NBA: London's Calling...for Changes!
I've watched both of the games against the Nets in London. Finally, NBA came to Europe, for the first time, during the regular season. I hope that someday it will come to Greece too (something I'm very doubtful to be honest).
So, what have we seen and what have we concluded from this European experience?
There were some positives. For example, I liked the consistency and the confidence from DeMar Derozan, even if he was acting egoistically several times. I liked Andrea Bargnani's rebounding, especially during the second game along with Ed Davis's defensive play.
But, there were many negatives too, which must be considered very carefully, if we want to see our team improving, starting from the next season.
Cause this season is over.
Poor Record Outside ACC
This team cannot win a game outside Toronto, even if it plays in another continent, where many players (Bargnani, Calderon, Ajinca, Kleiza) find it familiar.
The team has better coaches. Coaches that have a defense first (P.J Carlesimo) attitude, in compison to last year. But the results haven't been good. This is not breaking news, but it's unacceptable and must change.
The first game was a disaster. It is unacceptable to lose to the New Jersey Nets by 13 points. Especially during the last quarter, when the Raptors became a punching bag for the Nets players. The Nets shouldn't score 38 points in a quarter?
We've had worse quarters defensively. In the second game, the Nets scored 42 points in the second quarter.
Andrea Is a PF.
Andrea must be moved to power forward. He is a very good scorer, mostly from perimeter. He cannot defend seven foot tall players and he cannot rebound great (even if he had a great rebounding game at the second London match).
I believe if he moves to power forward, he could be much better than he is right now. He can use his long jumper to score many points. Everyone will stop asking him to rebound and to defend the opposing centers.
Unfortunately, he isn't a clutch player. He made the same move twice when trying to take the winning shot, and he didn't score. A clutch player never uses, and fails, with the same shot twice.
DeMar Is Not Kobe Yet
I'm excited with DeMar's improvement. I still believe he could be the best Raptor. I like the confidence he is showing in every game. He's not afraid of trying difficult shots. He is not afraid of getting into the paint.
But, high confidence can create selfishness. His youth and confidence can either create a star, or a selfish player. He must choose the former.
I think he wants to be the Raptors own Kobe Bryant (maybe its the shoes he's wearing). He tried many difficult shots. There were times (especially on Saturday's game) where he took very difficult shots, and he missed, while his teammates were in better scoring positions. They were expecting a pass from him, but they rarely came.
Players like Jordan or Bryant, had the majority of their teams opportunities, but they had the basketball IQ to dish the assist to their teammates in order to win a game.
Clever Acquisitions Make Strong Teams
Many teams, even after the trade deadline, made their movements in order to strengthen their roster. Toronto made only one, during the trade period.
The acquisition of James Johnson.
Now, after six games of his Raptors career, do you still believe he is talented enough to be a starter?
I wasn't thrilled watching him. He played better defensively than offensively. To be exact, he was terrible offensively. But he has the opportunity of proving me wrong.
Our record is such that we don't expect anything from the team this year. There is the opportunity for all the players, including Johnson, to play and prove they are good enough to be part of this team. I'm not THE basketball expert, so I hope he will prove me wrong, and become the small forward the team was looking for.
As I said, we must make plans for the future. Our focus must be in the Draft Lottery, free-agency and the potential trade market (if there is no lock out next year).
My opinion is that the team needs three good players. Two starters and one backup. To be more exact, one small forward, one center and one point guard. The small forward and center must be experienced enough to contribute right away. No more rebuilding periods. No more youngsters with high references, good college years but no NBA experience.
The point guard could be our draft pick, and become our second point guard behind Calderon.
Of course, the draft is a lottery. If there are any good small forwards available when we choose our player, we should pick him. If not, grab a point guard, and either Calderon or Bayless will no longer be a Raptor next season.
What About Jay Triano?
I'm losing my confidence in Jay Triano. I think he is as "soft" as many of his players. I was watching his moves carefully on the bench during these games. I spotted him several times, searching for his assistants during the games and especially during time outs.
Ok, I understand head coaches have their staff behind them, but almost every time? For me, this shows lack of self-confidence.
But my doubts about his abilities are beyond these two matches.
If you look at his win/loss record, you see a losing coach, who had the opportunity of creating something better than his predecessor, and he didn't. He has actually had a worse record. I don't know why there is no head coach issue yet in Raptorland. Maybe cause he is Canadian. Maybe cause I'm European, Greek, and I don't understand his abilities or I cannot follow his working progress.
My opinion...(With a Sci-Fi spin)
Someone must talk to Jerry Sloan and tell him there is another cold city other than Utah, that wants and needs him, desperately. He could be the team's superstar right now. There are no "Derons" to make him resign!
Thank You Very Much!
I hope you've enjoyed my slideshow!
I hope the Raptors can be much better, and next year we will watch a team playing attractive, aggressive and energetic basketball!
The team needs a change. I don't know if it has to be a change in players only, or even in technical and general management.
But there must NOT be any change in the city or the country. Toronto loves basketball. Raptors fans are great. They just need a team to follow them.