Posts Tagged ‘Rafael Araujo’

Telling it like it is, in the NBA

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Yet another reason to like the job which Otis Smith [GM] has done, thus far?

NBA Countdown: No. 8 Orlando Magic
Reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 14 years and second in franchise history was a wonderful accomplishment for the Orlando Magic-but there was no guarantee a championship would follow.The Magic will go into the 2009-10 season determined to defend their Eastern Conference title but looking different than when they won it. Yes, they still have All-Star center Dwight Howard as their foundation and high-priced Rashard Lewis (who’s suspended the first 10 games of the season after testing positive for an elevated testosterone level) shooting 3-pointers, but the Magic changed their late-game, go-to guy by switching from Turkoglu to Carter.

It’s why general manager Otis Smith didn’t take any bows, or even take the time to catch his breath.

And it’s also why he made one of the boldest moves of the summer, changing his carefully crafted team chemistry by trading for All-Star Vince Carter and letting go of free agent Hedo Turkoglu, a key player in Orlando’s recent rise.

“You can’t stand still in this league,” Smith said. “If you do, you’ll be going backward.”

The Magic also added free agents in power forward Brandon Bass from Dallas and small forward Matt Barnes of Phoenix. They even added point guard Jason Williams, who last played during 2007-08 with the Heat. Surprisingly, they kept backup center Marcin Gortat by matching the offer sheet Dallas gave him.

With the Celtics adding Rasheed Wallace and the Cavaliers trading for Shaquille O’Neal, the Magic tried to keep pace with the other serious contenders in the East.

There are less than seven teams every year that really are trying to win a championship in our league,” Smith said. “Those three (in the East) are trying to win now, as opposed to saying ‘We’re OK where we are. Let’s stay the status quo.’”


Otis Smith was hired by the Magic on May 6, 2006.

This is what the team’s roster looked like on that day:

Augmon, Stacey F
Battie, Tony PF-C
Cato, Kelvin C
Diener, Travis PG
Dooling, Keyon G
Francis, Steve G
Garrity, Pat PF
Hill, Grant G-F
Howard, Dwight C
Kasun, Mario C
Morris, Terence PF
Nelson, Jameer PG
Outlaw, Bo PF
Stevenson, DeShawn G
Turkoglu, Hedo F

This is what it looks like today, 41 months later:

Almond, Morris G
Anderson, Ryan PF
Barnes, Matt F
Bass, Brandon PF
Carter, Vince G-F
Foyle, Adonal C
Gortat, Marcin C
Howard, Dwight C
Johnson, Anthony PG
Johnson, Linton F
Lewis, Rashard F
Nelson, Jameer PG
Pietrus, Mickael G-F
Redick, JJ G
Williams, Jason PG

This is Orlando’s record of performance, since that date:

59-23/.720, 1st Atlantic, 3rd Eastern Conference, NBA Finalist 
52-30/.634, 1st Atlantic, 3rd Eastern Conference, Lost 2nd Rd
40-42/.488, 3rd Atlantic, 8th Eastern Conference, Lost 1st Rd

This was their record of performance the season before Smith arrived:

36-46/.439, 3rd Atlantic, 10th Eastern Conference, No Playoffs

3 full seasons into his tenure with the Magic, Otis Smith should be considered as one of the best GM’s in the NBA.


By way of comparison, for the benefit of Raptors fans, this is what Toronto has accomplished under the direction of Bryan Colangelo [2-time NBA EOTY award recipient] during this same time-frame:

2005-2006 Roster [Feb 28 2006]
Araujo, Rafael PF
Bonner, Matt PF
Bosh, Chris PF-C
Calderon, Jose PG
Davis, Antonio PF-C
Graham, Joey F
James, Mike PG
Martin, Darrick PG
Peterson, Morris G-F
Sow, Pape PF
Villanueva, Charlie F
Williams, Eric G-F
Woods, Loren C

2009-2010, Current Roster
Banks, Marcus G
Bargnani, Andrea C
Belinelli, Marco G-F
Bosh, Chris PF-C
Calderon, Jose PG
DeRozan, Demar G-F
Douby, Quincy G
Evans, Reggie PF
Jack, Jarrett G
Johnson, Amir PF
Nesterovic, Rasho PF-C
O’Bryant, Patrick C
Turkoglu, Hedo F
Weems, Sonny G-F
Wright, Antoine G-F

Year #1-3
33-49/.402, 4th Atlantic, 13th Eastern Conference, No Playoffs
41-41/.500, 2nd Atlantic, 6th Eastern Conference, Lost 1st Rd
47-35/.573, 1st Atlantic, 3rd Eastern Conference, Lost 1st Rd

Year Prior
27-55/.329, 4th Atlantic, 1st Eastern Conference, No Playoffs


In the NBA, the cold harsh reality is that there are only 2 distinct tiers of teams:

Tier 1
Those few that are actually trying to win the League Championship.

Tier 2
Everybody else.

Much R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to Otis Smith for “cutting to the chase” and improving the Orlando Magic each season, thus far.


Who do you think is the better NBA GM, as of today?

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Kris Humphries, as advertised

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

There are many subtlties involved in developing an accurate description of a solid but unspectacular player who has a valuable role to play for a good-very good team-great team in an environment like the NBA which the “average fan” has considerable difficulty trying to understand properly.

Case in point:


Exhibit A


… who was never truly appreciated in Raptorville for what he brings to the table in the NBA, as a player that:

- was not the most useful return possible in the Rafael Araujo trade
- was overpaid paid unnecessarily during the last 2 seasons, given the derth of actual burn he got from the Raptors’ coaching staffs
- was a whole lot more effective than Andrea Bargnani, by comparison, at the #4/PF position, as a complementary “Back-up” front-court running mate when “starting” beside Chris Bosh [C]

Training Camp Report: Day Two, Humphries Turns Heads
The Mavericks feel that their off-season trades and signings addressed their defensive deficiencies prior to this season. Now Dallas is focused on bringing the new Mavs up to speed with the returning players to build a cohesive defensive unit.

An unheralded player, who is turning heads early in camp and providing defensive help in the interior, is Kris Humphries.

“(Humphries) has really impressed me. He’s a physical force inside, but he has outside touch. He has a high basketball I.Q., so he’s been a surprise,” Terry said.

The five-year veteran, who came to the Mavs in the four-team trade that delivered Shawn Marion, is looking to prove he is more than just an add-on. The 6-foot-9, 235-pounder could provide Dallas with a physical presence after the departure of Brandon Bass.

“He’s been extremely consistent,” Carlisle said of Humphries early in camp. “He’s a physical kid and an underrated player. He had a strong summer and he picks things up very quickly. He’s a guy that knows his game, and he knows how to be effective down there.”


By no means should K-Hump ever be confused with a “star” NBA player. However, the manner in which he was used, and mis-used, by the Raptors during his time in Toronto should be considered as the working [pictoral?] definition for what,

A Wasted Opportunity To Make Something Substantial … Basically From Nothing … Actually Looks Like In The NBA,  Regarding A Highly Serviceable Role Player.

If the Mavs finally make the decision to use Dirk Nowitzki as their primary Center this season … primarily to give Shawn Marion and Josh Howard the amount of PT their skill-sets warrant, as bookend Forwards [i.e. #4/PF and #3/SF, respectively] in an under-sized but very athletic line-up … it should come as no surprise, whatsoever, at least, to astute NBA observers, if K-Hump steps up to grab the available MP at the #4/PF position [over Drew Gooden], given the recent departure of Brandon Bass [PF, Orlando, UFA].

Operating beside, either, [A] Dirk, or [B] Dampier, Kris Humphries will be a good fit for Dallas this year, given his [i] physical toughness, [ii] ability to Rebound & Defend the #4/PF position, [iii] run the floor in transition and [iv] score the ball in bunches, working under a solid head coach like Rick Carlisle.

Humphries pushing for larger role with Dalla Mavericks


Original Sin, in Raptorville

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Araujo pick set off chain reaction
I‘ve always considered the drafting of Rafael Araujo the Raptors’ original sin. It set off a chain reaction the team has never really recovered from.

Araujo, as every Raptors fan knows, was picked No.8 overall by Rob Babcock, who promised on draft night that the big Brazilian was “Not a stiff.”

Well, he was a stiff. One with small hands and short arms and – quite literally – no upside.

Missing at No.8 isn’t ordinarily the end of the world. It happens. And it says A LOT about the NBA that having the chance to pick the eighth – or in this year’s draft – the ninth best player in the world in a given year carries with it no certainty of success.

Tough league.

But the 2004 draft had its share of good players. One of them – Andre Iguodala – was taken ninth by the Philadelphia 76ers, as every Raptors fan knows.

Which is the problem: It’s not so much that Araujo was a bust, it’s that Iguodala represents exactly and – short of Kobe/LeBron/Wade – I mean exactly what the franchise needs.

He slashes. He defends other wings. He’s a one-man fastbreak. He’s a passable spot-up shooter. He’s very good playmaker and passer. He’s relatively affordable, at $12-million a year, which is pretty good value for a Tier 1A wing player in the NBA.

But you know all this.

Still, I’ve been thinking about Iguodala as I’ve [been] watching Mickael Pietrus with the Orlando Magic.


In contrast, what this corner sees is that the specific time-line … i.e. Chain Reaction … for the de-evolution of the Raptors looks like this:

* Fired Glen Grunwald, Apr 1, 2004
* Hired Rob Babcock, Jun 7, 2004
* Drafted Rafael Araujo [No. 8], Jun 24 2004
* Hired Sam Mitchell, Jun 29, 2004
* Traded Vince Carter, Dec 17, 2004 [for exactly what, in return?]
* Fired Babcock, Jan 26, 2006
* Hired Bryan Colangelo, Feb 28, 2006
* Drafted Andrea Bargnani [No. 1], Jun 28, 2006
* Traded Charlie Villanueva for TJ Ford, Jul 1, 2006
* Traded for Carlos Delfino, Jun 15, 2007
* Signed Jason Kapono, Jul 11, 2007
* Traded TJ Ford & Rasho Nesterovic & No. 17 Draft Pick for Jermaine O’Neal & No. 41 Draft Pick, Jun 26, 2008
* Signed Hassan Adams, Jul 8, 2008
* Signed Roko Ukic, Jul 16, 2008
* Signed Will Solomon, Jul 28, 2008
* Bought out Jorge Garbajosa, Aug 10, 2008
* Fired Mitchell, Dec 3, 2008

33-49/.402, 14th place in the Eastern Conference


April 1, 2004 [and, then, Dec 17] will live-on, in infamy … as a sort of very real, cruel JOKE … in the history of this franchise, purpetrated by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment [MLSE, i.e. Richard Peddie & Larry Tanenbaum]. 

In whose shoes would you prefer to be?

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Comparing the state of the Raptors’ franchise, at the moment, to that of the Miami Heat … their opponent this evening … is an interesting exercise.


In the 2003-2004 season, the Raptors finished 33-49/.402, 6th in the Central Division, missed the Playoffs, and secured the No. 4 [overall] Selection in the 2004 NBA Draft Lottery, Chris Bosh.

Since then, the team has:

Finished 33-49/.402, 4th in the Atlantic Division, missed the Playoffs, and secured the No. 8 [overall] Selection in the 2005 NBA Draft Lottery, Rafael Araujo

Finished 27-55/.329, 4th in the Atlantc Division, missed the Playoffs, and secured the No. 1 [overall] Selection in the 2006 NBA Draft Lottery, Andrea Bargnani

Finished 47-35/.573, 1st in the Atlantic Division, with a 1st Rd Playoff exit 

Finished 41-41/.500, 2nd in the Atlantic Division, with a 1st Rd Playoff exit

Is currently 23-39/.371, 5th in the Atlantic Division, and out of the Playoffs. Bryan Colangelo is the President/GM and Jay Triano is the Head Coach. This is their player roster.


In the 2003-2004 season, the Heat finished 42-40/.512, 2nd Atlantic Division, with a 2nd Rd Playoff exit, and selected Dwyane Wade with the No. 5 [overall] Selection in the 2004 NBA Draft Lottery.

Since then, the team has:

Finished 59-23/.720, 1st Southeast Division, lost Eastern Conference Final

Finished 52-30/.634, 1st Southeast Division … WON their 1st NBA Championship

Finished 44-38/.537, 1st Southeast Division, with a 1st Rd Playoff exit

Finished 15-67/.183, 5th Southeast Division, missed the Playoffs, secured the No. 2 [overall] Selection in the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery, Michael Beasley

Is currently 32-28/.533, 2nd Southeast Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference. Pat Riley is the President/GM and Eric Spoelstra is the Head Coach. This is their player roster.


Which of these two franchises is in the better position to move forward as an "upper echelon" team in the NBA?

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