Welcome Back Jose
What a difference one player can make to a basketball team. Jose Calderon may not have been running at 100% last night. But whatever percentage it was, it was far better than what Will or Roko can provide. The Raptors were a turnover machine without Jose and it was very noticeable how much Jose means to this Raptor team. His stats last night were not eye popping or anything but what it meant for others and the team was. The health of Jose Calderon is always going to be a major factor for this roster. The amount of minutes he is having to play will make Raptor fans nervous. I share in that concern. But until Will Solomon or Roko Ukic prove they can be effective on a consistent basis. Sam Mitchell has a tough task in figuring out how to keep Jose and his minutes under control will be an issue. Jose did have a bit of a tweak to his ankle last night but played through it. Raptor fans love Jose for the most part he gives them a lot of reason to do so. I only wish he was a better defender but that can be said for a few folks on this roster.
J.O Is Getting On Track
This is the J.O that people were hoping for when the trade was made. Big rebounding nights and being a shot blocking force on the defensive end. He is scoring a little less than some folks may have expected. I was never really concerned about that. J.O was here to make the Raptors better defensively and to add some toughness and rebounding that was sorely lacking. He is starting to get use to play major minutes and getting use to playing consistently after a few season plagued with injures. It all takes time and that is something Raptor fans are not always willing to give. But I really think J.O has done about as good as you could hope for at this point. We always hear that Jermaine O'Neal is a 6 time all-star. That is fact, but that is also a few years ago and a we injuries ago. It will take time to build back to an all-star level and he may near get all the way back. But what is clear is that he seems motivated to give his best effort to do so. That is all Bryan Colangelo, Sam Mitchell and Raptor fans can ask.
No Trade...No How...Not Now
Many have floated the idea of trading Andrea Bargnani over the last season and a bit. I was among them at one point last season. That time has passed for me. Andrea Bargnani had one of the better nights of his NBA career last night. I have seen an overall change in him that makes me think he is worth keeping for the long run. The biggest thing about Andrea last year that was the concern for myself and others, was the lack of progression in his development. I don't think anyone can make that claim this year. He is showing signs of an improved post game, better defensive effort and an overall effort that is there consistently. To make a move with him at this point would be a mistake. He is showing the things you want to see and he is still very young and has a lot of room for growth. When Bryan Colangelo selected him it was based on that long term outlook. If Colangelo was looking to the short term Andrea Bargnani would not have been his pick. There is just nothing that would convince me that trading Andrea would not be something that people would look back on and regret down the line.
Just When I Was Ready To Give Up On A.P
I admit watching Anthony Parker last night when he was at 0-5 on the night I was like COME ON. Well he did just that and went off shooting at a level I had not seen for him in a long time. In my talks with folks they point to how hard it is for Anthony Parker to be guarding the toughest guy to stop on the floor on most nights. It takes a toll on a player to work that hard on the defensive end. That is why you see some star players take breaks on defense to save up some energy. But A.P is out there for his defense first. His shooting has suffered some times as a result. But if that is the case and it is about his defensive assignment. I do not understand that most times A.P is starting cold shooting. He should be at 100% or close to it at the start of the game right? It will be interesting to see if the Raptors will consider moving Anthony Parker at any point through out this season. His contract is done after this year and the summer had rumours of offers to return to Europe for A.P. I am not sure if the Raptors will move him but he could be a player that would have some interest for a team looking to add a player for the short term. But it is clear to me that no matter what Anthony Parker will likely not return after this season. He has been a good player for the Raptors in his time here but age and time are catching up to A.P. When your sister is the superstar of WNBA you are hard pressed to even be the best basketball player in the family.
Raptors Need To Learn To Play With A Lead
I don't know if it is just being the team from Canada or what. But the Raptors just can't seem to hold large leads. It has been something that has gone on in the history of this franchise. It is o.k to win a game by 20 or 30 I would be happy to write about that I really would. Far to many times the Raptors take big leads only to watch them melt away like snow in heat. Last night the Raptors lead by 17 and that lead was erased and it took a second wind from Toronto to pull out the win from Miami. This has to change and it is up to Sam Mitchell to make that happen. He tries to call time outs and stop things from getting out of hand. That is what most coaches would do. Phil Jackson was known for not doing that and letting the players figure it out. However Sam Mitchell does not have Kobe, Shaq or M.J on his roster. But maybe he should give it a shot and allow this team to figure it out for themselves without having him try to break the momentum with a good stress releasing time-out rant. One way or the other Raptors need learn how to be a front runner.
Some Final Thoughts
Tomorrow I will have the second part of my chat with Matt Devlin. We talk about the ex-raptor Vince Carter and a bunch of other topics. I also want to take this chance to welcome folks who might have just found the blog through the partnership with The Score. I hope you will become a regular reader and be a part of this growing Nation of Raptor and Basketball loving folks that make the Dino Nation Blog part of their experience as a fan. I value my readers and want you to feel part of the Dino Nation Blog. Thanks for checking this blog out. As for all of the regular readers thanks for your support and hope you are happy about this new era for Dino Nation Blog. So tomorrow it is Matt Devlin and a Raptors Rewind of the Raptors and Nets. Will V.C still suck? Who knows but nothing gets Raptor fans more fired up then the topic of Vince Carter.
See You Tomorrow and feel free to leave a comment if you like