Home > Basketball > A Tuppence of Advice for the Toronto Raptors…

A Tuppence of Advice for the Toronto Raptors…

Yesterday I looked at the Cleveland Cavaliers, today I turn to the second worst team in the East: the Toronto Raptors.  Their season began with them losing Chris Bosh and while I thought they might benefit from a little Ewing theory post-Bosh bounce, I was wrong.  The Raptors were 26th in points against and dead last in defensive efficiency.  That would be bad if the Raps were the offensive powerhouse they were supposed to be building, but… instead they were 17th in points for and 20th in offensive efficiency, hardly an offensive juggernaut…

Add all those numbers together and do you know what you get?  A 22 win team.

Toronto Raptors (22-60):

If you listen to ESPN’s NBA Today podcast, then you know that Ryen Russillo has been saying all season long that the Raptors have the worst collection of talent in the NBA.  Frankly, I think Charlotte’s worse, Detroit doesn’t do much for me, and Cleveland’s pretty baron, but basically I’ve jumped them from 30th to 27th… Whop dee do!  When Bryan Collangelo was hired by the Raptors, it seemed like a time for genuine excitement.  The man who’d been the architect of those exciting Suns teams was bringing his talents to the T-Dot.

Yet, Colangelo’s history is checkered.  He drafted Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, but then he also drafted Andrea Bargnani with the first pick… He made the franchise altering play for Steve Nash, but he also gave Hedo Turkoglu a 53 million five year deal that seemed dumb about eight milliseconds after it was announced.  Look, even the best GMs make mistakes, but when everybody with blood traveling to their brain knew that the Turk deal was going to be a disaster, well…

So, the Raptors enter the offseason with tough organizational questions: Do they re-sign Colangelo?  Do they retain coach Jay Triano?  Frankly, as much as I hate it when fans call for a coach’s job, I think that Toronto’s utter inability to play defense has to come back to the coach.  Of course, when the coach has a roster as sieve ladden as the Raptors, maybe it’s unfair to blame the coach?  Could Pat Riley turn Jose Claderon and Bargnani into an elite defensive unit?  I don’t think so.  Which brings us back to Colangelo.  I don’t think there is any way to sugar coat this, after an auspicious start, Colangelo’s tenure in TO has been an absolute abhorrent run of ineptitude.

His worst missteps:

  • June 2006: drafted Bargnani 1st overall – granted this was a shitty draft, but LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd), Brandon Roy (6th), and Rudy Gay (8th) were all considered prospective top picks in 2006 and while each has flaws (took 5 seasons to develop into a potential all star, has no knees, something of a ball stopper, respectively), each probably has the Raptors in the playoffs with Bosh the past couple seasons.
  • July 2008: Traded T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the draft rights to Roy Hibbert to Indiana for the steaming remains of Jermaine O’Neal.  I can see how this deal was tempting, vintage O’Neal would have been a perfect defensive presence beside Chris Bosh, and Ford had lost his starting job to Jose Calderon, but vintage O’Neal was pretty clearly a thing of the past.  Jermaine had not played in more than 70 games since the season before the Malice at the Palace (’03-’04) and since that franchise altering season, O’Neal’s points per game had declined 24.3 to 20.1 to 19.4 to 13.6.  That’s not a one season aberration.  That’s four years of evidence that he cannot stay healthy and that his skills are declining.  O’Neal’s points per game has not exceeded 13.6 since then and he was traded after only 41 games as a Raptor.
  • July 2008: Re-signed Jose Calderon to a five year 45 million deal.  There’s a lot to like about Calderon.  He’s a decent shooter, he’s a good floor marshal, and he rarely turns the ball over.  Of course, his D makes Steve Nash look like Gary Payton, so… yeah.
  • July 2009: Signed Hedo to that dubious deal…
  • July 2009: Re-upped Bargnani for 50 million over five years.  I don’t want to pick on Bargnani, but if he is your best player, you are in serious trouble.  He’s been compared to Dirk Nowitzki, but that’s like comparing Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin, because they are both white, female, politicians from the U.S.  Dirk is a better shooter, he’s more aggressive offensively, he’s a smarter basketball player, he’s a better rebounder, and he’s a better defender, which doesn’t say much, since Bargnani defends about as well as the chair in Yi Jianlian’s famous workout…

Colangelo has done a decent job of slipping out of some of his most egregious mistakes, like swapping O’Neal for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks – which didn’t help the product much, but did help the bottom line – but there’s no way to sugar coat the fact that this year his most common starting lineup was: Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, and Calderon.  As Big Cuz so astutely pointed out in my comments last week, “who the heck is Sonny Weems?”

And that’s the Raptors’ problem.  For all of Colangelo’s maneuvering, he has built a team that doesn’t have a single player who would start for a championship squad.  Maybe Ed Davis develops into a legitimate starter, but other than him the only pieces on the Raptors that I like are DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless, who should be your first two guards off the bench, not starters.  You can argue that he was blindsided by Bosh leaving, but… should he have been?  Unlike Cleveland who legitimately didn’t know what LeBron was doing until he uttered the most famous sporting sentence of the last decade, the Raptors should have known that Bosh was gone.  Before the 2010 trade deadline, the Raptors should have sent him to Houston, who surely would have anted up a brilliant package to acquire the gangly forward.

I guess what I’m saying, is that to improve the Raptors, ownership needs to clean house.  Colangelo is capable of being a great GM and he may well go on to success somewhere else, but his tenure in Toronto has not been successful and it’s time for the Raptors and him to part company.

Does anyone have Kevin Pritchard’s phone number?

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  1. R.U. Serious?
    April 26, 2011 at 6:19 am

    C’mon, dude, get real. You man to tell me our team that has a game on almost all of the top teams in the NBA at least once, on a rebuilding team are THAT garbage under Colangelo? Look, we are REBUILDING. In the beginning of the season we KNEW not to expect much on a team that was rebuilding, that was young and inexperienced. Heck, some people even slated a 20-25, some 30-33 win season. Basically, we were not expecting a crazy win season, as sensible fans…no matter what the franchise were saying. Smart people knew. Who do YOU say takes over? Who WANTS to come here and GM this team that you seem to think can do a better job? The players WANT him and Triano back. Where’s your formula in the category of CONSISTENCY in a franchise? You’re just another BC HATER BUS rider, like the rest of them. FOH!!!!

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