Jones: All you can debate wings
Old 12-02-2008, 02:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Jones: All you can debate wings

It has been a subject that has been discussed and dissected ad nauseum in print, and electronically.

If the Toronto Raptors are to become a viable championship contender, what can be done to strengthen the perimeter positions (shooting guard and small forward)?

So allow me to weigh in with my two cents, although in the current economy it probably isnít worth anything close to what it used to be worth. As we approach the quarter pole of the NBA season, Toronto is holding down a .500 record that is teetering on the possibility of heading south after the current West Coast trip.

So how has the wing play been so far this season? In a word, inconsistent, and therein lies the problem.

Yes there are questions about the overall talent, but regardless of the aptitude and ability of all the players at that position, a consistent team effort from a combination of Jamario Moon, Jason Kapono, Anthony Parker, Joey Graham and of late, Andrea Bargnani, each night would be enough to help the team get by if Torontoís big three of Chris Bosh, Jermaine OíNeal and Jose Calderon are at the top of their respective games.

Witness Sundayís game against theLos Angeles Lakers, currently the top team in the West. Even with solid production from the perimeter spots, with the aforementioned Raptors quintet putting up 62 of Torontoís 99 points, the team still suffered a defeat.

No question the trade for Jermaine OíNeal was a calculated gamble but championship teams, with the exception of the Jordan years, dating back as far as you want to go were built around some sort of inside presence. In that sense, the trade is a step in the right direction. If OíNeal and Bosh can stay healthy, and on the floor together, the players at the wing positions only need to perform adequately for the team to have a chance to win. The contributions donít have to be spectacular, save those nights when Bosh needs help with the heavy lifting, just solid enough to be a viable threat consistently.

An upgrade on the perimeter would be nice but what assets does general manager Bryan Colangelo have to work with to improve the team? If you consider the salary cap, there are three expiring contracts in Parker (a team leader), Graham (forever possessing the potential to be a major contributor), and Moon (an energy player), Toronto would have enough money to spend at the end of the season to help find a practical contributor if a good deal is not available.

Bargnani, even with a rookie scale deal, is a nice asset but similar to this past summerís trade of point guard T.J. Ford, you may be filling one hole and creating another at the same time if the first overall pick is dealt.

As an aside, would the drafting of Bargnani be deemed a failure if he was jettisoned?

It looks like he may be finally starting to recognize some of the potential the organization hoped for when they selected him, so this is probably not the time to pull the plug. That leaves Kapono as the only other player to fetch something of substance in return, but does that move compromise the perimeter shooting of the inside-outside attack when OíNeal and Bosh start attracting double-teaming defenders?

While their games are slightly flawed, all the players mentioned above do bring something of value to the team which puts Colangelo in a difficult position.

So until a deal, a good deal, comes about, not one made out of panic, the Raptors current group or at least one of them on any given night will just have to perform.

Itís simple, if they play well, Toronto has a chance to become a team that could advance in the playoffs, if not, well, the losses will pile up and it could be one and done when it comes to the playoffs for the third straight season.

The only look at the second round of the playoffs will be what they choose to watch on TV next spring.

But right now, the Raptors are not in as desperate a position as the debates surrounding the wing position would lead you to believe.
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Old 12-02-2008, 02:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I agree that too much gets made about the wings, and a panic move would suck, and BC should not be looking for a guy that scores all kinds of points, but rather a solid defensive guy that compliments everyone else.
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