One thing is clear 14 games into the season; Toronto Raptor fans are on the ledge and ready to jump. But, really? I don't get it. Are there things to be concerned about? Sure. But I think most rational people knew this team was not going to look the same in game 10 as it would in game 80; so people just need to be patient.
First, let's talk about things that really should cause concern:
For some reason, either because Sam Mitchell has instructed him to play this way or because he sees a weakness with this team and is trying to correct it, he is not playing to his strengths right now.
Kapono is an excellent open look and spot up shooter, especially from behind the arc (maybe even the best in the league), so why-o-why does he feel the urge/need to drive to the basket and create off the dribble? That isn't his game, god love him for trying, but come on, all he's doing is creating turnovers and messing with the flow of the offence.
Sit on the perimeter and make the open look; Cause I guarantee you, with Bosh, O'Neal and Calderon on the floor, you WILL get open looks, you just will. Hopefully, he or Smitch will figure it out and he can get back to playing to his strengths, otherwise, he is an absolute liability on the court.
Inability to guard the other teams 3
This isn't a new problem, because the Raptors haven't efficiently guarded the other teams three-spot in well... maybe ever?
But in three of our seven losses, the other teams small forward has just taken us apart.
The Jersey loss with Vince is self explanatory to anyone who watched the game, he scored 39 and made the baskets to send it to overtime and win it.
There is the first Boston loss where Pierce scored 22 of his 36 in the 4th quarter alone and brought them all the way back in a game we had been dominating to that point.
And the Detroit loss where Tayshaun-freakin-Prince put 27 on us? Really Tayshaun Prince? Anyway. Not to mention our 2 wins against Miami (who is a pretty bad team that we should beat), but Wade still put up 40 and 29 in those 2 games.
We need something, I don't mind how Bargnani has played the 3 offensively, but it really isn't fair to make him guard the likes of LeBron, Wade, Pierce and Kobe. Either switch off with Bosh at the defensive end of the floor or find another solution, which might not be that easy, because honestly? What do we really have to offer in a trade? Not much.
Next, let's talk about things that people are bitching about now that are too early to call:
Putrid backup PG play
Aside from one really nice game from Soloman when Calderon was out, they have been getting almost nothing so far either Soloman or Ukic. Things to keep in mind though; we KNEW this going into the season. Ukic is extremely raw and Soloman might, maybe be OK but will certainly take some time to readjust to life in the NBA. This is one area that will almost certainly improve as the year progresses if for no other reason than simply getting more experience.
Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but we absolutely need to wait till the end of the year to make a judgment. Don't get me wrong, if we could improve here via someone new coming in, I would be completely open to it. But if you weren't expecting this, you weren't really paying attention.
Come on people, it's 14 games. Personally I think he has actually looked a lot better than I thought he might this early. That is very encouraging. I almost swallowed my tongue when he went down the other night, but so far I am very impressed by him and I am very optimistic about how he is going to be playing towards the end of the season when it actually matters.
Mitchell is terrible
First I'd like to say that I am not a huge Mitchell fan, but I also think we could do a lot worse. Secondly, come on people, this is the same guy who won the Coach of the Year award two years ago. He isn't as bad as people are (again) making him out to be. He definitely isn't the main reason we have been "underachieving", so lay off, give this team some time and he will (and should) be judged at the end of the year.
This really isn't far off where I thought we would be at this point. I figured we would struggle early and really hit our stride late in the year. Remember, we had a lot of roster changes over the summer and it will take some time to figure out this teams identity and roles.
Colangelo is a brilliant basketball guy, if he's good enough for him, he's good enough for me... right now anyway.
I guess the gist of all of this is; Take a deep breathe people, it's early, we will be better, I have no doubt about that. How good? It's anybody's guess, but definitely better (possible injuries not withstanding).
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