Yesterday I spoke with two Clippers blogs prior to the game and it seemed as though the Clips had twice as many guys on the floor as should have been allowed, so today we’re going back to interviewing just one “enemy blogger”, in the hopes that it will be a more evenly matched contest tonight. The Raptors left Canada last night to invade Memphis, so I turned to anewly minted fellow member of theBloguin Network, Hoop Heads North to discuss just what we might expect out of the visitors from the North. They had a few questions of their own, which you can see here. They asked us 5 questions, but I was only allowed to ask 4 due to the exchange rate!
3 Shades of Blue: The Raptors were expected to be a playoff team once again this year, but instead they are next to last in the Eastern Conference. What has gone wrong this year in the Great White North?
Hoop Heads North: Well, I really thought the Raptors were going to be a 4-5 seed in the East and had no idea that they would be this bad this year. I think most fans were expecting the Raptors to get passed the first round of the playoffs with the addition of Jermaine O’Neal. They started off strong, Chris Bosh “MVP” chants were being yelled from the stands and then it just crumbled. There are so many things that can be attributed to it, be it a new coach, a tough first half schedule, players underperforming and their struggle to find the right rotation. But these guys have been all over the place and they have been so unpredictable. Sometimes as a fan, we’re just like “WTF?” after some of their performances.
The Raps won a few games at the beginning of the season but after losing a string of games, it seems like they just lost their confidence. They were getting a reputation for “lead-blowing” coming out strong in games and then just crumbling in the second half. The team relies on Chris Bosh and when he struggles, the rest of the team follows.
3SoB: The rumors have swirled around Chris Bosh lately, as the Free Agent Bonanza of 2010 continues to pick up steam, with Stephen A. Smith at the center of the biggest bombshell. How much concern does this cause you as a Raptors fan and how much validity do you give those rumors?
HHN: When a team starts losing, then all of the negative press comes out. Whether it’s true or not, it’s just creates a negative energy around the team. And as people start talking about 2010 and not the current situation, the team just loses focus.
Chris Bosh has been great in Toronto and has really embraced the city. Vince Carter was great for Toronto too, he got the team on the map but he also left Toronto on a sour note. I really don’t see Chris Bosh as that type of player.
In my opinion, I think Bryan Colangelo should start looking to dump Jermaine O’Neal ‘s huge salary and really focus on bringing in a good wing player to Toronto to complement Bosh. I don’t want to sound crazy but a Dwyane Wade in 2010 to Toronto alongside Chris Bosh would be sick. But if Colangelo is committed to keeping Bosh in Toronto, he has to make the right decisions/moves to build a winning team for Bosh.
3SoB: Andrea Bargnani has faced a lot of heat since being the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, often being referred to as a bust. He has certainly turned things around since becoming a starter at the beginning of the year though. To what do you attribute this success? Is there another player in the NBA that you think he compares favorably with?
HHN: The beard. Ever since he stopped shaving around the December, his numbers have been outstanding. No joke, I have done the research.
Seriously though, when Jermaine O’neal sat out games with injury, Bargnani was able to get the start and in turn, got an increase in minutes. And in those starts, he has really gained a confidence that he had been lacking since coming into the league. Players like Greg Oden and Bargnani are under a lot of pressure to meet expectations of being a number one pick and if they don’t meet them, the fans, the press, etc. throw them under the bus. Now that Andrea has gained the confidence, it has really translated into his game.
3SoB: There were a lot of people who were convinced that Chris Wallace was a dunce after last year’s trade of Pau Gasol. There were just as many people who proclaimed that Bryan Colangelo was a genius when he first took the job in Toronto. Lately Wallace hasn’t looked quite so bad after the Gasol trade turned out ok by netting Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur and making the O.J. Mayo trade possible. What is the fans’ perception of Colangelo now, as opposed to when he first took the job? Do you see any moves that could have or should have been made recently? Are you satisfied with his performance so far?
HHN: Honestly, anyone who stepped in after Rob Babcock was going to look good. Rob Babcock pulled off one of the worst trades in NBA history when he traded Vince Carter for nothing. Bryan Colangleo came in and set up a winning situation in Toronto. He has a good reputation and an established resume in the league.
The fans now are starting to question his performance after calling this year’s roster as the best Raptors roster on “paper” Unfortunately, we’re sitting at the bottom of the standings and aren’t doing anything to make it better. The Raptors are really in need of a good wing player, like an OJ Mayo or Rudy Gay of the Grizzlies. Someone who can get the offesnse going on his own nightly and we don’t have that. Our wings players, Jason Kapono, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Joey Graham have been so inconsistent that they can really be attributed to the team’s struggles this year.
I have been ok with Colangelo as I think he knows what he’s doing and he’ll pull off the right moves but most fans aren’t as forgiving as me.
A big thanks to the guys at Hoop Heads North for answering our questions. Make sure that you go to their site to see the questions they asked us, too.