The Raptors after 2 very inconsistent games in terms of defensive intensity brought it for the full 48 minutes against the Suns. The wins over the Bulls and the Clippers were nice to have in terms of getting the W in the standings. However the horrible starts followed by the amazing efforts to recover is no a recipe for success over the long term. The Raptors have shown that when they do put in the effort they can be an average to good defensive team. They need to bring that effort for the full 48 minutes and not flip it on and off like a light switch. The Nuggets and Jazz both should offer solid tests to how well they can defend. Carmelo Anthony like Chris Bosh has been off to a great start to the NBA season. There has even been some early M.V.P talk for the former Syracuse star. Since Chancey Billups arrived last season this has been a different team. He gives them solid leadership at the point guard position and really has done a great job pushing the Nuggets to the next level. A team that has some rather loud and odd characters has all rallied behind him and he has been able to lead them and help Carmelo Anthony reach is true potential. Something that did not happen with Allen Iverson . The Nuggets after a trip to the Conference Finals have started the season at a respectable 7-3.
There is also the reality of playing in that mile high air of Denver. It is always a tough place to play when you are not use to that. The Nuggets as a result enjoy one of the more unique home court advantages in the NBA. If the Raptors can fight through and put in a full 48 in Denver's thin air they can do it anywhere. Even Jose Calderon of late has shown signs of more effort and the Raps did a good job of making switches and keeping a body on a man. Granted sometimes in major mis-matches. But those are a two way street. A mis-match is only one if the player in it realizes that it is and takes advantage of it. There is also advantages for the other side of a mis-match as well. Every player in the NBA knows when they are open. Heck we all see it as well. That happened a few times with Frye and even a couple with Steve Nash. That being said those were few and far between in comparisons to earlier efforts on the season.
It was not all a bowl of cherries in that effort in Arizona. Jarrett Jack is still trying to find his way. I have just get the impression that Jack in some cases is just trying to hard. Point guard is the hardest position to play on a new team. You not only have to know what your job is but you pretty much need to know what everyone else has do as well. That is why you tend to hear things like the point guard is an extension of the coach on the floor. It is also why relationships with coaches and point guards tend to be one of the most important on any basketball team. So it will take time for Jack to build that relationship over time with both his coach and everyone on his team not named Chris Bosh. Jose Calderon has the same issues in terms of getting to know a lot of the roster but not all and he has know Jay Triano from the day he arrived in Toronto. When Jose struggled early on some fans were already willing to give Jack the starting job. That is something he is not ready for at this point. He has not played to a level to even consider it right now. It is not to say that day may never come, it is just to say I highly doubt it comes in November or even December.
When you talk point guard and coaching relationships one of the best teams at this is Utah. Jerry Sloan has his system and his point guard is going to play his system or he is not going to play. It is a rather one sided relationship in those terms but it works. But first thing is first as the Raps take on a Denver team feeling very good about itself coming off a win over the defending champion Lakers. They really put the boots to L.A while the Raptors were digging out of that whole they dug in L.A. No question beating the Lakers is far more impressive than beating the Clippers. The one thing you hope to start seeing for this Raptors team is a more consistent and balanced effort. It would be great to go into a game and have some idea of what you can expect for the Raptors. They need to build an identity for this team. Part of that will be a team that can score the basketball but it needs to include some elements of hustle and defense as well.
One final note before we call it a day. Happy for Sonny Weems getting some playing time last night. He really has done well for himself so far. Let's face it not to many people knew who Sonny Weems was when he came as part of the trade that brought Amir Johnson to town. Well now you know who he is and what he is all about. He can get up and make some pretty athletic plays not unlike what Demar DeRozan can do. The finish he had on that Alley Opp play last night was very hi-light worthy and he is proving himself worthy of chances at getting more chances to play. That is an added bonus that few people could have expected or hoped for. So keep pushing hard to get the PT Mr. Weems!!!