So what do we think?
Old 12-03-2007, 11:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default So what do we think?

Okay, so we've played the first quarter of the season and along with the preseason we've seen enough Raptors ball that we can begin to sufficently judge this teams performance.

But I wonder continuously, where do I stand on this team.

There are some days where I think TJ Ford is going to be a top 8 PG but then others I see that in Jose. There are days where Delfino looks like he is finally putting the entire package out there but then he misses those open looks like he did Saturday night and I wonder what's going on. Bargnani at the beginning of the season seemed hell bent to quiet any naysayers on his skill but then inexplicably he disappears on both the offensive and defensive end fo the floor.

So, what do we think? I've been reading on other forums that last season we went 2-8 and the month of December made US what we are today. But our month of December last season compared to this season was a walk in the park. Do we have the ability to enter into that upper echelon of teams that this team tantalized us with from February to April of last year? Or have we gotten "back on track" i.e. playing the way a young team should, that is inconsistent and learning but striving towards a greater goal. Was last year essentially fools gold and what we're seeing now is the actual team growing and learning? Are we an upper echelon team or are we a team that is still a few years away?

Personally last season, I was exctied. I believed that we were an upper echelon team. But now, after watching it more carefully I think we're a team that is STILL learning how to play the game and how to adapt to teams that prepare for you. This is something that we hadn't really come across last season. This season teams are prepared for our offensive schemes. So, I place it in that perspective, and I realize that in reality I cannot be disappointed with this team. The fact that we are still youthful, something I completely neglect at points, has me excited. The fact that we are a .500 club and searching for consistency as a youthful club has me excited. The fact that we seem to be playing for something "greater" come April has me excited as well. We seemed to run out of gas last April. Come this April, I could see us surprising quite a few teams again. This time though, it will matter.
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Old 12-03-2007, 02:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the team is not far off from being a serious contender in terms of the roster and talent level. In my mind, the issue is the inability of the Sam and the coaching staff to bring it all together.

Sam needs to bring regularity to the team, a sense of base. It's hard to fall into rhythm when the head coach plays with the starting lineup like it's a bad case of musical chairs. Sam had all of last year and this pre-season to figure out who will play what role. As much as I like going with a hot hand, I firmly believe that roster consistency is more important to develop a routine. Routines reinforce roles, and oftentimes it looks like some players are still unsure of their roles.

As for the strategical importance of coaching, I'm sure most can agree that Sam is still lacking in technical knowhow. How many blown plays have we seen out of timeouts?

If it takes until April to get things together, then so be it. I am a firm believer that this team can go deeper in the playoffs. It's all a matter of defining where everyone is supposed to be and what everyone is supposed to be doing. Then there IS no hesitation. That's how well-oiled teams like San Antonio can be such a monster in the playoffs.

Every team deals with injuries and streaky players. You just have to define a system that can accommodate that while still being efficient. That's what the Raptors are most in need of.
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Old 12-03-2007, 02:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I hope they miss the playoffs.

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Old 12-03-2007, 04:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice post Claudius ..... apart of me thought we'd be doing a little better than we've done so far, but its inconsistancies that we struggle with. Overall we always seem to be a Jekyll & Hyde team. Never know what kind of team has come to play from game-to-game. I think if we can ever become as consistant as much of those upper echelon teams, we definitely can be a force in the East. But we're still missing some key ingredients with respect to interior defense and even offense, rebounding, rebounding, rebounding, so most of us said over the months, someone's gonna have to go between Jose and Ford in order to find those pieces.
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As for the strategical importance of coaching, I'm sure most can agree that Sam is still lacking in technical knowhow. How many blown plays have we seen out of timeouts?
I am starting to really like this forum...
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think this team has yet to prove if we can really play with Tj and Calde. Can we really play both styles and play well consistelly? Or having such different Pgs is part of our Jekyll & Hyde sindrome. What worries me most is the way we play in the last quarter. And that prooves a lack of expirience. We have had problems in the last quarter even in games we were winning by twenty like the ones againts Memphis and Cleveland. If thats a problem now imagine what it will be in the playoffs, where there is a REAL pressure.
We have the talent and the pieces to get far in the playoffs for sure but we have to improve a lot if we want to win the important games, like the one against Boston or Dallas this year.
Whats sure is if we need someone to make points on the post other than Bosh, because we are not going to win the games when those long shots dont go in.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I think this team has yet to prove if we can really play with Tj and Calde. Can we really play both styles and play well consistelly? Or having such different Pgs is part of our Jekyll & Hyde sindrome. What worries me most is the way we play in the last quarter. And that prooves a lack of expirience. We have had problems in the last quarter even in games we were winning by twenty like the ones againts Memphis and Cleveland. If thats a problem now imagine what it will be in the playoffs, where there is a REAL pressure.
We have the talent and the pieces to get far in the playoffs for sure but we have to improve a lot if we want to win the important games, like the one against Boston or Dallas this year.
Whats sure is if we need someone to make points on the post other than Bosh, because we are not going to win the games when those long shots dont go in.
I agree Belsius. I agree completely. But I have to think of this right now 'in baby steps'. The fact that we're learning how to win, no matter who the opponent is, well to me important from the get go. We'll learn to beat Dallas and Boston et al but right now we're learning to shut the teams we have to beat down.

Still, I have my concerns about this squad. Smitch, needs to show that he is capable of taking that next step as well. Some of his decisions so far have been well terrible. Other times he has this team well prepared to win.

Still, I think that with time and once Andrea becomes fully integrated into the offensive schemes and not just used on a high screen pop out then our offense as a whole will benefit. Right now, we're lacking creativity.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think in order for them to blow a play out of an inbound....one would have to be called, and I dare say that has happened.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well lets hope that as our players improve, and our coach also does, because he really done some terrible decisions this year with the match ups and the Time out choosing. But he brings positive things too, so lets just hope hes Xs and Os (lol I dont know how to say it in another way in english) get better.

I think Bargnani will be the biggest key this year fot the raptors. If he can play like a real center we will get far, if he doesnt, we will be that "Shooting team that cant do anything more" that everybody thinks we are, and we basically are.

Last edited by Belsius; 12-03-2007 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Nice post Claudius ..... apart of me thought we'd be doing a little better than we've done so far, but its inconsistancies that we struggle with. Overall we always seem to be a Jekyll & Hyde team. Never know what kind of team has come to play from game-to-game. I think if we can ever become as consistant as much of those upper echelon teams, we definitely can be a force in the East. But we're still missing some key ingredients with respect to interior defense and even offense, rebounding, rebounding, rebounding, so most of us said over the months, someone's gonna have to go between Jose and Ford in order to find those pieces.
I agree with this and again, I think Hump, like T2T said could be that guy if he just watches some film. He would do marvels for our entire team if he could be that key rebounder. Hell, even TJ, if he ends up staying can help as a key contributor to rebounding. He's athletic and quick enough to pick up some of those long boards that Delfino does a great job at picking up now.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:48 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think the team is not far off from being a serious contender in terms of the roster and talent level. In my mind, the issue is the inability of the Sam and the coaching staff to bring it all together.

Sam needs to bring regularity to the team, a sense of base. It's hard to fall into rhythm when the head coach plays with the starting lineup like it's a bad case of musical chairs. Sam had all of last year and this pre-season to figure out who will play what role. As much as I like going with a hot hand, I firmly believe that roster consistency is more important to develop a routine. Routines reinforce roles, and oftentimes it looks like some players are still unsure of their roles.

As for the strategical importance of coaching, I'm sure most can agree that Sam is still lacking in technical knowhow. How many blown plays have we seen out of timeouts?

If it takes until April to get things together, then so be it. I am a firm believer that this team can go deeper in the playoffs. It's all a matter of defining where everyone is supposed to be and what everyone is supposed to be doing. Then there IS no hesitation. That's how well-oiled teams like San Antonio can be such a monster in the playoffs.

Every team deals with injuries and streaky players. You just have to define a system that can accommodate that while still being efficient. That's what the Raptors are most in need of.
And isn't our system doing just that? We're playing poor basketball, and have had injuries and yet we're floating a game above 500, which is good enough for 4th in the East last time I checked.

Acceptable, hopefully for the Raptor's it isn't. I'm sure it isn't for Sam Mitchell.

I agree with what you're trying to say, but I think that like the majority of fans in Raptor's nation you're pointing the finger at the easiest and most popular target. It's as much up to those players as it is to the Coach to find their character as a team. He can't just tell them who they are when it's crunch time, they have to know who they are.

I don't think Sam has really tampered with the lineup all that much besides accomadating injuries. PG/SG/PF have been locked up all year. He switched Moon for Kapono, and Rasho for Bargnani, two moves that seemed to work at the time so I'm not sure how you can fault him for that considering both changes seemed to work.

As for technical knowhow. He is a young inexperienced coach, but he can only get better.

What I think is that patience is necessary.
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I used to think that this would be our year, but right now I'm thinking this is a year of transition. Coach and some players still have to learn how to improve the game when the other team is defending well, and our bench isn't that deep IMO, no till Humps and Joey improve his play. Last year we were underdogs for other teams, but not this season.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:06 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Last year, we had 9 new players...basically the guys got to know each other's games and tendencies and what not. the fact that they started clicking last year was helllaaa impressive. This year we only got 3 new players, BUT all three of those players (Kpwnage, Fino and Moon) are getting heavy minutes in the rotation, so its expected that we'll be rusty or inconsistent to start the season. Once these three guys get really comfortable with eachother and the rest of the team, and once Bosh gets back to being Bosh, and once Bargs starts to show up on a daily basis, LOOK OUT. Cuz we'll b better than last year for sure come april.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:50 AM   #14 (permalink)
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The one thing this team has that sets it apart from a lot of teams is depth - and it shone to form last night - missing 3 stars and still blowing out the Bobcats. Once this team is healthy, I think we can do some serious damage.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I would say my once concern though is as well as we played against the Bobkittens last night we can't caputre that moment for an extended period of time. However, I think Jack pointed it out yesterday, that our second unit is full of character guys and no matter how much talent the other team has, character will usually keep you competitive and help you win games.

Add in our talent, which is sidelined, I can't help but NOT get excited. We just need to learn how to win consistently.
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Old 12-04-2007, 11:07 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Add in our talent, which is sidelined, I can't help but NOT get excited. We just need to learn how to win consistently.
Personally I think Bosh, Ford and Bargnani are the problem here in Toronto and last night was evident that we don't need them.

LOL ... could you imagine if I was serious?

Nah, but if we could play like we did last night with our Big 3 then we should be sitting pretty for the remainder of the season, but as you alluded to CG we have to find a way to be consistant and not as inconsistant like we have been unfortunately.
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Old 12-04-2007, 12:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Personally I think Bosh, Ford and Bargnani are the problem here in Toronto and last night was evident that we don't need them.

LOL ... could you imagine if I was serious?
Heh, we need those guys so much for long term success though, it's not even funny (though I know you were being sarcastic Doc!).

My classic example (Raptors flavour, too) was when we signed Mark Jackson. He was getting KILLED by Alvin Williams in practises and Alvin was kicking ass off the bench so we did what we thought was smart and traded Jax at the mid point of the season (I think we got Chris Childs in the deal, and someone else). And while Childs did have cojones for the playoffs and our team improved defensively, our offence slipped noticeably because we no longer had a smart, savvy point guard feeling out the defense for us, creating looks for Vince and other guys.

It was the point I realized that, with point guards especially, how they are as an individual player isn't nearly as important as how they make the team play.

------

In that vein, I'm thoroughly convinced Jose is the PG of the future for this team. While TJ has a penchant for spectacular drives, Jose is becoming the emotional leader of this team, as well as the unselfish heart of the offense. We take his identity when he's on the floor. Ditto TJ - we get into selfish mode at times when he's out there.

Bosh and Bargnani I think are both coping with various ailments, and we won't see their true colours for awhile. I've made threads on 'trade Bargnani' (ie on EZE) and I always think up these scenarios because I want us to be a better basketball team, and while I am frustrated as shit with Bargnani's play, I do think he will regain his confidence, swagger and game. It will just take awhile because of the harsh expecations that come with being a #1 pick.

Shit look at how good Dwight Howard is this year. Nobody expected this so quickly; I figured him to dance around 20ppg, not become a 22 point 14 rebound monster!!!! A year or two can make a massive difference for a player.

With that said, I think the days of expecting 25/10 from Bargnani are over. He's going to be a great role player and hopefully a solid starter who can explode for points in some games but will be quiet in others.
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Old 12-04-2007, 12:26 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I think we traded Mugsy and Mark Jackson for Childs and Seatle's first round pick from the Ewing deal.

-------

I like Jose a lot and I think he's the better choice in the short term, but I think TJ's capable of much greater things once he matures. That being said, will he ever mature?
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:22 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I'll start with the pg's. I really think their situations are more similar than they are different. Both of them need to improve in the same facet of the game - in terms of their mental approach. Jose comes from a place where he played one, maybe two games a week, and the games were 40 minutes, and the pressure was much less intense on him as a point guard. In Spain, for long stretches, he often did little more than bring the ball up, pass to his shooting guard and watch. His biggest challenge has been to remain steady mentally every game, handling pressure defenses, and at the same time push the envelope in terms of making the opposing defense work hard. He has shown continued progress since his arrival. And right now in starting and playing big minutes he has shown real promise, but is still a little up and down during games and from game to game. That's not a big deal, since his ups are so good, but I think if he continues to split time for a couple of years then games like the Washington matchup, where he was plodding and sluggish, and too much of a steady hand in that the offense came to a halt too often, will come very infrequently. Getting a handle on such a full schedule and such large responsibilities should not be something he is asked to do overnight. The chance to start now has been good, but over the course of a full season, I think he will develop that much better while splitting time.

TJ also needs the time to gain mental strength. When his mind starts to wander, he relies more on his athleticism. It is his safety net, and it has the effect of causing the offense to come to a screeching halt as well, since it tends to take the team away from it's schemes overall.

You give both these guys shared minutes over this season and the next, and they both have a real chance to be where real elite, dominant guards are today. They will have the experience and the mental preparedness to weather the marathon that an NBA season represents. And in the meantime, over that same timespan, the combined production of the two, and the ability for each one to fill-in when injuries occur, gives the team a real jump on what would only be expected two years from now.

Speaking of two years from now - that's what I constantly think of when I think of Andrea Bargnani. Remember what Bosh was like two years ago, especially when he was a little banged up? Why should we not expect the same uneven sort of play from il Mago? Yes much of the Raptors hopes lie in his hands, but not really until the playoffs. So until the playoffs come, I'm not going to get bent out of shape over his learning pains. He's working on expanding his role with this team quite extensively. So let's allow him to put in the work that will be required.

I see little that can be questioned regarding the coaching. Settling on a rotation has taken longer than I would have liked, but then again, coaching a team as deep as this is fraught with problems and difficulties that can bite the whole organization in the ass. And that has not happened, nor do I expect it too, precisely because the roles are well defined and understood. Last night we saw two guys that have often not even been the 11th and 12th men in the lineup, showing the ability to fill in strongly, and make an impact that few guys that far down on the bench ever do, and all within the system.

The emphasis on defense, and the way that all the new additions have been used in that respect, has been something that the coaching staff does not seem to get judged on at all. And yet I cannot think of anything more important to this team at this stage. They are showing a good fundamental approach to the game that is going to payoff big when the most talented players are healthy. It might not mean an improved overall record if guys like Bosh and Ford are sidelined more than not, but it will give the team it's best chance to make some noise in the playoffs, even if there are key injuries.

And those fundamentals include rebounding. Believe it or not - this is not a poor rebounding team at all. And it can be hard to believe. Good rebounding. Good defense. Attention to detail. It doesn't quite compute. But it's all there. It's just that it is only the beginning. Look two years into the future if you are not completely satisfied right this second. If you're still not at least somewhat satisfied, then you simply do not want to be satisfied.
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Old 12-04-2007, 03:07 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'll start with the pg's. I really think their situations are more similar than they are different. Both of them need to improve in the same facet of the game - in terms of their mental approach. Jose comes from a place where he played one, maybe two games a week, and the games were 40 minutes, and the pressure was much less intense on him as a point guard. In Spain, for long stretches, he often did little more than bring the ball up, pass to his shooting guard and watch. His biggest challenge has been to remain steady mentally every game, handling pressure defenses, and at the same time push the envelope in terms of making the opposing defense work hard. He has shown continued progress since his arrival. And right now in starting and playing big minutes he has shown real promise, but is still a little up and down during games and from game to game. That's not a big deal, since his ups are so good, but I think if he continues to split time for a couple of years then games like the Washington matchup, where he was plodding and sluggish, and too much of a steady hand in that the offense came to a halt too often, will come very infrequently. Getting a handle on such a full schedule and such large responsibilities should not be something he is asked to do overnight. The chance to start now has been good, but over the course of a full season, I think he will develop that much better while splitting time.

TJ also needs the time to gain mental strength. When his mind starts to wander, he relies more on his athleticism. It is his safety net, and it has the effect of causing the offense to come to a screeching halt as well, since it tends to take the team away from it's schemes overall.

You give both these guys shared minutes over this season and the next, and they both have a real chance to be where real elite, dominant guards are today. They will have the experience and the mental preparedness to weather the marathon that an NBA season represents. And in the meantime, over that same timespan, the combined production of the two, and the ability for each one to fill-in when injuries occur, gives the team a real jump on what would only be expected two years from now.

Speaking of two years from now - that's what I constantly think of when I think of Andrea Bargnani. Remember what Bosh was like two years ago, especially when he was a little banged up? Why should we not expect the same uneven sort of play from il Mago? Yes much of the Raptors hopes lie in his hands, but not really until the playoffs. So until the playoffs come, I'm not going to get bent out of shape over his learning pains. He's working on expanding his role with this team quite extensively. So let's allow him to put in the work that will be required.

I see little that can be questioned regarding the coaching. Settling on a rotation has taken longer than I would have liked, but then again, coaching a team as deep as this is fraught with problems and difficulties that can bite the whole organization in the ass. And that has not happened, nor do I expect it too, precisely because the roles are well defined and understood. Last night we saw two guys that have often not even been the 11th and 12th men in the lineup, showing the ability to fill in strongly, and make an impact that few guys that far down on the bench ever do, and all within the system.

The emphasis on defense, and the way that all the new additions have been used in that respect, has been something that the coaching staff does not seem to get judged on at all. And yet I cannot think of anything more important to this team at this stage. They are showing a good fundamental approach to the game that is going to payoff big when the most talented players are healthy. It might not mean an improved overall record if guys like Bosh and Ford are sidelined more than not, but it will give the team it's best chance to make some noise in the playoffs, even if there are key injuries.

And those fundamentals include rebounding. Believe it or not - this is not a poor rebounding team at all. And it can be hard to believe. Good rebounding. Good defense. Attention to detail. It doesn't quite compute. But it's all there. It's just that it is only the beginning. Look two years into the future if you are not completely satisfied right this second. If you're still not at least somewhat satisfied, then you simply do not want to be satisfied.
Agreed completely. The fact that our team as is, is showing marked improvement in defence and in reboudning from last season to this season is something that has me excited. Last season, I would say our offense on whole had progressed while our defence improvement was pretty stagnant; this season it is reversed. At some point, we're gonna put it together. We're learning how to do these things.

Our offense, when on schedule is a VERY good offense, and our defense, well it doesn't need to be to the level of the Pistons but as long as it is adequate will serve us well in the future. As will our rebounding.

And again, the luxury of having two PGs who can start on any team in the league, is that other teams really can't match that type of depth at a position that if you have one good PG, you consider yourself lucky. Two years from now, when hopefully the young kids become vets, this team has more potential than any in the East.
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