Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

Raptors Who Benefit from the Lockout

Lockout. Benefit. Raptors. Who.

Full disclosure. I have no idea which words to capitalize in the headline. I gave this a read and it didn’t help much, for example, I really didn’t want to capitalize the ‘who’ in the headline, but was compelled to because it’s a pronoun. I really hate English, sometimes I wish English was a bike lane and I was Rob Ford.

Today’s topic: Which Raptors could benefit from a shortened NBA season?

Linas Kleiza
He only played 39 games last season after he was shelved with a right knee injury in February. Before he went down he was running at a career-low PER of 10.1, and had trouble staying in the starting lineup. His advertised strength of being a 3/4 tweener was working against him because he was being challenged too frequently on the perimeter, and was only making 29.8% of his threes. In short, it was a forgettable year for Kleiza. Now, as much as he would like to get back on the court and erase the bitter memories of season past, it’s better he step back and reflect on what his future NBA role will be. The positives are that he’s a good rebounder at the small forward spot, and that he’s strong (which is why he rebounds well). The negatives are that he’s got slow feet, is an inconsistent outside shooter, and is not a good defender.

His game needs to be tightened so that he’s an effective role player. He was only starting because he was our prime free-agent signing last summer, which in itself, is never a good reason to hand out starting duties. Kleiza needs to fully recover, regain his strength, smooth out his outside shot, and then shed a couple pounds so the Raptors can think about honestly playing him as a backup small forward, and letting the power forwards do their job. Right now Kleiza’s half-ass power forward skills are contributing to the logjam at the four, he’s got a part to play if he wants to help fix that.

Amir Johnson
He played 72 games last season, whether he should’ve even played 60 is a question of debate. His back and ankle issues had him well below 100% for weeks, and the extended summer is all about recuperating those ails and and becoming stronger. Time off isn’t a bad thing for Johnson, he put last summer to good use by adding a nice little jumper to his limited offensive arsenal, and improved his footwork so he can play less defense with his arms and more with his feet. Sure, his jumper takes 10 seconds to unleash but at least he put his time off to good use. If he comes back 100% healthy and with a two-dribble post-move where he doesn’t look like he’s about to keel over or dribble it off his foot, I’ll say the lockout has helped him.

Solomon Alabi
David Thorpe says that Solomon Alabi has progressed this summer and has learnt the application of the physical tools at his disposal. If Casey and Colangelo stay true to their word and acquire that elusive defensive center, then it’s hard to see Alabi getting major minutes yet again. Playing time is what this man needs, and if he’s getting them in scrimmages in Thorpe or anybody else’s camp, it’s a good thing. When I looked at him last, I felt he needed to spend as much time in a gym as on a basketball court, and the lockout provides that opportunity.

Jose Calderon
I want to say he benefits because even at only 29, he looks like he needs a big rest. For the third straight year he played 68 games, the difference this time was that he looked healthy. At least until you look at the numbers. Of his last three years, this was his worst in terms of three-point shooting (36.5%), points (9.8), turnovers (2.2, he did play a more aggressive style), TS% (52.2%), eFG% (52.2%) and offensive rating (112). I confess, these are just numbers I randomly plucked to support my argument that Calderon could use some time off to be invigorated again. However at 29, you can’t really afford to go on a sabbatical to rediscover a lost touch. If he is to turn his career around and come close to the form he showed in 2006-2008, I figure he needs to take a breather and re-think just what his role should be, and more importantly, with what team.

Leandro Barbosa
Two straight years of injuries (44 and 58 games played). First with the ankle and then the wrist. This guy needs healing. I was hoping he’d had that second surgery he was mulling over, but him and the doctors figured it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

Jonas Valanciunas
He gets to play basketball in a competitive league, the rest of his peers don’t.

That’s that. I’m off to the Apple website to ogle at hardware I can’t afford.