Chisholm: Reviewing the Frontcourt
Old 04-24-2012, 10:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Here's what we know about Toronto's frontcourt after the abbreviated 2011-12 season: Andrea Bargnani has somewhat redeemed himself and is a lock to return; everything else is up for grabs.

Bargnani's first thirteen games of the season have become the stuff of legend in Toronto given his stellar stats (23.5 ppg, .476 shooting) and unprecedented effort on defence. However, after Bargnani returned from a crippling calf strain he only managed 16.1 ppg on .403 shooting an 18-game stretch the organization is hoping was injury-related and fans will forget as soon as possible. The real Bargnani probably lies somewhere in the middle.

At this point we know Bargnani is better than a 16.1 ppg scorer and a .403 shooter. What we don't know is how much better. We also don't know if Bargnani's stunning defensive commitment from the start of the year can be counted on for a full 82-game season. Dwane Casey made mention of Bargnani's repeated defensive lapses after he returned from injury and while everyone seems to want to wallpaper over those gaffes, they are more representative of Bargnani's career to date than his early season exploits. It's also worth noting that his three-point shooting has been on decline for the last four years and dropped to below 30% for the first time ever this season. All of this leaves us unsure about which version of Bargnani will show up in Toronto next season, even if people seem more optimistic for positive returns than they have been in recent years.

In fairness, Bargnani and Casey really connected at the start of this season. There is reason to believe that with a full summer and training camp Casey can get Bargnani to recommit to doing the things he did to kick off the season. Does that mean he'll replicate those efforts? Not necessarily, but for the first time in a long time, people want to believe there is more to Bargnani than they thought before. So for one off-season let's reserve judgement. Let's allow him to show everyone what he is when next season tips off.
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After Bargnani there are nothing but positional battles to sort through. The first is who gets to act as Bargnani's backup: Amir Johnson or Ed Davis. Coming into this season, most thought this was Davis' job to lose.
Unfortunately for him, he appears to have lost it. His lack of physical development combined with inconsistent play at both ends left the door wide open for a workhorse like Johnson to swoop in and steal his role.
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After those two comes the positional battle for backup small forward. Neither Linas Kleiza nor James Johnson proved they were a viable option as a starter going forward, which makes the starting spot a priority this summer for Bryan Colangelo. However, both have made a case to operate at the position in reserve. Who wins the spot will depend as much on how the roster is shaped around them as it does on their respective outputs.

...It's worth remembering that Kleiza will report to camp having played alongside incoming backup center Valanciunas with the Lithuanian national team. While that won't guarantee him minutes, for a team looking to ease Valanciunas' transition to the league, it isn't irrelevant either.

Also, because of the team's forward depth, all four of these players have to be considered candidates for a trade if Colangelo can use them to make a deal work. While they all have their virtues, none of the four have made themselves essential to the team. In fact, faced with the option of parking any of them at the end of the bench or moving them along for alternate assets, you have to figure a trade would be the more desirable option.
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... trotting out Bargnani, Gray, Johnson and Valanciunas as post rotation could definitely be considered a playoff-calibre assemblage in the Eastern conference. While the backcourt is still a bit of a mess, Colangelo has done a good job rounding out his rotation up front thus far. It'll be interesting to see how he chooses to tackle a small forward spot that needs more attention than any other position on the roster.
So this team is supposed to get somewhere by trading any or all of it's meh players. For what? More meh players? Please.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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a lot of trades happen when two teams are both looking to deal players that they have grown dissatisfied with...... meh for meh, usually equals meh but GM's hate giving up guys that they are still positive about.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Amir Johnson swooped in and stole Davis' role?

What universe am I living in?
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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a lot of trades happen when two teams are both looking to deal players that they have grown dissatisfied with...... meh for meh, usually equals meh but GM's hate giving up guys that they are still positive about.
Colangelo is going to need to start with looking at what other GMs are inquiring about. What players are other teams looking to get, and what can you extract in the process? That's something he has not really done. He's told us about how valuable players are at various times, and spun it as a positive that he wasn't going to make a move. If he continues to fail to build a team in return for feeling good about having pieces that other teams feel could help them improve, we are going to continue to have pieces that don't quite mesh, and we certainly are not following some plan with championship aspirations as advertised. If all I see is the same bullshit lateral moves I'm going to throw up a little in my mouth, and likely lose a little interest in this team.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Colangelo is going to need to start with looking at what other GMs are inquiring about. What players are other teams looking to get, and what can you extract in the process? That's something he has not really done.
He's told us about how valuable players are at various times, and spun it as a positive that he wasn't going to make a move. If he continues to fail to build a team in return for feeling good about having pieces that other teams feel could help them improve, we are going to continue to have pieces that don't quite mesh, and we certainly are not following some plan with championship aspirations as advertised. If all I see is the same bullshit lateral moves I'm going to throw up a little in my mouth, and likely lose a little interest in this team.
95% of nba trades are lateral moves, unless you find a gullible GM to fleece, which for the most part doesn't happen.

I think you are way off on this topic, Colangelo is one of the most daring GMs in the league. In fact, it's the opposite I fear, I'd rather continue with lateral movements (obviously try to pick up any cheap assets if possible) and give the young players more time to improve.

You may feel otherwise, but I have major doubts that any GM in the league licks their fingers at JJ or Bayless or even Ed Davis. And if they did, they would probably look to steal them for us, thinking we may not value them too much.

Our only real trade chip is Bargnani. Jose is probably going to attract some value, but there's no way we get anything important in return for him given his age, value and the fact he's expiring. Whoever goes after him, with minor exceptions, will be looking for him to be a backup, so they will try to send back at least one large dead-weight contract to compensate for that.

And speaking of Jose, I really don't know why some people expect Jose to net us anything much, I would love to see what kind of (realistic) trade scenario they have in mind ...
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Amir Johnson swooped in and stole Davis' role?

What universe am I living in?
I'm pretty sure he was talking about big game James...At least I hope so.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by moremilk View Post
95% of nba trades are lateral moves, unless you find a gullible GM to fleece, which for the most part doesn't happen.

I think you are way off on this topic, Colangelo is one of the most daring GMs in the league. In fact, it's the opposite I fear, I'd rather continue with lateral movements (obviously try to pick up any cheap assets if possible) and give the young players more time to improve.

You may feel otherwise, but I have major doubts that any GM in the league licks their fingers at JJ or Bayless or even Ed Davis. And if they did, they would probably look to steal them for us, thinking we may not value them too much.

Our only real trade chip is Bargnani. Jose is probably going to attract some value, but there's no way we get anything important in return for him given his age, value and the fact he's expiring. Whoever goes after him, with minor exceptions, will be looking for him to be a backup, so they will try to send back at least one large dead-weight contract to compensate for that.

And speaking of Jose, I really don't know why some people expect Jose to net us anything much, I would love to see what kind of (realistic) trade scenario they have in mind ...
We're saying about the same thing. I know BC has been somewhat daring. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about being ready to truly reshape a team and put the right pieces together. Lateral moves with players of high value would be fine by me. As would taking on some deadweight if need be, or taking picks rather than proven talent. If this is a rebuild then it's time to get a real foundation in place. They surely have some idea what kinds of players they want, and can get a little creative in getting them here. I don't think lateral moves with players like Linas or JJ is going to amount to anything. I'd say those kinds of guys get given up begrudgingly in multiplayer deals in order to get just the right kind of deal done. That's where this team is at. Get a foundation or a core in place. Period. That will require giving something up, listening to inquiries intently, and looking to get creative. Something like when he first got here, but I think he needs to go beyond that if he's going to make good on the promise of championship aspirations coming out of this "plan".

Last edited by LX; 04-25-2012 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by halphbreedballer View Post
I'm pretty sure he was talking about big game James...At least I hope so.
He's definitely referring to Amir Johnson ---

Chrisholm...


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