Run Joey Run

I can hear David Geddes’ song in my head, but with the lyrics changed slightly.

Sam please don’t
It wasn’t his fault
He means so much to me
Sam please don’t
We’re gonna get better
Just you wait and see

Every night, the same old dream
I hate to close my eyes
I can’t erase the memory
The sound of Sam’s loud cry

Run, Joey run, Joey run, Joey run, Joey run, Joey run, Joey ruuuuuunn!!! (ad infinitum)

Now the question remains – can the dream and the song come to an end and leave us all feeling like we’re only one more player away from something really special here?  Can Joey keep that motor running as he heads out on the highway looking for adventure – whoa… let’s toss the iPod into a ditch already.

The real question is whether Joey’s recent performances mark any significant change in how he plays the game.  Did a light go on?  I’ll spare you the Debbie Boone and say that maybe the biggest thing that has happened has been the ability to play off of what his teammates are doing, thanks to a noticeable number of them doing some of the little things that can make them all look better in the long run.

If I remember correctly, Joey came into the Charlotte game last week, and started off by scoring on a nice put-back.  But that doesn’t happen if Jose doesn’t wait for Joey to get into good rebounding position before taking his long-range shot, something that hasn’t always happened in the past.  That was followed up by Bosh doing a terrific job of attracting the defense in the lane as Joey received the ball at the top of the key and made one of his spectacular dunks while breezing by Bosh and the two defenders that were pinned down in the post.

In the next game against Atlanta we saw Joey do the very same sort of pinning down of defenders and clearing the lane for Bosh.  And the attention that Joey was receiving at that point, was set up by another brilliant tip-in that again relied on the shooter timing his shot correctly.  For the moment it appears that Joey’s energy is being nicely harnessed, rather than just allowed to float off into the ether.  And it’s the little things that he is doing, along with the guys around him that makes it possible for all his pistons to be firing at once.

Look at some of the nice picks set by Bargnani this season.  Look at how much more Bosh is doing besides putting up numbers.  Look at the effort that guys like Jose and Kapono are putting out defensively where little is expected of them in terms of their abilities.  And all that stuff catches a little bit of energy that guys like Joey bring to any game, and it makes it work for everybody.

In the past, Joey has had a lot of ups and downs, but so did the players around him.  This team is a little older, more experienced, and more aware of each other.  So if this season works out well for Joey Graham, it should be a testament for patience on the part of Colangelo and Mitchell.  They thought that not making too many changes over the last couple of seasons would prove fruitful, when fans were generally screaming for blowing the roster up in a hundred different ways.  Time can prove to be one of the most useful tools in the NBA, if for nothing more than to get the kind of timing that we are seeing with these guys right now – the kind of timing that makes everyone on the court a more effective player.  It’s the kind of thing that has been missing in the losses, when there was too much reliance on Jermaine and Bosh and Jose doing all the big things.  

I’m hoping that Joey’s emergence, and the two wins that came with it, will close off that whole way of thinking for good.  It’s got to be the little things that lead to bigger things.  If Humphries accepts his pass while open in the post and the Raptors up by 18 against the Nets, and goes hard and strong to the basket instead of slowly turning and lazily laying up a shot that gets blocked to start what some thought was going to be the beginning of the end of the franchise, well then who knows what kinds of expectations might be built up by now.  Too many role players concerned themselves with not messing up what the stars were doing, including Joey, in short stints where his hands seemed to repel the ball into the hands of opposing teams.  Now we finally seem to have role players being role players, but with some certainty that they are all doing the little things together.  Run Joey Run indeed.

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