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Old 09-11-2008, 11:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
Dr. J. Naismith
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Question Arsenalist: Should we worry about Jason Kapono’s defense?

As Arsenalist mentions, based on what we saw during last year's post season against Orlando should we re-think just how valuable Jason can be or is to this team? And can his questionable lack of defense be overlooked?


Originally Posted by Arsenalist.com
Kapono came off a decent year in Miami and basically conned Bryan Colangelo into giving him a huge contract. It surprised a lot of us and the fact that it happened on the first day of free-agency made some of us question Colangelo’s priorities (remember, defense and rebounding were problems back then too). Since he’s come here there’s been a constant ebb and flow in his game which borders from being anonymous to lighting it up, there’s very little middle ground. Despite all the inconsistency I think I speak for most Raptor fans when I say that we’d rather have him on offense than any one of Jamario Moon, Hassan Adams, Willie Solomon or Joey Graham. We know his shooting is an asset for us but how much are we willing to give up on the other end?

I personally think his problems on defense are highly exaggerated and we can and should be able to do things to increase his floor time while still being able to make a half-decent defensive stand. Listed at 6′ 8″, Kapono has more than enough size to stay in front of a shooting guard and take away the dribble penetration by laying off of him. He doesn’t have the quickness to take away the jumper by playing tight but 1 out of 2 ain’t bad here. The same holds true when defending SFs except they have posted him up with great success. We obviously need to provide him help here just like we did with Jose Calderon or Anthony Parker. Kapono’s case is no different.

Sam Mitchell has generally done a terrible job of hiding player weaknesses on defense and Kapono is Exhibit A. Kapono started 7 out of 81 games last year precisely because Jamario Moon happened to be a better defender. Keep in mind that this is on a team that has trouble getting off to good starts. Instead of allowing Kapono to have an impact on the game Mitchell often became gun-shy and chose to err on the side of caution by not playing him in favor of Moon who proceeded to miss countless jumpers in the fourth quarter costing us games aplenty. There’s no doubt Kapono has defensive issues, he doesn’t have great lateral movement or great speed but we knew that before signing him. There has to be an effort on the part of Mitchell to utilize Kapono and hide his weaknesses by clever double-teaming, cutting off baselines, forcing his man in an uncomfortable direction or even some ball denial. We saw none of this last year, the reaction to Kapono being posted-up was usually always a double-team coming out of nowhere which segued into an open three. C’mon, we need to be smarter and stop using the “bad defender” label to waste his offense. It’s very mid 90’s New York Knickish.
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