So the dismal season is finally over. It was an interesting one.
Before it began, I was worried they would win 20 games.
Then they got off to a relatively great start and looked like they would win 25 or maybe even 30. This was shocking and positive news for those of us who wanted to watch a competitive team, but negative news for those of us who wanted a pick.
However, if there was a year to play mediocre basketball, this was it; what with the draft being weak and further weakened by the threat of labour unrest.
But they were indeed as terrible as I feared. An average offensive team and, as usual, a terrible defensive team. That being said, we learned a lot.
Bargnani, 25: 21.6P, 5.2R, 1.8A, 0.7B, 0.5S per 36 minutes
Well what everyone thought was confirmed: Bargs might be a decent third option on a good team, and he is an okay if inconsistent second option on a mediocre team but he is not – in any shape or form – a star. He scores a lot, and he scored more this year than ever before. But he didn’t do much else. And when he didn’t score, he really didn’t do much else.
He’s frustrating: there are games (few and far between I will admit) where he looks like a world beater – he will score like crazy, he will actually rebound the ball and he will block shots. But he rarely does this. Usually he just takes jump shots. And he is horribly inefficient compared to other stars. His career PER is 14.3.
It’s clear to me – if not to management – that he is not part of the future of this team; he should be traded.
Now that being said, I would like to say that I don’t blame Colangelo for picking him 1st overall. Getting the fourth best offensive player in a draft year isn’t so bad given some of the busts that have occurred throughout history.
DeRozan, 21: 17.8P, 4.0R, 1.9A, 1.1S, 0.4B per 36 minutes
DeMar improved by leaps and bounds this year. He still isn’t an obvious star to me, but he might be. He looks like he could – with more experience and a few refinements – become a good second option. He still can’t pass and he still makes bad decisions at times, but he clearly gets the NBA a lot more than he did last year. He’s also willing, unlike the other “star” on the team, to take over – some of the time. I expect him to be even better next year.
He is clearly a cornerstone until someone better comes along.
Calderon, 29: 11.5P, 10.4A, 3.5R, 1.4S, 0.1B per 36 minutes
Calderon began this year like he has the past couple, but once Jack left he became the old Jose.
On a terrible team he suddenly returned to form as one of the elite half-court offensive PGs in the league. I have to qualify that multiple times because he hates the fast break and because he still can’t play D. (Though as Chisholm has pointed out, he is way better than he used to be…and significantly better than a number of other Raptors.)
Additionally, he still has that ridiculous salary. It’s hard to know who’s going to take him, if anyone. I expect he has increased his value though (which is a relative thing).
It’s clear to me he isn’t part of the future, but at least he had that strong finish and hopefully he can be moved for something valuable.
He is an asset to some teams: he is an incredibly good decision maker on offense (except for his own shot selection on occasion), he is incredibly careful with the ball, he offers a huge change of pace from a PG who loves the fast break. One hopes some team somewhere will see that and see him as a very expensive backup for a run.
James Johnson, 23: 11.8P, 6.1R, 3.9A, 1.4B, 1.3S per 36 minutes
I see what Colangelo saw. Certainly it was worth the risk. This guy does so many things, and I love his game.
Except – and it’s a huge except – he has two major flaws:
- he thinks he’s way better than he actually is – which causes all sorts of mistakes like bad passes and bad shots
- and he lacks a jump shot. Frankly I don’t know how he shot 46% from the floor. I have no idea. He must have layed it up all those games I didn’t see.
My hope is that somehow he can develop a jump shot and get a rein on his ego. If he could make better decisions on the floor, he might be a really valuable utility guy as he has some ideal 3 attributes.
Evans, 30: 6P, 15.6R, 1.7A, 0.3B, 1.3S per 36
He’s obviously a beast. But he doesn’t block enough shots (he’s too short) and he can’t score to save his life. He is clearly a stopgap. That salary hurts as well. I like his energy but he’s very one-dimensional.
Kleiza, 26: 11.2P, 4.5R, 1A, 0.2B, 0.5S per 36
Well that didn’t work out. Hard to know if it’s just the injury but unfortunately it looks like he’s sticking around next year because I have no idea how they could unload him. Hopefully he’s healthy next year and can somehow fit into the team.
Amir Johnson, 23: 13.4P, 9.0R, 1.6A, 1.7B, 1S per 36
The most efficient offensive player on the team but also the most foul prone. I love Amir but he clearly can’t keep this fouling up and hope to be effective. I suspect he will lose his job to Davis quite soon.
Davis, 21: 11.3P, 10.4R, 0.9A, 1.5B, 0.9S per 36
Davis has really surprised. I was expecting a lot less offense and a fair amount less savvy. I expect big things. I’m not saying he’s going to be an offensive star in the league, but I think he’s a starter on a team that lacks a conventional PF. He certainly fits with a centre who doesn’t do all the things he does (which of course is a bad thing because it might convince management to keep Bargs). I really like his game. I think he’s going to get better. There’s hope.
Along with DeRozan, he is the foundation of the franchise until they can actually get a franchise player.
Barbosa, 28: 19.8P, 2.6R, 3.1A, 1.3S, 0.2B per 36 minutes
I saw a number of things I liked from Barbosa this year. Particularly, he seems to be nearly the only one on the team with late game savvy. This is very important and something that the Raps have lacked since…oh, Carter. I’m only half kidding.
That being said, he’s hardly part of the long term. But I think he’s a good guy to have a round for the moment. It would be nicer if he could distribute a little more.
Weems, 24: 13.9P, 3.9R, 2.6A, 0.1B, 0.9S per 36
I enjoy Weems’ enthusiasm and game – especially when it’s consistent. I think he might have lost his spot to Johnson James though. If he could have more good games there would be more reason to hold on to him.
Bayless, 22: 16.1P, 4.0R, 6.4A, 1S, 0.1B per 36
He’s clearly far more of a scorer than Calderon. But he sometimes seems to lack any ability to run an offense (at other times he looks like he gets it but needs experience).
He is also far less than advertised defensively. He is too short to play the 2, which means that unless he can learn the PG role – and quickly – he will not work as an NBA 1 guard. Unfortunately, unless the Raps get one in the quickly depleting draft this summer, it’s hard to see whom else they can rely on for that role.
That’s all the guys who played at least 20 minutes a game and who are still with the team (i.e. significant players). Of the others, we obviously flashes of things but they are bench players and it’s unlikely much will come of Dorsey or Wright. You never know, it’s true. But I don’t see the point in running through all of them.
What’s clear to me?
- Bargnani and Calderon need to go, hopefully for something in return. At this point it might actually be easier to unload Calderon than Bargnani. I also worry that management still doesn’t want to get rid of Bargs.
- Davis and DeRozan (with the Johnsons and Bayless) are indeed the future but the future isn’t necessarily very bright. The team still needs a clear franchise player, someone who can take over games at both ends of the floor, ideally.
Basketball is unique in how much one player can change a team and so the hope must be that some way somehow Colangelo can get somebody. In the interim:
- PG: need a major upgrade or need someone who can split with Calderon like Ford did but the latter means sticking with Calderon
- SG: good
- SF: if James develops a jump shot and some decision making abilities we’re adequate here but no more, if he doesn’t, an upgrade is required; for reasons that escape me the Raps have rarely have a good SF
- PF: good in terms of rebounding but not in terms of offense
- C: need an entirely different kind of player I think
- Bench: the Raps had a deep bench last year (or was it the year before?) but I think now it’s apparent a lot of work needs doing, if only because the starters are so ineffective.