    • KaioKev


      You remind me of someone else who posts frequently on this site……

      Anyways, I also saw in your posts that you want Larry brown for GM. Is he looking for a GM position?

      • NEWS FLASH

        larry would make sure we get players that rebound an play defence


    when CHANDLER the player with ring is busting his ass on D the rest will follow culture change please and say noooo to K. BROWN

    • Nilanka15

      I don’t think Chandler will be nearly as affective playing for the Raps as he was last year with the Mavs.  Last year was a contract year, and he had a championship on the line.  If those 2 things can’t motivate a player, nothing can.

      But with those 2 motivators absent in Toronto, we’d probably be stuck with 5 years of Chicago’s Chandler days (unimpressive at best, and certainly not worth $10 million+ per season).

      • NEWS FLASH

        Larry Brown didn’t think so seeing that he treaded for him when he was with the Bobcats and i think he knows good defencive players look at who he brought in before MJ gut the team. seems to me the raptors would rather spend money on a player like ANDREA before he does anything than on a player like “SEXY” who helped his team win a title and even though it was a contract year for him i think he would still try to play hard because it was a contract year BC tried to get him even before he won a title and now that has you don’t want him

        • Nilanka15

          Chandler’s overrated.  Whoever signs him to a 5 year, $75 million deal will be fired in 12 months.

          • NEWS FLASH

            i’ll bet you they won’t and i think a lot of nba teams would love to have him. LARRY BROWN for GM one way to get rid of ANDREA

            • Nilanka15

              Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate Chandler’s game.  But I just don’t think he’s worth the asking price. 

              I’d rather hold onto that financial flexibility until next year.

              • NEWS FLASH

                My dad was selling his house and he had a asking price that dosen’t mean hes going to get the price he is asking but you’ve got to set the price and thats all sexy and his people have done also i think Casey would love to have a player like tyson holding down the D and also teaching the young ones and they would listen to him because hes got a ring and you need someone on your team who already has the prize now pay the man

      • NEWS FLASH

        only offencive player should get that type of money ?

        • Nilanka15

          No, only players who won’t be 35 in the final year of their deal.

          • NEWS FLASH

            so now it’s his age,maybe just maybe JV will be ready  to start before tyson is 35 and i wonder how much that guy s.nash is making on the last year of his deal and the nba ring he’s got on his finger. what i’m trying to say is your not just paying a guy like tyson all that money just for playing  he would be your anchor teacher on the floor for the coach,locker room voice for the young ones not just handing out gatorade like one of the leaders on this team and also a guy like tyson i can’t see him backing down on the “big three” ,KG and some of the nba bullies i think he’s one of those “not in my house” type of guys that the raptors need and that my friend you have to pay for.

            • j bean

              Nash is a great player but has never won a championship ring. 

  • Superraptor

    I think JJ is actually one of our best defenders …

  • Sprechen

    A) The footage is limited to two games. I know for sure you can easily put together another video with good defensive plays.
    B) I see many more team defence issues than JJ issues.
    C) I like what I’ve seen from him so far. I think he has the tools to be a very solid all-around player. He seems to fit in well with the young core. He has the right attitude to play Dwayne Casey BB. He can thrive in an accountable, well-organized system. I think by the end of the year people are really going to like JJ and cite his major improvement.
    D) As for team defence, you can have a team with one defensive liability as evidence by the Dallas championship, but you cannot have any success with two defensive liabilities (Bargnani/Calderon).



    • Dconnolly

      I agree, I don’t think Calderon and Bargnani can be on the court at the same time, and like the Dallas comparison. They hide Dirk well… it’s almost like how Spain hides Calderon’s defence, although he gets a few steals in the international game. 

      Perhaps, they can play them for a few minutes and have Calderon coming off the bench. I really like the way he runs an offence. Calderon and the young high flyers make for an exciting offence. 

      I’m not sold on Bayless yet, on the defensive side, or running the team. I think his play will be a big factor in next years off season.

      • Sprechen

        I agree. Calderon is the perfect guy to feed the youngsters at this point. Are there better point guards in the league? Absolutely. Are we going to get one? Not likely. Though never say never. It’s funny how quick people are to say get rid of so-and-so and pick up so-and-so like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

        I understand the mixed feelings about Bayless. He still needs more seasoning but he has a lot of potential. Last year was his first real crack at some playing time so he was probably a little too excited. I like his attitude and his skill set. We know he can score but I think he can play hard defense as well. We’ll see.

  • dblock416

    you dont know what your talking about james johnson is the best perimeter defender on the raps did you know he was injured last year? HE will be our future 3 you guys all forget colangelo wanted this guy 2 years back if we didnt get derozan it would of been him. Jus watch buddie and say dblock 416 was right.

  • TParks32

    It’s funny how this article is mainly written about JJ’s lack of defense, when he is the least of our problems defensively. Have we given up on Bargnani, who can’t guard any position? Not to just pick out him, but we can go down the whole roster and pick something out that is wrong defensively with that particular player. I really don’t understand the point of this article, and the video doesn’t prove anything.

    And JJ doesn’t purposely let his man go by to try to block him. Yes, he may have a poor closeout at times, just like every player. Closing out on a good player is the hardest thing to do in basketball. JJ is just one of the few players that is able to recover in time to make a play.


    Sometimes i don’t blame the raptors player for wanting to leave this teams is going nowhere LARRY BROWN for GM

  • AmirFan

    “because there aren’t any Charles Oakleys around.”
    Great Point. Now my question is from the current players in the league, who fit the bill ? Who has the Oakley attitude that Raptors can go after and bring in.

    I know we are rebuilding and … ( This is the excuse for being shitty in the message board) but change of culuture takes time. Why not rebuild with the right culture and under right veteran leadership !!! 


      “SEXY” (TC) and he has a ring but we rather pay caldy and andrea the big bucks good lord.


    now this is the kind of BS i’m talking about people want the raptors to sign KWAME or CAMBY (ftw moments) wtf

  • RapthoseLeafs

    It’s tough to criticize JJ – I’m more apt to criticize the entire team …. these videos just highlighted how poor the defensive strategies were, and how far Casey has to go to clean this up.

    Don’t expect miracles – it’ll take late in the season to see real progress, considering how minimal the amount of practice & pre-season will take place. 


    I’m pulling a FERRIS BUELLER today thus the time on my hands but i’m going to give raptors fans 124 reasons why we should sign TYSON CHANDLER stay tuned


    • p00ka

      Do you actually think anyone is tuned in to begin with? FYI, in case you didn’t notice, this is a post about JJ, not Andrea, not Chandler, not Larry Brown, not your chance to demonstrate what happens to a mind when the vessel doesn’t venture far from wearing his undies while hanging out in his parents basement.

      • NEWS FLASH

        you tuned in

      • NEWS FLASH

        also you took time to type over 50 word when what you should have done pookie is just press arrow down and then go on about your business

      • NEWS FLASH

        pookie please read the whole post and not just the headline i hope your still at school you can’t afford to pull a Ferris Bueller
        larry Brown for GM on his first day he would sign sexy and trade Andrea defence wins you know what

        • Buck Foston

          You shouldn’t be pulling anymore Ferris Bueller, they actually teach spelling and grammar there.

          And why do you refer to Chandler as “Sexy”? I’m hoping you’re a female…

          • NEWS FLASH

            pookie i told you arrow down

          • NEWS FLASH

            next thing you’ll be asking me what do i have on my mother told me about people like you on the internet please talk basket ball if you can’t understand or read what i’m writing just press arrow down and move on “hoping i’m a female” you dirty old man talk about your team,player,gm,what you would like for your team not hoping what gender i am

            • SAM

              You are an idiot

  • Bendit

    I didn’t understand the Herman Cain reference.

    • cesco

      Quite puzzling since Cain failed miserably at politics . He is the most stupid person to enter politics beating GWB and Palin by a mile . He is a joke and few of his books will be sold from now on , I think . If he was a player , no GM will touch him with a ten foot pole .


    raptorfans the next time you all see D. Casey ask him if he would like to have sexy tyson on his team and he will tell you no because his price tag is too high and we can get a young guy like KWAME much cheaper who won’t back down from labron,bosh,kg melo,stat and blake (smile)

    • raptordan

      Kwame got laughed out of LA because his freakishly small hands couldn’t catch a pass or slam a basketball.  He will be the next Hedo if he comes to Toronto.

    • Emichael

      Holy hell man. I have a feeling that you are a young kid who hasn’t watched professional basketball for a long time, so I’ll go easy on you. Seriously though, what you say lacks any type of realistic basis. “Kwame” (Kwambe) Brown was the first pick in the draft and failed to meet expectations and that is why he has been traded a lot. Chandler is a good player, but has had significant injuries. He had a strong season last year and is likely to get a good contract for his contributions to the championship Mavericks team. However, the chances of Toronto going out and signing him are slim. Yes, it makes sense that they evaluate his interest level in regards to playing in Toronto.

      The Raptors are not a good team, but are likely to improve because of next year’s strong draft, along with the addition of JV. This season will be interesting to watch because of the new coach and the development of a young team. It is going to take time for this team to reach playoff contention.

  • AmirFan

    CP3, Howard and Kobe , wwwooowww
    Lakers can win 3 more rings easily ….. Make it happen …

  • FAQ


    • AmirFan

      Bring it On 😉

  • Matt69

    It is funny how the whole league now thinks Hedo is over paid :). I guess you have to add the name of Hedo to the long list of over paid players who all were signed by the great genius himself ( BC). Diaw, kapano, Hedo, … and Amir 🙂


      only Diaw i think was used the right, coming into that season Kapono was know as a three point threat an should have been parked out by the three point land that the kind of peice he was. a guy who could make his defender chase him all over the court or pay

  • Dconnolly

    They need to get experience this year… and save money. The team’s rebuilding. If you can get a young player like Ellis, do it! 

    And you have to like J Johnson. Remember when Paul Pierce ran over Bosh? Try that with James Johnson. He brings toughness and a lot of upside. 

    We’re rebuilding and I’d say Bargnani + DeRozan + J Johson + Davis + Jonas + next year 1st round pick are untouchable. Yes Bargnani! He’s better every year, and when he’s on… no one can touch him. He just needs to react when the ball isn’t in his hands. Plus he should get more props for his one on one defense (excluding Bogut). Remember Bargnani is a first overall pick, but he doesn’t get paid like one… a bargain for 20 ppg… with more upside to come.

    • nobody is untouchable if you haven’t made the playoffs. JJ is not Paul Pierce, dumbass. JJ has only played half a season, so relax yourself. He has no competition this year for the SF spot, he won by default because BC couldn’t find a decent SF. Stop thinking like our players are going to turn into superstars. I’ll trade Bargnani any day of the week for anyone with how soft he is and his slow reaction to rebounds. Who cares if he is scoring well, he is a terrible weak side defender and just sticks to his man. It pisses me off, and fans like you piss me off 

      Heres your buddy James Johnson getting ran over fucking dumbass:

      • Dconnolly

        Wow, take it easy. I’m glad BC is in charge, while your parking his car. I do agree that no one is untouchable, but if he trades the players I mentioned he’s not going to get enough in return… therefore, why would he trade them? Instread, wait a few years until the develop… and take a few deep breaths.

        • But seriously you were comparing James Johnson to Paul Pierce. That is so stupid. The guy hasn’t even played a season and you want him to do pull off moves of a HOF player. C’mon. And what the hell? Ellis? Why would we grab Monta? Like weren’t we any worse on D and he is an inefficient scorer in a high tempo offence. Don’t come up with stupid things to say and you won’t get ripped for it.

          • Dconnolly

            I think you mixed me up with someone else… 

            • Dconnolly

              lol. I read back. Paul Pierce ran over Bosh one game and taunted him. You really have to know the raptors and watch that game to get the reference. Paul Pierce taunted Bosh and disrespected the entire team. My point is… Johson is a black belt, Paul Pierce may try that with Bosh, but he wouldn’t to Johnson. It’s nice to have that toughness on the team. I wouldn’t even compare Johson to Pierce as a player. Pierce is going to the hall of fame!

              • Black belt? What is this? Karate or something now. I don’t know what point you were trying to prove at all now. 

                • Dconnolly

                  You really need to grow a pair of balls. Would you let this happen to your star player?

                  Barkley and Rodman had value… I think Johnson is the same sort of player. He’d stick up for a team mate. I’d didn’t peg you for someone who was afraid of confrontation. Do you need a colouring book?

                • I knew what play you were talking about. What makes you think he is that kind of guy. Did he bring toughness or show toughness last year. NO. 

                • Dconnolly

                  oops, I accidentally liked your post, at least someone did. Hey, what’s wrong with saying he’s decent with upside and brings some swagger? 

                  According to the analysts, this guy’s respected around the league. And I saw him clear out some player during a game when Demar had some issues, and the other players backed away. But hey, you seem to have allot to say about this, and you know it all. I know when I play sports, I’d think twice about mixing it up with him. Again, you’re the champ, so you’d mix it up with a 6’9″ 245 pound 2nd degree black belt.

                  You seem to have a lot to say with no original comments of your own.

                • what am i supposed to go lick james johnsons’ balls all day like you do. he sucks. i hope he has a good season and all. but he has been irrelevant since he came into the league. ohhhh he broke up a fight and has a black belt. heres some advice for him, learn to guard better and we wouldn’t be last in defense. 

                • NEWS FLASH

                  JOHN G you make me laugh at 5:00 in the morning thanks

        • Sprechen

          What a douche bag. I like JJ as well.

      • john g—ay

        And that’s a horrible link you sent… he had the balls to attempt a block, and he’d do it again.

      • Sprechen

        Easy there Dildo Baggins. You didn’t read what he said and then jumped to a conclusion. Why don’t you go be pissed off somewhere else. You obviously never watched all of the Raps games with JJ playing. He played hard and he played tough. There is a lot to like about him. He’s one of the guys that helps establish a new culture on the squad. As for couldn’t find another SF, in case you didn’t notice, there was a lockout. Think before you speak jack-ass.

        • there is nobody, BC isn’t going to sign anybody because he saving it for next year. He established a new culture? He ain’t KG buddy. This is a guy who played HALF A SEASON. AND WE WERE LLLOOSSSIIINNNGGG. what culture were we establishing? i don’t know what culture your talking about but if its pussiness then im not surprised you see it.

          • Sprechen

            A) I’m not your buddy.

            B) I said he will help (keyword, help) to establish a new culture under Dwayne Casey. Again you don’t read carefully enough to discern the subtle nuances of the English language and the writer’s intent.

            C) You mention he only played half a season yet you’ve got it all figured out. You should be a scout for a pro team. Johnson should just retire, there’s no point in even trying now that you’ve weighed in.

            D) I’m sure you wouldn’t suggest that he was pussy to his face. Hide behind your keypad jerking off to your own intellectual brilliance.

            • Im not saying Johnson we should not let him play. People are making him out to be a focal point of this team. The guy hasn’t even proven anything yet, we’ve seen little glimpses and we all overact and say he can be a big part of the future. And good for you, you can use big words in a discussion board to make yourself feel better about yourself (clap clap). 

              • Dconnolly

                After taking verbal and intellectual beating on this post… yes it’s the big word again – “intellectual,” why don’t you call it quits? No one’s saying he’s a center piece, just a decent prospect. 

                I’d like to see another post on the republic about whether fans should boo Bargani. If you like him or hate him, booing will just hurt his confidence, and make him less of a trade asset. John G, you seem like a negative dude… thoughts?

                • Theres no point in booing him. You think he hasn’t heard the criticism already. Just when Sam benched him, and put JO in the starting lineup, he played like crap. Then when Jay put him as a starter, his confidence went up and he played better. His value is what it is, a shooting big man, nothing more. I hope he can improve his rebounding and his back to the basket.

    • Nilanka15

      “[Bargnani] just needs to react when the ball isn’t in his hands…”

      That would be close to 75% of the game where Bargnani doesn’t have the ball in his hands.  That’s a lot of time spent floating around providing no value to your teammates.

      • Dconnolly

        True. and it’s frustrating.