Expect Big Shakeup in Raptorland
If I could be serious for a moment—and it is hard to be serious or to be taken seriously when you're a fan of the Toronto Raptors these days—this team is quite possibly the worst-coached Raptors team I have ever seen. Period.
They're officially the worst defensive team in the past thirty years.
Numbers don't lie. Per 100 possessions, they surrender 118.3 points. They allow opponents shoot almost 50% from the field. They've allowed the Hawks to score the most points in franchise history and have given the Bobcats their most lop-sided victory in their history. We're just getting started. We're only a quarter way through the season!
So what is so fundamentally wrong with this team?
For whatever reason, their rotations are bad. They have players who routinely miss their coverages, never help on penetration, seem to have no game plan, lack control on double teams, and worse still is that it remains a team composed primarily of poor individual defenders.
So what exactly happens to an average defender like Hedo Turkoglu when you remove Dwight Howard, replacing him with Chris Bosh? He becomes exactly what he's been his whole career prior to Orlando—a sub-par defender.
However, to peg this on Turkoglu would be very unfair. The fact is, the entire starting line is average to below average on defense. Players like Bargnani, DeRozan and to some extent Turkoglu are capable of playing respectable defense and certainly do so in short spurts.
Players like Calderon and Bosh, however are just so bad at the other end of the floor that it puts so much strain on the other three to do something they simply can't. And while we're on it, why has Jose Calderon spent what seems like the whole season guarding power-forwards?
But this starts a little higher than Calderon and Turkoglu. It starts at the top.
For whatever reason, the past three years has seen a shift in Bosh's personality from bad to worse. Ironically, his finger is always pointing at someone else much like in the picture. When times are good, he says "I have to keep putting this team on my back". When times are bad, "WE have to start going out there and showing some pride. Yes I'm mad."
Bosh needs a reality check. If this team is bad defensively, he's one of the biggest culprits along with Spanish amigo Jose Calderon. However, if this team is ever stagnant offensively, he has no one to blame but himself.
How often this season have we seen the lineup of Jack, Wright, Belinelli, Amir Johnson and Andrea Bargnani go on huge runs, only to have Bosh step in and muck it up with his predictable isolation moves, untimely 3-pointers, random and unsuccessful flicks at the rim, and awkward fade-aways?
Here are some numbers to crunch. Bosh averages 2.6 assists per game in games won, only one assist for games lost. In games won, Bosh attempts about fifteen field goals per game and in games lost, he attempts over seventeen. There's a one block differential in games won and lost as well, and Bosh has been twice as likely to shoot a three pointer in games lost.
What we have is a simple, but complex conclusion—get the ball out of Bosh's hands! The more he's asked to have the ball in his hands, the worse the team plays.
Usually, the better your star player plays, the better your team plays.
Take for instance Kobe Bryant, who averages 19 points per game in losses and over 30 per game in wins, or Kevin Durant who averages less across almost every category in losses than in wins for the Thunder.
Conversely, Andrea Bargnani averages fewer shot attempts, points, blocks, rebonds, touches, and worse percentages in losses than he does in wins. Lately, we've seen a rather disinterested Andrea Bargnani, and I can't say I blame the guy.
He's sitting there, easily capable of averaging over twenty-five points per game, being frozen out game after game and still on a losing team. Despite his sacrifices, he watches Bosh audition for the league in some last-ditch attempt to show the world he's worthy of the maximum contract he so desperately wants next season.
In Bosh, the Raptors have a leader who isn't one. He doesn't put the team on his back, he just steps on them. He doesn't make the players around him better. In fact he's made almost every player around him worse.
If the Raptors are a lottery team, they might as well do it while developing talented youngsters like DeRozan, Bargnani and Johnson. It might be time to end the Bosh-Jose experiment and let someone else try to mask their defensive woes for the rest of the year.
If the Heat are offering Beasley, the Raptors would be wise to accept the talented scorer. If someone is offering future first rounders, prospects, and expiring contracts, the Raptors would again be wise to accept.
Toronto has to be the first team to realize Bosh's actual worth. The more he attempts to shoot this team to victory, the further he slips from superstar status, and the closer he gets to super-talented chucker and B-level star statuses.
There truly isn't a significant difference between players like Granger, Bosh, and other complimentary players playing star-roles while putting up big numbers. True stars make those around them better. The better they play, the better the players on the court with them play.
True stars rise and take their whole team with them. Players like Bosh succeed at the expense of ball movement and the success of everyone around them. What is the difference between Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh?
About ten touches and seven points per game.
Whatever Bosh gives you in rebounds, Andrea gives you in better defense, passing and better box-outs. Both are equally capable of leading 7-13 teams. However, starting next year, one will be making almost twice as much as the other.
Let's hope for the sake of this team's future that Bryan Colangelo makes sure someone else is writing Bosh's paychecks very soon.
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