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The Corner Has Been Turned

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  • The Corner Has Been Turned

    I think the past two games have said more about the Raps this season than any other game, or series of games, so far. I know it's been said, but it's all about defense, which the Raps lack to an embarrassing degree. I have always advocated playing to win, fighting through it all, cause that's what sports are all about. But if you can't win no matter who plays, then why play veterans, or players whose potential has already been reached, when younger players with better contracts and higher potential get less minutes against weaker opponents (bench, garbage time), with less pressure? Why not see what you've really got, rather than hold onto the "potential" card indefinitely?

    Kleiza has failed. It was a nice try, a good signing at a good price at the time, but he's dropped the ball. Can't hit the open three, doesn't play with poise and is the biggest defensive hole, other than Derozan, on the roster. Those first two issues are the ones he was specifically hired for. Sorry guy, you're time is up. Off the bench for you. Then once Weems comes back, prove you deserve to play over him. I'm not sure you can.

    If you are going to stick with Derozan at the 2 spot, it's of paramount importance to pair him with a defense-first 3 guy. Paramount. This way, given that DD can also play the 3, you can match up your defending wing against the other team's best wing. Shape your roster according to what you've got and what you need, not what you want. And if you've got Derozan, you can't play him with a player like Kleiza. Derozan needs Julian Wright. How many people - forum contributors, analysts, from Chisolm to Smith, commentators, what have you - need to say this before management clues in? Start Julian Wright goddamn it. He plays defense. He's 23. He plays with energy and passion. Wake the fuck up.

    Speaking of Wright - if only he could hit the open 3. If only! Imagine Wright with a three point shot, and you've got Turk. Except replace Pizza with Defense, "Ball" with "Fight," and 31 with 23. His playmaking in the starting line up would allow Bayless more room to play like Bayless.

    Speaking of Bayless, once he's healthy he too must start. While Calderon's been playing fantastic, we need to know what Bayless can do given a full-time starter position. If development is your priority, then make development your priority. Don't just pay it lip service. That's a straight path to being perpetually mediocre.

    Which brings me to the draft. It seems to me in the draft it's between a PG and a SF. This is all the more reason to start Bayless and Wright. By putting them in the spotlight it becomes easier to see where the bigger holes are. In my opinion it's a wash between Irving/P. Jones and between Knight/Walker/T. Jones. Accordingly, it's not best player available within those sets, it's do we need a 1 or 3 the most? Play Bayless, Weems and Wright as much as you can, and, along with our draft position, you'll have your answer.

    Lastly, start Davis, and play Alabi. What's the danger? Losing to Detroit? Losing to Washington?

  • #2
    Kleiza is like Jefferson of the Spurs last year, shooting percentages were down and his play was lackluster, but look at what is happening this year not that the team has chemistry. Give him time to readjust to the NBA game and have the coaches and himself figure things out and all will be fine. Wright is a great short minute guy, I feel he should play off the bench ahead of Weems, but as a starter with DeRozan his lack of outside game with DeMar's lack of outside game will make it so hard on all the other starters that it would fail long term.

    Bayless is not ready to start unless you are really going into tank mode, Jose is a valuable player and makes the game easier for whoever he is on the floor with, Bayless is not there yet. That is not to say we don't eventually move Jose in a trade, but if he is on the roster no way Bayless starts.

    Davis is getting his minutes and does not need to start in order to improve, I am fine with his progression.

    The draft is not here yet and we don't know where we are picking, to hard to plug a player in when we have no idea who we will get.
    Twitter @WJ_FINDLAY

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    • #3
      As far as the Kleiza Wright debate goes I think Wright is more coachable and is more likely to develop his shooting game than Kleiza is to develop defensively. Wright makes good decisions but doesn't always execute whereas Kleiza looks lost when it comes to D and has been less than mediocre offensively in most of his games.

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      • #4
        What makes you think one is more coachable than the other? I have not seen anything from either player to give an impression.
        Twitter @WJ_FINDLAY

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        • #5
          Weems could be done as a regular rotation player.

          The guy is just a ball hog who takes way too many bad shots. Yes, once in a while he has a very good game on offense and the stupid nickname of "Money Weems" is resurrected. His defense is just not good enough.

          I want to see if Triano continues to use Amir at the SF like he did in the last game and how that works out. If he does and it works out than a starting front court of Bargnani, Davis and Johnson could be awesome.

          Now if J. Wright could shoot like D. Wright then I would be all for possibly starting him at the #3 but right now he can't. The only way that the Raptors should start Wright is if either Johnson starts putting up 15 - 20 ppg or Wright is able to make the three ball consistently at a high level.
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          • #6
            Difference between Jefferson and Kleiza: Jefferson plays with multiple championship winners, hall of famers where everyone knows their role. He had difficulty establishing his role, and finding where he fit. Kleiza plays for a team with no identity, no accountability. Such a system in not one which engenders role-knowing and playing within limits. His biggest problem though is that he's not doing those things that are well within his limits.

            In terms of the drop-off in Wright's 3-ball ability, and its ability to allow the other team to sag off and clog the inside, it's not like Kleiza is shooting well either, at 29.5%. That's weak man. Toronto's problem is not scoring. They will score. What they can't do is stop others from scoring. At will. Detroit and Washington flat out embarrassed Toronto. Wide open shooters, defenders falling backwards as their mark got to the bucket as they pleased. Starting Wright would send a message that defense is where it's at: that defense will get you minutes, good minutes. Starters minutes. It's how you will succeed in Toronto. That's what the message should be.

            As far as Bayless starting = tanking goes, I think there's a bit of misunderstanding of the meaning of the term tank. The way I see tanking is losing on purpose, for the sake of losing in and of itself, in order to get a shot at a better draft pick. Playing prospects so that you can see what they have, how they respond to the coaches, how they perform given a consistent role under the pressure of being the starter is not tanking. It's smart development in a season where success in the playoffs simply isn't realistic.

            I listed 5 players draft worthy. Unless the Raptors somehow learn how to play consistently competitive ball and show signs they could compete in the playoffs, it would be bad management practice to ignore the draft; to ignore looking for positions that need help; and to look to the draft to see who has the potential to fill the holes. See players you like in the draft? What position do they play? Might they be better than players currently on the roster? Well, play those suspect roster players and see. If they're not up to your standards, your draft choices have then been made a bit clearer. I would be shocked if the Raptors drafted in a position where one of those 5 players wouldn't be available to them, assuming of course they all declare, which is not a guarantee at this point. Still. The draft is the best way to get better as a weak team. Folly is the management strategy that ignores the potential of the draft to reshape a team, and if you're lottery bound, I would consider my weaker players to have their jobs already in jeopardy of being taken by potential draftees.

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            • #7
              Adjusted stats (if Julian Wright played the same minutes as Linas Kleiza):

              Kleiza: 11.4 points on 44% shooting, 4.6 rebounds, 1 assists, .5 steals, .2 blocks, 1.7 TO in 26 minutes.
              Wright: 6.8 points on 49% shooting, 4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals, .8 blocks, 1.6 TO in 26 minutes.

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              • #8
                I was a big fan of Bayless, as readers here know, when he first came to the Raptors.

                However, from what I have seen from his play and heard from him in interviews along with the fact that he keeps getting traded from one team to another it seems highly likely that he has a big attitude problem. This is not good.

                At this point the Raptors should look to move him next summer unless he get his head in the right place.

                He really has an attitude problem. When you watch him play and listen to him in interviews he comes across as "I am the greatest" and any problems that exist when I am on the court are because of other players.

                Another Jack but more extreme.

                However, since he is still young the Raptors may give him a chance through the end of the season unless Gaines can do the job.
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                • #9
                  WJF wrote: View Post
                  What makes you think one is more coachable than the other? I have not seen anything from either player to give an impression.
                  Wright has better anticipation of what is going on around him which is why he gets into the right position on the court. That is something harder to teach Kleiza than it is to improve Wrights weak points.

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                  • #10
                    Although Kleiza has been shooting a less than stellar percentage from 3, he is still a threat from beyond the arc and teams will not give up an open look to him because they know he can bang it, Wright does not have that respect, he has only attempted 60 3 point shots in 206 career games. Perception is part of the game, if you look like a threat then teams will think you are.

                    As for tanking, I did not mean that they are intentionally loosing games, but we know what we have in Bayless. Once healthy he will get consistent bench minutes (18-20) as the undisputed back-up point guard, with that defined role all pressure to "do too much" will be off and we can see what we have. He does not need to be anointed as a starter for that. If we have a shot at Irving or Walker and they are the BPA, then we take them, regardless of Bayless, if not we don't reach for a PG we take one the the highly rated wings. BAyless could be a starting caliber PG going forward, I can see him being a little like Jameer Nelson, but upgrades are upgrades regardless if we have a starting caliber player or not at any position.
                    Twitter @WJ_FINDLAY

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                    • #11
                      j bean wrote: View Post
                      Wright has better anticipation of what is going on around him which is why he gets into the right position on the court. That is something harder to teach Kleiza than it is to improve Wrights weak points.
                      The problem is that Kleiza is not an NBA SF. He is too slow to defend adequately on the perimeter and his ball handling is not that good. Kleiza is a very good FIBA PF but is a bit undersized for a NBA PF.
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                      Memories some so sweet, indeed

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                      • #12
                        j bean wrote: View Post
                        Wright has better anticipation of what is going on around him which is why he gets into the right position on the court. That is something harder to teach Kleiza than it is to improve Wrights weak points.
                        That still does not make one more prone to learning than the other, being coach-able is willing to learn and implement what is being taught, not having natural instincts to anticipate. The anticipation may make you better in the long run, but many players with natural ability like that can be some of the hardest players to coach.
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                        • #13
                          jeff_hostetler wrote: View Post
                          Difference between Jefferson and Kleiza: Jefferson plays with multiple championship winners, hall of famers where everyone knows their role. He had difficulty establishing his role, and finding where he fit. Kleiza plays for a team with no identity, no accountability. Such a system in not one which engenders role-knowing and playing within limits. His biggest problem though is that he's not doing those things that are well within his limits.
                          I was going to reply on this point but I would have been repeating you. Jefferson also went to the finals with the Nets and plays pretty good D. It is a testimony to the Spurs org. who know what they had to bring him back after he opted out of his contract after a bad year. I am surprised Kleiza has not shown much better with no pressure (team position wise) and so much pt.

                          I hope there will be more experimentation re player groups/position and some movement at the trade deadline. Maybe some of the decision making so far has been based to showcase players for trades.

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                          • #14
                            I will add my 2 pennies worth...if kleiza doesn't hit his shots what is he use on the court? Can wright develop a 3 pt shot an become a Bruce Bowen type of player?

                            Doc had a podcast about kleiza when he was first signed by us where he talked about kleiza strengths and weaknesses with one of he Denver writers I believe and the Denver writer ripped into kleiza hard basically calling him a scrub. If I remember correctly I think he said that he was the only member of the team that did not commit to he end of he floor.

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                            • #15
                              The main point on Linas is that I don't think we should give up on him, I think he will still show us more than he has. The only wing player I would not be sad to see go is Weems, he is undersized for the 3 and is redundant with DeRozan on the team.
                              Twitter @WJ_FINDLAY

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