Fortune Cookies: Calderon, Barbosa, DeRozan, A. Johnson, J. Johnson

Destiny at hand.

Just came back from a Chinese Hakka joint and got a fortune cookie at the end of the meal. Got me thinking, what would fortune cookies for the current crop of Raptors be. Without further ado:

There’s light at the end of the tunnel – Jose Calderon

As Sam elaborated on in his rather optimistic trade options post, he’s bound to get traded. The Raptors should get a better return than what they would’ve gotten a year or two ago, which is odd, but once you consider the stage of his contract and his recent form, it adds up. He’s given the proverbial 100% since he’s been here and didn’t even let the botched Charlotte trade affect his game or attitude. Honestly, how many players could keep their head straight after going through that? Calderon’s been patient through the years as the front office unsuccessfully tries to build a winner, while his youth passes away season after season. No worries though, a move to a contender could be what he needs to cement his legacy as a very good point guard. Right now, he’s got the “good player on a bad team label”, that needs to be shed because overall, barring injury, he’s a good player. Period.

One day you’ll need to pass, that day is soon – Leandro Barbosa

I find that he adds zero value to the team, not because he’s a bad player, but because he’s the antithesis of a what a rebuilding team’s sixth man should be. Barbosa leads the team in FGA/36MIN with 17.7, a stat that’s peaked in his two years in Toronto. The last thing the Raptors need is a one-dimensional player who takes a high volume of shots, has a poor assist rate, and is basically a black hole on offense. His acquisition made sense at the time because the primary objective of the move was to get rid of Hedo Turkoglu. However, after the euphoria of having exterminated Turkoglu wore of, the reality of the Raptors acquiring a player who is best suited on a contender as a niche scorer set in, and here we are now. It’s time for him to pack his bags, and for the Raptors to look to add some long-term depth to this position.

Be wary of the invisible defender a the rim – DeMar DeRozan

I was having a do-over of the 2009 draft and even if you view DeRozan in a critical light, here’s what I came up with: Blake Griffin, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, DeJuan Blair, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and DeMar DeRozan. Even if you throw in Darren Collison ahead of him, DeRozan comes out #13 in the draft. He was picked #9. Sometimes I think we need to realign our expectations of the man and see him for the player he is, not what he’s portrayed as by the club – a franchise player. We made the same mistake with Bosh, and could be doing it again with DeRozan. He’s a player on you wait as long as you can before making a decision on, his qualifying offer is for $3.9M in 2013-14. He’s played heavy, pressure-free minutes in his short NBA career, and has been given a great chance to shine, it hasn’t happened as brightly as we’d hope.

The skills that you got here aren’t the skills that’ll take you forward – Amir Johnson

According to, he didn’t play center at all last year and is playing it consistently this year, the result is a significant reduction in PER and WS/48. Johnson is a very “pluggable” player (at PF) who any team can find a use for – he plays hard, rolls well to the basket, is a career 70% FT shooter (was 79% last season), and accepts his role as a “garbage man”. The problem is that the standards for his type of player are rising. If you look at backup PFs around the NBA, they all seem to be able to shoot and score adequately, something Johnson can’t still do consistently. Taj Gibson, Brandon Bass, Thaddeus Young, Ryan Anderson, Glen Davis, and Carl Landry immediately pop into mind, as bench players (I know Anderson got promoted this year) who bring more than just the hustle element.

This cookie fouled you, here’s your chance for revenge – James Johnson

People seem to hate this guy because he looks like he thinks things are owed to him. Like, after he throws up a brick in the lane, he’ll give the ref this look. Your first reaction to seeing this is this. Fair enough reaction, because somebody who is entirely unproven in the NBA should be channeling each call that didn’t go his way into motivation to get it right the next time and earn respect, not be petulant about it. Leaving that aside, though, Johnson has been a capable defender, and more importantly, a capable help defender. His offense sucks, pure and simple, but that’s not what we necessarily need right now. What is imperative, though, is that he improve his three-point shooting which currently stands at 32.1% for the season (career 29.6%). The Raptors are 19th in three-point shooting (32.7%, better than 31.6% which was dead last the year before) which is still not good enough, and one of the main reasons why the offense is 28th in the league. For a player who clocks 25 minutes a game at a perimeter position, he needs to add something consistent to the offense.

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