Pointing the Raptors in the RIGHT direction

Raptors deal O’Neal to Heat for Marion

Deciding whether or not this is a good deal for the Raptors is a moot point.

Jermaine O’Neal is now a member of the Miami Heat, joined by Jamario Moon and the Rights to a Future 1st Round [Lottery Protected] Selection [slotted for the 2010 NBA Draft]; while Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks are bound for Toronto.  

From a personnel standpoint, this is what the deal means for the respective teams:



Anthony, J

Beasley, M [2008/No. 1]

Blount, M

Chalmers, M

Cook, D

Diawara, Y

Haslem, U

Jones, J

Magloire, J

Moon, J

O’Neal, J [$21 M/yr, expires 2010]

Quinn, C

Wade, D [2003/No. 5]

Wright, D

2010 1st Rd Draft Pick [#15-30]

Banks, M

Bargnani, A [2006/No. 1]

Bosh, C [2003/No. 4]

Calderon, J

[Delfino, C-?]

Graham, J

Humphries, K

Jawai, N

Kapono, J

Marion, S [$17 M/yr, expires 2009]

Parker, A

Solomon, W

Ukic, R

Voskuhl, J

$3 M to Buy a Draft Pick

Spoelstra, E

Triano, J

Riley, P

Colangelo, B



You can decide for yourself which of the two rosters you’d prefer to have going forward from here.


This corner would choose Miami’s.


From a Raptors’ perspective, however, the immediate question is this:


If this team still has designs on qualifying for the playoffs …


What would be their most effective line-up for the remainder of this season?


Although everything these eyes have read in print, thus far, has suggested that OPTION 1 [below], is the way in which the Raptors should/will line up vs Cleveland, Wednesday evening:




STARTERS: 1 Calderon + 2 Parker + 3 Marion + 4 Bosh + 5 Bargnani

KEY BENCH SUBS: Ukic, Kapono, Graham, Voskuhl

RESERVES: Banks, Solomon, Jawai

OTHERS: Humphries [injured]



STARTERS: 1 Calderon + 2 Parker + 3 Graham + 4 Marion + 5 Bosh

KEY BENCH SUBS: Ukic, Kapono, Bargnani

RESERVES: Banks, Solomon, Jawai, Voskuhl

OTHERS: Humphries [injured]



STARTERS: 1 Calderon + 2 Kapono + 3 Graham + 4 Marion + 5 Bosh

KEY BENCH SUBS: Ukic, Parker, Bargnani

RESERVES: Banks, Solomon, Jawai, Voskuhl

OTHERS: Humphries [injured]


this corner does not subscribe to that philosophy.


OPTION 2 or 3 is actually the better way for the Raptors to go forward from here, if they sincerely hope to make a run towards the playoffs this season. 


What are the reasons for this?



* Chris Bosh’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the #5/C-spot.

* Shawn Marion’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the #4/PF-spot.

* Joey Graham’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the #3/SF-spot.
* Anthony Parker is a capable #2/OG and a Back-up #1/PG, in the NBA, when he doesn’t have to defend & rebound for Jason Kapono as well.
* Jose Calderon’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the Starting #1/PG-spot.
* Andrea Bargnani’s best-fit role with this collection of teammates is to come off the bench … as a sub for either Bosh [#5] or Marion [#4] … where his Defensive & Rebounding limitations can be minimized, while he becomes the Offensive focal point of the team’s 2nd Unit. 


If the Raptors shift into a base 4 OUT/1 In alignment … with Chris Bosh as their Center … they can effectively accommodate The Matrix [i.e. Offensively, Defensively and in terms of Rebounding] while playing towards the individual strengths of their best players, at their best-fit positions, in the NBA.


Let’s hope the Raptors’ braintrust has the BASKETBALL ACUMEN it takes to figure this out before too long and the remainder of the season slips away.

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11 Responses to “Pointing the Raptors in the RIGHT direction”

  1. Scott G Says:

    Interesting stuff, most of which makes clear sense to me. However, I wish you’d explain the basis your positions more thoroughly, in terms of the thinking that you use to arrive at your conclusions.

    Here’s a thought – rather than using conclusory sentences like this:

    * Chris Bosh’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the #5/C-spot.
    * Shawn Marion’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the #4/PF-spot.
    * Joey Graham’s best-fit position, in the NBA, is the #3/SF-spot.

    Tell me WHY you think that’s the case, more like this:

    * Andrea Bargnani’s best-fit role with this collection of teammates is to come off the bench … as a sub for either Bosh [#5] or Marion [#4] … where his Defensive & Rebounding limitations can be minimized, while he becomes the Offensive focal point of the team’s 2nd Unit.

    Although this should go further, in terms of explaining WHY the defensive and rebounding limitations are minimized by playing him with the second unit, I think it’s on clearer track. In this context, I see how playing with AP at the 1 can make up for Bargs inability to rebound, but that’s about it. But, the bottom line is that the reader gets a sense of why you think that way, so that they can better understand your position.

    Or not… take it or leave it! ;)

  2. khandor Says:

    Scott G,

    Fair enough.

    My rationale:

    When I write with “conclusory” sentences, initially, it gives others the opportunity to ask me follow-up questions so that we can better engage in a dialogue about a particular subject and what I think about it in-depth.

    Writing a single blog entry with a more complete rationale behind each of those different conclusory statements doesn’t translate well in an on-line environment, IMO. At least, not as well as it does in a major Research Paper or a Thesis on that whole subject.

    If all goes according to plan, in this case, I’ll be writing more on these particular conclusions in a slightly more in-depth way on this blog over the next few days, both, in the comments section … in an on-going with you :-) … and in the regular entry format.

    Either way, your feedback is always appreciated.

  3. Scott G Says:

    Okay, I agree that providing a full-blown explanation for every single thought you write would get tiresome in a hurry, especially in an online format where people come to read something quickly and click elsewhere.

    At the same time, given the ridiculous exchange of comments over at RR in the last couple days (I can’t even post a comment when it gets that bad), I think you’re well aware of the downside of not explaining things, at least when it comes to readers that don’t want to ask follow-ups. Or maybe it’s not a downside, coming from those type of people. Overall, though, I think you can see how the lack of explanation sometimes detracts from the force of your arguments. (Which, I think, is a more important point; pleasing the angry crowds at RR needn’t be a priority.)

    I really like reading your take on things, and I look forward to seeing how things play out with these raps.

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t mind seeing the following lineups:

    Starters: JC, JG, SM, AB, CB
    After first Sub: JC, AP, JG, SM, CB
    After second Sub: AP, JK, JG, SM, AB
    After next Sub: RU, AP, JK, AB, CB
    etc, with KH & JV mixed in for spot minutes.

    I like the 4-out, 1-in offense, and I think it can work with all 3 of AB, CB, and SM on the floor at the same time. I actually think SM works at the 3 in our system for exactly the reasons you’ve identified – he hides AB’s rebounding and defensive limitations, and has plenty of room to attack the glass on the offensive end. Obviously, he won’t have the luxury of running circles around slow 4′s in that role, but I think our team is now so thin on the perimeter that limiting him to exclusively playing the 4 might put too much faith in JG/AP/JK. Thoughts?

  4. khandor Says:

    Scott G,

    How about we discuss some of why I think Bargnani is a better fit with the 2nd Unit of this team, in this section right here? [Y or N]

    … since I introduced a couple of preliminary aspects in this entry already. ;-)

  5. khandor Says:

    Scott G,

    Since I wa writing as you were posting … I’ll take that as a yes. :-)

    P.S. First-off, let me tell you what a pleasure it is to exchange ideas about the game with someone who has your disposition. As you know well already … it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about coming to a better understanding of how the game works. Despite the fact that we are both experienced in that respect, so too do we each know that we can never ever learn all there is to know about it, and that the views of others working from a sound platform … although different from our own … can be equally valid to our own.

  6. khandor Says:

    Okay … before my thoughts on Bargnani:

    re: your suggested rotation above

    We are on the same page with our appreciation for the 4 Out/1 In alignment with this new team … the specifics of which I will try to get to in a more detailed individual blog entry later on this week.

    * Although I would not be afraid to close a half or a game with your starting Unit, I would not choose to begin games that way.

    CB + AB is a slow combination of Bigs. Better to leave them until later in the game when half court execution becomes more important and made 3PT Shots take on an even bigger significance, relative to the eventual outcome, given time & score situations.

    [in general, stats-based hoops gurus would cringe at the idiocy involved with what I just wrote there ... but that's because they do not think the game in the same way which elite level coaches do]

    * Conversely … I much prefer your 1st Sub Unit to begin the game. SM + CB, together … in a 4 OUT/1 IN, are potentially a very, very, very good twosome, at least, from an offensive standpoint!

    * Similarly … I like your 2nd Sub Unit, as well. Pairing AP with JK is very effective, even though neither one is a particularly good Rebounder on their own. At their size, in combination with one another … plus with AB on the floor, at the C-spot, replacing CB … that’s a solid 2nd Unit, IMO, that can keep the tempo up … provided that AP doesn’t try to score himself … except in Post-Up isolation situations … and the perimeter shooting of JK + AB [Pick & 1-Pop/then 2-Roll] is emphasized, with SM on Heavy Duty “Glass Detail”.

    * IMO … the 3rd Sub Unit would then be better if it was:

    RU + JK + JG + AB + CB

    The RU/CB pick & roll/pop stuff could be very good with JK, JG & especially AB spotting up on the perimeter, ready to launch at-will! :-)

    * Which would then leave you with:

    JC + AP + SM + AB + CB


    JC + AP + JG + SM + CB

    to close out the half or the game!

    Your thoughts?


    P.S. My further thoughts on Bargnani with the 2nd Unit will need to wait until tomorrow, as I have a prior engagement for the rest of this evening [seeing how today it is the "Family Day" holiday across Canada :-) ].

  7. Linkage for Feb 15 11pm to Feb 16 6pm - Raptors Republic Says:

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  8. Scott G Says:

    Family Day… LOL I’m a transplanted canadian living in LA at present, so down here it was called President’s Day. Either way, sorry I didn’t get to this until this morning.

    I like your “3rd sub” unit as well; the only problem is that JG still hasn’t come out of the game. I actually love what he’s been doing for this team for the better part of the last few months. Amazing that he was never used by Smitch.

    As for the logic of finishing games with bigger players, I think I like the idea. 3-pointers definitely play a larger role in the last few minutes, since a single shot can have a big impact on the complexion of a game. Ditto for 1/2-court execution, though more because there are less stupid shots on offense leading to less fast breaks. I think my thinking was focused on finding enough minutes for each of AB/CB/SM, and thus assumed that SM would have to play a portion of his minutes at the 3. But, you’re absolutely right that this doesn’t mean he needs to start at that position, and on second thought I think I like him finishing games at that spot instead, especially against a bigger opponent (cavs, celts, etc).

    BUT, doesn’t this all add up to >30mpg for JG? Does Triano have the cojones to do that? I sure hope so.

    I think CB and SM can be a great frontcourt, if they can develop some chemistry. If CB was a better passer, I’d have less doubts. Either way, I think SM will give us an offensive rebounder unlike any player we’ve had in quite some time.

    Btw, what do you think would be a reasonable price to resign SM? I’m thinking he’s worth $6M/y for 3y. Wait… that’s what Krapono makes… ugh

  9. khandor Says:

    Scott G,

    Sorry for the delay.

    Family Day activities were extended so-to-speak, except for a few brief interludes on-line. :-)

    re: where the rest comes for Joey G. in the above suggested rotation

    S: JC + AP + JG + SM + CB
    1: AP + JK + JG + SM + AB
    2: RU + JK + JG + AB + CB
    3: JC + AP + SM + AB + CB
    4: JC + AP + JG + SM + CB

    As you’ve alluded earlier, with the timely use of KH & JV, on either side of quarter/half breaks, in relief of CB, this sort of rotation is very doable for these Raptors.

    re: CB4′s passing skills

    i. Passing is easier in a 4 OUT/1 IN for a Center than it is in a 3 OUT/2 IN, as the 2nd post player serves to clog the lane.

    ii. Amare Stoudemire isn’t a terrific passer either but nevertheless has had great success working with Steve Nash in this type of set-up.

    re: resigning Marion

    Probably looking at more than that per year, IMO.

  10. Scott G Says:

    Okay, we’re basically in agreement as to the rotations. I’m actually a little bit excited to see how this all works out… of course, I probably felt the same way (albeit far less optimistic) prior to the season.

    In regards to CB4′s passing, I think your comment re Amare isn’t entirely relevant. In that system, Nash had the rock for most of the possession, and gave it up only when someone else was in a good place to succeed (given their skill set). In our system, while we certainly run a lot of PNR, Calderon doesn’t handle the ball as much as Nash did, and we run a lot more post iso’s for Bosh. This is where I think his average passing ability comes into play; I think Marion is most effective when he can use his athletic ability without the ball to get open, and receive the ball (via a “good pass”) in a place where he can score with relative ease. Either way, I certainly see what you’re saying about the 3/2 v 4/1 and how that affects passing.

    As for Marion’s resigning, I’m perfectly aware he’ll ASK for more than that. I’m just curious as to how much you think he’s worth paying to keep as a Raptor, if anything at all.

  11. khandor Says:

    Scott G,

    re: CB4′s passing

    Then the Raptors NEED to change their offensive system to the one used by Nash & Stat. :-)

    Bosh is no where near as athletic as Stat is but he doesn’t have to be in order to succeed in a big way while playing in a 4 OUT/1 IN that does NOT focus on iso’s for him but works Pick & Rolls with Calderon surrounded by a combination of Parker, Graham, Marion & Bargnani.

    re: Marion’s financial worth

    At his age … I’m in agreement with you.

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