Bloggers Talk: Toronto Raptors

We haven’t done the Bloggers Talk feature in a while, but we have Sam Holako at Raptors Republic to talk some Toronto Raptors basketball in advance of tonight’s match-up.

How has Toronto reacted to the Chris Bosh situation considering how well Cleveland has dealt with LeBron James?

Toronto’s actually moved on. There are lingering discussions about how good/bad (mostly about how bad) Bosh was for the Raptors, but the fan-base has embraced our young core, and for better or worse (I’ll get into this on the next point) have gotten behind Bargnani as the franchise player. I’m sure the debate will heat up (forgive the unintentional pun) when Miami comes to town late in the season, but the Bosh chatter is at a very very low level.

Andrea Bargnani seems to be evolving into a bigtime scorer. Do you think he’s finally transitioning into one o f the top big men in the league?

That depends on what your definition of what a center should do to be effective. Bargnani is one of the better scoring big men in the league. He can hit threes, take his man off the dribble, and more recently has developed a post game that’s improving. On the defensive end, things start to get a bit tricky. He can block a shot or so a game, but it’s usually because he’s 7 feet tall. His man defense on bigger (less mobile) players, is good, but not great. His help defense and rotations are piss poor. As a rebounder, he grabs a few a game because he’s 7 feet tall, but you rarely see him go after it on the boards; boxing out is brutal. To make matters worse, if his shot isn’t falling, he’s a complete liability on the floor. I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture, but if he’s lined up with a guy who’s a beast on rebounding/defense, then he can be a big contributer. Is he a number 1 option? No, but he can be a solid # 3 on a good-to-great team.

For me, I’d trade him in a second for a Joakim Noah or an Al Horford; I like my centers to play actively in the paint, play defense and rebound the hell out of the ball.

What appears to be the long-term strategy for the Raptors?

The strategy is to go young and rebuild without actually saying we’re rebuilding. The problem is that the Raptors are in treadmill territory: good enough to win 32+ games, but not bad enough to get a high lottery pick (unless they luckily win the lottery). Our young players are good, but I’m not sold on them as the future of this team. A couple seasons of selecting in the top 5 would be something a lot of fans could get behind if the current product on the floor plays hard every game.

Seems like The Nets show infinite more promise with Lopez/Harris/Favors as a solid core, plus a ton of picks in the next two drafts; even if they miss out on Carmelo. Not to mention a playboy owner who wants to win and will spend money to do so.