Toronto Raptors are Lacking…

November 1, 2009

by Robert Seagal… Forget their win against Cleveland, where the hot-shooting Raptors
caught a sleeping Cavaliers team and still managed to nearly lose a
twenty-one point lead. On Friday night, Toronto headed into Memphis to
face a depleted Memphis ball club which was missing Allen Iverson due
to an injury. They lost.

The problem in Toronto is still
largely the same as it has been for about three years in a row now. It
starts at the top, where if we are to count Jose Calderon and Chris
Bosh as the team’s two best players, the Raptors are in some serious
trouble. General Manager Bryan Colangelo’s love affair with the vision
of having those two remain a part of his core will keep this team in a
cycle of mediocrity.

With Jay Triano at the helm, the
Raptors were expected to improve on last year’s performance. However,
even with a much improved coaching staff around him, Triano still looks
clueless. The offense lacks discipline, and despite boasting one of the
most talented front-courts in the league, it also lacks any sort of

It remains an offense which runs through Bosh,
and this remains the problem. On Wednesday night, Bosh played a lesser
role in the offense, and this allowed the ball to move from side to
side, and also allowed for Andrea Bargnani to score twenty-eight points
in under thirty minutes. The result was a twenty point lead in the
first half against a team most expect to contend for a championship.

On Friday night, Andrea started out 0/5 and pretty much never got
involved in the offense again. When he did get a chance to get involved
with the ball in his hand, the Raptors took an eight point lead in the
second half leading 88-80.

Even in the win against
Cleveland, we can see a less involved Andrea Bargnani in the third
quarter melt-down as the team tried to force-feed Chris Bosh who had
had a forgettable first half.

This team’s tendency to
force-feed Bosh and clear out has always led to a very stagnant offense
with little movement, no opportunities for second chance baskets, and
little hope for consistent victories. The more this team relies on Bosh
and Calderon, the more predictable the offense becomes.

are very limited play-makers, and tend to stop the flow of the
basketball game and put their hand-print on the game in the worst way.

With Calderon, this comes in the form of slowing down the pace of the
game, which hurts the team considering he plays for one which has no
chance of winning basketball games playing this way. With Bosh, it just
comes from bad shot-selection and ball-stopping while doing nothing for
the players around him.

No one will complain with Bosh’s
performance for the first two games statistically, as he’s been quite
impressive statistically. However, how does the team do whenever he
becomes more involved with the offense? The debate will never end. Some
will say, Bosh only becomes involved when the rest of the team really
struggles. Others will argue that the team struggles when Bosh calls
his own number a few too many times.

Whether you use the
third quarter melt-down against Cleveland, the embarrassing loss in
Memphis, or the last six Raptor seasons as an example by which to make
your judgements, Bosh’s offense comes at the expense of ball movement.

It disrupts the offensive flow of the game because for some reason,
he’s incapable of scoring within the flow of the game, and equally
incapable of creating offensive opportunities for his team mates.

Despite his added weight, there is little to no improvement from Bosh
defensively, and he remains to be the same player from last season,
just a little more eager to shoot and call for the ball. Raptor fans
may in fact feel they’re paying to see the Toronto Raptors play.
However, they may in fact just be paying for an 82-game audition on
Bosh’s part.

Zach Randolph had some choice words regarding
the Texan last season, claiming he’s “better than Chris Bosh”.
Statistically, Bosh may have an MVP-calibre season. Realistically, on
Friday night, Zach Randolph was better than him in every way. Six years
and $130 million is what Bosh is seeking. Good luck to who ever gives
it to him. 

Hedo Turkoglu and the Raptors: A Match Made in Hell

July 5, 2009

By Robert Seagal… With the recent addition of Hedo Turkoglu, the Raptors have essentially eliminated any chance of getting enough depth to compensate for their lack of overall star-power. They will be heading into next season with a projected starting front court of Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani.

The problem is that while Bargnani played at an All-Star level for the latter half of last season and Turkoglu was arguably worthy of an All-Star selection himself, Bosh is not a great candidate to be a primary option and he’s shown it for many years now.

Some may be tricked into thinking that Turkoglu was the engine that sparked the Orlando attack last season, but those people really don’t understand basketball and what exactly it is that Dwight Howard does.

While no one would confuse him for being an elite passer or a dominant offensive player at this stage, Howard’s presence in the paint offensively and defensively allowed the Magic to pass by with players like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu as primary scoring options.

I’ll stress defensive impact more than offensive, because the Orlando Magic didn’t have exceptional perimeter defensive players by any stretch. What Dwight did was allow players like Lewis and Turkoglu to look like passable defenders.  With Chris Bosh, the outcome doesn’t look quite so promising.

Forget that Turkoglu will be a year older, because his game isn’t overly dependent on his physical abilities, but you’d have to assume this will be one of the worst defensive teams in the league next season if it remains as is.

The only passable defenders they have are backup point guard Roko Ukic, potential starter DeMar DeRozan and perhaps center Andrea Bargnani.

Turkoglu isn’t quite on the horrific level of Bosh and Calderon, but he certainly isn’t Ariza, Artest or Marion. He will have a difficult task ahead if he’s being asked to mask the weaknesses of his starting point guard and power forward while picking up the rebounding for one of the worst rebounding centers in recent memory.

The Raptors had a chance to truly become a better defensive team after they dealt weak link Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans and followed by drafting DeMar DeRozan. The Turkoglu signing which signals the end of Marion’s stay north of the border essentially makes the Raptors a worse defensive team than they were last season, and they were among the worst in the league to begin with.

Offensively however, while the Raptors did get a much-needed creator on the wing, they’ve signed a player who at his best is a great complimentary player. In Toronto, the question people should be asking is, who the hell is he complimenting?

Turkoglu is ideally a great second or third option on a decent team, much like Bosh or Bargnani. The Raptors don’t have the pieces to orchestrate a deal to get a primary option ala Joe Johnson or Brandon Roy on this team.

Thus, the Raptors go into the season with a line-up which features a rookie swingman with some potential, and four players who essentially all play at about the same level in terms of production with slight variance based on shots attempted and role played.

Not one of them is a top-20 talent in this league, not one of them can actually take over a game and not one of them is good enough defensively to make up for the piss-poor defenders around them.

The only logical move at this point is dealing Bosh for defensive help in the front court and perhaps additional depth and working on a 3-man offensive attack with Turkoglu, Calderon and Bargnani.

Role players can make a world of difference, and outside of perhaps Reggie Evans, there isn’t a player on this team who’s effective at doing small things without the ball in their hands.

We’ve seen Andrea Bargnani struggle when he wasn’t a clear second option on offense. Jose Calderon’s entire game is about ball movement and keeping defences honest with his jump shot. Bosh is a black hole on offense and requires isolation situations to be effective. Hedo Turkoglu is being brought in as a creator and will need to have the ball in his hands as well.

At this point, if the Raptors don’t deal either Jose or Bosh to strengthen their defence and create some touches for youngsters DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani, they’ll be headlining the John Wall sweepstakes pretty soon.

Not to mention, they’ll be stunting the growth of the two players they’ll be looking to build around in the event that Bosh leaves in DeRozan and Bargnani.

The roster as it’s currently structured doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense. There is a complete overlap in abilities, incompatibility in regards to players meshing with other players, and a disturbing message being put across to the fan base, which is: we don’t care if we’re the worst defensive team in the league provided we can score.

The option of adding Delfino and Marion gave the Raptors both depth and defence. Adding Turkoglu robs them of flexibility, depth, defence and rebounding, and does so for a player who doesn’t necessarily fit in with the team’s top-three players.

This move wreaks of desperation and haphazard planning. It screams that the team is looking to make noise at whatever cost necessary in order to show Chris Bosh they’re serious about contending.

Well, not only will they not be contending for a very long time unless one of DeRozan or Bargnani accelerate their learning curve dramatically and become All-Stars, but they’ll be paying $53 million  over the next five years to one of the most over-rated players in recent memory.

DeMar DeRozan: All Eyes on Me

July 4, 2009

By Robert Seagal… I couldn’t help but stop dead in my tracks as I was browsing around for a new video game at EB Games to kill some time now that University is out.

This kid, who was not a day older than 12, turns to his friend and says, “You see the guy the Raptors drafted? My brother said he dunks like Carter.“

It isn’t fair to put this much pressure on a 19-year-old, one year removed from being a local superstar in Compton, California, but he certainly isn’t the type to run from it.

He’s been searching for a nickname, and one that keeps surfacing is “heir Canada.” Is it warranted?

Among the GM’s in the NBA, there is no better a talent evaluator than Colangelo himself.

Having drafting Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Michael Finley and Barbosa among others without ever having a top-eight pick, one must wonder how special DeRozan will be.

This is even more meaningful when considering that Colangelo claimed he has a chance to be better than both Stoudemire and Marion. Is he really the Carter clone he’s being made out to be?

If you ask DeRozan, he’d probably tell you he has his sights set a little higher, and that’s the point isn’t it?

He isn’t trying to be Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter. He’s trying to be better than them. Draft analysts will probably tell you he’ll likely be nothing more than Caron Butler without the jump shot.

He has a chance to be a lot better actually. When evaluating a prospect, you assess their talent, their willingness to learn, maturity, and anything that may get in the way of them actually achieving their potential.

However, what separates Bryan Colangelo from most GM’s is his unbelievable ability to evaluate a prospect’s mental makeup.

Take DeRozan for example. Even before the draft, he was singing praises about Toronto and how he wanted to end up here. Where’s his head?

It certainly isn’t the money, because he would have gotten a much better deal being a higher pick, and a great market to play in had he gone to New York at eight.

So why was Toronto the perfect fit? Ask him, and he’ll say the same thing he’s said to everyone who looks at him with confusion as a California kid professes that he wanted to end up in Toronto, Ontario of all places. “It was the best situation for me.”

Clearly DeRozan took a look at the Raptors dearth of wing players and saw a chance to play big minutes off the bat.

He saw an opportunity to make a name for himself on a team which is close to playoff contention and whose best players are two big men, a point guard and a free agent combo forward.

He didn’t want to play his way into the rotation and shy away from the limelight. He wants the lights on him, and if what he did in the PAC-10 tournament is any indication, this is one guy who shines when the lights are brightest and when the task at hand is most daunting.

Everything that comes out of his mouth is about growth, winning, willingness to work, and playing the game on both ends of the floor.

If DeMar DeRozan is getting nicknames like “heir Canada,” it isn’t because of his ridiculous YouTube highlights or his vertical leap. It is because he’s the biggest reason for hope this team has seen since Carter himself.

At the press conference, he was asked about the Carter comparisons. “It’s nice to be called Vince Carter and all, but at the end of the day, I’m…just DeMar DeRozan.” If he ends up as good as I think he’ll be, I think just DeMar will be just fine.

Toronto’s Draft Board: Inside The War Room With Bryan Colangelo

June 20, 2009

By Robert Seagal… I’d like to caution that I am not   Bryan Colangelo, and thus have no idea how

accurate these projections are.

However, they are based on interviews, insider   information, rumors and other draft

projections. They’re also based on need, and Bryan   Colangelo’s past selections

in the draft.

Without further ado, these are likely to be the top-14 players on the Raptors’

draft board on draft night 2009.

1.  Blake Griffin (1)

This is a given. If they nab the first pick in some blockbuster trade for Bosh, they’ll certainly be going with Griffin.

2.  James Harden (2-6)

He appears to be the most polished and NBA ready guard in the draft, and he’s still got plenty of upside to boot. For a team which doesn’t have a single player signed at the wing for next season, Harden would be the best place to start.

3.   Ricky Rubio (2-8)

The back-up point guard spot was something that gave the Raptors a lot of trouble last season, and they sorely missed T.J Ford as Roko Ukic and Will Solomon adjusted to the NBA game. If Rubio falls due to contract issues, he’ll be hard to pass on.

4.   Hasheem Thabeet (2-6)

With Chris Bosh’s status up in the air, the Raptors would be getting a true center to play with Andrea Bargnani and may be more comfortable dealing Bosh with the 7′2” Thabeet on their roster.

5.   DeMar DeRozan (4-9)

They’ve promised him they’ll take him at nine if he’s there, and did so knowing very well that the four names before him would be well off the board by six. DeRozan has ranked poorly across most team’s draft boards because he’s being talked about as being a project.

Some insiders are claiming that the Raptors are much higher on his potential and project him as a much better prospect than he’s being given credit for.

6.  Tyreke Evans (3-7)

To answer the question: If Evans falls to nine, do the Raptors still keep their  promise to DeRozan, the answer is more than likely yes.

Part of the reason why DeRozan is being projected so highly is because his background check came up clean. He’s a good kid, a good student, and from all reports, extremely coach-able. It would be hard to imagine the Raptors taking a chance on Evans considering the red flags if DeMar is still on the board as well.

7.   Jordan Hill (3-11)

It is very difficult to read where most teams’ thoughts are regarding Jordan Hill. He’s the second best big man in the draft by a landslide, and unfortunately for him, the majority of the teams picking in the top-10 are looking at other needs.

He’s done very little if anything to distance himself from the other players ranked five through 15, but if DeRozan and Evans are gone by nine and the Knicks don’t snatch him, he’ll be a Raptor.

8.   Stephen Curry (3-7)

The Raptors would probably be a lot higher on Curry if it wasn’t for the fact that they don’t really need him. He’d be undersized at the wing and would become the fifth point guard on a team with no wing players.

9.   Gerald Henderson (9-17)

This is likely Henderson’s hot spot. If he isn’t picked at nine, word is he might fall and continue to fall well into the teens. It might be the fear of drafting Duke players after recent disasters, but the Raptors have narrowed their focus down to Henderson and DeRozan at nine, and one of them has to be there.

10. Jrue Holiday (4-16)

Holiday might be undersized at the wing position, but he’s a big kid who might still have a little growing left to do at just 18-years old. He’s very coach-able, and strong for a point guard. Some are projecting him to fall and others are claiming that he could go as high as the top five.

All in all, Holiday reminds me very much of Wade’s situation in 2003, where people were saying anything from 18 to five. Holiday is projecting similarly, and it truly depends on trades and where Curry and Rubio end up.

11. Jonny Flynn (7-16)

They like him as a kid from the interviews following his workout. He doesn’t fill a true need for a wing or a potential Bosh-replacement, but they’d take him regardless due to his leadership ability and his fondness for Toronto. As he said, “I’m practically Canadian.”

12. James Johnson (9-18)

The Raptors had Johnson and Clark going head-to-head, and reportedly came away impressed with Johnson’s toughness and ability to play at the wing.

He’s probably carrying a little extra weight, and losing it would actually help him. Some have compared him to Paul Pierce, but this may be one of the worst comparisons since the Jordan Hill-Mikki Moore comparisons. Unlike that one however, this one makes absolutely no sense.

13. Austin Daye (12-24)

If the Raptors buy a pick in the 20s, it’ll most likely be because Austin Daye slips. They were very impressed with him early in the workouts and after his terrible performance at the combine, they backed off a bit.

With some saying he may drop as far as the mid-twenties, the Raptors could have moved Kapono with Daye in mind.

14.Brandon Jennings (6-18)

He has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft, but for whatever reason, he’s been pegged with the knucklehead label, and teams are cooling off  on him. If he slips, the Raptors could buy a second pick to snag him.

However, they don’t seem all that interested.

Chris Bosh Ready for Breakout Season

June 17, 2009

By Robert Seagal… Following a 33-win season in which he failed to make an All-NBA team and his team finished in the lottery, expect Chris Bosh to have a season of redemption in 2009-2010.

The question at this point is: which jersey is he going to be wearing when training camp kicks off in September?

After setting goals like being an All Star, averaging “20 and 10,” winning the MVP award and a plethora of other individual accolades, it seems fitting that Bosh is set to make a huge impact on the court with his free agency one year away.

We might see him follow through on his goal to add weight, something he’s been attempting to do for six years now. He might exhibit defensive intensity and effort. We might even see him play over 70 games.

The source of his motivation is clearly up to individual opinion. One might say that being called out by Shaquille O’Neal, Zach Randolph, and most recently by Amare Stoudemire may have lit a fire of sorts under Bosh.

However, one couldn’t help but stand in awe at the Raptors’ last season game as Bosh went on a rebounding rampage in order to average 10 rebounds on the season, weeks after the Raptors had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

One may say that missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons may have inspired Bosh, especially after seeing Team USA teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard playing in the finals.

Perhaps the best explanation is the same one used to explain past quotes from Bosh. It’s hardly a secret that Bosh has been extremely dedicated to getting his face out there, from his many videos, his All-Star campaign, to his recent Iphone application.

Perhaps the true motivation is having to hear from numerous individuals that he isn’t worth the maximum contract he’s looking for, or that he’ll only serve the purpose of being Robin to LeBron’s or Wade’s Batman should he leave Toronto.

One has to wonder if Bosh only gave the Raptors the same defensive effort he gave to his national team, if they’d have been a lottery team through four of his six seasons as a Raptor.

The latest talk of Bosh attempting to gain almost 20 pounds is bittersweet if you’re Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization. On one hand, your best player has finally decided to put some much overdue time in the gym.

On the other hand, he’s doing so on the verge of what is likely to be the biggest payday of his life.

Bosh will have a breakout season barring any serious injuries, and the Raptors may even win a round or two in the playoffs.

If Bosh is as driven by fame and money as I’ve figured him to be for the past three seasons, I’m absolutely counting on it.

Chris Bosh May Want a Max Contract, But It Won’t Likely Come From the Raptors

June 14, 2009

By Robert Seagal… When asked if he deserved a maximum level contract in 2010, Bosh responded without hesitation, “Yeah, without a doubt. Without a doubt.”

The question which has suddenly risen however, is not whether Bosh wants the same money LeBron and Dwyane Wade will be looking for, but if he’s worth it.

Max-contract players should to some degree play both ends of the floor, make their teammates better, and put fans in seats.

If the NBA is in fact as much a business as it seems to be, there is no worse investment than Chris Bosh at age 31 playing for over 25-million dollars. Not only is his game starting to become stagnant, but his team has gotten progressively worse over the time as well.

If a player who is legitimately a top-10 player in the league is healthy for more than 65 games, chances are slim to none that his team will miss the playoffs. That’s exactly what the Raptors did last season.

People often place Bosh in the same catagory, or god forbid above Carmelo Anthony. How then, has Carmelo Anthony done so much more than Chris Bosh?

Even prior to Billups’ arrival, didn’t Carmelo Anthony routinely carry teams which were just as talented as the Raptors minus Bosh into the playoffs in the West? Lebron and Wade have each carried their teams to the finals.

If we’re comparing, the Heat minus Wade are actually less talented accross the board than the Raptors minus Bosh. Is the difference between Bosh and a legitimate superstar like Wade 20 wins?

The Raptors went from Atlantic division champions to squeezing into the playoffs to being a lottery team, and it seems Bosh is the same player throughout.

The only season they truly had success, Bosh not only was not being asked to create, but also not being asked to carry the offense in the clutch; that was TJ Ford’s job.

Therefore, if the Raptors were eliminated in New Jersey, it wasn’t only because Bosh was being stopped by journeymen centers like Mikki Moore and Collins, but because TJ Ford isn’t the type of talent who can successfully carry an offense.

The following year, the Raptors tried to go to Bosh more in the clutch and saw even less success. He just isn’t cut out to be the main guy on any team, and doesn’t bring enough in terms of intangibles to be a top notch complimentary guy ala Gasol.

Therefore, in Bosh you have a player who needs the ball to be effective, but at the same time is incapable of leading a team anywhere without a better player on the perimeter.

There’s a reason most teams are targeting him as a side-kick for Lebron and Wade and only the Pistons seem convinced he can do it himself.

There has been no noticeable changes in his strengths or weaknesses from his first year outside of having a greater role. He still remains a bad defender, bad creator, and a less than stellar clutch performer without a post move he can remember twice.

His strengths have always been his quickness and ability to get to the line, rebounding and to some degree his mid-range jump shot.

However, a player like Bosh who has no low post game, little strength, and relies solely on quickness will regress very quickly into his third NBA contract. If the Raptors are stuck paying him one third of their cap space, they’ll be in a tough situation to build a winner around him.

Considering how many games he’s missed due to injury in the past three seasons and that the number tends to show that he’s less durable each year, by age 28 he may be an absolute shell of his former self.

It’s good to know that he’s already made his plans to opt out and test free agency as well as his insistence that he won’t settle for less than LeBron money clear. If Colangelo is proactive, he may still be able to turn Bosh into a few good players via a trade over the next two months.

Players like Bosh deserve about 13 to 14 million dollars per season, and if he’s not concerned with what kind of chance he’ll have at winning with himself being so over-paid, it’s crystal clear that the only thing that matters to Chris Bosh is Chris Bosh.

While it’d be silly to ask a player like Duncan, Bryant or Lebron to play for anything less than the maximum amount payable, when second-rate stars like Bosh, Marion and Andre Iguodala ask for it, there’s just something wrong.

Sadly, for the Raptors, they currently hold two of the most over-rated players in the league in Bosh and Marion. Luckily, both seem to be asking above their value and will hopefully be someone else’s reason for throwing remote controls at TVs next season.

Bosh will fumble a simple pass with two seconds on the clock or he’ll take a three from the top for absolutely no reason.

Marion will miss layups from point blank range in an unorthodox fashion. When announcers ask him about it after the game, his response will be a resounding and philosophical “it is what is”.

Raptors Building Team Around Andrea Bargnani

June 11, 2009

By Robert Seagal… What do Carlos Delfino, Rasho Nesterovic, Jay Triano and Marc Iavaroni have in common? Outside of the fact that three, if not all of them, will be members of the Raptors organization next season, they all seem to be beneficial to Andrea Bargnani’s overall comfort and development.

Bargnani has been on the record about his closeness with Delfino while he was a member of the Raptors, and clearly, Italian-speakers Rasho, as well as Jorge Garbajosa were part of the Bargnani-transition movement in his rookie season.

Word is also out that the Raptors attempted for the second time last year to acquire Bargnani’s close friend Marco Belinelli from the Warriors in exchange for Joey Graham, only to have the Warriors ditch the deal at the last minute.

They moved Jermaine O’Neal to create minutes for Bargnani, added Marion to compensate for his lack of rebounding, and have now traded Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans to accomplish the same objective.

If you can read between the lines, Sam Mitchell wasn’t fired because he wasn’t getting his job done. He was, after all 8-9, coming off of two respectable seasons at that point. It was his knack for rubbing players, namely Bargnani, the wrong way.

Triano may have had a terrible season, but Bargnani flourishing under him actually netted him the job as head coach.

If anything, if the Raptors truly cared about pleasing Bosh, one might assume that their objective would have been to keep the coach that Bosh had such a great rapport with.

It was Colangelo who projected Bargnani as a first-overall pick when he was only 19-years-old, and it is he who made Bargnani the first-overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft.

If there is one thing you can take to the bank regarding the Raptors, it is that this team is being built to compliment Bargnani. It may be built around other players as well, but ultimately, every transaction, every coach they hire, and every move they make, they seem to keep Bargnani in mind.

While this information may rub some fans the wrong way, the fact is that Toronto has had a history of being unable to attract star players and a completely devastating track record when it comes to retaining them.

While Bargnani is far from being a superstar, he clearly has shown that he has the potential to be one. He’s also shown a love for Toronto, and while no one can truly know where a player’s head will be after two or three years, all signs seem to suggest that he will be playing in Toronto for a long time, and be doing so with a smile on his face.

Toronto Raptors Could Be Very Busy Making Headlines on Draft Night 2009

June 8, 2009

By Robert Seagal… As the NBA draft approaches, expect both Chris Bosh and the Raptors organization to play a very convincing game of bluff in order to give the illusion that the months of rumors regarding Bosh’s certain departure were simply false and that Bosh has ultimately decided that last season’s late-season surge was enough to convince him to stick around long term.

The word around the league is that any team which trades for Bosh would get him for sixty cents on the dollar.

This is due primarily to the fact that Toronto has to trade him and also that any team with sufficient cap space could just as easily grab him as a free agent when he hits the market next season.

For all of his short-comings, most in the U.S regard him as a better player than Amare Stoudemire and that automatically makes him the best big man in the 2010 Free agent class.

If the Raptors can convince the rest of the league that Bosh will be sticking around in Toronto, they’ll gain more value in any potential deal this summer.

They look to be making a great effort with a recent Hoopsworldarticle claiming Bosh was content in Toronto and him signing with a Canadian record label the day before.

However, many credible sources have highlighted that the Raptors have been aware of Bosh’s intention to leave for many months and are also concerned with being the team that eventually pays him the max contract he’s seeking.

If Bosh is indeed going to be moved, the NBA draft would be a great night to do it. There have been reports that teams like the Warriors, Bulls, Pistons and Miami Heat have inquired about Bosh.

Word out of Golden State is that any deal for Bosh would likely not include Anthony Randolph, their first round selection last season. The Chicago Bulls are certainly putting Derrick Rose off-limits and the Miami Heat are reluctant to part ways with Beasley with the idea that a player of his calibre on a rookie contract would be an excellent compliment to a potential Wade and Bosh combo in 2010 if Bosh indeed does choose to sign with the Heat.

Any deal involving Bosh on draft night would likely see a secondary star and a draft pick coming the Raptors way. That said, let’s discuss a few realistic options for Toronto on draft night.


The first deal would be from a team which has a very realistic shot at retaining Bosh in 2010. The Chicago Bulls are rumored to be shopping virtually their entire team outside of Rose and Noah and they could potentially offer a deal involving Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and the sixteenth pick which the Raptors could use on a forward they’re extremely high on in Austin Daye.

The Bulls have been seeking a big man since they traded Elton Brand in 2001 and they may be very interested in pairing Bosh with their core of Noah, Rose and Ben Gordon.

The Raptors could seriously use a talent like Deng on the wing and would be paying a secondary star like Deng a lot less than they would end up paying a secondary star like Bosh next season.

Tyrus Thomas still has the ability to thrive in the open court and if the Raptors are serious about running considering they now look to have Marc Iavaronilocked in as their lead assistant, who better to run with a front court of Bargnani and Deng than an athletic forward like Thomas?

The Raptors havebeen talking with many teams about acquiring a mid first round draft pick and seem to be in love with Gonzaga’s Austin Daye.

If the Raptors make this move, they instantly become a better defensive team and shore up their need for youth, athleticism, and length while getting some very exciting prospects in return.

If you remember, it was Deng who the Timberwolves were asking for as the primary piece in a Garnett trade only to have the Bulls reject the offer claiming Deng was untouchable.

Two seasons later, they’ve determined that he’s overpaid and if the Raptors have faith that he can put the last season behind him, the Bulls offer of Deng, Thomas and the sixteenth pick is by far the best and most realistic option.

The consequence of making this move however is that it leaves much uncertainty regarding the offense in Toronto. Is Andrea Bargnani ready to be the first option or are they going to put their faith in Luol Deng?

Daye, Williams, Blair or whoever they net at sixteen will almost certainly be a non-factor next year. However, at this point, is anyone willing to part with an All-Star level talent for Bosh unless that All Star is Jameer Nelson or Mo Williams? I doubt it.


While the Grizzlies have little to no shot at retaining Bosh, his deal expires following this season and grabbing him means an instant boost in ticket sales for one of the cheapest teams in the league.

They may be willing to part with Rudy Gay, some lengthy contracts and the second pick in the draft for a chance to add Bosh to a team which is currently loaded on the perimeter but features only Gasol in the post.

A team of OJ Mayo, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Chris Bosh may be enough of a draw for the fans that the Grizzlies just might make the move regardless of if Bosh wishes to re-sign next season or not.

With Gay and the second pick, the Raptors could net themselves a couple of spectacular prospects in Rubio and Gay as well as serviceable players like Milicic who still has some potential to add to a core of Bargnani and Calderon.

Calderon could then be dealt to perhaps fill a need for a shooting guard and Marion could be traded via a sign and trade to add a center. In the east, that team would certainly be no worse than last year’s 33 win club.

Golden State

If the Warriors are willing to part with some of their youth to add an established star, players like Monta Ellis, Brandon Wright and perhaps even their lottery pick could be an interesting deal for the Raptors.

The Raptors will decide on what to do with Marion and Calderon only after they extablishwhat they’ll be doing with Bosh. It would certainly make some sense to know where Bosh will be next season before drafting as well.

Considering how close California is to Texas, the Warriors may in fact have a chance to retain Bosh after his contract expires.


The Heat have less to offer in terms of multiple players than any of the other teams mentioned, but probably have the single best prospect the Raptors could net in any deal involving Bosh in the form of last years second pick, Michael Beasley.

If the Raptors can convince the Heat that they won’t have a chance to grab Bosh next summer, the Heat may be tempted to deal Beasley to win now.

Riley was never crazy about Beasley to begin with and despite his potential to be a scorer, Riley seems to be concerned about Beasley’s defensive game and maturity level.

They also have valuable expiring contracts like Jermaine O’Neal among others who could be used to bring in better players on longer deals from other teams looking to clear salary for the 2010 off-season.

Look for the Heat to then make a push at a championship while the rest of league tanks for John Wall and clears cap space in the hope of grabbing a superstar in 2010.

Detroit Pistons

According to Stephen A. Smith, the Pistons have regretted passing on Bosh in 2003 so much that they dealt Billups for Iverson strictly to make a run at Bosh in 2010.

If the Pistons are serious about making Bosh their franchise player, Dumars and company could offer a deal centering around Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton for the Raptors forward.

If Bosh can come to a verbal agreement that he’ll re-sign in Detroit following the trade, the Raptors could net themselves a pair of wing players who instantly make them a playoff team while perhaps using Marion’s contract to net themselves a big man to shore up their starting unit.

Witha team of Bargnani, Calderon, Prince, Hamilton, a serviceable center and the ninthpick with a potentially re-signed Parker and Delfino, the Raptors could make a very serious run at the playoffs next season.

Detroit would then build around Rodney Stuckey, Bosh and hope to add to that core via free agency this year or next. The Pistons get younger and the Raptors become a team which is instantly a threat to win home court advantage in the playoffs next year while gaining a serious veteran presence in the form of Prince and Hamilton.

Potential Trade-Down

Don’t sleep on the idea that the Raptors will trade out of the lottery in exchange for a mid-first rounder if they feel they can get as good a value at a later pick while shedding a bad contract like Banks or Kapono in the process.

They would open themselves up to the possibility of signing one or two very good free agents and would be doing so in a market where there are few teams which can compete with the money the Raptors can spend.

Whatever happens on Juna 25th, it is certain to be one of the most important days of the year for the Raptors who may be very busy or may simply end up doing nothing at all.

Just What the Doctor Ordered for Toronto Raptors

May 2, 2009

By Robert Seagal… Fresh off of being named the recipient of the 2009 Euroleague Rising Star award, which current Raptor Andrea Bargnani swept up in 2006 prior to being picked first in the NBA draft by the Raptors, Novica Velickovic is turning heads in Europe this year.

At just 22 years old, he’s the heart and soul of his club, Partizan Belgrade, and the gritty forward is quickly turning into a very well-rounded player.

While at 6′9″, some may say he’s a tweener as an NBA prospect, and a sub-par athlete, you can’t teach the kind of skills Velickovic possesses.

He’s the glue that holds a team together. He does everything well enough to help a team win. He can defend, rebound, pass, shoot, score, and most importantly, he’s a leader.

When Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo talks about how much he misses Garbajosa, one has to wonder if he even realizes that a player who’s every bit like a young Jorge Garbajosa is currently eligible for this year’s draft.

One has to wonder why a player like Jason Kapono is currently making nearly $6 million  a year, while someone like Velickovic is likely to end up undrafted this coming June. If we’re comparing athletic ability, Velickovic is actually superior.

He’s the better passer, defender, creator, finisher, and scorer, and five years younger to boot. He’s great off the ball, smart in crucial moments, and like Jorge Garbajosa, he enhances the performance of everyone around him.

He’s a facilitator, and as tough as nails. His nickname “Ubica” literally translates to “killer”. If he goes undrafted because he’s one inch too short to play as a big, and a step slow to play as a wing, there is something seriously wrong with NBA scouting.

If the Raptors are looking at former draft pick George Printezis as a guy who can help them in the toughness department, a player like Velickovic would likely have a greater immediate impact in the same role because he’s as NBA ready as any 22-year-old in the world.

The Euroleague is not kind to players as young as Novica, and for him to emerge as the leader of one of the top seven or eight teams in Europe shows that he’s got the maturity of a vet, and at his age, that’s truly rare.

While he may not hear his name this June, Novica Velickovic is in the hearts of the Partizan faithful, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to cheer him on for the next decade while Jason Kapono sits at the end of the Raptor bench collecting enough money to feed a small country.

Has the NBA learned nothing from players like Nikola Vujcic, Luis Scola, and Jorge Garbajosa? Athletic ability doesn’t mean you can play basketball. Just ask Gerald Green how many minutes his vertical leap is getting him this year.

NBA Draft 2009-10 Names To Watch Over The Years

April 11, 2009

By Robert Seagal… Every year, we attempt to project which players will be studs, and which will be duds. Who will win rookie of the year, and who will get their GM fired over the All-Star break? The best question to ask however is how will these picks look five years from now?

Every draft has late-bloomers. Who could forget that Andrew Bynum was slated to go in the twenties, or that Manu Ginobili nearly went undrafted?

Over the years I’ve done some work in trying to project player potential. Some examples of players who were picked significantly below where I had them projected from recent years were; George Hill and Nicholas Batum who should have gone between 15-20,  Anthony Randolph and JaVale McGee who should have gone five picks higher each, and Brook Lopez who i had projected at four-five like many people.

In 2007, I felt Nick Young and Tiago Splitter should have been late lottery picks, thought Durant should have gone No. 1, and I had no faith in Jeff Green, but thankfully, the Sonics did.

In 2005, I felt Bynum was a top-6 pick, and would have picked him as high as four, and in  2004  I had Andris Biedrins, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, and Paval Podkolzine and  Shawn Livingston as the best prospects after Dwight  Howard.

That was a major mis-read, especially with Podkolzine and Livingston. I tend to miss prospects, such as Brandon Roy in 2006 who I thought would be a well-rounded Jarvis Hayes, or Jameer Nelson, but I would have never imagined would have been an All-Star.

We make mistakes, and everyone does, but let’s try to project the biggest stars in the upcoming draft based purely on top-end potential. This is to say that if all things go perfectly, the prospect ends up in the right situation, works hard, stays the same health wise, stays focused, what is the best thing they can be.

The number one objective is to outline any hindrances in the player’s development. Are they too short, too injury-prone, or are their hands simply to small, their shoulders too round, their lower body too weak?

We must go through, and the player who has the least possible hindrances is usually the top pick in this list.

This is in no way to say that the player will become the best. Surely dedication cannot be measured, and neither can we say how dedicated the coaching staff will be to developing this guy.

Starters/Sixth Men

10. Hasheem Thabeet

He will struggle on the next level to find his place in the new NBA. He’s a little big, and I see injury troubles in the future, as well as a total inability to guard the modern center in the NBA.

He’s not going to be much of an offensive force, but he has some potential there to be serviceable. His impact will come defensively, but I see him being pretty foul-prone and being quite an average NBA player into his prime. He might be a starter at some point, but I don’t see All-Star.

Best Case Scenario: Much better Dasagana Diop

Worst Case:Johan Petro

Potential: 77

Projection:Top 5 Pick (5th Overall)

9. Willie Warren

I think Warren has a place in a fast-paced offense where he’ll be free to jack shots at to his heart’s content. He has a good feel for playing defense, but I don’t see him being an elite defensive player at barely 6′4.

Best Case: Taller Jason Terry

Worst Case: Dujuan Wagner


Projection:Lottery (10th Overall)

8. Tyreke Evans

I see strong head-case red flags here and I certainly don’t see him fitting into most NBA situations. His work off the ball needs work, and that’s putting it kindly. He is talented, but how many teams are willing to hand him the keys to their offense in order for him to be effective? Not many.

He’s got some solid defensive ability so the potential problems with him are all off the court and in his head. He’ll never be elite, but he could be a very good player in this league.

Best Case : Larry Hughes

Worst Case:Willie Greene


Projection:Lottery (9th Overall)

7. Jordan Hill

I see a rebounder, a hustler, and a guy New York would love to have. He doesn’t have a very polished game, and hasn’t been playing very long, which means he lacks the feel that the “lifers’ have. His intangibles are questionable, and his potential is something close to a cross between Nene and David Lee, which is a fantastic player if he gets there, but not a superstar.

Best Case: Nene Halario/David Lee

Worst Case:Chris Wilcox


Projection: Top 3 Pick (3rd Overall)

Potential All-Stars

6. James Harden

I have a feeling that he’s going to be good, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’s going to fall short of being superstar good. He’s got limitations galore. He’s nonathletic compared to some of the other guys he’ll meet on the next level, and lacks explosiveness, or the Go-to mentality.

Overall his potential is low, but his likliness of being a bust is also very low. He’s coachable, and unselfish. He seems to be the type of player who would be most helped by playing on a very good team, and not being asked to carry a very bad one.

For his sake then, I hope his stock drops to the extent that he’s picked between 8-12, because he could truly thrive on a team in that situation.

Best Case: Brandon Roy (less assertive)

Worst Case:John Salmons


Projection: Top 5 Pick (4th Overall)

5. Al-Farouq Aminu

He has immense potential, and I can’t say much beyond that. He has the physical tools to be a big 3/4 combo and he’s going to be the youngest player taken in this draft. He’s coachable, and his potential is somewhere between Luol Leng and Josh Smith, which is to say he has All-Star type potential.

Best Case: Luol Deng/Josh Smith

Worst Case:Trevor Ariza


Projection: Lottery Pick (13th Overall)

4. Brandon Jennings

He’s lightning quick, gets to the rim, has break down ability, and has spent a year in Europe playing pro-ball which should prepare him well mentally for the next step. He has high bust-potential, but also great potential to be a solid All-Star in this league based on his drive to become one.

Best Case: Allen Iverson/Tony Parker

Worst Case: Lou Williams


Projection: Lottery (6th Overall)


3. Blake Griffin

He’s the number one pick across every Mock-draft, but look back to the start of this year and you’d be surprised to find him in the top 3. Now granted he did a lot of good work this past summer, but to be honest, his limitations are still there.

He’s a great rebounder, but is he still on the undersized side? 6′10? I think not. Probably closer to 6′8 and change, and he’s not a very good defender at all.

Comparing him to two other college superstars in Durant (2007), and Beasley(2008), he’s probably the least skilled of the three, and is likely to disappoint anyone expecting a traditional number one pick. He’ll likely be a solid rebounder from the get-go, but his overall productivity will be closer to Al Jefferson eventually.

Therefore, while he may become a great player in this league, he’ll likely be nothing more than a top 20 type. He’s also got some knee concerns people should be wary about.

Best Case: Brian Grant/Horace Grant

Worst Case: Rich man’s Kris Humphries


Projection:Top 3 Pick (1st Overall)

2. DeMar DeRozan

I was tempted to put him at one, but I’m not certain he’ll ever be that good. DeRozan has everything you could dream of in a player at the wing position. He can rebound, play defense, shoot a little bit although he needs work there, he can slash, and he’s a big ticket athlete who’ll be sure to become a favorite on ESPN top-10.

He’s got superstar potential, but is a very good candidate to get lost in the shuffle and perhaps turn into one of the many other rotation wings in the league ala Tony Allen and J.R Smith. At worst he’s going to be a solid rotation player with a few holes in his game. At best, he’s a perennial All-Star and the second coming of Vince Carter.

Best Case: Vince Carter (Younger Slashing version)

Worst Case:Rodney Carney/Tony Allen


Projection: Lottery Pick (8th Overall)

1. Ricky Rubio

He’s got passion, defensive ability, toughness, creativity, and the potential to be one of the best players to ever play this game. He’s got it all. He’s big for the guard position, and unlike Nash who many liken his game to, he impacts the game at both ends of the floor.

Best Case: Pete Maravich/Steve Nash

Worst Case:Sergio Rodriguez


Projection: Top 3 Pick (2nd Overall)

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