Archive for June, 2007

Marty York eats a Mail Bag

I don’t know how many people left in this city hold a semblance of respect for Marty York. Why the Metro continues to employ a never-was beat writer to cover sports, I’ll never know. But I’m fairly certain that the droves of basketball fans that have been deriding Marty for years of baseless Raptors reports are tickled with fancy over Doug Smith’s Friday Raptors Mail Bag in today’s Toronto Star.

A reader submits:

Q: I really enjoy what The Star is doing with the Tuesday (and sometimes Friday) columns.

I just wanted to ask, since you seem to mention it a lot, is the chemistry with the beat grunts as good as the Raptors chemistry? I notice you mention Stumpy a lot, how do you get along with Grange from the Globe and Marty York (even though some of his stories are completely wrong)?

George Weiz, Toronto

And although Doug Smith hardly occupies the top of my list of favourite sports writers, he’s moved up a few notches with his reply:

A: Oooh, baby, this is like the biggest softball question of all time.

First of all, I need to clear one of your misconceptions. A beat grunt, which is a term of great pride, is used to describe someone who regularly covers the team, goes to games and practices. In the last 10 years of covering the Raptors full time, I’ve probably seen an average of 70 games a year, never missing more two in a season at home, and taking in probably 90-100 practices a year. Never once, not one single, solitary time, never, ever, ever in a decade, have I once laid eyes on that last fellow you mention at a practice, game, press conference or media availability. To cast him as a beat grunt does a disservice to all the honest, hard-working, legitimate beat grunts in all sports. Please never, ever, ever use that name in that context again.

Now, as for our team chemistry, it’s very Raptors-like. We get along, we love to bust on each other and make fun of ourselves, we’re highly competitive but professionally respectful of each other.

Oh, and if you catch us in an adult beverage parlour or a hospitality suite, we can be like Martin and Lewis we’re so funny. That’d be Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, not Darrick Martin and Martin Lewis.

That just made my day.

Let’s just say the Raptors had the #1 pick…

So, let’s imagine we are in a perfect world, all of the planets are aligned, we are the Raptors GM, Halle Berry is on our arm, MGD’s chillin’ in the fridge, the Hooters girls are taking care of the wings and we’re about to announce who the Raptors are going to take with the #1 pick that mysteriously fell into our hands. What to do? Durant? Oden? Athletic SF who reminds people of T-Mac or Giant centre who is a terror on D?

Let’s take a quick look at some ups and downs. With Oden, a common criticism has been that he has no game with his back to the basket. Well, let’s remember that he is still young (well, officially…) and by the end of the season, he was developing this scary little turnaround jump hook that will be unstoppable if he is able to perfect it. Somewhere, Hakeem is saying, “Yes my brother, yes.” For whatever offensive moves he is lacking, he more than makes up for it on D. I’d much rather take a guy who lacks some offence, but plays some mean D, because D is just that much tougher to pick up, especially when you are making the move to the NBA. You can always learn some moves, find something on offence that suits you, that works for you. Oden is just a menace on D, making the lane a lane of death. He also has quicker feet than he is given credit for, which allows him to slide out and pressure when he needs to. On the up side, I also don’t think he gets enough credit for his passing. For a big man, he’s not too bad moving the ball around and seems to have decent vision, although that shouldn’t really be a big concern for him.

With Durant, you are talking pure athleticism and a deadly jump shot…and that’s a lethal combination. The guy can just flat out beat you down the court, but if you manage to catch up with him, he can either take you on the dribble or stop and pop. How do you stop that? How? Well, it seems he had tons of trouble with double teams this past season. That’s predictable for a young player, but if you think a double team in college is tough, single coverage with serious defenders in the NBA is no treat in itself. On the down side, I’m just not impressed with his D at all. For a guy with great athleticism and speed, his footwork on D reminds me of the Monsieur Piedlourde sketch on the Kids in the Hall. Slow, slow, slow. The question is, does his offence completely outweigh his D? Steve Nash can’t play D and he’s a two-time MVP.

So how would you pick if you were the Raptors GM? The Raptors could use a big time centre who blocks, rebounds and generally disrupts the opposition’s offensive game. The Raptors could also use an athletic forward who can fill the basket, just light it up when the team needs somebody to carry it every once in a while.

Me? I go with Oden. As I said above, you just can’t teach D and while the trend in the past 5+ years or so has been away from big men, I think this could be the dawn of a new era of big men in the NBA. Offence starts from picking rebounds and disrupting your opponent’s plays and that is what Oden does. I’m not sure if he is as ready for the NBA as Durant is, but I think that for the Raptors, he would be the better pick. Either way, you end up with a big time player, but I think he would fit the team better.

Delfino = Logjam

Well, Colangelo is at it again, making another move that looks like it has good sense written all over it, only having to give up second round picks in 2009 and 2011 for Delfino from the Pistons.

Delfino is coming off a career year, although his career has been pretty short so far, so I say that with a grain of salt. What should be remembered here is that his minutes have been limited in Detroit, but when he has played, he has been a solid contributor.

The good thing about Delfino is that he has played in big games before. He was a member of the 2004 gold medal Argentine team and has played in the Euroleague finals. Not to mention all of the experience he gained in Detroit with the Pistons (24 playoff games), Delfino looks like a guy ready to explode given the right situation.

So that brings us to the Raptors. Colangelo says he thinks Delfino will fit well with the Raptors system, which I think he will too. He can get up and down the court, hardly turns the ball over and has good court vision. The question is, when the Raptors have Ford, Calderon, Parker, MoPete, Jackson and D-Mart, where’s the room? Obviously, we can probably move MoPete and D-Mart out of the equation. So that leaves Ford, Calderon, Parker and Jackson. Ford and Calderon will be the PGs, with Delfino only moving in there when there is some sort of injury. So now we have Parker and Jackson. Luke has a good stroke, but I’ll give the athleticism to Delfino and that’s what Colangelo always likes, so I’ll give the force to Carlos on that one.

That being said, there are now a lot of guys in the Raptor backcourt, which makes me think that there will be some other Raptor moves coming up very soon. Whether they are big or small, it is good to see that Colangelo wasn’t put to sleep by the Spurs-Cavs final and jumped on a good opportunity.

Welcome to Toronto, Carlos.

Sam Stays, Jim Leaves…

Well Raps fans, Jim Todd, the best half time interview ever, is going back to the Bucks. Nobody really knows what drove him back to Milwaukee, but there is some talk about dollars and some vague statement by Sam about his pension. Anyway, the Raptors are losing a true talent in Todd. Personally, I think he took off because he dreaded the thought of having Norma return to doing halftime interviews. She didn’t do them last year, but you never know, it had a chance.

The Toronto Star is reporting that Mike Evans, a Raptor scout may be taking over the position. The other Raptor assistants are currently finishing negotiating their deals with management.

I still think there is more to this story than is being reported. It must have been a big whack of cash or some other offering that made things so attractive, because I can’t really understand why a move back to Milwaukee would be that enticing over what is going on in Toronto right now. Maybe more will come of this later, but for now, have to say, we’ll miss you Jim.