Maybe it’s too early to tell but it feels like the Raptors are a chemistry experiment that has gone wrong. No explosions yet. No panic. But something does not feel right.
Everybody connected to the team said that they would struggle early due to the fact that there are so many new faces on the roster. This is not entirely true. Watching every game of this young season so far I noticed that there were stretches where the Raptors seemed to fire on all cylinders. Offence, defense, intangibles, etc. Then during games that seemed like blowouts certain units on the floor would let the opposing team take over the tempo of the game. Great teams like the Lakers, Cavaliers, Boston and Orlando look like they control the pace of the game and make sure that their opponents “force the action”. Great example is the game on Sunday, November 22nd against Orlando. Before half time it was a foregone conclusion that Orlando would win the game. Even our coach knew it and that is why he was exasperated with his team.
To validate my assumption I looked at the 5 man units at 82games.com and nothing stood out at the beginning. Then I noticed one stat. that seemed to justify my assumptions:
1 - The unit of Calderon-Belinelli-Turkoglu-Bargnani-Bosh played together for 25.7 minutes/game, had a plus/minus = +16 and a winning percentage 83% (the highest)
2 - The second and third highest percentage (75%) were made by lineups that Bosh was not part of.
3 – None of the three lineups with the highest winning % included DeRozan
When Colangelo build this team in the summer time it felt like he had an agenda. Especially about Derozan. Every GM is graded by his superiors on the players he drafts, trades for and signs as free agents. After his first year with the team every decision he has made has affected the performance on the court in a negative way. The records so far speak for themselves.
His move to hire Jay Triano had an agenda too. Triano is a good coach, not a great one. If you have a team that has one “star” (That is Bosh in quotes because he has not proven anything yet – one winning season, no playoff wins) and the rest are role players Triano is not the coach that will get them to the promise land. Case in point: the Rockets. A team of mediocre talent that is excelling under Adelman. Why you ask? He is a great coach. The Raptors needed someone of Adelman’s caliber this season with all the moves they made in order to take that next step.
There are two reasons that Colangelo chose Triano that nobody dares to discuss in the media because the coach is a local boy and we should all be proud of him.. (blah, blah & blah). One, (the obvious) was financial. They are still paying Mitchell this year (and next if I am not mistaken). The second and no so obvious is that if the team does not make the playoffs this year (a.k.a tanks) it will be a huge failure with implications such as loosing Chris Bosh and potentially not being able to sign a big free agent next summer. Colangelo can use Triano as a scapegoat (regardless if he retains him or fires him) at the end of the season. Halfway through the season Colangelo will turn around and tell us that 17-24 record is a good place to be since we have 9 new players and a coach that is trying to instill his philosophy. That is when I jump off the excuse bandwagon and start calling for Colangelo’s Italian dressed a** to be fired. I got tired of hearing it last year and it will be a cliché is he uses the same excuses this year.
I have digressed enough to prove a point. This team is not functioning the way it’s placed on the floor right now. I do not entirely blame Triano since he is a yes man to Colangelo and he does not have enough years of head coaching experience to tell his boss to stay off the court and let him make the decision that are best for the team. I am not talking about trading a player but mixing it up. Sit DeRozan, play Bargnani off the bench, start Wright at SG. Do something before we are 17-24 and every game becomes “must win”.
Please feel free to provide starting lineup combinations and substitutions. I always want to believe that someone that makes decision in that organization reads what the average Raptor fan has to say and maybe takes it to heart.