Daily Raptor Dish - 13.12.10
Raptors' comeback highlights defensive deficiencies
Raptors' GM hit a home run acquiring Bayless
Saturday’s 25-point comeback win over the Detroit Pistons was an achievement to savour for sure for the Raptors, but it also glossed over the fact that the club is not playing well in certain areas.
Most notably, the Raptors have not been good defensively this season, have shown an alarming inability to take care of the ball of late and aredesperately searching for consistency from the small forward spot.
Perhaps a partial solution to some of those problems could be more minutes for Julian Wright.
With Sonny Weems having turned in awful performances in four of his past five outings and with Linas Kleiza running hot and cold as well, Wright, arguably the best defensive player on Toronto’s roster, might be an ideal card for head coach Jay Triano to play.
Triano was pleased with Wright’s four-steal effort against the Pistons.
“Those guys (Wright and Joey Dorsey) practise (hard) every day and I threw them in the game and they brought an intensity, and that intensity becomes infectious,” Triano said.
Wright is limited offensively, but as Triano has repeated often this season, offence is not Toronto’s problem (Toronto is 13th in the league in offensive rating, but just 25th in defensive rating).
Wright’s length and athleticism improves the team’s ability to defend on the perimeter and beyond.
Kleiza struggled through a 16-for-44 shooting slump before going 15-for-22 the past two games.
Practice could offer glimpse into Raptors’ future
After misfiring on trades for Jermaine O’Neal and Shawn Marion and the Hedo Turkoglu disaster, Colangelo has rallied with the drafting of Ed Davis at 13, the Leandro-Barbosa-for-Turkoglu heist and the acquisition of Bayless.
The run will continue if he is able to flip the Chris Bosh trade exception and/or Peja Stojakovic’s expiring contract for valuable assets or a standout player.
The Barbosa/Bayless backcourt has been very strong for the Raptors and odds are Jay Triano trots it out far more often from here on in.
‘I like it when they are both on the court at the same time: That takes the pressure off either one of them to have to make plays all the time,” Triano said, adding both players are very good on the screen-and-roll, which helps the offence run effectively.
“We know each other well already,” Barbosa said of his chemistry with Bayless.
“Bayless did a great job.”
Perhaps most promising of all for the Raptors is the fact that Bayless is just 22 years old.
Mr. Wright now: Raptor deserves chance to start
Julian Wright has turned in two solid outings in a row and has proven himself to be a valuable player in certain circumstances.
The 6-foot-8 forward has spent long parts of the season buried deep on the bench but he provided 17 minutes of excellent defence—including four steals—in Saturday’s come-from-behind win in Detroit.
His defence was also a big part of a late comeback that fell short Friday against Denver.
However, it’s difficult to see just where Wright can get regular minutes.
There is no appetite among the coaching staff to make any significant changes to the rotation on a regular basis, leaving Wright behind Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, and Barbosa when Calderon returns, in the wing rotation.
Alabi wanted more out of D-League stint in Erie
Among NBA statistics, individual plus-minus is one of the worst.
Its flaws are too numerous to count, making it an incomplete listing: it depends on with whom a player is playing, whom a player is playing against and what the situation is in a given game. In short, it is completely dependent on context.
But in the case of the Toronto Raptors, it is not to be totally ignored. The Raptors lost handily against Denver on Friday, and looked to be in for the same result on Saturday in Detroit until they came back from a 25-point deficit to win, a franchise record. In those games, starting swingmen Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan were minus-23 and minus-19, respectively.
Little-used Julian Wright was plus-23.
If only for the short term, Wright deserves a shot in the starting lineup.
This is not a lasting solution, of course. The Raptors have long-term commitments to DeRozan and Linas Kleiza, and Weems has much more offensive upside than the limited Wright. And with Wright being such a poor three-point shooter — 25 per cent for his career — it would be tough to put him in a starting unit with either DeRozan or Weems, whose long-distance credentials are only a tad better than those of Wright.
Something, however, has to be done about the inconsistent play of both starters on both ends of the floor, and a miraculous win should not mask that. Wright is as good of an option as any.
Alabi, 22, returned to Toronto on Wednesday after playing seven games for the BayHawks.
Starting all seven games, Alabi averaged 8.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and three blocks. Based on a Toronto Star article, Alabi didn't play as much as he expected.
"I thought I was going to go there and play a lot of minutes and get in the game mode, but the coach has his own coaching system. I went out there and played hard whatever minutes he gave me," Alabi said.
Johnson said the team would welcome Alabi back if the Raptors sent him down again, but is miffed by Alabi's comments about lack of playing time.
NBA teams can send down their first or second-year players up to three times a season.
"I'm not saying he's a whiner, but it's about the effort you put in on the court," Johnson said.
Alabi averaged just 22.7 minutes a game for Erie, but he also averaged four fouls a game.
The second-round pick out of Florida State fouled out of his last game with Erie on Tuesday.
"Everyone always want to play more," first-year Erie coach Jay Larranaga said. "It's normal. "
Alabi also talked about the D-League being perimeter- oriented, which can lead to big men not getting the ball on a regular basis.
"Everyone out there in the D-League is working so hard to get signed in the NBA, so everyone tries to ... show off what they can do," said Alabi in the Toronto Star article. "It's kind of difficult for the big guys to get the ball sometimes."
Alabi is rather raw in regards to scoring on the inside, but figured to score more since he's 7-feet 1-inch tall, bigger than most players in the league.
"I think we're one of the few teams that really emphasizes getting the ball inside to our big guys," Larranaga said. "Our guards did a good job of giving him plenty of opportunities."
The irony of that is Erie's top scorer, Johnson, is a 6-foot, 8-inch, 230-pound power forward. The 26-year old is averaging 15.7 points and 8.2 rebounds.