Let’s talk ball.

Over the last two months more ink has been spilled over the subject of “tanking” than anything else on this site, and quite frankly, it gets tiresome.

Is the future of this franchise worth discussing? Of course it is. By all accounts, this upcoming draft class is chocked full of talent, Kyle Lowry’s deal expires after this season, and the key pieces on the roster aren’t all that great, so change is both necessary and imminent. However, do we really need to talk about the future in every freaking comment section? What more is there to be said? Masai Ujiri, like many others, is clearly of the opinion that the Raptors, as currently constructed, are not very good. Therefore, he’s choosing (or chosen, in the case of Rudy Gay) to exchange his present assets for future value. We get it. It’s been discussed ad naseum.

So how’s this for a change? Instead of debating the merits and demerits of trading player X for player Y and fantasizing over how bad it would make the Raptors, let’s actually talk about basketball for once?

 [Check out the Quick Reaction!]

The Raptors and 76ers, two purportedly tanking teams played a basketball game last night and in my opinion, it was quite entertaining. The Raptors got off to a scorching hot start in the first thanks in large part to some excellent ball movement (Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry both racked up five assists apiece in the first). Derozan was confident and aggressive early on, repeatedly driving into the paint, drawing help defenders to him, and then finding the open shooters. Terrence Ross was the main beneficiary as he hit a couple of spot-up corner three’s from the right side of the floor. Lowry and Valanciunas even successfully teamed up to execute a screen-and-roll!

The Sixers did their part to help the Raptors along by being very careless with the ball. They turned it over 6 times in the first quarter which allowed the Raptors to push the tempo and capitalize on some easy transition opportunities (9 transition points in the first quarter).

Late in the first, we got our first glimpse at the scrap heap that we received in the Rudy Gay trade. Patrick Patterson made his first appearance as a Raptor with four minutes left in the first quarter and looked mostly lost on both sides of the floor (which is expected given that he’s only had one practice with the team). He looked slow-footed and provided very little rim-protection. He was unafraid to shoot from mid-range and beyond, but he only hit 1-5 in this game (a layup off a nice dish from Lowry).

Greivis Vasquez (I’m dubbing him Greasy Baskets, let’s see if it sticks) checked in to start the second and he didn’t mess around. Every play he ran was a pick-and-roll with either Jonas or Amir but it was clear that he and his bigs had yet to nail down the timing on the play. Greasy Baskets tried particularly hard to feed Jonas, but Jonas had trouble timing the roll – at times rolling too soon and sometimes lingering too long – which resulted in a slew of turnovers for the Raptors. Once Greasy Baskets realized that his roll-men weren’t up to the task, he decided to score instead. He dropped two very nice floaters in the lane and while he lacks quickness, he was able to create space for himself by subtly changing speeds (slow to less slow, hey it worked).

We also saw the return of Tyler Hansbrough, who had been sidelined since the game against Phoenix due to a separated shoulder. Hansbrough rocked a brace, a new haircut and his usual psychotic expression and proceeded to do what he always does – grab rebounds and draw fouls. He nearly got into a tussle with Evan Turner near the end of the second, but Hansbrough thought better of it and cooler heads prevailed. He looked a little hesitant to bang in the post, but I’m sure he’ll be back to his body bangerz ways when his shoulder is fully healthy. It’s good to have our goon back.

Terrence Ross was also quite impressive. Ross did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 16 points mostly through spotting up in the corners, but Ross took a more self-directed approach in the second half. On numerous occasions, Ross drove into the lane and pulled up for mid-range jumpers, which normally is a bad shot but it was falling for Ross. He finished the game with a season-high 24 points on 16 shots.

The Raptors went into the fourth with a 7 point lead and Dwane Casey, armed with an upgraded bench, was actually able to give most of his starters a breather. Greasy Baskets captained the ship for most of the quarter, generating great looks that the Raptors simply failed to capitalize on. Amir Johnson chipped in with a few baskets, including two drives to the rim.

The Sixers got to within four points of the Raptors, but the Raps hit three three-pointers in a row – two from Baskets, one from Johnson – to secure the victory for good. Dwane Casey gave the fans quite the scare when his misadventures in lineup tinkering allowed the Sixers to get within single-digits of the Raptors (2 point guards, Ross, 2Pat and JV didn’t look so great as a unit), but the he rectified his mistake by putting his starters in to end the game. Amir Johnson recorded a fantastic block on Tony Wroten late in the fourth and on the ensuing possession, Derozan sunk a baseline pull-up jumper to seal the 108-100 victory for the Raptors. Solid all-around win against an inferior squad.

For better or worse, the Raptors roster will be an endless revolving door until the trade deadline. Rudy Gay’s departure has left a surplus of possessions to his former teammates and players like Ross, Derozan and Johnson have really profited. The offense looks significantly different – there is much more passing, less isolation and the Raptors are playing at a higher pace. Soon, Lowry will also be traded and Greasy Baskets will likely become the starting point guard, which will change the offense once more. With every trade, with every shuffle of the deck, this team and it’s play style will look vastly different, and while we’ll always be looking to the future with this team, it’s still worth tuning in every game to see the development of the young core. I know losing gets us close to Wiggins/Randle/Parker, but it’s okay to enjoy the ride in the meantime.


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  • Ds

    To tell you the truth, I lay the blame on Casey and not Gay. Remember that it was Casey who said that we GAVE the ball to Gay because he could see over the defence. Look at him last night, Thomas handled the ball and he contributed right away to the Kings (mind you, they still suck). Now that he’s gone, the PGs are handling the ball, and now the ball is moving. What an idiot!

    • mountio

      Casey is a horrible, horrible coach. If there is one thing Im sure of through all of this .. it is that.
      Other places to lay the blame for sure .. but it starts and stops with him. The only good thing from a tanking perspective is he is still the coach! He will lose us a few extra games for sure! He even tried last night, not getting TR back in until 3 mins left (vets win games, dont ya know!!?)

    • ac1011990

      He played a great game last night, took some good shots played within the system and passed. He is by no means a bad player, his salary is high but that’s Memphis’ fault. I hope he has a great season with the Kings, personally I feel they made a great move for the team. He didn’t work well at all with the raptors because we had no system and honestly I think Casey and the team were afraid, or in awe of him or his contract. After this year I really hope Casey’s contract isn’t renewed and we get a capable coach for once.

    • consmap

      I watched Rudy’s highlights from the Kings game last night, and he still took a lot of bad shots. They just happened to go in.

    • TheSpiceTyrant

      Here’s a thought (and I’m not arguing with you):

      What if
      – Casey isn’t blind and naive to all that you’ve stated. He knows Gay’s lack of ball movement is killing the team
      – that Casey and Masai both agree that it is in the teams best overall interest to let Gay play despite the lack of success and team ball movement
      – that, as a consequence of all that’s happened, we have now a better team with more opportunity for TR and JV to get more touches and understand the impact being a black hole has on a team.

      Just sayin.

      • lewro

        showcasing gay to an extent makes sense. masai’s call tho, no credit to casey for that

  • raptorspoo

    Bad loss we took last night boyz (from a tankers prospective).

    But did get me thinking… if we could develop Ross we might as well trade DD cause DD is NOT and not going to be a superstar or a great role player. He’ll always be those stuck in the middle of nowhere people (don’t hate on me for my opinion). Ross on the other hand might be able to be molded into a good role player.

    • Rick

      Right but the think Ross could be a superstar? I like Ross but he plays a great game with dd but here we go again let’s trade demar because he’s not a superstar. But he improves every year. Not hating you have your opinion. But that’s the good old motto. The guys who leave toronto we bitch about. But the guy who’s showing more promise then all those losers who left toronto we wanna trade? Toronto fans get your shit together. Dd had shown nothing but promise and loyalty to this city! Ross is good but not close to comparing.

      • raptorspoo

        DD has an inconsistent shot because his shooting form is not great – which does not bold well for him consider he is a shooting guard [PS – non-Toronto professional sports commentators mention that they don’t trust DD’s shot]. That doesn’t take into account his deficiencies in defence, team play, IQ, etc. Sure he improves every year but you gotta be doing something really wrong to not be improving your game every year considering it is your profession.

        I don’t think Ross will be a superstar but he does have two things that DD doesn’t which is a sweet shooting stroke and a younger age. Also, just to remind you…they do play the same position.

        • Rick

          Are you serious, I guess you are. Yes demar is way older than Ross what was I thinking. Let’s trade our 20.ppg scorer he’s 24 and that’s too old. Meanwhile players don’t reach peak till 26-27. Btw lets tank because all the 1rd picks won championships in there first 5 seasons… Lebron-k.irving, John wall, Greg oden, Anthony Davis. Hat makes a lot of sense to trade away players now who’s improving and wants to be here, to gamble on players we don’t know. Anyways you have a rite to your opinion man. But I say screw tanking. Build with dd, Ross, jv, and see what additions you could add with all that cap space and possible picks. But don’t go out there looking for tanking because it ain’t gonna make a diff! 1 player ain’t making a diff. (Lebron) Miami! Not Cleveland. I hope Ross improves because we will have a great combination with dd and Ross together. They both could play sg/sf btw bro. As did last night.

        • jimmy

          well there you have it ladies and gentlemen. we can all agree that demar derozan’s shot is inconsistent because a fellow named raptorspoo has concluded that his shooting form is not great. not to mention how very few non-raptor sportscasters trust his shot!

          derozan is a gem. he’s always had a great attitude, plays hard, practices hard, and embraces toronto. the fact that he is still improving is a testament to his hard work, which is a ridiculously undervalued trait. he’s playing great team ball, isn’t taking those shots that used to make us collectively hold our breaths, and he’s a legitimate 3-point threat.

          i don’t get it fellas.

          • raptorspoo

            Hey, don’t be mad. I ain’t saying that DD is bad. I actually like DD but I’m looking at the big picture which many Raptors fan seem to fail to do. And fail miserably at doing, I might add.

            What you say is totally correct but my point is that:
            1. he’s the same position as Ross so why are you developing two SGs unless you expect both of them to be “great” assets in the future with one coming off the bench. (I think one of them moving to SF is silly cause they gotta be able to do it at both ends of the floor).
            2. going back to point 1, if we’re going to trade one then who do we trade? My point was trade DD and the reason was given. He is not a superstar and we don’t expect him to be one AND he doesn’t seem the type to be a great role player – WHICH I think Ross can develop into a better one of.

            Have I clarified my point a little better?

        • Phat AlberG

          Hey I always have been very critical with Demar’s game, but this year I have no complaints because his decision has improve greatly.

  • The Mega Sage

    Greasy Baskets is a horrible and borderline racist nickname. I hate it.

    General Greivis (said by someone last night) is scores better.

    • Kevin

      I’m not defending the nickname at all, but how is that racist?

      • Wiley Chamberlain

        Yeah, shitty nickname but there’s nothing racist about it lol

      • GoingBig

        Greasy + Hispanic player =

        • desktom

          I’m sorry but isn’t it wet and not greasy for Hispanic? Greasy means mechanic in my books , getting your hands dirty while working hard. lol

    • Paul

      Fully agree that Greasy Baskets is not a great choice. Greasy is almost never a good adjective unless you’re describing bacon or Charlie Sheen.

    • mountio

      Couldnt disagree more. Im will Billy Lou on this one. Greasy baskets for me until I hear something better ..

    • DDayLewis

      Whoops. Didn’t realize it would hit a nerve. There are no racist overtones to the nickname. It just happened to be part of my fantasy basketball team name.

      • D Cottle

        The name is derogatory – hardly an appropriate way to refer to a newcomer. Lose it!

        • Tanks-a-lot

          too damn bad
          nobody cares about the cultural marxist term ‘racist’ anymore.

          • lewro

            “nobody cares about the cultural marxist term ‘racist’ anymore” said the man wearing a white bed-sheet on his head. jk 🙂

            Seriously, you’re right, we should dispel of inherited stereotypes that perpetuate false notions of cultural hegemony. However, this is not the current status of our present reality as partially evidenced by the reactions of many on this forum. I’m not saying that it is right, I’m just saying that it is real, powerful and engrained in our cultural mores. For example, in a hypothetical situation, if I were to found a bball franchise in Mexico City and propose to call the team the Grease Balls, I would expect negative reactions and petitions, at the very least.

            The usage of the term depends on its context. The ‘grease’ stereotype actually pertains to Mexican-Americans (Vasquez is Venezuelan) but has become pervasive stereotype applied to the Latino community at-large. In this particular context, i think it depends on the derivation of the usage of the term, as intended by the author: “There are no racist overtones to the nickname. It just happened to be part of my fantasy basketball team name.” IMO this response skirts clarification and requires elaboration. I would accept the term if it referred to a slick pass/finger roll/floater or some usage that refers to the players’ performance. As such, General Greivis is apt bc he is a “floor general” and his pass-first style epitomizes that role. Again, IMO, this nickname is not as sensational/inflammatory bc ‘grease’ invokes a racially charged notion that is based in actual precedent. “General’ only references Star Wars’ General Grevious which is tame/lame by comparison.

            Personally, I think Vasquez has to earn his name through his play on this team and we haven’t seen enough to make that determination. His most salient characteristic may prove to be his poor defence (-16 vs Sixers). After all, Bargnani’s nickname on Benetton Treviso was “The Magician” and he certainly was able to disappear in more ways than one! 🙂
            Thanks for reading the entirety of this lengthy post.

            • Tanks-a-lot

              “The ‘grease’ stereotype actually pertains to Mexican-Americans (Vasquez is Venezuelan) but has become pervasive stereotype applied to the Latino community at-large.”

              Ummm, no. Actually, the idea of a greaser has more to do with Italian heritage than anything.

              I’ll bet you feel pretty stupid right now so I don’t expect you to apologize for your retarded paradigm.

            • B-rocula

              I think you would catch a lot of heat and anger calling a team the grease balls in Africa , Canada , Russia or Iraq it’s just a bad name lol

      • The Mega Sage

        It’s sometimes frustrating in our overly PC world, because it feels like you can’t say anything without someone being offended. But Greasy Buckets is (in my opinion) a combination of kinda derogatory word (greasy is a ‘common’ negative Hispanic stereotype) and, more importantly, just being a lousy basketball nickname. What are we trying to say here? He can’t hold on to a basket because it’s slippery?

        This would be the worst nickname since Big Baby!

        • William Lou

          It’s just supposed to be a double pun.

        • Tanks-a-lot

          As long as La Raza exists any charges of racism against outsiders is made hypocritical

        • Casey Sherman


          • DDayLewis

            Kanye? Is that you?

            • Casey Sherman


    • The nickname that will stick

      GRAVY <33333333333

    • Tanks-a-lot

      Nobody cares about the cultural marxist term ‘racist’ anymore… unless you are a moron.

    • StabbyRaccoon

      Ah but he’s not General Greivis yet, not until he’s starting point guard 😛

    • Rjak27

      I like Gravy Baskets better.

      • lewro

        Greivis Anatomy
        Jack Armstrong: Greivis Anatomy dissects the defence with a razor sharp pass, while penetrating to the hole.
        Greivis and Butthead
        with Hansborough as Butthead
        Gravy Molasses
        His pace and defence (not stick to but slow as)

  • some random guy

    Glad the young guys are getting a chance to develop again. Ross’s development seemed to cease once Gay came into the picture, he is starting to look like the player he was developing into before Gay came to town. JV seems to have more energy, albeit he didn’t have a good game (that will happen sometimes) he looks to have more energy knowing that the ball could get passed to him at any point. If Ross keeps developing into the player he was last night, just more being able to do that every night, I would not mind trading DeRozan (only for a lottery pick in this years draft), or hold on to him, see who we get in the draft (if it is Wiggins or Parker) then go after someone big with Derozan and 2 first round draft picks at either the PG or PF position. I was initially against tanking, but now all for it, but do it the right way and maximize the future, we have 2 months before the deadline. We should load up on assets that can be utilized as solid bench roles, or future trade chips for the off season. Hopefully the lottery balls fall in the right position, or the NBA can rig it for Toronto, Utah would be a terrible market for Wiggins, lol.

    • desktom

      The more I think about it the more having Rudy Gay here could have helped this team develop at warp speed, Everybody on the team looks like they understand what they don’t want to play like. Terence Ross thinks that he could easily ou t play anything Gay gave us. Demar looks like passing when he has nothing is a really fun thing to do since he saw what Gay did to him Thank you Rudy Gay for showing the young guys over and over again what not to do .

      • some random guy

        After reading that, I have to agree with you.

  • Rick

    Best post you did in awhile! I hate the tank talk! Fans don’t realiZe because they’re too caught up in wiggins! When or if we tank to draft him it will be another 4 years before this team starts winning and he becomes a real player! But fans wanna trade for picks yet they complain so much about losing. I don’t understand why we keep a core and if we happen to land wiggins so be it. If not and he truly wants to represent his city then he will sign here in 4 yrs plain and finggg simple! Tanking is garbage. Play to win because there ain’t no team that’s gonna go out there of players and tank! Raptors are actually playing good ball now. Need to brush up on defense! Derozan Ross and jv should be the core going forward. Add Vasquez and Amir. We have a lot of cap room

    • Ion66

      Trade for Vincent Carter and get him to con-vince Wiggins to do a Kobe, and demand to only play for Toronto at the draft. Trade DD and some magic beans to whoever drafted Wiggins and have some jerseys printed up!!!

  • desktom

    Call me crazy are we watching last years Denver Nuggets out there? Over achieving team ball? This team with the new pieces, ( can we give the new guys from Sacramento a clean slate? ) could run the other team out of the gym , if we could get something from the bench up tempo, it could be very interesting. 2-1 since the Ball hog deal. Our game tonight will tell us a lot , a signature win could give the young guys a lot of smiles. Raptors need to win every game , play offs would be such a blast. Tank this.

    • ahoang

      im confused.
      do you want the wins or do you want the tank?

      • desktom

        Tankers suck and have manginas, I want the Raptors to win every game always and forever, we got a lot of pay back to dish out , and I want it to start yesterday. Mas is a gm god and I agree with everything he does . I’m starting to get the feeling the Mas may have a problem in the future getting deals , the way he just destroys other gms . There are other ways of getting draft picks without soul destroying losing.

        • Rick

          Agreed with the win as much as possible thinking.

          • lewro

            “I want the Raptors to win every game always and forever”
            “soul destroying losing”
            “Our game tonight will tell us a lot , a signature win could give the young guys a lot of smiles.”

            It’s just basketball. 10 guys competing to throw a ball into a hoop.
            I’m not lining up for that signature and I don’t watch the raps in hopes of seeing some young men smiling bc i don’t have a mangina.

  • GoingBig

    With Masai starting to deal, I’m just going to enjoy each good paly and each win while I can.

  • Puzzles

    Those who have seen me here probably know I’m a pro-tanker. However, I too am of the opinion that we should develop and build with DD, Ross, and JV. I just think that getting rid of some very valuable assets, in Lowry or maybe even Demar (for a very good deal, though I will cry if a deal goes through) for a high pick in this draft can be good for the team. Personally I think trading Lowry and starting Vasquez won’t get us to a top 5 or even a top 7 pick. I guess have mixed feelings about deals, as I am truly in love with our players, and would hate to see them leave, but also want the team to do well in the future. That is not to say the Raptors cannot do well, but with the addition of one of the guys in this draft, we can do better. I guess there really is no point to the two sides arguing over whether the Raptors should be tanking or not, because Masai will do what he feels is the best for the team in the long run. Let this site be an agora for basketball-talks.

    I always like to think that, as long as the Raptors stay relatively relevant when/if Wiggins decides to hit the market, we have a pretty good chance of landing him.

  • Tanks-a-lot

    “when his shoulder is fully healthy”

    No such thing with a separated shoulder. I have the same result from that particular injury, its now a shifty joint. I hate it.

    • lewro

      me too. dudes smashed me with gardening tools. it pops a little and hurts my bench press stats

  • Jim

    I’d rather read 1,000 tanking articles than read the phrase “score the basketball” even once. That means he scratched or cut the basketball. He scored points, not the basketball.

    • William Lou


  • StabbyRaccoon

    Those pick and rolls and other passes were awful and hilarious. Baskets (using it!) would look for the pass and they’d be like “Holy shit, what’s this weird thing that’s happening where Rudy’s supposed to take a jump shot?!”

    It will improve with time, Baskets might make a pretty good backup point guard next year, he’s certainly a likable guy.

    And I agree on tanking, you have to be zen about it. It’s coming, Masai is going for the glory and you just have to cheer the players on the court and celebrate their accomplishments and improvements. Tanking is a very strange beast, the team will improve if they lose, but they’ll also improve if they win. A brand new hot-shot rookie doesn’t mean much if the players and fans are disillusioned and the surviving players are weak next year. I like Jonas, Amir, Ross, Demar (I like Lowry but he’s gone and not right for the Raptors’ starting lineup) and hopefully I’ll like some more of these guys. Masai will make sure they don’t somehow beat good teams but I want them to give every team hell and lose because the starters are exhausted and the temporary bench is useless.

  • TheSpiceTyrant

    Ok. I’m going out on limb here and state that despite some significant shortcomings, Casey isn’t THAT bad. Do his rotations suck? Yes. Do his play calling suck? Yes. But is he stifling development of our young guys? Is he not focusing on the BIG picture? Is he a guy the the players can play for and bring the best out of the players we have?

    There are so many facets to being a coach. I think it is fair to say that -as educated as the Raps fan base is- we really don’t know what it’s like in the practices and off the court. THAT is where a large part of being a coach is.

    Be nice.

    • lewro

      “I’m going out on limb here”

      keep walking

  • Demoman

    Went to the Game and got on the court early (around 5 PM) to watch the players warm up. It was a corporate deal so it came with some great seats as well! (4 rows back!). Some observations: Got to talk to TV/ Radio personalities and assistant coaches, along with some mild pleasantries with players.

    Patrick Patterson was hitting everything in his warmup. Did drills for about 45 minutes and looked great… in the drills.

    Amir and Val worked out together with an Assistant Coach and Jamaal Magloire. Jamaal seemed to be having a lot of fun and was very vocal. I can see why they kept him around the team. Val and Amir had great chemistry even in drills but they are both quiet to the point of seeming shy? Man, besides Lowry the rest of our Team is quiet. I was 4 rows back and didn’t hear anyone speak the whole game. Maybe this is normal?

    Landry Field’s bad elbow hitch in his shot looked even worse in person. If he were on the other team in pickup you wouldn’t even defend his shot, you would feel like you were picking on a cripple. Landry take the year off and rest your damn elbow already.

    When they say you could call a foul every time down low with the bigs if you want to, I now know what they mean.

    • gradgrind101

      Excellent insights.

      Here are a couple of points I’d like to add…

      1) The team should be very vocal ESPECIALLY ON DEFENSE. If you are anticipating the play (good) on defense then you need be vocal..Something like “I got shooter” or “I got ball”. If you are reacting or chasing on defense (bad) then you don’t have time to be vocal.

      2) As you know point guards are often referred to as generals. That’s because they are tasked with instructing their mates on how to attack or defend the other teams offensive threats. He is usually the player with the highest basketball IQ (otherwise you are in trouble) and they are usually responsible for dictating the flow of the offensive sets. Therefore they NEED to be vocal.

  • Demoman

    Posted that too early:)

    I found it interesting the TV/Radio guys and various people on and around the team we got to have casual conversations with all seemed genuinely split on whether we should tank, or even whether we were tanking. I found that strange… I get the feeling only Masai knows for sure which direction we are actually going in.

  • gradgrind101

    William Lou: Unless you openly dislike someone why would you call them a goon or having a psychotic expression? I could spend time writing a negative diatribe focused on you but I wouldn’t do that because you do have some good points and I respect that. Also greasy is a street term for a sick baller (another term meaning good player). I’m ok with that one as long as that is what you intended but it is a risky choice of words. “Gravy buckets” might be better than “greasy baskets”