Mid Terms For The Raptors

The Raptors close the half way mark of the season on a major high with a big win over Dallas. Now that we are officially at the half way mark time for me to pretend to be a teacher and hand out some grades. Let's start off at the top with the head man of everything Bryan Colangelo.

These grades are based on performance vs my personal expectations and a little of what others have to say on the various folks. Basically it is far from a scientific process.

Bryan Colangelo (B-) It has not been perfect by any means in terms of what Colangelo has done. Hedo Turkoglu and that 53 million dollar contract is looking worse by the day. However that 50 million dollar one for Andrea Bargnani looks better by the day. Jarrett Jack has been pretty good and emerged as a leader. Reggie Evans has yet to play a game. Marco Belinelli has been inconsistent at best. Sonny Weems is actually a rotation player? not bad for what some felt was a throw in to a trade. Amir Johnson has stepped up and filled in for an injured Reggie. His choice for the coach in Jay Triano has his moments both good and bad. He has stayed firm in his dealing about the whole impending Bosh Free Agency. In the end the lack of production from Hedo Turkoglu hurts. As one of the readers of the Dino Nation Blog correctly pointed out the "biggest" move Colangelo has made the last 3 seasons has not exactly produced positive results. Kapono was a failure...J.O was a bust and Hedo Turkoglu has not lived up to the hype. Still Colangelo overall has improved the level of talent on this team overall and even though he likely had higher expectations than 6th in the East and 21-20. Still he has made up for his mistakes to the point the Raptors can be considered a playoff team in the East. What ultimately will define the Colangelo era is what becomes of the whole Chris Bosh situation. Has he done enough to keep Bosh a Raptor? If he hasn't can he honestly make a deal that will make the Raptors better without him. Seems unlikely and it really will be what his ultimate grade will be based on. Colangelo in part was brought here to build a team that could win around Chris Bosh even he admits that Bosh was a big reason he took the job in the first place.

Jay Triano (C+)- Jay Triano has been a source of frustration at times. It has taken quite some time but he may just have turned the corner and got this team to play at least decent defense. I am not thrilled with how he manages games at times and sometimes he seems a bit unwilling to accept something doesn't work. For example going with Hedo, Jack and Calderon on the floor together. That being said Jay does do a nice job of substituting offense for defense down the stretch of games. He also seems to do a better job out of time outs (when he does decide to call them) than Sam Mitchell in terms of executing a play. I remain unsold that he was/is the right choice to coach this team. However the Canadian in me cheers for me to be dead wrong. Still enough things happen that just concern me and do not make me feel comfortable with Jay. Colangelo says anyone that suggested Jay's job was in trouble was crazy. Well call me crazy but if the Raptors had not closed 2009 the way the did it was hard for me to see Jay being coach much longer. However he has turned things around and so far has managed the point guard situation with Jack and Calderon the right way. There is time for Jay to improve this grade greatly but for now he is getting what he got from me. Had he broke maybe one more clipboard maybe he would have got a B- but not likely.

Chris Bosh- (A) - Honestly I seriously considered the A+ but his defense at times can fall asleep at the wheel and still commits the odd silly turnover. That aside this has been THE BEST SEASON of what has been a solid career for Chris Bosh. It makes the impending free agency all the more troubling. Bosh has his share of critics out there but this guy is a very good and bordering on great NBA talent. He is unique in his skill set and he leads the league in double doubles to this point in the season. Chris Bosh was playing a higher brand of basketball than his team was early. When he plays at his max and this team does a long side him this is one of the better teams in the NBA. So many bigs in the league are a liability at the line. Bosh is a close to 80% shooter. Chris Bosh stay or go is having his best season as a pro. Not to mention he has handled all of this with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from Chris Bosh. He took over the franchise lead in scoring and has become a better leader and better player than Vince Carter was in many aspects. Just because Vince won a single playoff series and slam dunk contest that does not make him the best Raptor ever. The most notable perhaps although Bosh in his own unique way has become a known attraction as well. He who wears the crown of franchise player takes a lot of heat and gets a lot of glory. Bosh has grown into the role and it suits him very well.

Andrea Bargnani (A)- Andrea has come a long way and is really starting to impress on both ends of the floor. It is shocking how much he has improved as a rebounder and defender. There is also a noticeable difference his the young man's confidence. I never thought I would see the day Andrea would grab 17 rebounds and show confidence that is not just dictated by his shooting night. A guy who most felt could never play at the 5 spot is not only playing at it he is starting to excel at it. You will never confuse Andrea for Kareem, Shaq or Bill Russell. However he has taken his own unique skill set and adapted to his position on the floor. Improved passing as well and a greater chemistry with Bosh have also been noticed. The contract he signed for 50 million and 5 years that he signed in the summer that worried some( Myself Included ) now looks like one of the best contracts in the league going forward.

Demar DeRozan (B-)- I have never hidden the fact that I like Demar. Think he is a great kid and has a great attitude towards growing as a player. Basically that is what we have seen for the most part. His jump shot is a work in progress but is showing signs of getting better. He is slowly trying to learn what it takes to be a defender on the NBA level. Some nights you think he is way out of his league and on others he looks like the next coming of Vince Carter. The answer is likely somewhere in between but leaning to the V.C side. I think when all is said and done Demar has a chance to be a better defender than Vince. In part because Vince never pushed himself to be a great defender. Demar will I think. The 2 main skills that Demar has mastered thus far in the league is to throw it down and get to the line. For a rookie it is amazing how often Demar can get to the line when he puts his mind to it. As for his bag of tricks dunking the ball I think we have only scratched the surface of what is to come. Demar and what he can be in April and then in next September is something that gets me excited and it should all Raptors fans. He is getting better a day,week and month at a time. So far I am impressed with what I see.

Jarrett Jack(B) - He is the starting point guard and started as the back-up. So it took an injury for it to happen but I told you it would. However even I am surprised it happened so fast. Honestly I think Jack can be a lot better. That being said what he has done off the floor deserves a lot of credit. I think he has become a leader for this team in the locker room. Something that Jose Calderon has not been. Calderon is a great team player but I see him more as a follower. Leading the team on the floor is one thing but being a leader off it is another. Jack has done a decent job in all areas but the most important thing he has done is pushed the basketball. He gets this team moving and going in transition. He also offers more defensive resistance than Jose Calderon. Jack does nothing so exceptional that it stands out and nothing so glaring that it stands out. Jose Calderon may end up with better numbers but Jack will or at least should remain the starter. He at times has shown the ability to step up and make big plays at the perfect time. He also is durable and you do not have to live in fear if he is injured. He played all 82 games for the Pacers last year and you can count on him being in the line-up night in and night out. How Jack,Triano and Calderon manage this situation will be key to team success. Mitchell, Calderon and Ford did not handle it well and it ended up in team making a trade that should have been not needed.

Hedo Turkoglu (D-) - I strongly considered an F. This has not been a good situation from day 1. He sat out the majority of training camp and he at times has looked totally out of gas. The bad nights far out weigh the good ones. In terms of being an impact free agent signing to this point he has been a bust. At times you see flashes of the Hedo that played for the Magic. However in general you have seen a player that has not produced anywhere close to what he should for the amount of opportunity he is given. Can he turn the corner in the second half and become a huge impact player for this team? You would sure hope so as given his contract it is unlikely he is going anywhere for awhile. The recent complaints in the media about his role as well. Hedo honestly needs to look in the mirror and play better. It really is as simple as that. We could break it all down in terms of his effort on D, his shot not falling at rate it has in the past and some other things. But basically he is playing like a kid on scholarship for 5 years and not showing the effort and energy that he used to get the Magic to the finals. Find me that guy. That being said his Pizza Pizza Ad is first rate comedy and for some Raptors fans is a bit to much looking like reality. Instead of worrying about who is snapping his photo in public how about figuring out how you can make yourself fit in better with this talented team. If you do that more people may actually want to see pictures of you instead of posting them on their dartboards.

Jose Calderon (C+) - Has it really come to this? The Dino Blogger actually defending Jose Calderon and trying to convince people trading him is a bad idea? It appears so. That being said would I fight to the death about it? Not a chance. However I think Jose Calderon is not getting a fair shake. Look at what he has done playing in the reserve role. It has been pretty great. His defense is still a gross embarrassment at times. However this whole concept of Jackaron needs time to develop. I also think that Demar DeRozan could become good enough that making a trade for a shooting guard unnecessary. There is time before the deadline and let's let things breath and table this stuff till the trade deadline. Jose as a starter has been a disappointment. His lack of durability and defense is the reason he is where he is. However if he produces like he has recently should anyone complain, not unless you are insane. Jose is as much a victim of over hype than anything else. Stats and people saying you are an All Star does not make you one. Jose Calderon's assist to turnover stat ranks right up their with the Raptors consecutive 3 point shot making streak at 901 if you care. There may be no hope for Jose in terms of defense. However what I am noticing is he is more willing to push the basketball in transition. He has also done a solid job developing some chemistry with some players like DD for example who is making even a bad Jose alley opp pass look good. trading T.J ford was not the answer and trading Jose Calderon is not as well. Although what has become very clear is that if Raps are going to move a major piece Jose is likely it. You are not going to move Bosh, Bargnani and likely can't move Hedo even if you wanted too. I honestly think and hope that Jose is not moved as it really would not make a lot of sense. Unlike some I am not willing to live with Marcus Banks as this teams back up point guard. Jose over him is no contest in terms of talent and impact.

Marco Belinelli (C-) Bryan Colangelo said that this guy could be 6th man of the year in the NBA. I would be safe in saying he would not even make the top 3 on his own team right now. He has been wildly inconsistent. What I have figured out though is he is a talented passer and has more in his tool box than just his shot. That is a good thing because that shot of his has been the issue. Some times he is lights out like Derek Fisher in NBA 2k10 (Guy never misses when I play Lakers ) and at other times looks like the second coming of Adam Morrison. I really at the end of the day am disappointed cause I expected more from him. Perhaps he has helped in what seems to be a more engaged Andrea Bargnani and if that is true I would gladly bump up his grade based on that alone. However that is hard to prove. I really just don't know what to make of him and now am starting to understand the frustration they had with him in Golden State. Let's hope he figures it out and gets on the right track. He currently has the flu and maybe sometime away from the court and everything might help. He quickly could get lost in shuffle if this team continues to play well.

Amir Johnson (A-) - Honestly Amir has been so good that this team barely has to notice that Reggie Evans has yet to play a game that matters this season. Johnson has been the energizer bunny off the bench and he rebounds and blocks and keeps going and going...until he has to many fouls to continue. That is the one knock on Amir is his in ability to avoid fouls. He also has a very limited offensive game. But what he does have is just amazing amount of hustle and heart on the glass. Tom Liston (Huge Amir Fan) is upset that Amir didn't get an A+. However I think A- considering what we thought his role was going to be and has become is pretty good. Johnson and Evans as a tag team coming off the bench is something to just drool about. In big games when they matter most both Evans and Amir can be huge in impact by grabbing key boards for this team. Chris Bosh has gotten a lot of help on the glass this year and Amir is at the front of that list.

Sonny Weems (B)- The fact Sonny Weems is not getting an incomplete is news. When he was acquired honestly did any of you know who he was let alone expect he would be in the rotation at times? Weems has shown great athletic ability but at times forces his offense. He reminds me of Hump in that way. He is an aggressive defender and gives all he has got when he is out there. In fact that is a problem he might be trying to do to much. Sonny is an added bonus however you cut it.

Antonie Wright ( F ) - For whatever reason Wright has fallen out of favour. He has forced his offense and a guy that was billed as a defensive stopper has not lived up to the hype. Half court buzzer beater and the odd highlight here and there but for the most part glued to the bench. Really can you do anything but give him a failing grade? If anything maybe I should give him the D- and Hedo the F but honest Wright based on expectation and actual reality has been a major disappointment.

Rasho Nesterovic ( D- ) - Honestly what impact has Rasho really had on the floor. He has been pretty invisible and rarely sees the floor. Rasho is a great guy and it is nice to have him back with the team but if we are judging this primarily on the on court performance he really has done little. There was a reason the Roy Hibbert took over in Indiana. He is young and talented and turning into a quality big man. Could have been a Raptor but that is a story for another day. The other reason was Rasho is not as assume as he use to be. Sorry Tim Duncan but it is true.

Marcus Banks ( C+) - Sorry that his brief run as the back up did not get me in the Marcus Banks fan club. While solid on defense he still makes just stupid choices at times on offense and often in favour of himself getting a shot. Milt Palacio like in nature Marcus Banks is nothing to get excited about. There is a reason he has been traded around like an unwanted pet. His awful contract is part of it but the player behind the contract is not exactly lighting the world on fire. That all being said was he miles better than Will Soloman and Roko Ukic last season. Heck yeah. But that really isn't saying much. Banks did help this team when he was needed which is far more than any of us likely expected heading into the year.

Patrick O'Bryant (F) - You might say wait a second how can POB get an F? Well if you only are seen during garbage time and on Twitter I am thinking that means 13 other guys are better than you. Bryan Colangelo took a gamble on him at the deadline and it only cost him Will Solomon to do it. However the gamble has failed and POB has become more mascot than player and that is not a good thing. 3 teams have tried to see what this guy has and they have all come to same conclusion.....Not Much.

Reggie Evans (GWS- Get Well Soon)- I really think Reggie will have an impact and I have enjoyed getting to know him a little bit in talking with him a few times over the season. No one will be happier than me to see #30 on the floor for the Raptors. Well accept for Reggie himself.

So were done right....Nope we got 2 more to do.

Dino Blogger (C+) - I honestly feel that I could have done better so far this season. I am still working just as hard but have had some issues this year that have made the blog a bit more challenging to do. I do feel that the interviews I am doing have become better and are more informative and entertaining. I will continue to bust my butt and look for ways to make the Dino Nation Blog better each day. That is my promise to all of you. There have been some very rough moments this season but some how some way I have kept this thing rolling along. I also am pleased that we have started to make in roads in terms of access. Jim LaBumbard has been kind enough to believe enough in me and the Dino Nation Blog to allow that. There are going to be a few changes that I hope you will enjoy going forward.

Raptor Fans (A-) - The fans of this team have come a long way. For the most part all of you are extremely passionate and care deeply about this team. I still would like to do away with the morons that feel Pizza is more important than basketball. I also get a little tired of the constant lack of respect for Chris Bosh by a few. However for the most part Raptor fans are some of the greatest folks you could ever hope to work for. I am proud to say I have got to know a lot of you that read this blog and think you are all fantastic folks. It makes doing this a worthwhile experience that I have enjoyed long before it ever has become any sort of job or career for me.


  1. James, this is a pretty good mid-season report. You've assessed the team's performance thus far accurately, except for one point, which I'll gladly explain. I think you're grossly misjudging Hedo Turkoglu's role on this team.
    Yes, I understand that when the Raptors signed him everyone was excited and expected him to make a big splash, but I mean, who wouldn't be? The guy played great basketball in Orlando for the last two seasons and seemed to be exactly what the Raptors needed for their starting line-up.
    However, there seems to be one thing you're overlooking... if you check the numbers (I'm not the kind of guy who says stats are everything, but hear me out) for the last four seasons in Orlando, specifically his three biggest years of the four, Turkoglu has essentially taken the most shots on the team. Specifically in the last two years, his best of his career. And I don't think that's a problem. Turkoglu is coming to this Raptors team as an older, mature player, coming in to do those things that the Raptors consistently need, such as distribute the ball and actually hit the glass as a wing player. So far, he is doing those things, and he's still averaging 13 points a game even though he has settled for taking substantially less shots per game (he's at about 380 now, while Bargnani is at 540 and Bosh is at 600 and something). Any guy who can consistently put double digits on the board while hardly going over the double-digit mark in shots is fine by me, especially since his percentages aren't necessarily any lower than they've ever been. On top of that, his turnover numbers are down from the last two seasons, even though his minutes have stayed roughly the same.
    So, if you can see where I'm getting at with this, Turkoglu isn't actually 'disappointing' anyone, unless by disappointment you mean he's not putting up HUGE numbers (scoring 15+ ppg, essentially) when Bosh and Bargnani are both having career years for PPG, great years for FG%, etc. Don't get me wrong, it'd be great if he took some more shots cause we know he can make them, but Turkoglu is the sort of player who doesn't force his game. And that's one thing to respect about him. With all the hype and the contract and everything else that you're complaining about, he could think that he's entitled to 15-20 shots a game. But the bottom line is, he's still grabbing boards, getting assists, getting to the free throw line where he's shooting a good percentage, scoring when he has to step up, etc. You may be right about his effort on D, but that is something that the Raptors as a team have had to work on, and I think they are.
    Anyway, as far as my point goes, I hope you see where I'm coming from. I'm not saying Turk can't play better because I know he can, he's a great player, but before you give the guy a D- and think about giving him an F, actually think about the way he's playing with respect to the whole team instead of just what's expected of him, because that's one thing about Hedo that he's always been able to do; he fills the role he has to fill depending on the players on the floor with him. And for that, I think he deserves at, the very least, a B-.

  2. When you factor everything together in terms of the contract and what fans expected Hedo has been a major disappointment. All of these grades were based on expectations vs reality. Thus if the expectations were out of whack the reality would make this grade out of whack as well.

    Sometimes a teacher will give a grade to a student a bad grade to serve as motivation for him to do better. If Hedo studies hard and plays better he can greatly improve his grade. I agree sometimes Hedo is a player that can fall through the cracks in terms of impact. But can anyone seriously say that Hedo has won us many if any games with his contributions. I honestly can't think of one of the top of my head. That is bad when you consider he was suppose to be one of the major off-season signings in the NBA.

  3. Your assessment of Jose's defence, especially after returning from injury, is hugely inaccurate. It's a case of people seeing what they want to see, and it's been obvious you've been down on him compared to the other guy (TJ and now JJ).

    Jose has improved with every game since his return, and his defense was especially great against the Mavs. He had multiple steals, caused TO's, shaded towards double teams, but still had the ability to recover and contest shots. He was blown by a couple of times, sure, but so was Jack. In fact, Jack had a worse defensive effort, but for some reason he gets a pass in your eyes.

    The thing I like most about your blog, James, even more than the interviews, is your analysis. As a Calderon fan though, I've found it irritating that you don't hesitate to take a shot at him whenever you can. It's almost like your love for TJ Ford created equal parts hate for Jose Calderon, which still persists even after these years.

  4. Fellow teacher ... one does not give a student a C because he should be an A and is performing a B, you give him a B, period. Expectations? It's all about performance! This is the pros, baby! There are only two players on this team that are performing better, and they both got an A (although I would've given Bosh a slightly higher mark that Bargnani). Turkoglu isn't playing optimally, but he's still better than 10 players on his own team.

    The other anomaly, to me, is giving Banks a C+ over better players like Belinelli (C-), and Nesterovic (D). I have Belinelli playing way better than Banks, and Nesterovic playing him even. (Age will do that to you.)

    And the interesting thing about these Raptors right now is that the two players with the most potential (DeRozan & Weems) are their weakness in the rotation. It's only a metter of time ... with or without Bosh ...

  5. Seems people are not getting the concept behind my grading system. The grades I came up with are most based on the expectations mostly my own vs the reality of what has happened in the first 41 games. For example let's take Sonny Weems and Wright as examples. Weems got a B and Wright an F. That is not me saying Sonny Weems is better than Wright. It is saying that based on what was expected Weems has over achieved and in the case of Wright he has failed.

    On to Jose. I actually am defending the guy from being traded and he got the same grade as me so that is high praise is it not? In terms of his defense he tends to be a liability more often than not. I point to the Philly game that the Raptors won as an example. He was brutal down the stretch of that game. He almost cost the Raptors a win.

    I think if he stays in his current role that I will be a lot more happy with him overall. He just for me can not guard elite talent as his position unless the player is slower and he is able to stay in front of him. Honestly I do like a lot of what I am seeing from Jose. I think he is making strides on adjusting to how Jay want to play offense.

    For whatever reason I find when it comes to point guards I have very little in between with all point guards. I usually love a guy or hate him. In terms of Jose my issues with him are not personal they are stylistic.

  6. Ooppss. I meant "upside", not potential. And "matter", not metter.

    FYI, I have a competitiveness rating (obviously effected by minutes played) that rates them A+ Bosh, A Bargnani, A- Turkoglu, B+ Jack, B Johnson, DeRozan, Belinelli & Calderon, C- Weems, D+ Wright, D Nesterovic & Banks, E+ O'Bryant.


  7. E+??? lol...it is better than my F. Anyway these grade things are all subjective things. But E+ that is thinking out of the box....LOL