DNB Top 10- NBA Legends Edition

So we sit and wait for all the legal stuff to get done and training camps to open. So what to do for the DNB Top 10? Well we have seen a lot of old basketball games over the NBA Lockout so how about my all time favourite NBA Legends? Sure why not.

10. Walt Frazier- He was before my time as player. But I have seen some of the old footage and he was one of the guys from back in the day that I think could fit in today's NBA with his style on and off the floor.

9. Dominique Wilkins- The Human Highlight Reel and he was. The guy was just a fantastic dunker and was robbed of a Slam Dunk Championship twice. Once by Jordan and once by Spud Webb. Just an amazing talent that never really was able to see any true team success.

8. Jerry West- The Logo. He was one heck of a player and if not for a guy named Bill Russell would have many more rings as a player. He in modern times is one of the best NBA Executives of all time. He also is the logo of the entire league that is hard to top.

7. Kareem Abdul Jabbar- He was a long time force in the NBA and dominated in college. His record for all time scoring leader may never be touched. His Sky Hook was almost unstoppable. He sadly a lot of times comes off as bitter these days but in his day he was great.

6. Shaq- He is retired now so he can be on this list. The early days of Shaq in Orlando was something special. He was the dominating force that a Dwight Howard was years later. Through his entire career he always brought a dose of fun to the game.

5. Jordan- Sure he probably should be higher but for me I respect all that Jordan did but this is my list so he doesn't have to be #1. It is not like the guys ahead of him will suck. Maybe I am bitter that he screwed the Raptors in that trade. As a player everyone knows what he did. I enjoyed his journey to getting to winning Championships far more than once he started winning them.

4. Larry Bird- Guy was just amazing. He never looked like a guy that could beat you down in basketball but he was the most deadly and clutch shooter in the NBA for years. When you think of the Celtics for people of a certain age it is Larry Bird that you think of. The 80's were all about him and the next guy on this list.

3. Magic Johnson- Showtime was all about Magic Johnson. It was amazing to watch some of things he would do and he made it seem so routine. Even when he came back to the NBA after retiring after finding out he had the HIV virus he played in an All-Star Game and won the MVP and you never doubted he would for a second. People rave about the point guards of today but none of them could hold a candle to Magic.

2. Julius Erving- Dr. J was just amazing. I got the tail end of his career. His dunk in the NBA Finals vs the Lakers is truly the best move I have ever seen in basketball. It really was amazing. I was a Sixers fan when I first started watching basketball. In part because that was name of my team in house league but more about watch Dr.J do amazing things in the air.

1. Bill Russell- Many will say Jordan is the greatest of all time. I will say they are wrong and say it was this guy. What Bill Russell did was just insane. He was a player coach for one of his championships. No one will ever match what his Celtics did and for Lebron James of the world that think it is easy to win a championship it isn't but maybe Bill Russell would make you think it was. He to me is the greatest ambassador of the sport of basketball. The finals MVP trophy is named after this man and it is well deserved.

Everyone has there own list for this one. There is no right or wrong answers only great NBA Legends in every list. It makes you seem like an old guy when you say it but today's NBA is not what it use to be. It is still a great game but the players from back in the day were truly amazing and hard to beat. I will take the 10 on my list and it could crush any team you care to make from today's players.


Who is Core Worthy?

Toronto Raptors by almost anyone you will talk to are playing for the 2012-13 season in the 2011-12 season. The Raptors talk about have a young core that they are building around. But who really belongs in this core and will survive to the other side when this team is actually good. At least we hope will be good.

Demar DeRozan is the obvious lock on this list. Everyone hopes to see the same strides from DeRozan we saw last season. Casey would obvious like to make his future star player into a better player on the defensive end. He will have more chance of success with him than Andrea Bargnani. DeRozan has the athletic tool set to use on either end of the floor. He will be the face of this franchise and if he isn't this team is in serious trouble.

Amir Johnson is the running buddy and the only remaining Young Gun along side DeRozan. While many question his contract it is impossible to question his heart. If Casey can help Amir find a way to stay on the floor and still keep his aggression he could be an important piece to turning this team around on the defensive end. He likely becomes part of the rotation and a bench player as this team evolves. Given his salary that is a pretty expensive bench player.

The Raptors will say that Andrea Bargnani is part of their future. I will say in the words of Public Enemy not to believe the hype. Casey is not a miracle worker and Bargnani is not Dirk. You can't hide him and many with good reason question if he has any effort or desire to rebound and defend. Sure he can shoot 3's and score in bunches but that alone is not enough. The heat will only increase when Bargnani sooner or later moves to the power forward spot and still sucks. Amir Johnson and Ed Davis are not going to sit on the bench long if that would be the case. A Bargnani trade must happen or a least should happen if this team is serious about rebuilding.

Jerryd Bayless is no doubt young and did show flashes at the end of the season. While I think almost everyone will agree that Calderon is not part of this team's core moving forward the question is will Bayless be? There will be lots of attractive options in the draft including at point guard. For example would anyone not take Austin Rivers today and start him in front of both Bayless and Calderon? This season Bayless needs to make a clear claim that he is the point guard for this basketball team. The easiest way to do that is play on the defensive end of the floor. Jose Calderon has yet to figure out the mysteries of how to play defence in the NBA and is not likely to find the God of Defence under Casey. Ultimately Bayless is likely your back up combo guard when this team is on the path to being good.

James Johnson was everyone's flavour of the month last year other than perhaps me. But honestly people is this the guy you see as you small forward going forward? Really? I remain unconvinced of that fact. I do think he can be a solid option on a bench in a winning situation. But there was a reason this guy didn't get time on a good team in Chicago and that is he is not good enough too. In Toronto with virtually no competition and currently literally no competition it is easy to start. But there is no way I would consider Johnson a top 30 player at his position. If Johnson wants to live up to the hype he created last year he should have the chance to do it. Could he be part of the core going forward? Yes. But would I have him as part of it? No thanks I will pass. James Johnson is becoming the new version of Joey Graham for me. Hopefully it is not as long a painful a process.

Ed Davis is likely a lock to be in this core. His rookie season showed signs of promise. rebounding and shoot blocking are two things currently is short supply. Ed Davis brings you both and the Raptors have some more of that stored over in Europe at the moment. Davis is never going to be the smooth offensive player that Chris Bosh was. But that being said Bosh may not ever be the shot blocker that Davis potentially could be. If the Raptors were to cut bait on Bargnani he could find his way to the starting line-up. If not he still will always find minutes regardless of if he gets his named called. There is no question his skill set can make him someone that can be a solider in the change that Dwane Casey wants to bring on the defensive end of the floor.

Jonas Valanciunas has impressed everyone and for some provided a glimpse of hope for the future during the dark days of this NBA Lockout. If he can bring what people have seen with him to the NBA he will answer the Raptors questions at Center. But can he do what he is doing on the NBA level is still the remaining question. One of the biggest issues in that transition will be foul trouble. He likely is going to have trouble staying on the floor in the NBA. But with Dwane Casey's defensive system with a high use of zone concepts it may prove to be an excellent fit for him and make the transition smoother than it might be elsewhere. In many ways Valanciunas is the Anti-Bargnani. He rebounds, he defends and he likes to get in the mix and get dirty. There is more than enough promise to believe he could have a bright future with the Raptors. You would love to see the Raptors bring in an assistant coach to work with bigs and help speed his development along. Patrick Ewing working with Dwight Howard type situation. Who that guy would be? Not sure. If you look in the Raptors past a guy like Antonio Davis comes to mind. His kids are done school by now and would not have to learn the metric system right? No clue on if A.D has any desire to get into coaching at all but someone like that.

That pretty much is the base of what the Raptors will be taking forward with them to the other side and hopefully grow into a successful team. How the Raptors use this cap space they will have to build around this core they have will be the big question as to if they get to that other side. In the past when the Raptors had a young Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady they surrounded them with a group of veterans that helped them grow and learn. That is what this team is really lacking right now. The leaders they have in terms of experience are guys that hardly fit the bill. That is why a guy such as Reggie Evans may not be a part of the long term future but can at least be a guy that can keep the peace until some more guys of his experience and style come along. Jose Calderon is not going to lead anyone anywhere.

Raptors season will be more about the individuals and their development both individually and as a group. There is little chance this team can go anywhere but the lottery and given the draft class this year that is far more appealing than getting swept by the Heat in the first round as an 8th seed. At least there is only 66 games to endure and not 82. But do not expect anything dramatic from the Raptors unless Bryan Colangelo has been lying to us all. Raptors will have 3-6 new faces on the roster this year but I would not imagine to many of those players will be long term guys as far as the future goes.


So now what?

Before we get to today's blog we have started our own store here at the Dino Nation Blog. It is away for you to support the DNB and show your loyalty. After being around for now 4 years and having to survive a NBA Lockout it was time to do this. So check out the store and see if anything tickles your fancy. More items will be made as we roll along.

Now on to what we do. The one thing that this new CBA provides that will be very interesting for all teams is an amnesty on one contract. It allows a team to buyout one of their existing contracts without penalty to the salary cap. So the Raptors could use this on anyone under contract currently which is a pool of 10 players. Obviously you can rule out a number of folks. The two names at the top of the list for this to be cashed in on would be Jose Calderon with 2 years left on his deal and Linas Kleiza who still is not ready to come back and play ball after a torn ACL from last season. He still has 3 years remaining. Most will feel this is a no brainer it should be Calderon. But there is no guarantee the Raptors have to use it on anyone. In a season where Colangelo has already downgraded expectations of what he might do with the Raptors cap space which will be significant. I could easily see the Raptors not using this clause and saving it for next season and adding to what again will be a year in which the Raptors could have even more room to play with as Barbosa and his 7.5 million will come off the cap after this year. It also would at least open the option of using it on Andrea Bargnani if he were to struggle for another season and the Raptors could not trade him. But it will not be used on Andrea now. I would think this season will be make or break in terms of Bargnani's future with the Raptors.

In terms of Free Agents the Raptors may only have really one decision to make on their own free agents. Sonny Weems is under contract for the season in Europe along with the Andrea Bargnani of France Alexis Ajinca who is likely to stay in France by choice. Julian Wright after his refusal to play under Jay Triano really should not be considered coming back although with no Weems and Kleiza not ready to go it is not the 100% slam dunk he is gone that it might have been. But the really choice the Raptors will face is what to do about Reggie Evans. He has shown great leadership in his couple years in Toronto but also has been injured for significant chunks of time. It will be interesting to see if the Raptors want him back and then if they can keep him should they. Evans is a nice role player for any team and when healthy he has still proven to be one of the top rebounders in this league.

Dwane Casey is going to have a tough task turning this team into even a decent defending team. That challenge will be even greater with a shortened training camp and the fact as training camp is going on so will NBA free agency and new players brought in will be thrown into the mix on the fly. Many said in the NFL that teams with new coaches would struggle but that has not been the case for all. Ask any fans of the 49ers about that. But teams that added a significant number of new faces did not fair as well. Ask any Eagles fan about that. So you may not like the Colangelo proclamation that the Raptors are likely not to shake up the world this year in free agency it might be a wise idea. Also if the Raptors were to shock the world and actually be better than expected the rules in terms of trades have become less restrictive and that cap room could be used in terms of trades just as easily without having to convince anyone on the greatness of Canada. Just because you sign someone and make a big splash is not guarantee of success. Joe Dumars would like to have his choices on Charlie V and Ben Gordon back I am sure. The Raptors clearly were not impressed with Hedo and had to move him along.

But if you listen to most it seems the Raptors are doomed to another season of development. Which likely means the Raptors are more in line to be competing for lottery position rather than playoff position. Whoever the Raptors end up getting will be a bargain as rookie contracts have been reduced by 18% in the new deal. They will also be coming in with the Raptors pick this season playing in Europe in Jonas Valanciunas. That also may be a reason to hold on to Bargnani as once Jonas does arrive it would give Bargnani the move to his natural position according to him of power forward. In a draft class that is expected to be packed with talent as many players took the option of another year of school rather than gambling on if the NBA would play or not this year. That combined with one of the more dynamic freshman classes in years in college basketball should lead to quite the pool of talent for this year's draft.

That is at least a quick overview of what lies ahead. For us in the Dino Nation Blog will start getting things back rolling again with interviews and all of that stuff eventually. It is hard to go from a dead stop to rolling back at 100% for everyone and that includes blogs. But will get everything up and running as your use too. It is just nice to be back and have something to talk about that does not involve Labour Negotiations.


DNB Annivsary Top 10

Ok so I haven't really done much in the last few months. I have worked on my 2k12 skills and WWE 12 skills. Dinoblogger 11 has never logged so much time on X-Box live. Not only is the NBA Back but today marks 4 years in the books for us at the Dino Nation Blog. I just had a birthday and my memory sucks not because I am old just because it does. But in 4 years I should have 10 things to say about the Dino Nation Blog? Highlights, Lowlights and everything in between. So here we go.

#10- The DNB was and still is the best idea I have had after 2 am in my life.

#9- The DNB will never win awards for it's skillful writing. But that being said we never claimed to know about English just about basketball. I strive to write things that are entertaining and interesting for everyone even if I break some rules of grammar from time to time.

#8- I keep my dreams alive through this blog. I never could have imagined how many of them would come through from doing this for 4 years. I am always humbled by all that this blog has accomplished.

#7- The Raptors have got progressively worse since the Dino Nation Blog was created. We are not responsible for that please direct all your blame for that to the good folks at MLSE. I never wanted to Trade T.J Ford...They Did. I never wanted to sign Hedo they did. I knew Rob Babcock was an idiot...they didn't. I liked Roy Hibbert they didn't. This could go on and on and on.

#6- I am a guy that belongs on the Radio or T.V that happens to try to write everyday.

#5- This has become more than just something I do and in effect my job. It has become a family to me and all of you that take the time to come here on a regular basis I thank you.

#4- It started with Training Camp in Ottawa and it has grown from there. Covering the Raptors and the NBA is truly a privilege. I am very proud that I am deemed worthy to get a media pass to cover this team.

#3- I am thankful to every player that has taken the time to talk to me. It started with T.J Ford and has grown to guys like Demar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans and countless others. While I was not on the side of players in this labour situation it was just about the Raptors having a chance to be better. I have nothing but good things to say about almost every player I have ever had a chance to talk with.

#2- Eric Smith, Paul Jones, Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin along with countless other folks in the media who take the time to talk with me for this blog. Long before this blog had any kind of credibility they came and gave there time and answered whatever questions I had for them. I am happy that some of these people I can consider not just people I work with but people who I consider friends on some level. All there contributions have made this blog better.

#1- This lockout has given me a lot of time to reflect on how much this blog became a part of my life. The countless people mentioned in this and the tons more I could have mentioned. It has been a gift that I gave myself and through hard work and effort I hope it will live on for many years to come.

I can not tell you how much I missed this. But I also admit that I really needed a break from it and the lockout did provide that. I could have tried to muddle along during that Lockout but if I am not given you something that I believe is worth your time, I am just not comfortable doing it. So barring a complete disaster it appears we are back in business.

To all of the many people this blog has brought into my life be it in person or through my computer screen I am very happy to have you in it. The Dino Nation Blog was built as a last shot to hang on to my dreams and I am still hanging on. Also it goes without saying how much I thank my mother for putting up with all the craziness this blog has created for her life and me looking after her. She has always been supportive in all that I am doing. For that I am lucky and fortunate.

I am happy basketball is back but in a way I am sad and disappointed that is took this long to come to an agreement in a society and world with far greater problems than that. I will never believe a NBA Cares Ad again because at the end of the day they don't. I do and hopefully always will.

Basketball is back on our 4th Anniversary?

It's OVER? Looks like that is the case. The players and owners have reached a deal it seems. The fact I am up at this hour to find out is not unusual. So it figures while most of the world was asleep this all comes to an end. The word is a 66 game season will begin on Christmas Day. Training camps are said to be opening on December 9th if all goes well. Players and Owners will still have to vote on this deal but most feel it is going to pass. All this goes down on the 4th Anniversary of the Dino Nation Blog. This has been a tough time and a tough year for the blog but we have made it through the storm?

Also news yesterday that the Raptors owners have decided to stick around. MLSE will not be sold. So is it better the devil you know? Also with this new labour agreement will anything change in terms of the Raptors. I would not hold your breath with a new super luxury tax as part of this deal. But in reality the Raptors with even more cost certainty should stop trying to pretend to be a small market team and spend some money. Raptors will have money to spend as well even if they will not head into the land of luxury.

But based on comments of Bryan Colangelo do not expect the Raptors to spend much of that cap space on this short season. It was clear to me that Colangelo just looked at this as a lost season and made his plans accordingly. Including drafting a rookie that will not be here till next season. So even though basketball it looks like is back, the Raptors likely will still be terrible. Dwane Casey is not a miracle worker I don't think. So the Raptors will be rebuilding for yet another season. The big storyline will likely be Demar DeRozan taking over the title of face of the franchise from Andrea Bargnani. He will do it minus on of his Young Gunz buddies. Sonny Weems unlike many NBA Players that decided to go to Europe does not have an out clause in his contract. There was no guarantee he would have been back anyway as he was a restricted free agent. Raptors did make a qualifying offer so when Weems makes his way back to the NBA Raptors will hold his rights.

Is this the year we finally see Jose Calderon just go away? Will Bayless and him have an open competition in camp for the starting job? Yes folks if you have not figured it out we are talking basketball again. Raptors will also have to decide if they want to bring back free agent Reggie Evans. Raptors had a few other free agents but the only one that will even be considered coming back is Reggie. Tough to say if there will be a big market for Evans after two injury plagued seasons in Toronto. When healthy he still can hit the glass and be one of the top rebounders in the league.

Lots of time to sort all this stuff out but it is just a pleasure to be back talking basketball with you all again. I have missed doing this and missed talking basketball with so many of you. But it appears that is a thing of the past. But as the Raptors learned with a trade for Tyson Chandler it is never a deal until it is signed. NBA and the players have a bunch of B-list issues to sort out and they will need to vote to approve this deal. However at this point if this were to go south both sides would get buried and I think they all know that.

So is it forgive and forget and move on? I can only speak for myself. I will forgive sure but not forget. This whole experience has made me a little less passionate for the sport that I love. Will I get over it in time? Sure likely but I am not going to forget this and say no harm done. I remember after the NHL came back how much people acted liked idiots in this country. At the end of the day no sport is bigger than life itself. If there is any lesson I take away from all this greed and nonsense that is it. I also realized what a screwed up world we live in when I don't have basketball to stop me from paying attention to it. I learned that I really don't need to tweet everyday if I don't want too. That life marches on if this blog is written everyday or not. But all that being said I have invested 4 years of my life into the DNB. That is longer than pretty much any relationship I have ever had with a woman except for one. So that might have been the hardest thing about this lockout for me. Watching all that I worked for in the last 4 years be completely out of my hands. It was frustrating and it hurt. There is no doubt a lot of hurt and hard feelings coming out of this on the over side. We all will need time to heal. Hopefully that can happen and this deal can create an NBA that is worth watching for fans in every city that has a team in this league.

So if all goes well will see you Monday!!!