Hot Air

I can remember off-seasons, and not that long ago, when information, particularly Raptor-related in nature, simply dried up long before August arrived. Now there is still a fair amount of material being generated, discussions in various media corners, and some expectations of still more news to come. It seems to be the season of ranking the off-season moves of each NBA team, and soon there will be rankings of expected records for a season that is yet to begin. Yes – it is nice to get through the summer months with something to gnaw on, but I strongly dislike the way the game all-too-often gets looked at during this span when nothing happens on the floor.

There is too much emphasis on statistical wizardry, and far too much analysis of players as lone individuals. Turkoglu has been thought of as overpaid due to his age and his production peaking years ago. He’s 30. Why do I remember so many solid NBA players having their greatest successes post-30? And why does anyone look at a single individual’s production as if it was unconnected to the other four guys that shared the floor with him at the same time? Hedo has been on six 50+ win teams in his nine years of playing in this league. He knows how to join forces with his teammates to win consistently. So could Dr. Jack Ramsay please take over the internet and tell me how he helps my team, and what my team needs to do make sure his best years are still to come? And kind Dr. Jack, could you please wear one of those great pant suits from the 70’s? No?

Well let me try, and let me begin with his ability to simply execute plays, without panicking, be it in a system of tremendous ball movement with the Kings; or a much simpler offense in Disneyville, where he needed to be a part of spacing out the floor and creating within the spaces that were afforded to him. In both cases he learned to read and react and performed well within a fairly free style of play. He’s going to be good playing alongside players with a similar, unselfish mindset. And that is what he should find here, with a chance to team up with another Chris Webber calibre of player and force teams into bad matchups while forming something that could look like the baby that his Kings and his Magic might make if they had…you know…fertilised a basketball. It would seem to have been a factor in his choosing Toronto over Portland. And with depth added to the roster defensively, his defensive abilities should not be anything that hurts the team.

Overpaid? That’s a little silly to suggest considering that Portland was already willing to pay him about as much. So how impossible would it really be to see him as a tradable commodity if that is where the team needs to go? I’m really looking forward to seeing how truly valuable he can be here while part of a pretty strong starting lineup and a complete and well-balanced bench. Dr. Jack would surely give some indication of how he thought Triano might make it all work, and what might need particular attention. I’d really like to see some of that. I’d like someone with the know-how, to get inside the head of Triano and distill some of the thoughts that might be rolling around in there. Instead we get endless rankings that always end up proven horribly wrong, and involve tinkering with numbers to the point of missing how the game is actually played, or we get an over-analysis of the game as a business. And the team-oriented aspects of the game get lost in the shuffle more and more, year after year.

Maybe the dry spells that once occurred at this time of year meant that people who knew the game, wanted to wait to see the game played before surmising too much. Here in Toronto, it’s hard to deny that a team has been assembled. Where borderline players were forced into roles as starters last season, we now have players like Jack, Nesterovich, and perhaps Wright coming off the bench with a good number of games as proficient starters under their belts. We just need to see them assembled together in shorts and shiny shoes before we can really say where they appear to be headed, the noobs and the knowledgeable, the internet ranters and the paid pundits – all eyes need to be on the game.

Until then, this is a team that screams “the sum is greater than the parts”, particularly relative to the last couple of seasons. There is a good amount of experience, a good amount of still-improving youth, and an all-around hunger to get results. The fate of each player appears very much tied to the fate of the team, and the character of these guys has been shown to be about the game and the team before themselves. So to look only at what Chris Bosh might or might not do a year from now in another off-season, is to miss so much and make me feel like I’m in more of a desert of basketball wisdom than ever before, with the more-than-adequate interest and discussion blowing like wind along the dunes. So I’ll go along for now, blowing my own hot air…


Doc  on August 12th, 2009

Off-seasons are drag for the most part. This has been by far the best from an “something to talk about” standpoint, but at the same time its leaving way too much time to discuss the endless possibilities with our revamped roster. All the “Hollinger” heads with their stats can drive a fan nutty during these times. 😉

Vittorio De Zen  on August 12th, 2009

Very good piece. I disagree with most of it, but that’s fine. Well-argued and well-written.

I’m sure you’re with me on this: regardless of his age and his contract, he should fit in very well on the offensive side of the floor. The Raps should be a lot more fun to watch this year.

Doc  on August 12th, 2009

This is a perfect example of a writer having too much time on his hands in Frank Zicarelli from the Toronto Sun this morning.


belsius  on August 12th, 2009

Nice article Lx

I dont even think Zicarelli believes his own words. Just trying to start some polemic. The problem with August is that eventually every topic gets old.

Ra?l  on August 12th, 2009

I agree with almost everything you’ve said. Great article. Stats analysis isn’t the right thing to evaluate a player or a team. It may help you on something but you need to watch them play on the court all together. I’m a big fan of Turk since the last couple of years. He was the playmaker of the team, the one who made always the right decision. he was the reason why orlando was a team where the sum was greater than the parts. Without him, they won’t be a contender like last year, they’ll be a good team but not a contender.
You’ve always want a team where the sum is greater than his parts, the Spurs are that type of team and they’re very sucessfull. I think that with playmakers like turk and jose with ridicusly high basketball IQ, this team will surprise a lot of people this year. The ball movement and the team play will be exceptional and believe me, at this level a team with that is automatically a play of contender and a team to keep an eye on.

Again, great article

Mike Klander  on August 25th, 2009

Well written piece. I disagree with the notion that Turkoglu isn’t overpaid though. If we’re going to argue age, yes he’s over 30 and there have been many players in the past that have achieved their primary success post 30 (i.e. Michael Jordan), but we’re talking a different era. the median age for NBA players to get to the league was older back then than it is today. In the current Kobe, Lebron, Wade era, all of which achieved success in their early to mid-twenties, as much as it pains me to admit it 30 is considered old. Turkoglu wasn’t putting up stats to warrant $60M before in my opinion. Not sure where they’re seeing the upside to give him that cash now.

pimpery  on September 3rd, 2009

big john studly of a writeup, you guys really lacking on new material lately tho

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