Okay, so here I was, working late, and I turned on the TV at 7:00 to listen to some of the pre-draft talk (why does Steven A. Smith always have to shout to make a point? Who does he think he is, Sinbad? Whoooooaaa there’s a name from the past). I asked Lang before things got started who he thought the Raptors were going to take and he solidly said, “Bargnani”, which as we all know, ended up dead on and really wasn’t a secret. Who did I think the Raps were going to take? Bargnani. Did I think they should have taken him? Well…I guess, but with a few reservations.
1. If a dude is 7-feet, I don’t care how good of a shooter he is, the guy HAS (that’s my Steven A. Smith right there) to learn how to play inside. If you are 7 feet and can’t post up, you are completely wasting God given ability. The good thing is that Bargnani is young, so there is plenty of time for him to learn and to bulk up/tone up a bit, which will make it easier down low. Apparently the kid has pretty good hands, so if his shooting is that slick and he has good hands, working inside should make him into a force.
2. Any talk about Bargnani being the next Disco Dirk Nowitzki has to stop immediately. Given, Dirk came into the league I believe two years ahead of Bargnani, but let’s not be schizochronic about things and start comparing the current Dirk to the current Bargnani. Sounds like common sense, but honestly, how many times have you already heard this ridiculous comparison?
3. None of us have really seen him play (other than if you were at the ACC a few years ago when Benneton Treviso played the Raps), so we can only go by what we have read or heard. I’ve heard a lot of times that this kid doesn’t play the best D. So what, neither did Jordan. Let’s get on the kid early about the importance of getting back to play D.
4. 100+ pro games in Europe is not 100 pro games in the NBA. Flashback to Chris Bosh getting hammered by Jahidi White a few years ago (why do I keep coming back to that play?)…you don’t get crushed like that in Europe. It will be interesting to see how he responds the first time somebody knocks him down. If he is going to learn to go inside, he is going to have to learn to deal with the knocks.
Now what seems to be forgotten is that with their second pick, the Raps took PJ (Pop Junior…you heard it here first) Tucker…one bad Mutha…shut your mouth! This is the pick I start getting excited about. Why? Because the kid can flat out rebound. He averaged 9.5 per game at Texas, at 6′5″. The guy is 6′5″, 225 and he bangs and pulls boards, while still averaging just over 16 points per game. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but if anybody saw this guy play over the past couple of years, you had to be impressed with his enthusiasm.
As a final non-Raptor note (well, it concerns Isiah Thomas, so it has some relevance), you are going to hear a lot of terrible things about the Knicks and their selection of Renaldo Balkman and rightfully so. Nothing against Balkman, he could turn into a decent NBA player, but no way is he a first rounder. Not a chance. So what happened? Isiah Thomas gets told that he has one year left to succeed or he’s done. So, he took a chance. A calculated chance? No…unless it was calculated as in “bad math” calculated. Isiah has one year to turn a disaster into a fairy tale and folks, it ain’t gonna happen. People can talk all they want about drafting with Isiah, but actually, he has a decent track record. But the guy has crafted a terrible team via trades and signings. Let’s put it this way: While Isiah can’t be blamed for the Scott Layden brain cramp (how do you sign a one dimensional player at 30 years old to a $100 million contract?), the Knicks will still be paying Allan Houston this year. That’s bad enough. Follow that with having Marbury to deal with and that’s enough to destroy anything.
Here’s to another season of Raptors talk folks, thanks for keeping things going during the slow period…we’re back and even better this year.