Break-Ups Are Rough, Toronto, but It’s Over with Pops Mensah-Bonsu

August 20, 2009

by Scott Hastie… On March 6, 2009, Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo signed Pops Mensah-Bonsu to a contract for the rest of the season.

PMB was signed because he was a force in the National Basketball Development League. He owned the rebounds, averaging 13 boards a game. Also, Mensah-Bonsu was showing scoring ability, averaging 26.6 points per game.

The Raptors needed rebounding, and Pops had previous NBA experience. He played 12 games with Dallas Mavericks in 06-07, averaging 2.4 points per game, and three with the Spurs, averaging 5.0 points.

With the Toronto Raptors, Mensah-Bonsu quickly became a fan-favourite. When he came off the bench, he brought energy to the floor and showed hustle whenever he was playing, averaging 5.1 points per game through 19 games.

Fans loved his electric dunks, something T.O. has craved since Vince Carter left. He also did a nice job on the glass, averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.

But the offseason came and Pops’ contract was up. Some fans thought he was probably going to get re-signed because of what he showed in such a short amount of time. Bryan Colangelo has not seen eye-to-eye with the fans, and hasn’t pushed for Bonsu to re-sign.

I enjoyed Pops’ stay in Toronto. The season was shot, and PMB brought some excitement when he came on to the court.

But now it’s time to move on. Re-signing Mensah-Bonsu shouldn’t happen. We have filled the void. Reggie Evans, Rasho Nestorvic, and Amir Johnson are better players than Mensah-Bonsu.

There’s a reason San Antonio and Dallas let him go. He will not contribute to a championship-caliber team. He does not fit into the plan of any team going for it all.

To begin, he has no mid-range game, which is especially necessary for a player of his build. An athletic big man needs to be able to shoot because he will otherwise get bodied out of the post.

Bonsu’s field-goal percentage through the 19 games with the Raptors was 35.4 percent. There is simply no excuse for that.

Actually, let’s go into detail behind his shooting percentage.

Mid-range jumpshot: 21.7%

6′-10′: 17.1%

Dunk: 76.0%

Paint: 39.7%

There’s a few things to touch on. His mid-range speaks for itself.

But on his 6′-10′ attempts, Mensah-Bonsu gets blocked 37 percent of the time. Blocks usually result in a turnover, as well. And this specific shot is that his second most attempted shot. He attempts a 6′-10′ 36 percent of the time. This doesn’t win championships. It doesn’t contribute.

Easily the most embarrassing stat is his dunk percentage. You cannot get any closer to putting the ball in the hoop.

Next thing, the only argument I’ve heard for Mensah-Bonsu is “he’s great energy off the bench.” That would be a solid argument if the Raptors had done nothing to alter their roster.

With players like Antoine Wright and Jarrett Jack coming off the bench, there’s enough energy to go around. Also, Amir Johnson can throw down too and will be a sparkplug. I can guarantee you that there will be no shortage of highlight dunks next year.

Another problem with Pops Mensah-Bonsu is lack of basketball IQ. It seems when he secures a defensive rebound, he does not know what to do with it. He doesn’t know where the point guard is and seems confused. Nesterovic or Evans certainly can do better than Bonsu in this aspect.

Another weakness Pops has is defense. His net points while playing for the Raptors was minus-11. If he’s an energy guy and brings up the team’s morale, wouldn’t the unit, as a whole, excel and play better?

Evans and Nesterovic are proven NBA defenders who will come off the bench and give the starters a break while holding a lead.

Mensah-Bonsu’s time in Toronto was enjoyable, but as a fan I’m excited to see this team grow and make the playoffs. In this article, I did my best to use hard facts to prove and support my belief that PMB does not fit in Toronto’s future.

I’ll gladly take comments on this subject, as I know it is a touchy one.

Chris Bosh: The Effects of His Possible Extinction

August 11, 2009

by Scott Hastie… Think back to when you were young, and it was Christmas morning. There’s a big box with your name on it, and you’re really excited. It could be that Nintendo 64 you were asking for! But it also could be an Easy Bake Oven, which is the opposite of anything you’ve ever asked for.

Now, the upcoming 2009-2010 season for the Toronto Raptors is the big box, and the Nintendo 64 is the second round of the playoffs.

The Easy Bake Oven is a dismal season, and Chris Bosh not signing with the Toronto Raptors.

As odd as that comparison may sound, it makes sense and all of it is a possibility.

Chris Bosh wants to be on a championship-caliber team. He’s been vocal about it. But say the Raptors fall short this season, do not meet Bosh’s expectations, and he bolts.

What are the effects on the Toronto Raptors?

I’ve divided them into four main categories: Fan-base, Offense, Defense, Locker Room.


If you see a person wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey, it will most likely be No. 4. Chris Bosh is the face of this franchise. If he leaves, will the fans? Who will take his spot?

Can Bargnani step up and become a franchise player, or will Hedo Turkoglu be portrayed as T.O.’s main man?

Bargnani is growing, and is in line for his breakout year, but it could also be hard for him with all the pressure.

Hedo Turkoglu will be in decline as he ages, and putting the franchise on his shoulders is only going to disappoint and hurt the fan-base even more.


Chris Bosh is the offensive leader of this team and has been since Vince Carter left. Subtract a 20 point per game player and replace him with Reggie Evans, and you aren’t going to win many games.

To continue to succeed, the Raptors need the offensive force Bosh brings to the table night in and night out. As other players around the franchise grow, you still need a strong reliable player who will deliver. Subtract Bosh from the offense in Toronto, and you’re are left with very little.

Chris Bosh has little post-game, but he makes due and can still score. Hedo Turkoglu is very much a spot-up shooter, and so is Bargnani. Jose Calderon is a small weapon on offense as well. Relying on jump shooters doesn’t win championships.


Chris Bosh is not a huge defensive presence, and never has been. He’s mediocre, but also has to deal with Calderon’s lack of defense, which causes Bosh to look bad and pick up fouls.

Losing Bosh wouldn’t be earth-shattering to the already sad defense the Raptors “play,” but he has an ability to handle the best and control them. He is usually given the task of defending the best big man on the opposing team and does a respectable job.

Handing Bargnani the reigns on defense would be risky, as he could either step up or be the weak point of the defense. That being said, the game is shifting away from big men to being the main scorer, so the threat isn’t as big as it used to be.

Locker Room

In my opinion, Chris Bosh is not a leader. He doesn’t hurt the chemistry of a team, but he isn’t doesn’t play a major role like a Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or Kobe Bryant by any standard.

Bosh is a positive influence to his teammates, but the Raptors will survive without him. Rarely has Bosh fired up the troops and helped Toronto churn out a comeback. Bosh loves the game, but bringing energy is not something he does very often.

Whether Chris Bosh re-signs with the Raptors or not, it has been a great run. Many fans are looking forward to next season, and Bosh seems to be excited, too.

This is just my opinion on the effects of the Raptors. Comments and criticism are welcome, but no personal attacks—I cannot stand it, and in the words of Jack Armstrong, “Get that Garbage outta here!”

Thanks for the read, and please share your opinions too!

Scott’s Bio

A huge basketball fan at the age of 16, I’m all about the Toronto Raptors. I enjoy discussing the sport and do my best to remain open to others opinions. If you have an idea for a Raptors article, just leave me a message and I’ll do my best.

Andrea Bargnani: The Key to The 2009 Toronto Raptors.

August 8, 2009

by Scott Hastie…  In an offseason filled with free agent signings and trades, the only NBA team north of the border has dramatically improved their roster.

With signings such as the Magic’s clutch playoff performer, Hedo Turkoglu, and Chris Bosh’s close friend and productive PG Jarrett Jack, the Raptors have put themselves in a great position for this upcoming season.

But one of the most criticized No.1 picks of this decade will decide the fate of the Raptors; and that player is Andrea Bargnani.

Drafted number one overall in 2006 and standing seven feet tall, Bargnani is an up and coming player in the NBA. In the second half of last season, he was beginning to prove his doubters wrong and looked like a true No. 1 pick.

Averaging 19.4 points per game after the break, Bargnani showed he can score with the best of them. He stepped into his role at the center spot and was responsible for the Raptors late season run. But that wasn’t enough, as the Raptors still missed the playoffs finishing with a record of 33-49.

For the Raptors to be serious contenders for the NBA Championship, Andrea Bargnani needs to play like he did in the second half of last season. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo has surrounded Bargnani with the right talent in hopes of propelling him to All-Star heights.

For one, Sam Mitchell is no longer coaching. Although Bargnani only averaged 8.6 points per game in December, he also only played 24 minutes a game, his lowest average for the season.

When Jay Triano took over as head coach, Bargnani was put into his appropriate role of hybrid big man.

With the arrival of Jermaine O’ Neal last season, Bargnani’s confidence was shot. He felt under-appreciated and under-utilized. But for this upcoming season, he was signed to a contract extension which showed Bargnani that he’s crucial to this franchise’s success.

Now with the addition of Hedo Turkoglu, Bargnani doesn’t need to score 20 PPG. He will have the opportunity, but won’t have all the pressure from fans, team-mates, and the front office to produce. As long as he contributes and does his job, the Toronto Raptors will be successful.

On offense, expect domination by Bargnani. At seven feet, he is taller than the average center. But not only does he have height, but the shooting touch of a guard. After the All Star break, he shot 45.7 percent from three-point land. Not known for his low-post game, Bargnani also shot close to 50 percent from the field in the second half of last season.

The pure match-up problems Bargnani creates are evident. For example, if Bargnani stays out of the post against teams like Cleveland, he can free up the paint for penetration. With players like Kendrick Perkins and Shaq in the conference, the inside and outside combination of Bosh, Bargnani, and Turkoglu will cause various matchup problems.

On defense, where Bargnani isn’t historically strong, he needs to bulk up this offseason to hold his own down low. If he can rebound like fellow European Pau Gasol, the Raptors can almost guarantee themselves a 4th or 5th seed.

But Bargnani being a league-leading rebounder isn’t realistic yet. If he can continue to improve, be a force on offense when needed, and rebound a little bit more, the Raptors will be a serious force in the coming years.

At the end of the 2009-2010 season, where ever Toronto finishes, it’s almost a guarantee that Bargnani’s numbers will affect the outcome.

With less pressure, better head coaching, and great team-mates surrounding him, expect an All Star appearance out of the Italian. Don’t be surprised by a line of close to 20 points per game and seven rebounds a night for the former No. 1 pick. Those would be great numbers to compliment the already All Star games’ of Bosh, Turkoglu, and Calderon.

Scott’s Bio

A huge basketball fan at the age of 16, I’m all about the Toronto Raptors. I enjoy discussing the sport and do my best to remain open to others opinions. If you have an idea for a Raptors article, just leave me a message and I’ll do my best.