Bloggers Talk: Toronto Raptors

We got a bonus edition of Bloggers Talk today, as the Nets hit the road for Toronto. Here’s Sam Holako from the great TrueHoop Ratpors site, Raptors Republic. I also answered some questions for him over at his site, so as good citizens of NAS, you should check it out.

NAS: A 7-13 start caused a little bit of panic in Raptor-land but the team has settled in nicely and is now above .500 and in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Is there anything you can credit for the turnaround?

The turnaround was due to an improvement on a couple fronts: 1) Bargnani just seemed to turn it on in December, and played the fiercest defense we have seen from him. He has also made a real effort to crash the boards, which has been one of his biggest knocks 2) Calderon went down, and Jack moved to starting unit bringing a bit more defense 3) Production from the bench has increased dramatically. Beinelli and Weems are legitimate threats to score, Wright is our version of Bruce Bowen and Amir Johnson is the best big man we’ve had coming off the bench ever.

NAS: Obviously all eyes continue to be on the Chris Bosh situation. Is there any shot he stays in Toronto beyond this season, and do you really see a suitable trade partner out there if the Raptors want to go in that direction?

The only way Bosh wont be in a Raptor uniform next season is if he comes out and says that he wants to be traded. Given his tone the last few weeks and his comments during the summer (how he considers Toronto home), I don’t see him wanting out. Once you factor in the Raptors reversal of fortunes, and this being his team, and his country, it is tough to leave that and go. Also, if he doesn’t resign, he leaves $30mil on the table, that’s a lot of dough with the CBA coming up ant the end of next season.

NAS: A lot of Raptors fans were seemingly pumped for Andrea Bargnani entering this season (including a few who took umbrage with our site ranking Brook Lopez ahead of him at the C position). Are you happy with the progression he’s show this season or do you still feel like he has room to grow?

The comparison between Lopez and Bargnani is interesting. I bet Thorn wouldn’t trade Lopez for Bargnani if he was offered. Bargnani started the year scoring well, but has really picked up the defense since early December. He is a beast in the paint, just ask Duncan and Howard. The sky is really limit for the guy; if he can rebound at a higher rate (8-9 a game) and take a few more shots a game, that extension he signed in the summer (5yr/$50mill) will be one of the best contracts in the league.

NAS: Putting aside the contract if you can, are you happy with Hedo Turkoglu’s performance so far this season?

The Hedo signing was absolutely terrible. Triano is having trouble getting him enough touches since he, Calderon and Jack all need the ball to be effective on offense. Aside from giving the greatest post-game interview in NBA history (ball), he hasn’t lived up to that contract. It’s hard to separate the contract from whether I am happy with his performance since if he was making the mid-level, I would be super happy. He hasn’t helped his own cause with poor shooting from the perimeter. I’m just bitter with the whole Hedo situation…