I think the past two games have said more about the Raps this season than any other game, or series of games, so far. I know it's been said, but it's all about defense, which the Raps lack to an embarrassing degree. I have always advocated playing to win, fighting through it all, cause that's what sports are all about. But if you can't win no matter who plays, then why play veterans, or players whose potential has already been reached, when younger players with better contracts and higher potential get less minutes against weaker opponents (bench, garbage time), with less pressure? Why not see what you've really got, rather than hold onto the "potential" card indefinitely?
Kleiza has failed. It was a nice try, a good signing at a good price at the time, but he's dropped the ball. Can't hit the open three, doesn't play with poise and is the biggest defensive hole, other than Derozan, on the roster. Those first two issues are the ones he was specifically hired for. Sorry guy, you're time is up. Off the bench for you. Then once Weems comes back, prove you deserve to play over him. I'm not sure you can.
If you are going to stick with Derozan at the 2 spot, it's of paramount importance to pair him with a defense-first 3 guy. Paramount. This way, given that DD can also play the 3, you can match up your defending wing against the other team's best wing. Shape your roster according to what you've got and what you need, not what you want. And if you've got Derozan, you can't play him with a player like Kleiza. Derozan needs Julian Wright. How many people - forum contributors, analysts, from Chisolm to Smith, commentators, what have you - need to say this before management clues in? Start Julian Wright goddamn it. He plays defense. He's 23. He plays with energy and passion. Wake the fuck up.
Speaking of Wright - if only he could hit the open 3. If only! Imagine Wright with a three point shot, and you've got Turk. Except replace Pizza with Defense, "Ball" with "Fight," and 31 with 23. His playmaking in the starting line up would allow Bayless more room to play like Bayless.
Speaking of Bayless, once he's healthy he too must start. While Calderon's been playing fantastic, we need to know what Bayless can do given a full-time starter position. If development is your priority, then make development your priority. Don't just pay it lip service. That's a straight path to being perpetually mediocre.
Which brings me to the draft. It seems to me in the draft it's between a PG and a SF. This is all the more reason to start Bayless and Wright. By putting them in the spotlight it becomes easier to see where the bigger holes are. In my opinion it's a wash between Irving/P. Jones and between Knight/Walker/T. Jones. Accordingly, it's not best player available within those sets, it's do we need a 1 or 3 the most? Play Bayless, Weems and Wright as much as you can, and, along with our draft position, you'll have your answer.
Lastly, start Davis, and play Alabi. What's the danger? Losing to Detroit? Losing to Washington?