When the season started and almost every analyst was picking the Raptors to finish either last or second last in the league, I maintained that while they weren’t a great club, they were probably somewhere around a .500 club. I said that I didn’t think they would make the playoffs, but that there was no way they were going to finish last. The Raptors may just prove me right and wrong in the second half of the season, making a run for the playoffs (why do they all keep calling it the “P” word?) and ending up somewhere right around the .500 mark. Let’s be honest, with the East (read: the Atlantic) as bad as it is, I’m thinking that 40-42 might just get you into the big dance at the end of the season. Anyway, on with the highs and lows.
Mike James: I know Lang will cringe at this, but MINE James has been far more impressive than any of us could have imagined and when you compare him to Crazy Rafer Alston, Rob Babcock looks like a genius. I still don’t think I would sign him to a contract (why are Toronto fans so high on getting this guy signed?), instead using him in some sort of trade deadline deal. Sure, there really isn’t a whole lot you can package him for now, but it might be worth checking out available options. Somebody has to be interested in a guy who’s 4th in the league in 3%. Now if we could just teach him to pass…
Charlie V: I remember when I was watching the draft and the Raptors took Charlie Villanueva, I was confused. I wasn’t outright angry (Steven A. Smith anyone?), just confused. When they picked Joey Graham next, the draft seemed to make a little more sense to me. Analysts were quick to get on Charlie about his work ethic, but I always hesitate when people bring that up on any player. It is so easy to get labelled as lazy. All it takes is one analyst to see you practice when you have the flu or not completely hustle down the court when you’re hiding an injury and that’s it. When put in the right situation with the right coach, sometimes guys tend to shine. Charlie still needs to work on his concentration a bit and use his body more, but that will come with experience.
Morris Peterson: MoPete is quietly putting together a solid campaign and while most people will say this is Chris Bosh’s team, take note: it’s really MoPete’s. The Ironman nails 3s from his office in the corner and if there is a better flopper on defence in the league, let me know. Positioning on D is great, but he doesn’t get enough cred for his quick hands. Like an A-student, rarely do you see him miss an assignment and he makes so many circus shots I think we have to stop calling them circus shots.
Chris Bosh: I still don’t think Bosh is as quick as everyone says he is, but when he is making some guys look stupid, I guess he is. Chris has learned to work with his frame (although I think a season with Bonds in the “weight room” might help him out…wink wink) and has played a smart man’s game, working to his strengths. People never seem to get used to a lefty, so this helps with the quickness and he exploits people with it. It would be nice if at the end of the game, MINE James would look inside to Bosh a bit more, but that’s a discussion Sam needs to have with them.
Mike James: Okay, so you’re asking, how can a guy be a high and a low? Right now you’re calling me an idiot. But let’s go back to the San Antonio game on Feb 8th. I was there, a few rows up from the court, watching MINE James put on a show in the fourth. I was also watching him continually getting beaten on the dribble. I was also watching him miss shots at the end of regulation. I was also watching him miss free throws down the stretch. I was also watching him not pass to Bosh in OT. If there was ever a time for Antonio Davis to walk in and (to borrow a term from Bull Durham) “Announce his presence with authority”, he should have walked over to James and said, “Look dude, you’re a point guard. Pass first, shoot second”. A lot of games have been close because of James, but the Raptors have also let a lot slip through their fingers because of poor decision making down the stretch.
Rafael Araujo: I hate picking on Hoffa because it’s like pushing the fat kid around in school. It’s easy and quite pleasurable, but it’s almost too easy and that takes the pleasure out of it. Honestly, Hoffa needs to go to the D-league. Now that Babcock is gone, send the kid down to get some confidence (and if he fails down there, well, he can go back to Brazil and have sex on the beach all day or something) and then see if you can salvage something from there.
Matt Bonner: I’m not sure what happened to The Matt Bomber this year, but he doesn’t look as confident as he has in the past. Slow on D, a hitch in his shot, maybe all of the late nights at Mr. Sub are starting to get to him. Regular minutes aren’t really there for him, but they never really have been. Matt needs to look at the second half as an opportunity to get back into the swing of things.